by John Unrein
The Grain Valley Lady Eagles tennis program served up a shutout win against the visiting Fort Osage Indians on Tuesday, September 15th. Grain Valley improves to a 2-2 record on the season with their 9-0 win. Single match winners for the Eagles included Chelsea Gorden, Finley LaForge, Kennedi McCord, Bailey Jenkins, Emma Thiessen, and Kyla Hunt.
Gorden is the Eagles number one seated player and was victorious in both doubles and singles play. LaForge joined Gorden in their doubles win, 8-3 prior to Gorden going on to defeat Fort Osage senior Dharma Craig by a score of 8-1.
Gorden’s formula for victory during singles play included forcing her opponent to use her backhand, well placed shots inside the line, and successfully surviving hard hit shots by her opponent in sending lobs back across the net that allowed Gorden to reposition in recovery for the next volley.
“Last year we graduated a lot of seniors. Finley (LaForge) and I have both duked it at really hard in practice and she’s an amazing player. I have tried to lead by example as an upperclassman so far this season. My favorite part of tennis is how close we are as a team even though we play a lot of individual matches on the court,” Gorden said.
“The mental side of tennis and how well you bounce back (from adversity) is more important than your skill. You can be down a point and then find yourself behind significantly. It becomes about believing in yourself and your ability instead of getting down.”
“I’m proud of our two wins so far this season based on how young our team is.”
Joining Gorden with an impressive singles win was Kennedi McCord by a score of 8-0 over Indians senior Courtney Huffner. McCord was consistent with her forehand throughout the match and used it as her ally in sending the ball deep into the other end of the court.
“I kept the ball in play and my serves were good today. I am happy with how we did,” McCord said.
Lady Eagles Head Tennis Coach Randy Draper continues to be pleased with the progress of his young squad. Draper would offer affirmation and suggestions to his players throughout their matches much like a hitting coach would in baseball. The approach would draw nods, smiles, or at the very least “OK, Coach” throughout the contest.
“I think we’re definitely getting better. It’s nice that we had two seniors get wins tonight. We also have a lot of young players and we have to keep accelerating through the season,” Draper said.
“Right now, that’s happening along with bumps that will be coming, but we are learning a lot on how to play and compete.”
The Eagles continue with a hectic period in their schedule with matches on Thursday, September 17th against William Chrisman at Santa Fe Park prior to competing in the Blue Springs Varsity Tournament on Friday, September 18th again at Santa Fe Park in Independence.