Truman girls tennis coach Tara Corwin had the perfect strategy for one of her doubles teams heading down the stretch against William Chrisman.

Truman girls tennis coach Tara Corwin had the perfect strategy for one of her doubles teams heading down the stretch against William Chrisman.

Up 4-2 as a team heading into doubles action, the Patriots No. 1 doubles team of Katie and Jennie Thompson were beat 10-0 by Chrisman’s Saara Toivola and Kendyl Laughlin, setting the stage for Truman’s Nicole Morash and Kailey Halsey in No. 3 doubles.

Morash and Halsey had to win their match to secure a Truman team victory Thursday at Santa Fe Park.

“I didn’t go to the fence and put the pressure on them,” Corwin said of her decision to not inform Morash and Halsey of what was at stake. “I thought (it was good coaching strategy) — in some cases you never know. Some cases that pumps a kid up; other kids, it makes them falter.”

The strategy must have worked as the Patriots duo came away with a 10-5 win, sending Truman to a 6-3 win over their cross-district rival.

“It was nice,” Corwin said of the win. “The girls were a little more relaxed than they were on Monday (in a 5-4 loss to Fort Osage). I think they were a little uptight, but today they were a little more relaxed and they played their game.”

Halsey, a senior, said the only thought she and Morash had was to win their match.

“Just work well together, because we haven’t played together that often,” Halsey said of their mind set. “Just try our hardest — our hope is to always win, but you can’t go in being cocky or anything. I’m glad that we won.

“I like playing with Nicole. We have fun together and we work well together.”

Chrisman got off to a good start against Truman. No. 1 singles player Toivola, a foreign exchange student from Helsinki, Finland, and No. 2 Laughlin opened singles play with back-to-back wins.

“Those are tough players,” Corwin said of the Bears’ top two players. “Real tough players.”

Momentum swung Truman’s way with four consecutive wins coming from Nos. 3-6 Ashley Anderson, Katie Kriz, Chloe Gomez and Morash, respectively. Kriz and Gomez teamed for a win in No. 2 doubles to close out the scoring.

“We lost 15 seniors last year,” Bears head coach Sandy Tucker said. “Fifteen seniors left us, so our team got a little smaller. But, they’re playing great and I’m proud of them. I think they’re sticking it out and staying out there and doing a good job.”

Toivola and Laughlin’s win in doubles was impressive. Laughlin repeatedly showed range and power attacking the net and Toivola displayed a skill set suitable to having a successful high school season in her time in the United States.

“She’s an excellent player,” Tucker said of Toivola. “In Finland, she has been playing 10 years. She’s a great addition to the team. She’s very good. It’s so exciting to have her as a part of the team.”

Toivola showed an uncanny ability to return serves and counter volleys with wide-ranging shots — long-ranging power shots and finesse shots alike. She ended the match with an exclamation point-type smash she jokingly described as ‘mean’ after the match.

“It was nice,” Toivola said of the doubles win. “It was our first match together and it went well. I played well.”

Laughlin is more than just Toivola’s teammate. Her family is serving as Toivola’s host family for the year. So far the two have hit it off both on and off the tennis courts.

“The connection,” Laughlin said, “she lives in my house — so that helps with the connection. It makes it really nice in doubles — she’s amazing. She does stuff with the ball I don’t even know how to do. She puts spin on it and back spin and I don’t know...”

Even Corwin noticed the blond Finnish exchange student with the nice game.

“She’s tough,” Corwin said of Toivola. “She’s very tough. She has solid game top to bottom. She’ll be a contender definitely in districts. She’s a real strong player.”