OMAHA — Tears of joy streamed down the face of Lincoln North Star tennis coach Matt Lickliter as he watched Katie Horan win the school's first Class A singles championship Friday afternoon at Koch Family Tennis Center.
“She deserved this after all the hard work she put in. I’ve never seen a girl with more guts,” Lickliter said. “I asked her if she wanted to go all the way, and all credit to her, she put in the work and really found her game.”
Horan, a senior, beat Lincoln East freshman Elizabeth Rentfro in the No. 2 singles final 6-1, 6-2 to cap a 23-1 season and bring home Lincoln’s only state Class A title.
“I don’t know how to describe it, it’s just surreal,” Horan said between posing for pictures with several North Star fans. “Last year I played a 3½-hour quarterfinal and then lost before the second day. All I wanted to do was make it to the second day this year, and this was just kind of the cherry on top."
Horan took the first set from Rentfro handily before falling behind 2-0 in the second set. She rallied and took the next six games from Rentfro, who was battling an ankle injury.
“For Liz (Rentfro) to gut that match out with her ankle the way it was, that girl is a warrior,” Lickliter said. “Usually it goes down to the wire between these two. It would’ve been closer had she been healthy.”
Lincoln East also made an appearance in the No. 1 singles final, where Spartan freshman Madi Kiani played Papillion-La Vista senior Maria Arevalo. Arevalo won 6-1, 6-0 to lock up the first Class A singles championship in Monarch history.
“It feels great, and I couldn’t have done it without my coach, my family and all my friends here supporting me,” Arevalo said. “My tough match was in the semis, so I got really pumped to give my best and bring the state championship home.”
Kiani finished the season 25-5 and laid the groundwork for future success at state.
“I had a really fun time this season; it was a great learning experience,” she said. “The match was tough, but I’m glad I was there for it. I got to the state final and it didn’t turn out the way I wanted it to, but she played a nearly flawless game.”
Lincoln Southeast freshman Fidan Ibrahimova finished third in No. 1 singles, and the Lincoln East duo of Alexandra Jensen and Caroline Spethman was third at No. 2 doubles.
Papillion-La Vista won the team title with 52½ points, topping Omaha Marian and Lincoln East, who finished with 39 and 38½, respectively. It’s the Monarchs' first team championship.
Millard North's Liz Koukol and Christina Ternent upset top-seeded Claire Neal and Spencer Roach of Papillion-La Vista to win No. 1 doubles, while Emma Dargy and Tessa Hurst earned the No. 2 doubles title for the Monarchs with a win against Omaha Marian's Morgan Crockett and Macie Kubat, who were seeded first.