During the 2019 spring high school boys tennis season, Grain Valley’s Triston Whitton teamed with Bryson Martin mostly at No. 3 doubles, and Brady Slater specialized as the Eagles’ No. 6 singles player.
Next season, things will be different.
Whitton and Slater most likely will team with each other in doubles next spring, so they are working on building their chemistry in the KC Summer Slam Series. During this week’s Jaguar Slam, Whitton and Slater defeated Blue Springs South’s Kye Ried and Carter McIntosh to take the varsity boys championship Wednesday at Lee’s Summit North High School.
“It’s good because we get to play people that we’ll probably get to play during the season,” Whitton said. “It good practice to do that rather than playing your own teammates.”
Slater also teamed with Grain Valley’s Alyssa Owens to win mixed doubles 8-6 in the first-place match at Blue Springs South High School.
In varsity girls singles, William Chrisman’s Tori Gant took second after falling to Liberty’s Rebecca Floray 6-1 in the finals. South’s Natalie Nelson took third at South.
Slater and Whitton said they were pleased with the way they played in the Jaguar Slam. The duo finished fourth at the Eagle Slam and third at the Summit Slam earlier this summer before winning this one.
“I think we did pretty good,” Whitton said. “We started kind of slow, but got it going later.”
Added Slater: “Our championship match was pretty fun and intense. We went to deuce for three-fourths of the points. I think we played to their weaknesses pretty well.”
Despite falling short of first, Reid and McIntosh were pleased with how they played.
“It is always good practice to get match play in the offseason,” Reid said. “Playing in this is beneficial.”
Added McIntosh: “We played pretty good for playing for the first time together. We played OK (in the finals). It wasn’t our best match. We came back from being down 7-3 and made it 7-6.”
For girls singles, Gant, who is the No. 1 singles player for Chrisman, was pleased with how her tournament went.
“I am proud of myself,” she said. “I pushed myself through tough matches. When it came down to the finals, Rebecca is the one to pull through because she’s really good. I have yet to beat her.
“My serves were good today. I am just working on my strokes and not overhitting the ball.”
Gant said she’s received plenty of support from Chrisman coach Jason Grubb, who covered her entry fee to the event.
“He came out and supported the team today and gave me good advice,” Gant said.
Gant defeated Nelson 6-4 in the semifinals to advance. Nelson defeated Lee’s Summit North’s Kelly Connolly 6-4 to take third. She was the No. 1 player for Blue Springs South’s junior varsity team and will be promoted to varsity this coming season. She said she used the Summer Slam series to help her with the upcoming transition.
“I started out a little bit rough and I ended up winning against Grain Valley’s No. 1 (Ryan Deaton),” she said. “I had some pretty good wins. So I am pretty proud of myself.”