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2020 Girls Tennis Player of the Year: Wildcats' Brown excels in move up to No. 1

By Bill Althaus
bill.althaus@examiner.net
Blue Springs senior Allie Brown reached the Class 3 state quarterfinals this season after moving up to No. 1 for the Wildcats. She is The Examiner's 2020 Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Allie Brown, who watched teammate Bentley Walters accept The Examiner’s Player of the Year Award in girls tennis in 2019, never dreamed that she might one day receive the same honor.

“The only time I ever thought about something like that was when Bentley won it,” said Brown, who claimed Walters’ No. 1 singles position on the Blue Springs High School tennis team this year and earned The Examiner’s top tennis award.

“I’m surprised – really surprised – and it’s cool to win something one of my teammates, and one of the best players I ever played with, has won,” Brown said. “With COVID and everything going on this year, I never thought about who would win The Examiner’s Player of the Year Award and I’m really happy I won it. Thank you.”

Brown finished the season with a 10-4 mark after placing second in the Class 3 District 7 tournament. She then advanced to state where she won her first set by forfeit to reach the quarterfinals, but then lost two matches.

While at state, she enjoyed a reunion of sorts with the coach who first introduced her to tennis.

“I owe so much to Coach (Randy) Draper at Grain Valley,” Brown said of the iconic coach who founded the highly successful Eagles program that sent Chelsea Gorden and Finley LaForge to state, where they finished in fourth place in doubles.

“I started going to his tennis camps when I was in second or third grade, and that’s where I learned to love tennis. He was a great coach and teacher and he’s so funny, I just love to be around him.

“When I saw him at state he was so excited to see me. We had a great talk.”

Brown paused for a moment, and added, “You know, I never lost to a Grain Valley player.”

When that comment was relayed to Draper, he laughed and said, “Now, that’s just rude. But seriously, it was great seeing Allie at state. She has worked so hard, and she worked hard at our camps.

“When you have a hard working player, you want them to have success. Now, she didn’t have to have that kind of success against us, but she’s such a great kid I can live with it.”

Brown played varsity tennis for all four years, starting at No. 3 singles as a freshman. She split her time between No. 3 and No. 2 as a sophomore and was No. 2, behind Walters, as a junior.

“It was great watching Allie grow and develop as a player and a person the past four years,” said assistant coach Jessica Sanders, who will move up to be the Wildcats’ head coach next fall.

“Everything was so different last year because of COVID, but she never let anything distract her and she had a great season. And we were all so thrilled when she finished second at districts and got to go to state for the first time as a senior.”

When asked about highlights at state, Brown had a quick answer.

“Just going was amazing,” Brown said, “and it was great seeing Coach Draper. But the highlight for me was going with my friend Molly Hocker and staying up all night watching movies after I lost my second match.

“I was disappointed, but having Molly there made it a lot of fun.”

Brown will take her talent to Truman State University, which will provide new challenges.

"It's been great being a part of the Blue Springs program for the past four years," Brown said, "and now there are going to be new challenges in college. And I can't wait."

2020 Examiner All-Area Girls Tennis

FIRST TEAM

Singles

Allie Brown, sr., Blue Springs — 10-4 record; Class 3 state quarterfinalist; Class 3 District 7 runner-up; first-team All-Suburban Big Eight; 2020 Examiner Girls Tennis Player of the Year.

Tori Gant, sr., William Chrisman — 16-4 record (5-0 Suburban Middle Six Conference); played doubles in district; second in Belton Tournament A flight; second place in William Chrisman tournament; All-Suburban Middle Six first team; career school record for wins (111).

Kennedi McCord, jr., Grain Valley — 13-13 record; Class 2 state qualifier; Class 2 District 7 runner-up; first team All-Suburban Middle Six.

Doubles

Chelsea Gorden, jr./Finley LaForge, fresh., Grain Valley — 21-7 record; 4th at Class 2 state tournament; Class 2 District 7 champion; 1st in Excelsior Springs Tournament; first team All-Suburban Middle Six.

Tori Gant, sr./Kiara Ashurst, sr., William Chrisman — 17-6 record, 3-1 in Suburban Middle Six Conference; second place in Class 2 District 8; Class 2 state qualifier; All-Suburban Middle Seven; Winnetonka Invitational and Chrisman Invitational champions.

Emily Rogge, sr./Jenna Drake, sr., St. Michael the Archangel — 13-8 record; Class 1 District 14 champion, Class 1 sectional winner, Class 1 state qualifier; 3rd in Lee's Summit North Tournament; 3rd in Warrensburg Tournament.

HONORABLE MENTION

Blue Springs: Molly Hocker, soph.; Malina McGaw, jr.; Blue Springs South: Sumerlyn Vorachek, soph.; Molly Wells, jr.; Fort Osage: Dharma Craig, sr.; Brooklyne Dover, sr.; Lee's Summit North: Kelly Connolly, sr.; Morgan McGurk, sr.; Kristina Parrish, sr.; Riley Young, sr.; William Chrisman: Laurie Douglas, sr.; Krystal Olson, sr.