LINCOLN — The team of Caden Dean and Devin Garcia ended their seasons with a win at the state tournament Thursday.
Dean, a senior, and Garcia, a sophomore, won their opening round match in the No. 2 doubles bracket, giving the Alliance High School boys tennis team two points at the Class B Nebraska State Boys Tennis Championships at Lincoln’s Woods Tennis Center.
“Caden and Devin impressed me a lot today,” Alliance head coach Kathy Brock said. “They played the best they have ever played all season together.”
Garcia and Dean opened the state tournament against eleventh-seeded Grand Island Central Catholic, which was made up of seniors Andrew Herbek and Alexis Ortega.
Though several games went to deuce, the AHS No. 2 duo picked up a 6-3, 6-2 victory over GICC.
“They were on fire and pumped up,” Brock said. “Caden had some amazing cross-court shots and down-the-line shots, along with Devin having a couple down-the-line shots. Devin was the most aggressive I’ve seen at the net ever. He was a beast and they were very fun to watch.”
Dean and Garcia then matched up against the sixth-seeded team from Holdrege -- seniors Graden Johnson and William Neinast.
Alliance fell in two tie-breaking sets to Holdrege, 7-6 (7-3), 7-6 (7-3). Included in the match was a comeback that saw the Bulldogs recover from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to force a tiebreak.
“I was impressed with their focus on the game and their motivation to give it their all,” Brock said. “Like I said, this was the best I've seen from these two players all year and it was amazing to watch. Caden ended his high school career of tennis on the best note possible.”
Also ending their high school tennis career at state Thursday was senior Preston Pohlman.
Pohlman fell to 12th-seeded Hayden Royal of York, 6-1, 6-3 in the first round of the No. 2 singles bracket.
“That was bittersweet, because he was a freshman when I first started coaching,” Brock explained. “I’ve seen him grow over the four years into a bright, young man. He played well, but time just ran out. If he had one more set to play, I know he would have won.”
Alliance’s other singles participant was sophomore Chance Crowe, who lost in the opening round of the No. 1 singles bracket by a 6-3, 7-5 score to Beatrice senior Dillon Damme.
“For his first time at state, I think he did a great job, and going against a senior was tough,” Brock said. “Chance is just my player who I never have to worry about giving up. He just hangs in the game and keeps the ball in play until the other player makes the mistake. He's a smart thinker on the court and hustles like no other.”
Also competing for the Bulldogs Thursday was the No. 1 doubles team of Zach Placek and Jake Ackerman. The pair of AHS juniors fell in the opening round to ninth-seeded North Platte -- seniors Joshua Cauffman and Cole Lohoefener -- by a 6-1, 6-1 score.
Despite the loss, Brock saw plenty of fight out of her No. 1 doubles squad.
“They went to deuce a lot and fought hard,” Brock said. “Their scores do not do them justice. They've played them twice before but just couldn't get more wins.”