Make it four straight for Emilia Porubcin.
The Bettendorf senior qualified for her fourth state girls tennis tournament on Thursday afternoon with a runner-up finish at the Class 2A Region 6 tournament, which was held at Bettendorf High School.
“It’s a really huge honor to be able to go back so often,” said Porubcin, who will compete at the Class 2A state tournament in Ankeny on June 1-2.
Porubcin, the No. 2 seed at the regional tournament, cruised through the first few rounds of the tournament. After receiving a first-round bye, she defeated Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Karleigh Schilling 6-2, 6-0. She then beat Dubuque Hempstead’s Joyce Sun, who would end up winning the third-place match, 6-0, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Porubcin met the tournament’s top seed, Prairie’s Vale Caro, in the finals. Caro won a tight first set 7-6 (7-3) in the tiebreaker and then jumped out to a 3-2 lead in the second set. But Porubcin won a hotly contested game and then took the next three as well to win the second set 6-3.
“If you know her, you know she’s never going to give up,” Bettendorf coach Ron Stout said of Porubcin. “She’s going to be out there for every point until it’s over. That’s one thing about her that’s pretty amazing.”
But that momentum did not carry over into the third set for Porubcin. Caro won three games before Porubcin took one, and then Caro got the next two. Caro ended up winning 6-3 to take the district title and improve to 16-0 on the season.
“She was playing really clean,” Porubcin said of the third set. “I was definitely making more errors. Each point counted.”
Porubcin finished third in each of her first three state tournament trips. In 2004, the doubles team of Porubcin and Dana Waterman defeated Caro and her older sister, Magui, for third place at state. And the last two years Porubcin finished third in the singles bracket. This year, she has her sights set on a higher finish.
“I’m looking forward to seeing if I can get further in the draw because the past three years I’ve gotten third,” said Porubcin, who will take a record of 13-2 to the state tournament. “We’ll see if I can break that.”
Bettendorf senior Hannah Borgh, who qualified for state as an individual last year, fell short in her bid to return. She lost 6-2, 6-3 to Caro in the semifinals.
“Overall she’s had a fantastic year,” Stout said of Borgh, who went on to fall to Sun 6-4, 6-4 in the third-place match. “She was 12-0 playing No. 2 for us, so she has done extremely well. It’s been very fun to watch the girls start as freshmen and grow up into seniors.”
Bettendorf’s duo of Lydiah Kennedy and Kaylin Kuhn finished third in the doubles bracket. They suffered a 6-0, 6-2 loss to Hempstead’s Erin Connolly and Lauren Ludescher in the semifinals, but rebounded with a 7-6 (7-1), 6-0 win over Hempstead’s Elizabeth Wagner and Megan Oberfoell in the third-place match.
“I thought they might have a shot to make it to state, but unfortunately in their semifinal round they didn’t play as well as we’d hoped,” Stout said. “But they came back in that third-place match and played well. I thought winning that tiebreaker was huge for them. Then they won that second set 6-0.”
With Porubcin falling in the finals and three other girls falling just short of a state berth, Stout said that the tournament didn’t quite turn out as he’d hoped.
“It was kind of a bittersweet day,” he said. “Obviously we wanted to get as many people through to state as possible. We had some opportunities there. So we’ll go there and cheer on Emilaia, and hopefully she’ll have another great state tournament.”