by Michael Smith
Grain Valley senior tennis player Isaac Burd had no idea how important his match was Monday.
His team’s dual against Blue Springs South was tied at 4-4 at Young Park in Blue Springs. His match was the deciding factor in which team became victorious. He came through with a 10-3 victory against Clayton Roach to help his team earn a 5-4 victory in its season opener.
“It’s a pretty amazing feeling,” Burd said. “I had no idea that there was that much pressure on me.”
Burd also gave the Eagles a big assist in doubles play as they won two out of three doubles matches. The senior, who is the No. 6 singles player, teamed with Ethan Miller in the No. 2 doubles match to defeat Will Ogrizovich and Xavier Bowling 8-2.
“I stayed confident and hit my forehands and backhands well,” Burd said. “My serving was good, too. From the beginning of the season, Ethan and I knew we would be the No. 2 doubles team, so we spent a lot of time practicing together and that helped us a lot.”
Miller noted it was their first time playing in a “real match,” but said all the time they spent playing together paid dividends.
“I didn’t know how it would go but we played pretty well as a doubles team,” Miller said. “We won 8-2, so that’s pretty good.”
Before the season, Grain Valley head coach Randy Draper had his top three singles spots filled and let six other players battle it out for the final three spots. Burd claimed the last spot available.
“He’s made a huge jump from last year to this year,” Draper said of Burd. “Isaac has changed so much as a player. He gives us a six that can go win matches. You need that.”
On the other hand, Miller was penciled in at the No. 3 spot. Draper said he took a giant leap from playing on the junior varsity team in 2021. Miller defeated Nathan Scherer 10-6 in his singles matchup.
“I have taken a few lessons, probably six or seven,” Miller said, “But what really helped was getting out on the courts every day and serving and playing as much as I can.”
In the No. 3 doubles match, Micah Siems and Ben Drinkwater toppled Judson McIntosh and Roach 8-5. Siems also won his doubles match with Bowling 10-6.
Grain Valley senior Isaac Burd, left, and Ethan Miller teamed up to win their No. 2 doubles match 8-2. Both won their respective singles matches to help Grain Valley take a 5-4 victory against Blue Springs South Monday at Young Park. Photo credit: Michael Smith