The Blue Springs girls tennis team has quite a bit of talent returning.
That’s why the Wildcats won the Class 2 District 14 Tournament in a 5-1 victory against Grain Valley last season.
It was the top three singles players who often put the Wildcats in position to win matches and they are all back to take a crack at a second straight district title. They also have two other varsity players returning as only one player graduated from last year’s squad.
Blue Springs all-state No. 1 singles player Caitlyn Sporing, a senior, leads the returning corps after finishing 21-3 overall and finishing fourth in the Class 2 state singles. The reigning Examiner Girls Tennis Player of the Year worked hard over the summer to improve her game and played against some of the best tennis players in the Midwest in United States Tennis Association tournaments.
“My goal is to win state, which probably won’t happen,” Sporing said of the state singles tournament. “But I would like to at least make the finals.”
No. 2 singles player Bentley Walters played in a lot of the same tournaments as Sporing and head coach Jody McClain noted that she has made some major strides. Last season, the junior went 14-4 and advanced to the sectional round of the Class 2 singles tournament.
“We have put in over 200 hours over the summer,” Sporing said of herself and Bentley. “We did pretty well. We either won the back draw or placed fifth. We have definitely both have gotten a lot better since last season.”
Joining them in the top three is returning sophomore Allie Brown, who went 13-1 and was undefeated in Suburban Big Seven Conference play last season.
“All three played in a lot of tournaments this summer,” McClain said of her top three. “They’re at the top of their game. I think they’re hitting the tennis season just at the right time because they’ve been playing in Nebraska, Oklahoma and Iowa.”
Jenna Pope and Dani Madison return from last year’s team to help fill out the lineup.
“They’re steady, solid players,” McClain said of Madison and Pope. “They’re not flashy, but they will get every ball back, which is good. That’s what you want from your bottom varsity players. You want them to grind out matches.”
Added Walters: “It helps that we have five players back from last year. We have a lot of chemistry.”
Freshman Melina McGraw is someone McClain said could potentially fill in the final spot on varsity.
“She’s taken tennis lessons for several years and her mother was a tennis player,” McClain said. “She has promise, so we’ll see how she does.”
For doubles play, McClain plans on mixing up teams to see which players match up best with the other.
“We will see what works,” McClain said. “We’ll mix it up a bit.”
While the Wildcats figure out their doubles teams, the primary goal is to win districts again and possible make it to state as a team, which will be a challenging task with traditional power and conference foe Lee’s Summit West standing in the way.
“We would love to make state, but Lee’s Summit West is our main competition getting there,” Sporing said. “We’ll have to see how we do against them. They have some pretty good freshmen coming up, too.”