Blake Savidge and his Truman High School tennis teammates arrived at Santa Fe Trail Park in Independence at 7:35 a.m. Friday.
Nearly 11 and a half hours later, he had helped squeegee rain off the tennis courts three times, played three singles matches and walked off center court with his second Class 2 District 14 title in the past three years, topping Blue Springs sophomore Luke David 6-0, 6-0.
It was a long, but very rewarding day for the Patriots senior, who has played in the district title match four years in a row.
The Blue Springs South duo of Wyatt Walker and Chase Klosener enjoyed the same success, minus the housekeeping duties of the host Patriots, as they overcame a near disastrous 0-6 start to claim an 0-6, 6-1, 7-6 (7-2 tiebreaker) district doubles victory against Lee’s Summit North’s Joe Hammerly and Matthew DeBarker in a match that had the fans from both schools in awe.
The top two singles players and doubles teams advance to sectional play next Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park.
“I am so proud of Blake,” Truman coach Scott Lett said. “It’s his second district championship, and just as impressive, his fourth district championship match. He has done an amazing job representing Truman High School the past four years.”
Savidge, who will not play tennis when he attends Truman State University, said he had a vivid realization the night before his final district competition.
“I was just kind of thinking about tennis, and it kind of hit me that (Friday) I could be picking up a racket and playing tennis for the last time at Truman High School,” Savidge said. “And I didn’t want today to be my last day representing Truman.”
“I am so proud to wear this jersey, to represent my family, my team and my school and I think that really motivated me to go out and play well today. When I got up 6-0 in the first set, I went into the second set motivated – almost like I had lost the first set.”
Savidge motivated himself to dominate in the second set.
“I didn’t want to let Luke get back in the match. He’s just a sophomore and a really great young player, but I wasn’t going to let up. Winning was important today for me, and I am so proud to be a Patriot.”
David was also proud to reach the finals in his first district appearance.
“I can’t even tell you how long it’s been since Blue Springs has had a singles player move on to sectionals,” first-year Wildcats tennis coach Anna Cole said. “Luke has been playing his best tennis the past three weeks or so and that’s when you want to play your best.”
“We have so much respect for Blake, and it was an honor to watch Luke play him in the championship match. Luke is learning what district and sectional play is like this year and that will motivate him to make it this far again next year.”
The soft-spoken sophomore added: “It was just so awesome to make it to the finals and get to sectionals next week. I felt a lot of pressure because Blake is so good, and he won, and he deserved to win, but I am proud to make it as far as I did today.”
The Jaguar duo of Walker and Klosener had to dig down to claim their heart-stopping doubles win.
“When we lost 0-6, it was like, ‘Come on, one point at a time,’” Walker said. “We couldn’t get it all back at once, so we were patient and started playing some good tennis.”
Klosener added that their practice the day before district was so dysfunctional that coach Nathan Mooney ended it early.
“Coach called practice early, and that’s not good the day before district,” Klosener said, “but we got focused and paid attention to what was important – and that was winning this doubles championship. And we were able to do it.”
Mooney was proud of his team.
“They had one of the worst practices ever yesterday,” Mooney said, chuckling, “and Chase was talking about the stress in his life right now with college, finals and everything else going on in the life of a senior, and he and Wyatt were able to put that all aside and get a big doubles win. I am really proud of them.”
North’s Hammerly said the lone consolation to losing is that both the first and second-place teams advance to sectionals next Tuesday.
“This would have been a tough way for our season to end,” Hammerly said. “Going to sectionals was our goal, I just wish we were going as a first-place team.”
So does North coach Stu Reece.
“Our goal was going to sectionals, but there is a huge difference in seeding going in as a first-place team, as opposed to being a second-place team,” Reece said. “They won that first set 6-0, and you could tell through their body language that they lost some intensity.”
“South gained that intensity in the second set, then we got up 3-0 in the third set and you could kind of see our guys let up a little bit. I know they will learn from that, and it won’t happen again next week at sectionals.”