When it was announced that the COVID-19 pandemic would wipe out the high school spring sports seasons, the first player to contact Truman tennis coach Scott Lett was No. 1 singles player and senior Caleb Allen.
"He was distraught," Lett said Monday afternoon at Santa Fe Trail Park, where Allen led the Patriots to a 5-4 victory over Noland Road rival William Chrisman in a match that helped make up a bit for missing that season. "He’s like, ‘Coach, can we just practice one more time? Can we just get together and say goodbye to each other?’
"And now here we are this week, where the Independence School District is allowing us to play our Independence rivals and Caleb gets a win at No. 1 singles and teams with Aaron Muller at No. 1 doubles to get the win over our biggest rival."
Allen, who was visiting with his parents after the marathon tennis session, said it was the perfect way to start the two-match series against the Bears. The two teams meet again at 6 p.m. Wednesday at Santa Fe Trail Park.
"This means a lot to me, it means a lot to all our players and the Truman players," Allen said. "We never thought this was going to happen, and it happens, and we get a 5-4 victory and I get the win to give us the team win.
"It’s all pretty amazing."
Even though his team lost the nail-biter, Chrisman coach Jason Grubb was happy to give his players another chance on the court.
"It all came down to No. 1 singles and Jordan Twenter played really well for us; Caleb just played a little bit better," Grubb said. "But you know me, it’s not about winning and losing.
"It’s about the game of tennis. Other than my family, there is nothing I love as much as tennis. And when it comes to the sport, there is nothing I love more than working with the players on my team.
"Today, two sophomores – No. 4 David Keltner and No. 5 Nino Florido – won their first varsity singles matches. How cool is that? Sam (Hawley, a senior) played on one leg after hurting his knee last week in a challenge match against Jordan and got a big (10-3) win at No. 2 singles.
"I couldn’t be any prouder of our guys. We were 1-2 in doubles and 3-3 in singles so we need to clean some things up in doubles and see what happens when we play again on Wednesday."
Hawley, who played with a heavily wrapped knee, said he will be ready to go Wednesday.
"I’m not going to make any excuses, the knee hurt me tonight," said Hawley, who teamed with Twenter and lost at No. 2 doubles to Allen and Muller. "But I’m going to ice it and have it worked on and I’m coming back strong Wednesday. Heck, I’m playing golf (for the Chrisman golf team) Tuesday. This is it – I’m not missing anything."
Truman’s Nate Morton and Connor Pointer each won singles matches and Morton and Juan Lopez teamed up to win No. 2 doubles,
Keltner and Florido also won at No. 3 doubles for Chrisman.