Platte County tennis grabs best-ever finish at Suburban North tournament

Platte County recorded its best ever finish in the annual Suburban Northland Tournament, coming in a tie for fourth with Truman in the eight-team field Saturday, Sept. 19 at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo. Rachel Valentine and Stephanie Laures provided the bulk of the Pirates’ 17 points, winning the A Flight doubles bracket — the first individual championship for Platte County at the tournament. Hannah Valentine also medaled, placing fifth in B singles.

Park Hill South and Park Hill tied for the tournament title, but the championship went to Park Hill South based on the Panthers winning two of the four flights.

In A singles, Park Hill South’s Stephanie Boulenger lost just four games on the way to the title, topping Park Hill’s Abby Norris 10-2 in the championship match. Allison Robaska and Brooke Yager experienced more trouble in the B doubles flight, topping Kearney’s Jennifer Cates and Karline Peters 10-7 in the semifinals.

Robaska and Yager then beat Park Hill’s Chloe Kuebler and Caroline Lowery 10-2 in the final.

Park Hill went winless in three finals matches with Laures and Rachel Valentine winning 10-8 against Camille Laude and Shushman Gandham in the A doubles final. The Platte County duo won 11-9 in the first round against Park Hill South’s Halle Nixon and Cydney Wuebben on the way to the title.

Park Hill South’s Suzanne Brown also made the final in B singles, losing 10-8 to St. Joseph Central’s Hailey Hopkins. Nixon and Wuebben came back to win the consolation bracket with two wins after the loss to Platte County’s top duo.

Park Hill South, 8-2 in duals this season, finished second in the recent St. Joseph Central Invitational but also lost 6-3 to St. Teresa’s Academy on Monday, Sept. 21, ending a seven-match winning streak.

However, the Panthers sat at 3-0 in Suburban Conference Red Division play entering a matchup with Ruskin on Tuesday, Sept. 22. The result was not available at deadline, and Park Hill South closes out league play on Thursday, Sept. 24 against Truman.

Overall, Park Hill was 4-8 and 2-1 in Red Division play — the lone loss to Park Hill South by a score of 9-0 — entering a Tuesday, Sept. 22 matchup with Truman. The Trojans have won three straight and close the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 24 against St. Joseph Central.

Northtown Doubles Invitational

Platte County won two flights and placed top three in all four during the one-day tournament, Friday, Sept. 18 in North Kansas City, Mo.

Madalyn Ivy and Hannah Valentine won the B Flight, and Sage McGehe and Hannah Helmer — both top junior varsity players — won the D Flight. McGehe and Helmer remain perfect in limited varsity action this season at 6-0.

Kearney 5, Platte County 4

The Pirates’ Suburban Conference Blue Division winning streak which dated back to 2011 came to an end Thursday, Sept. 17 at Oak Park High School in Kansas City, Mo.

Playing a “home match,” Platte County fell behind 4-1 and came up only one win shy of completing the comeback. The Pirates and Kearney will likely share the league title, although both teams still have remaining duals to play. Platte County pushed the win streak to 31 straight matches the previous night with an 8-1 win against Grandview.

In the final league dual of the season, Kearney won two of three doubles matches and then went to the brink of a victory with Platte County’s Brittany Alvarado injury defaulting at No. 6 singles and No. 5 Aliya Harsh unable to complete an individual comeback. Madalyn Ivy (No. 2 singles) and freshman Hannah Valentine (No. 4 singles) pulled the Pirates back within one, leaving their two most experienced players with a chance to secure the team victory.

Rachel Valentine eked out a win at No. 1, but Laures lost in a tiebreaker.

“If you told me that this match was going to come down to two matches, and those two matches were Rachel’s and Stephanie’s, I would feel very confident in our chances,” Platte County coach Zach Keith said. “I hate to lose, and I hated to lose that match tonight, but more than anything, it was painful for me to watch the impact it had on the girls. Tennis is so different than most sports in the sense that you’re out there all by yourself with no teammates or coaches that can do anything for you. When the pressure starts to build at the end of a match like that, you feel it. I felt it as a coach, so I know the players felt it.

“And it wasn’t just the pressure of a conference title; it was the pressure of trying to maintain a streak that dates back to when some of our varsity players were in elementary school. Our girls have handled that well all year, and I’m proud of them for that. Today we just ran into a good Kearney team that played well, put us in a huge hole early, and we couldn’t quite climb out of it.”

Platte County won the earlier matchup with Kearney, 6-3. According to Keith, 20 different players were involved in starting and keeping the 31-match streak alive.

Platte County 6, Raymore-Peculiar 3

In the midst a stretch of eight competitions in 10 days, the Pirates rebounded from their first loss with a nonconference win Monday, Sept. 21 at Recreation Park in Raymore, Mo.

Platte County (9-1) went 2-1 in doubles play, and Rachel Valentine, Laures, Hannah Valentine and Harsh all picked up singles wins to secure the match. The Pirates were scheduled for their final Blue Division dual Tuesday, Sept. 22 at Belton, but the result was not available at The Citizen’s deadline. They finish the regular season on Thursday, Sept. 24 at St. Joseph Central before starting district play next week.