Youth was served for the Fort Osage boys tennis team Tuesday afternoon at blustery Santa Fe Trail Park, but in the end, coach Scott Lett’s Truman Patriots enjoyed success with many new faces.
While Fort sophomore Sean Moore won at No. 1 singles and sophomore Malcom Davis won at No. 6 and then teamed with Zach Erickson for a No. 3 doubles win, the Patriots earned a 6-3 victory that put a big smile on Lett’s face.
“This is a big win – a big win! – for these guys because we lost a lot of seniors off last year’s team and I wanted to see how all the guys who played junior varsity last year responded today,” said Lett, who had six seniors graduate off last year’s team, including Examiner Player of the Year Blake Savidge.
“I saw mental toughness out there. I saw good body language. I heard our guys talking strategy and talking about foot work. With so many new players, I was wondering how they would react and I couldn’t be any happier about the way we performed today,” Lett added.
“And Fort is a young team with a lot of talent. With all the rain and snow and bad weather we had, this was a great way to start the season for both teams. I saw a lot of good tennis out there this afternoon.”
Truman winners were Caleb Allen, 8-2, at No. 2 singles; Aaron Miller, 8-2 at No. 3 singles; Carson Moon, 8-6 at No. 4 singles; and Cyrus Berridge, 8-6 at No. 5 singles.
The doubles teams of Allen and Miller at No. 1 and Michael Wagner and Berridge at No. 2 claimed 8-1 and 8-2 wins, respectively.
Wagner, who was No. 2 junior varsity last year, is No. 1 singles for the Patriots this year and he lost 8-4 to Moore.
“I’m just so proud to be a part of this team and to go out and compete and get that doubles win,” Wagner said. “Blake (Savidge) was a great No. 1 player for the past four years and no one is going to replace him, but all the guys who were on junior varsity really worked hard in the offseason so we could come out and do everything we could to make our coaches proud and win some matches.”
When asked about making the move from No. 2 junior varsity to No. 1 varsity singles, Wagner grinned.
“I’ve worked hard, and I’m going to keep working hard,” Wagner said. “I know I haven’t played as much tennis as a lot of the guys I will be playing but I am going to give it everything I have. I can’t let it get in my head that I was No. 2 JV last year and No. 1 singles this year. I’m just taking it like I’m a member of the Truman tennis team and I’m going to do everything I can for the team to have success.”
While the future looks bright for coach Jordan Groves’ Indians, the veteran coach is also excited about the present.
“We haven’t been outside much because of all the weather and I’m so happy with what I saw today from the young guys and everyone on the team,” Groves said. “Sean was No. 1 last year as a freshman and he’s played a lot of tennis.
“We’re excited about Malcom because he’s played a lot of tennis and is so fast – he can really get around on the court.”
When asked about his performance, the sophomore No. 6 standout seemed surprised.
“I didn’t think I’d win – and I won at singles and doubles. I am so excited I can’t even explain it,” he said.” I wish we would have won (as a team), but I am so happy that I was able to help our team have some success in the first match of the season.”
Added Moore: “Today’s win was refreshing, because last year I lost my first singles match and I was disappointed. You could tell we were all rusty today because we haven’t had many chances to get outside and practice. But we had some close matches and got some wins and we can hopefully build on that success.”