When Blue Springs No. 2 singles player Bentley Walters walked off the home court at Baumgardner Park, she was greeted with smiles and high-fives.
For a moment, the sophomore seemed confused, as many of her Wildcats teammates were still playing members of Blue Springs South Tuesday in the Class 2 District 14 semifinal match.
That’s when coach Jody McClain explained that the first team to get five victories wins the match, and advances to today’s 4 p.m. district championship match at top-seeded Grain Valley.
Walters’ 6-2, 6-2 victory was win No. 5.
“Oh, that’s good,” Walters said, joining her smiling teammates. “We really played well today. I think we remembered that we came close to beating South last year, and we really wanted to beat them this year so we can go to Grain Valley for the championship.”
The Wildcats downed the Jaguars 5-1 as Caitlyn Sporing won 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 singles, freshman Allie Brown won 6-0, 6-1, and Sporing and Walters won 8-0 at No. 1 doubles and Brown and Danielle Bond won 8-6 at No. 3 doubles.
South’s No. 2 doubles team of Khiara Cox and Peyton Caldwell won 8-5.
It would have been impossible to wipe the smile off Coach McClain’s face as her Wildcats are in unchartered waters.
“We were all right last year, but we’re 8-3 this year – and we’ve never had an 8-3 team,” McClain said. “We were so strong at No. 1 and No. 2, then Allie, who is just an amazing freshman, joined the team and she has been a real difference maker.
“We knew what to expect from Caitlyn and Bentley, they’ve been playing a long time, and Allie comes along and adds so much to the depth of our team. We were also strong at No. 1 doubles with Caitlyn and Bentley and we found a partner for Allie (Bond) and we’re having a lot of success at No. 3.
“Allie just has so many weapons in her arsenal – I’ve seen her hit a dump shot, a lob and a cross-court shot all on the same point. She figures out her opponents’ weaknesses and attacks them.”
South coach Jake Estep knew this was going to be a rebuilding year for his always consistent Jaguars and praised both teams.
“Jody is doing a great job with her kids, she has a lot of talent this year,” Estep said, “and I was proud of our girls. We were hoping to get a couple of wins in doubles, and Khiara and Peyton got that win at No. 2 and we had a close (6-8 loss) match at No. 3.
“Overall, it was a learning season for our girls. A lot of young girls found out what it takes to compete at this level and we’re all excited about next season.”
Sporing is thrilled to still be excited about this season.
“Our top three singles players all played really well today, and we did well in doubles,” Sporing said. “South isn’t as strong as they’ve been in the past because they have a lot of new players, but it’s always fun to beat the crosstown rivals.”