Grain Valley tennis doubles team claims all-state honor

The Examiner staff
Grain Valley senior Chelsea Gorden and sophomore Finley LaForge show off their sixth-place medals after finishing 3-2 at the Class 2 state doubles tournament.

The Grain Valley No. 1 doubles team of Finley LaForge and Chelsea Gorden will take some momentum into Friday’s Class 2 state semifinal match. 

LaForge and Gorden finished 3-2 in the Class 2 Missouri State High School Individual Girls Tennis Championships over the weekend to finish sixth and earn all-state honors. 

Grain Valley has also advanced to the state team final four will face Ladue Horton Watkins at noon Friday in the Class 2 state semifinals. 

"Our doubles team went 3-2 in the tournament, and four of the five matches were close," Grain Valley coach Randy Draper said. "Those two have become a really good doubles team. They have been lucky to have each other these last two years. Hope they can come up big for us at the team final four this weekend."

LaForge and Gorden, after wins in the consolation quarterfinals and semifinals, fell to Katherine Cooper and Katie Pekic of Cor Jesu Academy in the state fifth-place match in a third set super tiebreaker last Friday. After losing the first set 6-4, Gorden and LaForge tied it with a 7-5 win in the second, but Cor Jesu edged the Eagles 12-10 in the tiebreaker.

Gorden and LaForge opened with a victory over Liliana Strang and Alyssa Akin of Springfield Glendale in their first-round match on Thursday. 

In the championship quarterfinals later Thursday, the duo was stopped by Chava Hahn and Hayley Lemer of Parkway Central, who went on to finish third. 

Gorden, a senior, and LaForge, a sophomore, bounced back with a consolation quarterfinal win over Patricia Herweck and Emily Watson of Fort Zumwalt South in their final match Thursday. 

The Grain Valley duo then assured itself of an all-state finish by topping Sedalia Smith-Cotton's Natalie and Elinor Beard in the consolation semifinal Friday to advance to the fifth-place match. Gorden and LaForge rallied from a 6-4 loss in the opening set to win 6-3 and then 10-5 in the third set super tiebreaker.

Sophomores Emma Thiessen and Kylee Bragaw didn’t fare as well in state singles play as both dropped their first two matches and were eliminated. 

Thiessen drew eventual state champion Sarena Biria of Barstow in the first round, while Bragaw fell to sixth-place finisher Emily Heller of Parkway Central. 

Thiessen was stopped by Springfield Glendale’s Chloe Stenger and Bragaw was eliminated with a loss to Elena Davis of Cor Jesu Academy in the first round of the consolation bracket. 

"Really pleased with all four of our kids," Draper said. "Great for our singles players to get the experience of being there. So many good players there can be very motivational."