Tennis with a 'basketball-game feel to it'? Grain Valley, Lee's Summit North split first Colbern Cup
The Grain Valley High girls tennis team won the battle but lost the war.
But Eagles coach Randy Draper said he wasn't going to lose any sleep over Lee's Summit North's squad claiming the title in the first Colbern Cup championship.
"We won the varsity match, and I was so proud of the way our girls responded, because we were down 0-2 in doubles and came back to find a way to win. That was what was most important to me tonight," Draper said.
The winner of the cup – which is named after Colbern Road, the dividing line between Lee's Summit and Grain Valley – was determined by adding the total wins from varsity, junior varsity and novice matches, with coach Stu Reece's Broncos coming out on top 15-10.
"Coach Draper's team did a great job in the varsity match and came away with a big win, and I was proud of all our teams tonight," Reece said. "Tonight is the first-ever Colbern Cup match and we will play again in the fall with our boys teams."
The match was also unique for the style in which fans and teammates were allowed to watch the doubles and singles matches. Much like college matches, fans were allowed to watch from the sidelines of the court.
"It was a great atmosphere and I'm glad North had so many fans here," Draper said. "It gives a whole new feeling to the matches, kind of like a player at the free throw line with everyone cheering and going crazy. Our girls loved it!"
Especially No. 5 Grain Valley singles player Bailey Jinkens, who edged North's Eleanor Cok 5-3 to clinch the varsity win.
"I had no idea my win would give us the varsity win," Jinkens said, "but I kind of had the feeling it was a big match because players and fans from both teams were screaming and supporting us and having a good time. It was cool. I'm just glad I won."
No. 4 singles player Emma Thiessen, who teamed Kylee Bragaw to win the No. 2 doubles match 5-3, said she loved the new fan format.
"The coolest part about it is that our match was really close, but when I'd make a good shot, or Kylee would make a good shot, the North fans would say, 'Good shot,' and I loved that. That was great sportsmanship," said Thiessen, who dropped her No. 4 singles match to Ashley Paul 4-2.
"This match had a basketball-game feel to it with all the fans and all the support. We really loved it and I hope we do it again."
Grain Valley's Finley LaForge defeated Lily Temple at No. 1 singles 4-0. Chelsea Gorden topped Sarah Green by the same score at No. 2 singles.
Bragaw defeated Jacky Siegmeier 5-3 at No. 3 singles and Grain Valley's Brooklyn Spencer got past Ashley Farmer 4-2 at No. 6 singles.
Temple and Green defeated LaForge and Gorden 4-1 at No. 1 singles. Siegmeier and Farmer defeated Ali Crocker and Cate Barnes 4-0 at No. 3 doubles.
When the match was over, Reece gathered his remaining varsity players and posed for a team photo to commemorate the first cup title.
"This is definitely, 100 percent, the biggest thrill of my life," said Temple, with her tongue firmly planted in her cheek, casting a quick smile toward Reece. "This really is cool, because we got all our teams involved and our junior varsity and novice teams won this cup for us.
"And I loved the format – it was like doubles on steroids. The fans were right on top of us, it created a great atmosphere. We dipped our toes in the water tonight and I hope we get to do it again."
So does Draper.
"Every girl who played tonight, on either team, whether they won or lost, will remember tonight because of the fans," said Draper, as the walkway between the north and south courts was also jammed with fans. "It was a great experience for our kids, for Stu's kids, and we all had a lot of fun. And that's what this is all about – having fun."