Lee’s Summit West freshman Chloe Sabin still had an ear-to-ear grin at the end of a grueling day of tennis, and long after she and her doubles partner had punched their ticket to state.
“We’re both so excited,” Sabin said. “We both almost started crying after our match because it’s just so exciting.”
Sabin and Sarah Duong are on their way to the Class 2 state girls’ tennis doubles tournament after earning their spot with a powerful 6-2, 6-2 victory against Khiara Cox and Jasmine Tucker of Blue Springs South on Oct. 3 during the Class 2 sectional tournament at Lee’s Summit North.
West’s Tristen Caskey also qualified for the state singles tournament, rallying for a 0-6, 6-1, 6-2 victory against Bentley Walters of Blue Springs.
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But the day wasn’t a complete success for West, which had two singles and doubles entries after sweeping through Class 2, District 13 play Sept. 29 at North.
Caitlyn Sporing of Blue Springs took out Pranathi Gannavaram 6-0, 6-0 in the other singles match, while Gillian Evans and Kennedy Cross lost to Miranda Griechen and Mikaela Griechen of Grain Valley in a 2-6, 7-6 (4), 6-2 marathon.
“Everybody wanted to get through, and that would have been incredible to do,” West tennis coach Todd Wilson said. “But we ran up against really good competition in singles and doubles.”
Duong, a junior, and Sabin had little trouble with their opponents as they cruised out to big leads in both sets. Sabin thought it was the best they could play, but Wilson believed they could be even better.
“They do everything really well,” Wilson said. “I don’t know if they dominate any one aspect of the game, but they’re solid across the board.”
Caskey, who is also a freshman, battled back in her match by staying mentally tough, Wilson said. A little pep talk after that first set helped, too.
“I just encouraged her to keep fighting, and keep battling,” Wilson said. “And she knew we all had her back. She knew that she could do it. For a freshman to come in and do what she did is quite impressive.”
Sporing was equally impressive against Gannavaram, who went to state in doubles last season. She improved to 16-1 in earning a return trip to state, where she placed fifth in singles last season.
“Pranathi ran up against a buzz saw,” Wilson said. “Caitlyn’s really, really solid. She was solid last year and she’s even better this year. She played exceptional tennis today.”
All of those matches were long over before the final doubles match, which went on more than two hours. Evans and Cross started out strong, but the Grain Valley sisters pulled out an error-filled second set and jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the final set.
“Early in the match, they were real tight and we were swinging well,” Wilson said. “And in the third set I think our nerves got the best of us.”
Nonetheless, the season isn’t over yet for Cross, Evans or Gannavaram.
They could still qualify for state if the Titans can get through sectional and quarterfinal matches during the team portion of postseason play Oct. 7 at Bennett Park in Liberty.
West opens against Liberty at 9 a.m. and, with a win, would face the Blue Springs/Park Hill South winner at approximately 1 p.m. for a state berth.
“That’s the next chapter,” Sabin said. “That’s what we’re working for.”
The Class 2 state tennis tournament is Oct. 12-14 at the Cooper Tennis Complex in Springfield.