Randy Draper was out driving past Grain Valley High School recently when the veteran Eagles tennis coach decided to visit the tennis complex behind the high school.
“I was stunned to see that no one was playing,” Draper said, “because every time I drove past it this summer, it was filled with our girls – and some of our guys. The Griechen sisters spent so much time at the courts they had their mail delivered there.”
Miranda and Mikaela Griechens and Kendra Sibert are all vying for the No. 1 singles spot on a team that has won four of the last five district titles and nine consecutive conference championships under Draper’s watch.
“Miranda and Mikaela and Kendra are all right there,” he said, holding his index finger and thumb an inch apart, “it’s that close. And that’s good for the coach. I love that type of competition, and I think the girls are enjoying it, too.
“After all, it’s all about the team. If they have to battle and fight for No. 1, that’s going to make No. 2 and No. 3 strong and our team even stronger.”
Sibert, who is a starting guard on Draper’s conference champion girls basketball team, says she can’t get enough of his leadership and guidance.
“I am so lucky to have Coach Draper in tennis and basketball,” Sibert said. “All he cares about are our teams – tennis and basketball – and that makes us care about our teams, too. In basketball, we don’t care who scores as long as we win and in tennis, we just want to be successful.
“You’d think we’d be all stressed out playing each other to find out who gets the No. 1 singles, but we just want to go out and have a winning season and win our 10th conference championship.”
The Griechen sisters nod in agreement while Sibert is talking about the team aspects of tennis.
“There is no hostility, but a lot of good, wholesome competition going on now,” Miranda said. “We love to play tennis, so we’re working hard to be in the best position to help our team win.”
Added Mikaela: “The challenge going on now is just going to make our team better. We’re excited about the team this season. Kayelee (Smith) was our leader the past four years and we want to keep the success going and do anything we can to win another conference title.”