It didn’t take long for the competitive spirit in William Chrisman tennis coach Jason Grubb to get percolating under a blazing sun on the Santa Fe Trail Park tennis courts in Independence.
The popular coach and his assistant, David Hawley, took on seniors Sam Hawley, the coach’s son, and Jordan Twenter in a quick two-set match that featured as much good natured trash talk as it did forehands and volleys.
“There must be a hole in my racket,” bemoaned David Hawley after he missed an easy lob perfectly executed by his son.
“Hey, can I get a line judge?” pleaded Sam, when a close volley went the way of the coaches.
In the end, Sam and Jeremy downed their two coaches 2-0, causing Sam to quip, “We’re going to pay for that. The last time we beat them, they made us run the lines on the court that are shaped like a W – but it’s all in good fun, and conditioning.”
When that comment was relayed to Grubb he laughed and said, “It’s the first day back, I’m feeling great – like a big ol’ cuddly teddy bear. No one is running today.”
Watching the first team practice following the COVID-19 shutdown was certainly interesting.
Players remained at least 10 feet apart and each player brought his own water.
Well, each player with the exception of Twenter.
“I forgot my water bottle,” he said, grinning, as David Hawley walked by with a huge, ice-filled jug of water he was guzzling.
“I bet you bring you don’t forget it tomorrow,” Hawley said, as Twenter nodded in agreement.
The tennis, for most of the practice, was pedestrian and sloppy. Which is what Grubb anticipated.
“You can tell who’s picked up a racket and you can tell who’s been eating chips and playing video games,” Grubb said. “But it’s just so great to be out here with the guys. We’re just going to take it slow and easy and have some fun.
“We didn’t think we were going to be together again because of the quarantine, so I’m going to be happy with anything we get.”
The Bears will meet Noland Road rivals Truman in two tennis matches, June 29, with Truman serving as the host team at Santa Fe Trail, and July 1 with the Bears hosting the Patriots. It is part of the Independence School District rivalry series where Truman, Chrisman and Van Horn will compete in baseball, soccer, golf, tennis and track and field. Van Horn does not have a tennis team.
“I can’t wait,” said Hawley, the Bears captain. “When they canceled the spring sports, I never thought I’d be playing tennis for Chrisman again, and now we get to play Truman twice. It’s not a season, but it’s going to be a lot of fun and give us seniors some closure.”