Nathalia Barr and Kayelee Smith started the ball rolling early for Grain Valley girls tennis Thursday.
The duo recorded an impressive 10-1 victory at No. 1 doubles, and the momentum they enjoyed carried over to their Grain Valley tennis teammates as the Eagles claimed an 8-1 home victory over Blue Springs Thursday afternoon.
It was a big day for Barr and Smith as they also claimed wins at No. 1 and No. 2 singles, respectively, with Barr blanking Aspen Walters 8-0 and Smith defeating Mickey Vofer 8-3.
“I think a match like this shows that you don't have to come from a big school with a lot more students to find a way to win a tennis match,” Blue Springs coach Carrie McAtee said after a long afternoon at Grain Valley.
“I think a match like this is good for both teams. All we had to do was go 10 miles down the road to find out that hard work, a positive attitude and never giving up on any ball can take you a long way. We were fortunate enough to practice with the Eagles this summer, and I can't say enough good things about the work (coach) Randy Draper has done with this program.
“They're a good team – I mean, a really good team.”
Draper smiled when hearing that compliment.
“I don't think a lot of people realize how good we are,” Draper said. “I want to thank Carrie for coming out and playing us, because a match like this makes us a better team. We need to face the good competition, and even though we won today, there were a lot of close matches.
“Look how long this match went today (more than 3 1/2 hours). Players from both teams were working hard, and I am so proud of the job our girls turned in today.”
Barr was the most dominant player, but she gave kudos to Walters and Talia Yeager, the Wildcats’ doubles team.
“It's exciting and a huge confidence boost to play like we did today in doubles and singles,” said Barr, as the Eagles swept the three doubles matches to start the afternoon. “We've only had three matches, and we just keep getting better and better as a team and Kayelee and I are really playing well in doubles. We have a great chemistry, even though she's a freshman and this is our first year together.”
“So far, so good,” Smith said. “I love playing doubles with Nathalia. She keeps me in check, and I keep her in check. And today, to beat Blue Springs, is a big confidence boost for everyone. We see them get off their bus, and we think like, 'This is Blue Springs High School.' But we weren't intimated, we were just excited.”
Page 2 of 2 - The lone Wildcat to win a match was Yeager at No. 3 singles.
“It was important to me to win one match,” Yeager said, “because I wasn't just playing for myself. I was playing for my team and my high school. They are a very competitive team, and I'm impressed with all their players.”
Darby Scharfenkamp and Hannah Wiechmann won 8-1 at No. 2 doubles, and Chelsea Gabriel and Mikki Sickle won at No. 3 doubles 8-6.
Wiechmann won 8-1 at No. 4 singles, Gabriel won 8-3 at No. 5 singles and Sickle won 8-6 at No. 6 singles.
Follow Bill Althaus on Twitter: @AlthausEJC