Platte County enters the season with hope of a program first: playing a home match.
Recent partnerships between the school district, City of Platte City and Platte County Parks and Recreation helped push up the timeline for building a full eight-court facility on campus. Timelines hope to have the project done by the end of August, but the players and coaches hope see the project completed in enough time to play the first home match ever.
The first tentative home match is scheduled for Sept. 6 against rival Kearney.
“I like that a lot better than having to drive everywhere,” senior and returning No. 1 player Rachel Valentine said.
Platte County could have quite a product to display to home fans.
Last season, the Pirates went 14-3 overall and 4-1 in Suburban Conference Blue Division play, winning at least a share of the league title for a fourth straight season. They return the five of the top six singles players and plan to move senior Lauren Laderoute into a more prominent role. She played a lot of No. 3 doubles last season but will play in the singles rotation this year, as well.
Valentine finished as runner-up in the Class 2 District 16 singles bracket and became the second player in program history to reach sectionals. She ended up missing a state berth with a loss in the Sectional 8 playoff to District 15 champion Stephanie Boulenger of Park Hill South.
Madalyn Ivy and Stephanie Laures — two more seniors — played No. 2 and 3 behind Valentine last season. However, Laures has more career singles and doubles victories than any player in school history, and she played much of last season with a broken left arm. She should play a full healthy season this time around.
In addition, sophomore Hannah Valentine returns after playing No. 4 last year, and sophomores Crystal Billings and Mikayla Sanders will compete for time at the varsity level along with last year’s No. 6, Brittany Alvarado.
No. 5 singles player Aliyah Harsh will be the only varsity contributor not back.
Hannah Valentine and Ivy reached the district semifinals in doubles and ended up third. Previously, Platte County had never placed two individual entries in the top three at districts in program history.
“We have the type of team that’s either going to be good or really good,” Platte County coach Zach Keith said. “We have experience, good leadership, good athletes and good teammates, but it’s really going to come down to whether or not we’re ready to make the jump to being an elite team in the Suburban Conference, or if we’re content dominating the Blue Division.”