They call her the difference maker, and that’s exactly what freshman Allie Brown has been this season for the Class 2 District 14 champion Blue Springs High School girls tennis team.
Brown claimed a 6-2, 6-2 No. 3 singles victory over Grain Valley’s Mikaela Griechen at the Grain Valley tennis complex Wednesday afternoon to pick up win No. 5 and cement the 5-1 victory and first team district title for coach Jody McClain.
“Allie is a difference maker because we knew what we had at No. 1 and No. 2 with Caitlyn (Sporing) and Bentley (Walters),” said McClain, who seemed as delighted as her players as she held the championship plaque in post-match photos. “Now, we have a player at No. 3 – who is a freshman – who can set up an opponent by slicing, dropping, lobbing and, even though she didn’t do it much tonight, really hit the ball hard.
“And she never gets frustrated and always maintains her composure. She’s an A student and just one of those players – like all my girls – you love to be around. This is a fun group, and a talented group of players.”
Blue Springs advances to the Class 2 team sectionals on Oct. 7 against the District 15 champion, Park Hill South or St. Teresa's Academy. The winner of that match meets the District 13 or District 16 champion later in the day in a state quarterfinal.
Sporing claimed a quick 6-0, 6-0 win at No. 1 and Walters earned a 6-2, 6-2 win at No. 2 to set up the clincher for Brown.
“It’s pretty cool to be the winner in the match that wins the district championship,” said Brown, whose flaming orange hair matched the handle of her racquet. “But I couldn’t have done it if we hadn’t won two doubles and two singles matches.
“This was a team win. That’s what Coach McClain has been talking about all season, how tennis is an individual sport, but it’s a team sport because the team wins and losses. I’m having so much fun, I don’t want this season to ever end.”
The match began with doubles play and Sporing and Walters claimed an 8-1 victory at No. 1 and Brown and Danielle Bond won 8-4 at No. 3.
The lone win of the day for the Eagles came in No. 2 doubles, in which Kendra Sibert and Ryan Deaton won 8-2.
“That was a big pick-me-up for the girls,” said assistant coach Mariah Hernandez, as head coach Randy Draper is recovering from knee replacement surgery. “When Kendra and Ryan won that doubles match, you could see how it pumped up the girls.
“But like I told them, they have no reason to hang their heads after losing to a great team like Blue Springs. Their No. 1, No. 2 and No. 3 players are great and we did so many good things this season – like winning our 10th conference championship in a row.
“I’m disappointed, but I’m disappointed because I have to say goodbye to all these great girls.”
The season is not completely done, though. The district teams reconvene at 8 a.m. Friday at Santa Fe Trail Park for the individual singles and doubles district tournament.