Despite pandemic struggles, KC United Tennis program sending 13 to play on college level

High School Sports

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Playing any sport in college takes a lot of hard work, and for many high school seniors that play spring sports, they had to catch up after a lost season to fight for a scholarship.

“The journey was worth it,” said Lawrence native Keegan Van Pelt, who’s now committed to Omaha for tennis. “It was a sigh of relief, kind of like I made it.”

“Going off to play college, we’ve been through so much, either with injuries. It’s just a long journey,” Leawood’s Ally Turtledove who’s headed to Hamilton College.

The seniors for Kansas City United Tennis have been dealing with a lost season and then a COVID-affected season, but now they’ve finally made it to the finish line. 

The local tennis program has 13 players signing to play in college.

“It was kind of bitter sweet,” Turtledove said. “I’ve basically grown up with these kids, and for all of us to sign is really special because we’ve all been playing the same tournaments since we were probably 10.”

“Being able to compete with each other is special,” Van Pelt said. “Not everyone has players to hit with.”

Turtledove has fought off multiple injuries and time off to get a scholarship to Hamilton. Van Pelt’s recruiting process was complicated. She didn’t even make official visits.

“You can’t make the connections. You can’t go visit, and I know I wasn’t able to go on many college visits,” she said. “So the fact that 13 of us made it through COVID and just a normal recruiting process is just really special.”

And all of them will now get the opportunity to play at the next level. They said the individual competitions and friendship are great, but in college, it’s a team sport.

“The energy is really amazing compared to individual tournaments,” Turtledove said. “So I’m really looking forward to competing for my team and school.”

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