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Grain Valley duo captures fourth place at state tennis

By The Examiner staff

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – For the first time in school history, Grain Valley sent tennis players to the state semifinals.

Junior Chelsea Gorden and freshman Finley LaForge advanced to the Class 2 state doubles semifinals with a pair of wins on the opening day of the Missouri State High School Girls Tennis Championships Thursday at Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.

But the Eagles lost twice Friday and settled for fourth place overall.

Gorden and LaForge were stopped by Mikaela Mikulec and Rachel Li of MICDS in the semifinals and will play for third place later today against Addison Vance and Sophia Ong of Notre Dame de Sion, the same team they defeated 0-6, 6-1, 7-6 (11-9) in the Class 2 District 7 championship match.

The Eagles and Storm duo had another close battle but Vance and Ong won a 10-point match tiebreak for the third-place medal. Gorden and LaForge dropped the first set 6-4 but won the second 6-2, only to fall 17-15 in the tiebreaker.

Gorden and LaForge had to defeat another team from Eastern Jackson County to reach the semifinals. They downed Tori Gant and Kiara Ashurst, the first state qualifiers ever from William Chrisman, claiming a 6-0, 6-3 win in the quarterfinals.

Gorden and LaForge moved into the quarterfinals with a 6-0, 6-2 victory over Wrigley Cook and Abigail McCord of Republic in the first round.

Gant and Ashurst, both seniors, rallied from deficits in both sets to defeat Haley Hultz and Victoria Watson of Camdenton 6-4, 6-4 in the first round to advance to the quarterfinals.

After the loss to Gorden and LaForge, the Chrisman duo dropped into the consolation bracket. Gant and Ashurst were then eliminated with a close 6-3, 6-4 loss to Lainie Mantle and Kylie Bernskoetter of Jefferson City Helias in the consolation quarterfinal.

Grain Valley junior Kennedi McCord went 1-2 in Class 2 singles play and was eliminated. McCord lost 6-0, 6-0 to Laura Finnie of Visitation Academy in St. Louis in the first round, but bounced back with a victory over Sara Dillon of Kearney in the consolation bracket.

McCord, though, couldn’t get past Lucy Huang of Springfield Glendale in the consolation quarterfinal and was eliminated.

In Class 3 singles, Blue Springs senior Allie Brown advanced to the quarterfinals but dropped two straight matches and was eliminated.

Brown defeated Melissa Sanchez of Ozark on a forfeit in the first round, but fell to Peyton Koper of Raymore-Peculiar 6-1, 6-2 in the quarterfinals. She tried to stay alive in the consolation quarterfinals but couldn’t get past Maggie Lin of Columbia Rock Bridge and was eliminated.

Olivia Berens and Alana Freeman of Lee’s Summit West went 0-2 in Class 3 doubles and were eliminated.