Laures plays through unique injury as Platte County tennis extends win streak

BRYCE MERENESS/Citizen photo Platte County junior Stephanie Laures hits a return during a doubles match with her partner freshman Hannah Valentine on Monday, Aug. 24 at Winnetonka High School in Kansas City, Mo. KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Stephanie Laures never planned to allow a dirt bike accident in the offseason to jeopardize her playing time.

Despite playing with her left hand in a cast, the Platte County junior rallied to win her No. 3 singles match Monday, Aug. 24 at Winnetonka High School, helping the Pirates extend their lengthy Suburban Conference Blue Division winning streak in the season opener for both teams. The injury, suffered a week before the season, forced Laures to temporarily change her game by trying to avoid hitting backhands.

All the extra work after she attempted to maneuver around her cousin, who had crashed in front of her while they were riding dirt bikes in Colorado.

Laures didn’t have much time to adjust, but coach Zach Keith knows her importance to a young roster. She earned all-conference honors in each of her first two seasons.

“I was dead set on playing,” Laures said. “I called him after it happened. I said, ‘I have bad news; I broke my wrist.’ He said, ‘All right,’ and I said ‘I’m still going to play.’ I made it clear that I wanted to play still. Whatever happened I was going to be OK with whatever. I wasn’t expecting to come out and blow everyone off the court, obviously, but I think I’m managing well for the circumstances I’m in.”

Laures win at No. 3 singles cemented the dual win for Platte County, which ran its conference winning streak to 26 dating back to 2011. Laures’ win made the score 5-1 after singles, and the Pirates went on to win 7-2.

One of three varsity returners for Platte County, Laures stayed at No. 3 singles due to the injury but could move up the ladder if her injury heals in time. She has an appointment Friday to check on the progress, five weeks after receiving a five-to-eight-week prognosis for being in the cast.

The limitations showed up a bit more in doubles.

Laures and new partner Hannah Valentine did lose their No. 2 doubles match 8-5 after trailing 5-0. Last year, Laures played with older sister Shelley Laures and placed third in Class 2 District 16 play.

“If I had to choose one player to play with a cast on, it would be her,” Platte county coach Zach Keith said. “Before breaking her arm, she was playing great tennis. Obviously she isn’t playing her best now with a broken arm, but I always feel good whenever she’s out there. Even when she and Hannah were losing in doubles it literally took them losing and the match being over before I thought they were going to lose.

“I’ve seen her win so many matches the last two years. She’s definitely hard to give up on. She’s going to do everything she can to help the team.”

Rachel Valentine, a junior, stepped into the No. 1 singles spot vacated by Shelley Laures. Rachel Valentine scored a 10-0 win in her first career match at the top spot against the Griffins No. 1 Skyler Murphy, a freshman.

“It was fun — a little intense, but fun,” Valentine said. “I went in without a lot of confidence, and it went up from there. I just have to go in ready. This was a new experience, and I wasn’t quite ready. I just kept getting better as it went on. I didn’t feel like I played my best but it was satisfying to get the win.”

After Rachel Valentine’s quick win, Brittany Alvarado, a sophomore making her varsity debut, made Platte County’s lead 2-0 after her opponent forfeited down 6-2. Madalyn Ivy, a junior returner, and Hannah Valentine were also victorious at No. 2 and No. 4 before Laures assured victory.

Ivy and Rachel Valentine were undefeated on the day after winning at No. 1 doubles, while senior Aliyah Harsh and junior Lauren Laderoute — both making varsity debuts — wrapped up the day by taking the No. 3 doubles match.