Grain Valley tennis shrugs off cold weather, Bears to win fourth straight

By Bill Althaus

Snowflakes twinkled down on the tennis courts at Santa Fe Trail Park as players from William Chrisman and visiting Grain Valley warmed up for their Suburban Middle Six Conference match Tuesday afternoon.

Work crews from Chrisman made sure the courts were snow-free as coach Randy Draper's Eagles and Jason Grubb's Bears met in the highly anticipated matchup that could have taken a back seat to Mother Nature.

Soon, though, the snow stopped, the sun peaked out from behind a bank of nasty looking clouds and the first volley was heard as Grain Valley claimed a 7-2 victory to improve to 2-0 in conference action. The Eagles have won four in a row and are 5-4 overall.

"Is this tennis weather?" Draper asked jokingly as assistant coach Ryan Adams played the Beach Boys song "Kokomo" on the stereo in Draper's extra warm vehicle, which was parked within walking distance of the court. "When I woke up this morning, I thought there was no way we were going to play.

Grain Valley's Ethan Cary reaches for a forehand return shot in his No. 1 doubles match with teammate Connor Smith, back, against William Chrisman's Jordan Twenter and Cam Dickerson Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Cary and Smith won 8-2 to clinch a 7-2 team win.

"And despite the cold, it didn't seem to affect our guys. We really came out and played well today. And you have to play well against Chrisman because those players get after it."

It certainly didn't affect Ethan Cary, who wore a T-shirt and shorts and teamed with Connor Smith at No. 1 doubles to claim an 8-2 win over Jordan Twenter and Cam Dickerson that clinched the conference showdown.

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"It's always nice when your serves go in," said a grinning Cary, who served the winning point of his eighth game victory of the match. "After losing (to Twenter) in singles, it was great to come back with Connor and win in doubles. And it made it even better when it clinched the team win. That's what this is all about – team wins."

William Chrisman's Jordan Twenter tracks down a shot from his opponent, Grain Valley's Ethan Cary, in their No. 1 singles match Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Twenter claimed an 8-1 victory but Grain Valley took a 7-2 team win.

Smith, who claimed an 8-2 win over Josh Huff at No. 2 singles, agreed, adding, "There's a high after you win a singles match, but it doesn't match the high that comes from winning a big doubles match. Our singles play set the stage for doubles to come in and take care of business."

Carter Compton beat Dickerson 8-3 at No. 3 singles; Kade Compton topped David Keltner 8-1 at No. 4 singles; and Collin Smith claimed an 8-1 win over Hunter Butt at No. 5 singles for the Eagles.

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Grain Valley's Connor Smith moves in to hit a forehand return in his No. 2 singles match against William Chrisman's Josh Huff Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Smith claimed an 8-2 win to help the Eagles to a 7-2 team win.

Twenter won 8-1 at No. 1 singles and No. 6 singles standout Nino Florido stopped Vincent Lin 8-1.

"Man, their No. 1 singles player is a brick wall – a great player and a real gentleman out on the court," Cary said of Twenter. "It's great playing a team you really respect, and you could tell that they respect us, too."

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While Twenter was disappointed in the team outcome, he took pride in his win at No. 1 singles.

Grain Valley's Ethan Cary his a backhand return in his No. 1 singles match  against William Chrisman's Jordan Twenter Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Cary lost 8-1 but bounced back with a No. 1 doubles win with teammate Connor Smith to help the Eagles to a 7-2 win.

"We need to come back from this (team) loss and we will," Twenter said. "I think the cold might have gotten into our heads, but both teams played in the same conditions. I'm happy Nino and I got singles wins to help the team effort, but now we all have to focus on fundamentals and come back strong after this loss."

Twins Carter and Kade Compton topped Huff and Florido 8-4 at No. 2 doubles and Collin Smith and Lin wrapped up the afternoon with an 8-4 win at No. 3 doubles against Butt and Keltner.

William Chrisman's Cam Dickerson reaches for a backhand return in his No. 3 singles match against Grain Valley's Carter Compton Tuesday at Santa Fe Trail Park. Compton won 8-3 as Grain Valley won 7-2.

"Coach Draper does such a great job with his team, it's always an honor to play Grain Valley," Grubb said after his team fell to 2-5 overall and 1-1 in league play. “We tried to mix things up a little bit today and we started with singles and finished with doubles and they had a lot of success in singles and then swept the doubles.

"I am so proud of all my guys. Jordan was great at No. 1. He just did what he's been doing all year and we're all proud of him. And Nino had a great match at No. 6. We would have liked to have done better, but even with the cold, it was great to get out and play tennis against one of the best programs in the metro area and certainly one of the best teams in our conference."