Bryan Veloz's win lifts Truman past rival Chrisman
The Independence tennis community was focused on Court No. 3 at Santa Fe Trail Park Tuesday afternoon.
That's where Truman's Bryan Veloz and William Chrisman's David Keltner were locked in a battle for bragging rights in their hometown.
Truman and Chrisman had split their eight completed matches, with Chrisman taking two singles and two doubles matches and Truman winning three singles and one doubles bout.
The winner of the No. 3 singles match would give his team the win, along with bragging rights for a year, and Veloz came away with an 8-3 victory.
He and Keltner touched racquets after the match, then Veloz's Patriot teammates mobbed him as he walked off the court.
Truman had claimed a 5-4 victory and improved to 5-5 overall and 4-1 in Suburban Middle Six Conference play.
"To be playing in such an important match and to have all my teammates and our coaches and fans watching and supporting me is something I will never forget," Veloz said. "And to be an underclassman and to help our seniors beat Chrisman the last time they will ever play them is also very special."
Veloz was a two-time winner as he teamed with Seth Nelson to win the No. 2 doubles match against Cam Dickerson and Hunter Butt 9-8 (2) in a tiebreaker.
"For Bryan to come off that doubles match and win his singles match tells you what the young man is made of," Truman coach Scott Lett said. "What he did – what all the guys did tonight against a big rival like Chrisman – embodies what this team is all about.
"You know, Bryan is just a junior, and when the season started, he was No. 5 singles, and his teammates voted him team captain. He shares that with our senior captain Aaron Muller, who is our No. 1 singles player.
"Bryan brings so much joy to the team,” Lett added. “You never see him down and he has worked so hard this season to get to where he is today. I'm thrilled he was on the court playing, helping us clinch this 5-4 win. I'm happy for him and all his teammates."
Truman's Nate Morton beat Dickerson 8-1 at No. 2 singles and Connor Pointer got past Butt 8-3 at No. 4 singles.
Muller and Morton teamed up at No. 1 doubles to beat Jordan Twenter and Nino Florido.
Chrisman's winners were Twenter over Muller 9-4 at No. 1 singles; Florido over Lopez 8-4 at No. 5 singles; and Zavier Jackson over Nate Neufeld 8-4 at No. 6 singles.
Jackson and Keltner teamed to beat Pointer and Neufeld 8-2 in doubles.
"We'd have loved to won against Truman; they're our big Independence rival," Chrisman coach Jason Grubb said. "But I am proud of the way our guys played, and Scott's kids did a great job tonight. There was a lot of pressure in that No. 3 singles match, and Bryan Veloz got a big win for his team.
"But that doesn't take a thing away from what our guys accomplished, and our seniors – Jordan, Nino and Zavier – all got singles wins the last time they will ever play Truman.'
After a match at Winnetonka Thursday, the Bears will open district action Friday.
"I wish we would have won the match, you know, the last time you play your big rival," Twenter said, "but we fought hard to the last match, and that is what this team is about. We're a team, individual wins don't mean anything unless they lead to a team win, and that's why I love this team so much.
"These guys are my brothers, and I'm going to savor every last match with them."
Truman also plays Thursday, and Lett hopes this emotionally charged win leads to more success the remainder of the season.
"Our guys have worked so hard this season, and I love the guys on this team," Lett said. "Teams like this are why I'm at Truman – from No. 1 singles to No. 3 doubles, they are all part of our Truman family, and we're going to enjoy this one for a while and get ready for what lies ahead."