TULSA — Edmond North's Ann Pepper and Jenks' Mariah Burke didn't need to add to their rivalry. But their choice of colleges brought another layer to their head-to-head tennis careers. Pepper, who committed to Oklahoma, and Burke, who has committed to Oklahoma State, faced each other on Tuesday at the All-State tennis tournament.
Pepper won the eight-game pro set, 8-3. But the rivalry remained friendly, with Pepper and Burke making small talk during changeovers.
Pepper, who cut the pointer finger on her right hand, which is her racket hand, while opening a can of balls before the match, felt like her serves gave her an advantage, but her slow movement kept her from closing out points faster.
Pepper hopes the rivalry between the high school foes stays friendly during Bedlam matches, but knows that college will make it more itnese.
“I'm probably going to play her again in the future,” Pepper said. “It's going to be a lot harder. More will be on the line.”
Nate Roper's years of experience on the stadium court at state are paying off.
With a certain swagger different from the rest of the All-Staters, the Edmond North standout won his doubles and singles matches, giving up just five games to his opponents. He used his massive flat serve, his concise swings and his no-extra-fluff game to dominate.
Roper, who will play for Oklahoma State this fall, is all tennis, all the time.
He looked at his final high school match as a fun experience. He heard from former All-Staters that playing for fun was the best way to go out.
The All-State matches were a tuneup for the National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo, Mich., that start Aug. 2. After nationals, Roper will move in to his dorm at OSU with a teammate, then begin his collegiate training shortly thereafter.
“I enjoyed the high school atmosphere again one last time,” Roper said. “It was just a good time and I got to play some good tennis.