This past summer, Grain Valley tennis coach Randy Draper paid several visits to the school’s tennis complex, located just south of the high school.
“Every time I stopped by the courts,” Draper said, “Mikaela and Miranda Griechen were there practicing. They spent so much time on our courts, they had their mail delivered there. They are the perfect examples – THE PERFECT EXAMPLES! – of hard work paying off.”
That’s because the twin seniors, who got serious about tennis their junior year at Grain Valley, are representing the Eagles at the Class 2 state tournament in Springfield this weekend.
“A lot of times,” Draper added, “you see kids work hard, and it’s not rewarded like it should be. Those two girls worked so hard. They are the poster girls for our program and what hard work can help you accomplish. I hope all the young kids who pick up a racket at one of our summer camps or when high school starts, read about the Griechens because they are inspirational.
“They inspire me, and they should inspire anyone associated with our program.”
The Griechens shook off a first set loss to Lee’s Summit West’s Gillian Evans and Kennedy Cross and won a 2 1/2-hour marathon 2-6, 7-6 (7-4), 6-2 sectional match to punch their ticket to state.
“All the hard work we’ve put in has now paid off,” Mikaela Griechen said the day of that big win. “Going to state is an awesome accomplishment for my sister and me.”
Draper said they have not only improved physically, but mentally as well.
“What we talked about was you have to win the battle with yourself before you can win a battle against anybody else,” Draper said after that big win. “In the first set there was a lot of battling amongst us, trying to win us over. Finally in the second set, we got to play against the opponent. When that happened, we were good.”
Miranda says mental toughness has been a key to their success.
“We are much tougher mentally,” Miranda said. “We won that sectional doubles match because we were mentally tough in the last two sets. We got tough and we won.”
Mikaela shakes her head in agreement.
“There was nothing negative,” Mikaela said. “We went out and played the type of tennis we know we can play and we won the biggest match of our lives.
“Coach Draper always talks about this team being like a family, and to share that win with my sister – my twin sister – it’s pretty amazing. Especially when you think back that we really got serious about playing tennis as juniors.”
Mikaela was the No. 7 singles player as a junior and jumped to No. 3 this season. Miranda was No. 6 and made the big leap to No. 1. They were the team’s No. 1 doubles squad as well.
“We started playing when we were sophomores,” Miranda said. “But we didn’t get real serious until we were juniors. We lived on the courts last summer and practiced a lot against the boys players because we wanted to know what it was like to play against an opponent with a lot of spin and power.
“We didn’t grow up in a country club. We went to some of Coach Draper’s camps and, like I said, got serious when we were juniors, and now, we’re going to state.”
Mikaela added going to state and maintaining a Grain Valley legacy of excellence – the Eagles have won 10 conference titles in a row – make this trip even more special.
“I’m so proud of what we have done, but I am even prouder to be a part of this program and to help Coach Draper have another conference championship season,” Mikaela said. “We both played other sports, and we’re very competitive – in sports, school work, boyfriends, you name it – but we are able to share this trip to state and there is no one I would rather go with than my sister.”