It seemed fitting that Will Sheridan, the lone senior on the Blue Springs South High School tennis team, would win the singles match that clinched the third straight district title for coach Nathan Mooney’s Jaguars.
Sheridan downed Grain Valley’s Bryson Martin 6-1, 6-2 in their No. 4 singles match to give South a 5-0 victory and the Class 2 District 14 team championship Wednesday afternoon at Wilbur Young Park adjacent to the South campus.
Sheridan has been a member of all three district championship squads.
“For sure, it was great to win the match that helped us win the district championship,” Sheridan said. “When we went 3-0 in doubles, everyone’s morale and confidence was high and we were excited to play our singles matches.”
No. 1 singles standout Sean Nguyen teamed with Justin Cooper to defeat Joel Florida and Trent Tarrants 8-1 at No. 1 doubles. Sheridan and Jason Epps topped Dean Mobley and Martin 8-3 at No. 2 doubles, and Sam Klosener and Keir Bowling got past Jesse Arnold and Tristin Whitton 8-4 at No. 3 doubles to set the stage for the quick 5-0 district win.
“We were all really excited about the singles matches and everyone played well,” Sheridan said. “I just happened to be the one to wrap up the district championship, and since I am the only senior, that makes it even more special for me.
“I can’t wait to see what the young guys come back and do next year – four in a row!”
While the Jaguars were posing for a team photo, Grain Valley coach Randy Draper offered a congratulatory handshake to Mooney.
“When we beat Blue Springs in the semifinals, we went 2-1 in doubles and had to win our last three singles matches for that (5-4) win,” Draper said after his team put the finishing touches on a remarkable 8-9-1 season.
“To be in this match today is special for me,” Draper added. “If anyone would have told me early in the season that we’d be playing for a district championship, I might have had to question their sanity because we were 1-8-1 at one point. We finished 8-9-1 so I am thrilled with how we’ve been playing up to this point, and we were in some of our (singles) matches when it was called after South won their fifth match.”
Nguyen was a catalyst for the 9-9-2 Jaguars as he teamed with Cooper to win at No. 1 doubles and topped Florida 6-0, 6-0 in a quick No. 1 singles victory.
“I was part of our district championship as a freshman, and then sat out last year and watched the guys win their second in a row,” said Nguyen, one of the premier players in the metro area. “I came back out this year and have enjoyed every minute of this season.”
He paused for a moment, to join his teammates for one last team photo, and then indulged with an individual photo of him holding the district championship plaque.
“This is what makes playing high school tennis so special,” Nguyen continued, “the fun, the camaraderie, the bonding. We’re having so much fun right now, and you don’t experience this is USTA tennis. You play, maybe take a photo or two and you go home.
“Look at our guys – no one wants to go home. We’re having too much fun.”
And right in the middle of all that fun was Mooney.
“We have so much respect for Coach Draper and his players,” Mooney said. “I told our guys about how they came back and beat Blue Springs, so our guys were ready to go out tonight and give it everything they had and we pulled off a great win.
“I was really pleased that Will had the win that gave us the title. He has been with us a long time and has been a part of all three district championships.
“Today, there were no distractions. Everyone was focused and ready to go and it was a great afternoon of tennis.”