by Michael Smith
The Class 2 District 8 championship was hanging in the balance.
With the match tied at 4-4, the winner was going to be decided in the game between Grain Valley’s Kade Compton and Platte County’s Jack Forrest at No. 2 singles.
Eagles head coach Randy Draper said he was perfectly OK with that.
The coach’s confidence in his No. 2 singles player was justified as Compton overcame Forrest scoring four consecutive points in the tiebreaker and came up clutch late to win 6-6 (7-4 tiebreaker), 2-6, (10-6 tiebreaker) to propel his team to a 5-4 victory, earning the program’s first district title ever.
The Eagles advance to the state tournament quarterfinals were they will play undefeated Branson Monday at Branson High School.
“I trusted him to come through,” Draper said, “and he showed you why. He wobbled a little when Jack went up 6-5, and he was tremendous.”
After Forrest hit the ball over the back line to give Compton the winning points, Kade’s teammates rushed the court to mob the senior with high fives and pats on the back. His brother, Carter, poured a bottle of water on him on a 90 degree day.
It was a feel-good moment for the senior, who lost to Forrest earlier in the season.
“I knew the pressure was on me,” Kade Compton said. “I have been in situations like this in my life. My goal was to get my team another match to play and we deserved that this whole season. We said at the beginning of the season we would win districts and we did that. It was on me to bring the district title home to us.”
During the match, there were a handful of times in which Compton hit the net, giving Forrest points. He said he just had to focus.
“I was frustrating myself and I just needed to calm down and get back to the basics of what tennis is,” he said. “You have to get that forehand in. You have to get that backhand in. You have to get that serve in and keep the ball in play. Once I started thinking about that, I succeeded.”
Kade also teamed with his brother Carter in the No. 1 doubles match to defeat Nicholas Gavin and Forrest 8-5.
No. 4 singles player Ben Drinkwater also came up huge as he won his singles match with Nathan Vanek 6-4, 6-3 and joined Ethan Miller to win the No. 2 doubles match 8-6 against Shane Duggan and Jack Bralley.
“I tried to do everything Draper had told me throughout the year, which is get the ball in,” Drinkwater said, “and use my best weapon which is my forehand. It just paid off today.”
“(The hot weather) wasn’t as bad for me because I play soccer, and I think I was able to outlast my opponent in doubles as well as singles.”
No. 5 singles player Micah Siems also won his singles match as he topped Bralley 6-4, 6-2.
“Ethan (Miller) and Ben were disappointed in the close matches at individual districts and they came up big at (No. 2) doubles today,” Draper said, “and Siems has been almost automatic. Him and Drink, we count on them.”
From left, Ethan Miller, Ben Drinkwater, Micah Siems, Kade Compton, Carter Compton and Isaac Burd pose for a photo after winning the Class 2 District 8 championship following a 5-4 win over Platte County. Photo credit: Michael Smith