After Omaha Westside’s Dillon Ketcham captured the second set and the momentum, Omaha Creighton Prep’s Brett Slezak got the kind of start he was looking for in the deciding set of the No. 1 singles final at the Metro Conference tennis tournament.
Slezak broke Ketcham’s serve in the opening game of the third set and stayed in front the rest of the way to earn a 6-3, 2-6, 6-2 victory at Koch Tennis Center.
“I wasn’t playing very good in the second set. I just had to stay focused, and I started playing a lot better,” Slezak said.
Slezak was one of three Prep entries to win individual titles Thursday as the Junior Jays took the team crown with 46 points. Millard North was second with 35, followed by Westside with 23.
The No. 1 singles final went to a third set after Ketcham won the last four games of the second.
Ketcham was up 40-30 in the third set’s opening game when Slezak got the game to deuce with a nifty half-volley winner at the net. Slezak won the next two points for the break of service, but he immediately fell behind 0-40 on his service game. Slezak then rallied to win the next five points to go up 2-0.
“That was a big (hold) because that hurt him mentally a lot. It was tough for him to come back after that,” Slezak said.
Ketcham stayed within 3-2 — he had a break point in the sixth game that would have evened the match — but Slezak won the final three games.
“Dillon played the best tennis I’ve seen him play this year, so it was impressive that Brett could hang in and play that strongly in the third set,” Prep coach Mike Higgins said.
Prep’s No. 1 doubles team of Nathan Singh and Thomas Kennedy was a little more efficient as it downed Millard North’s Andrew Bristol and Sam Faulk 6-2, 6-2 in their final.
After taking the first set, Singh and Kennedy won five straight games in the second set for a 5-1 lead. The Prep duo never dropped its serve on the day, which they said was the key to the victory.
“Andrew’s serve was really strong today, especially in the first set. We just had to stick it out,” Kennedy said.
Singh and Kennedy, last year’s No. 1 doubles state champions, take an unbeaten record to next week’s state meet, which begins Thursday at Koch Tennis Center. All four of Millard North’s losses this season have come against Singh and Kennedy.
“We just have to make sure we close in on the net and keep playing aggressively,” Singh said of the state meet.
Prep also had the No. 2 singles champion as Alex King downed Millard North’s Derek Dornsife 6-4, 6-4. King trailed 3-0 in the second set before he rallied to tie the score and then won the last three games.
Millard North’s Ben Faulk and Grant Hubbard outlasted Prep’s Pierce Lam and Ryan McNamara 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3 in the No. 2 doubles final. Faulk and Hubbard had lost to Prep twice during the regular season.
Team scoring: Creighton Prep 46, Millard North 35, Omaha Westside 23, Papillion-La Vista 20, Papio South 17, Bellevue East 13, Omaha Burke 13, Millard South 12, Millard West 11.5, Bellevue West 10, Omaha Central 7, Omaha Bryan 2.5, Omaha North 1.5, Omaha South 1, Omaha Benson 0.5, Omaha Northwest 0.
No. 1 singles: 1, Brett Slezak, CP, def. Dillon Ketcham, OW, 6-3, 2-6, 6-2. 3, Raymond Thai, MN, def. Dominik Crump, MS, 6-3, 3-6, 6-0.
No. 2 singles: 1, Alex King, CP, def. Derek Dornsife, MN, 6-4, 6-4. 3, Josh Miller, MW, def. Enrique Del Rio Lopez, Burke, injury default.
No. 1 doubles: 1, Nathan Singh-Thomas Kennedy, CP, def. Andrew Bristol-Sam Faulk, MN, 6-2, 6-2. 3, John Zurcher-Caleb Feekin, Papio, def. Aaron Palensky-Evan Horton, Papio South, 3-6, 6-1, 6-1.
No. 2 doubles: 1, Ben Faulk-Grant Hubbard, MN, def. Pierce Lam-Ryan McNamara, CP, 6-3, 6-7 (4), 6-3. 3, Colin Chick-Nate Frankman, Papio, def. Austin Slie-Jack Hansen-Reed, BE, 7-6 (4), 7-6 (4).