The only thing that created any problems for Blue Springs High School’s Bentley Walters Monday afternoon at Park Hill South High School was the wind.
A 25 mph crosswind forced the Wildcats senior to alter her near perfect tennis game at times, and it later created havoc with her hair as she posed for victory photos for her parents and coach Jennifer Kramer following a 6-0, 6-1 sectional victory over Staley’s Claire Thimgan as Walters punched her ticket to state for the second time her stellar prep career.
Her teammate, Allie Brown, had more to deal with than the wind as Park Hill’s Elise McFee dominated in a 6-0, 6-1 over the Blue Springs junior who was battling a respiratory problem.
Walters went to state as a freshman, where she lost her first two matches, and she hopes to return from Springfield next week with some hardware.
“The first time I went to state I was just happy to go and really wasn’t ready mentally,” Walters said. “I’m so glad I’m going back, especially to be going back as a senior. I was just overwhelmed as a freshman and I’m much better prepared mentally this trip.”
Walters was mentally and physically ready for her sectional match Monday as she downed her opponent 10-1 in regular-season play.
“But I know that victory didn’t mean anything today,” Walters said. “I could never expect or anticipate coming up here to get an easy victory. I had to work hard today, and about midway through the second set the wind really picked up and it got cold – real cold.”
But she never let the elements – or her opponent – stop her from her goal of going to state for a second time, creating bookend trips to Springfield.
“Yeah, going as a freshman was great but I didn’t do much, and going as a senior is a great way to end my tennis career at Blue Springs,” Walters added.
Brown, who was sick, never used that as an excuse in her sectional loss.
“I’m so sick, but (McFee) played so well today she would have probably beat me even if I’d have felt well,” Brown said. “I think I got sick playing last Friday – it was so cold and I haven’t felt good since that match.
“But I’d never use that as an excuse. I’m happy to make it this far. I played my hardest and gave it everything I had and I’m proud of that.”
Wildcats coach Jennifer Kramer was proud of both her players.
“Allie was so sick, but you could never tell by the way she played today,” Kramer said. “I’m so proud of her. And Brantley played great! How cool is it that she goes to state as a freshman and then goes back as a senior. I think she could really have a lot of success at state.”