Grain Valley's Compton twins focus on state tennis tournament after team district loss
It was a bittersweet ending to a memorable tennis season for coach Randy Draper's Grain Valley Eagles.
They dropped the Class 2 District 8 semifinal to visiting Kearney under dark and gloomy clouds that matched the mood of the Eagles.
The Bulldogs used a 2-1 record in doubles as a springboard to the 5-4 victory that featured four tiebreakers and a roller-coaster worth of emotions.
The one bright spot for Draper was that the lone winning district doubles team of junior twins Carter and Kade Compton advanced to the Class 2 state tournament with a second-place finish in the individual district last weekend.
They will continue practicing for the state championships May 20-22 at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.
"You know what makes this team so special?" asked Draper, as the Eagles won a Suburban Middle Six Conference championship and the Lee's Summit North Mike VanBecelaere Memorial Doubles Tournament for the first time this season. "I have parents and players and coaches from other teams come up to me, telling what a great group of kids we have on this team.
"And I feel the same way. I knew this season was going to be special, especially after not being able to play last year, but the guys on the team made it even more special than I imagined.
"It was tough to say goodbye to everyone, except the Comptons. We're giving them tomorrow off, then we're going to get back on the court hitting it."
The Comptons won the No. 2 doubles match 9-8 (7-4) and Kade won 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) in his No. 3 singles match.
"This match had about everything you could ask for – a lot of drama and tiebreakers – and we just came up a little short," Carter said. "It really is bittersweet to see the season end, but now Kade and I will keep working with Coach Draper and get ready for state."
It was easy to see the excitement the twins are experiencing as they prepare for their first state competition.
"There is no one I would rather share this with than my brother," Kade said. "We have our tennis family and then we have each other, and that makes this even more special. I just wish we could have won today so everyone could keep playing."
Grain Valley's Connor Smith won 6-4, 6-4 at No. 2 singles and his twin brother Collin Smith won 6-3, 6-4 at No. 5 singles.
The Eagles' Ethan Cary lost 6-4, 6-4 at No. 1 singles, Carter Compton lost 6-3, 7-6 (7-4) at No. 3 singles and Vincent Lin lost 6-4, 6-0 at No. 6 singles.
Cary and Connor Smith lost 6-1, 6-4 at No. 1 doubles and Collin Smith and Dalton Neale lost 6-4, 6-0 at No. 3 doubles.
Draper held a long post-match meeting with the team, letting his players know what this season meant to him.
"It's been a great season," the veteran coach said. "You know, we played Kearney up there (during the regular season) and won 6-3 so we knew this was going to be a dogfight. As hard as it is to say goodbye, I am just so fortunate to have been able to coach them all this season.
"And we get to continue coaching Carter and Kade. State is going to be a great experience for those two young men."