GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — Some might call it a high school tennis dynasty, of sorts.
The girls from Grain Valley High School just played in their third consecutive MSHSAA state tennis final-four, and although they lost in Friday afternoon’s finals, they’re still proud.
Grain Valley (24-3) lost to Ladue Horton Watkins in the Class Two state finals late Friday afternoon. The Eagles had already defeated Thomas Jefferson Independent the same day. This means the Eagles’ four graduating seniors missed making the state final-four only once.
On Wednesday, Grain Valley Coach Randy Draper commented about his pride in this team. The Eagles had never advanced this far in the state tennis championships until these athletes came along. Draper says “it’s been fun watching the club from the state quarterfinals two years back, to become state runners up in 2023.”
“They really like being together. They like to play together and take makes my job even more fun,” Draper said. “I’m proud of them. I’m grateful I’ve gotten to coach them.”
This means more than half of the team’s seven players will graduate, taking terrific tennis skill and accolades with them.
“We’re all over the place. We have so much versatility,” Eagles senior Finley LaForge said. “I think that’s why it’s so hard to play us. You never know what you’re going to get.”
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“It’s crazy to say it’s three Final Fours. It’s definitely crazy. You don’t ever think it’s a possibility. Saying it out loud is crazy,” Emma Thiessen, another of the team’s seniors, said.
This year’s Eagles earned their way to the Final Four. In this year’s playoffs alone, they’ve smashed one opponent with one loss and another that was undefeated. That is until they met this gifted team.
Two other metro schools also advanced to the Missouri state tennis championships. On Friday, Liberty High School lost to John Burroughs High in the Class Three state finals. On Saturday evening, St. Michael the Archangel fell to Clayton High in the Class One state championship round.