Senior night couldn’t have been more perfect for William Chrisman’s girls tennis team.
Chrisman sent its four seniors – Nicole Eppert, Hunter Taylor, Dana Crosby and Isabella Conner-Urnise – off in style Thursday night in the Bears’ final dual of the regular season at Santa Fe Trail Park. They enjoyed a heart-felt ceremony, a nice spread of food and treats and a 9-0 victory over rival Fort Osage.
“You couldn’t have scripted it any better,” Chrisman tennis coach Jason Grubb said. “The two seniors got their two wins, we played a good rival … it was a fun way to go out for the regular season.”
It was certainly a memorable night for Eppert and Taylor, the two seniors on Chrisman’s varsity. Eppert downed Brooklyne Dover 8-3 in No. 2 singles following a hard-fought 8-5 victory over Dover and Dharma Craig in No. 1 singles.
Taylor and Emma Place cruised at No. 3 doubles, downing the Indians’ Emma Brown and Alanis Cameron 8-2. But in the No. 4 singles match, Taylor battled from 7-3 down to outlast Elayna Lamb 9-7 in a match that ended almost an hour after everyone else had finished.
“A 9-7 win after a 3-7 deficit is pretty awesome on senior night,” Grubb said. “You can’t ask for better. That talented girl on the Fort team was an underclassman and she was playing really hard. The biggest thing that separated them was the Hunter had a little more composure and has done those matches before.”
Grubb thought Eppert, whose 93 varsity victories are the most ever by a Bears player, looked flat in doubles before picking up her game in singles. If she felt any senior night jitters, they all went away after she and her fellow upperclassmen received hugs, and shed some tears, in a ceremony between the singles and doubles matches.
“I felt pretty confident,” Eppert said. “After the whole team was cheering us on after the senior night, I felt pretty confident in myself because I knew they were there supporting me.”
While the seniors stole the spotlight, Chrisman’s underclassmen also enjoyed big nights. Tori Gant overpowered Courtney Huffner 8-0 in No. 1 singles, Kiara Ashurst downed Craig in No. 3 singles, Emma Place beat Emma Brown 8-0 in No. 5 singles and Laurie Douglas beat Cameron 8-5 in No. 6 singles.
In the other doubles matches, Gant and Douglas beat Huffner and Lamb 8-1 at No. 2; Taylor and Place topped Brown and Cameron 8-2 at No. 3.
“They’re a very good team,” Fort Osage coach Jordan Groves said after the Indians fell to 7-4 with one dual left to play. “I was disappointed it wasn’t a little closer but my girls did their best.”
The win capped a 10-4 regular season for Chrisman, including a second-consecutive 6-0 mark and championship in the Suburban Middle Seven. The Bears begin postseason play against Truman in the first round of the Class 2 District 14 team tournament Monday at Santa Fe Trail Park.
Fort Osage is in the Class 2 District 15 tournament and opens against North Kansas City on Monday.
After a successful senior sendoff, Eppert believes the Bears will be ready to take on the postseason.
“We’re all happy now,” Eppert said. “It’s time to celebrate and I think this will help us get mentally ready for next week.”