Blue Springs South boys tennis coach Nathan Mooney must have felt like the father of Venus and Serena Williams watching his daughters play each other during a major championship.
Except it wasn’t actually Mooney’s daughters he was watching, it was two of his doubles teams on the boys side.
The No. 1 South doubles team of Sean Nguyen and Dalton Michael took on teammates Brady Dunlap and Wyatt Walker in the championship match of the Class 2 District 14 individual tournament Friday at Lee’s Summit North High School.
Jaguars fans in the stands didn’t even know who to cheer for.
A few parents just shouted, “Go Jags!” when the teams faced each other. So who did Mooney root for?
“You don’t, you just sit there in watch, or you watch one of your other guys playing in singles,” Mooney said. “You just let them play and have a good time. We thought that both teams can make it.”
Dunlap and Walker ended up taking the championship with a 6-3, 6-2 victory. Because Nguyen and Michael advanced to the championship match, they join their teammates in the sectional round Wednesday at Lee’s Summit West.
Truman’s Blake Savidge also advanced in singles after defeating Blue Springs’ Blake Summers 6-2, 6-1 in the semifinals.
Lee’s Summit North’s Joe Hammerly and Ben Durbin took third in doubles and Summers took third in singles.
Although Dunlap and Walker were the No. 2 doubles team for South, they didn’t feel like it was an upset. Both squads definitely didn’t take it easy on each other just because they were teammates. Michael showed his fire after he just missed hitting a ball in bounds when he tossed his racket to the ground.
“It didn’t feel different at all,” said Dunlap, whose doubles team defeated Lee’s Summit North’’s Durbin and Hammerly 4-6, 6-0, 6-3 in the semifinals. “We just played our game and stayed strong throughout it all.”
Added Walker: “It’s a great feeling (to play against teammates) and these guys push me in practice every day.”
Michael said he was happy that both South doubles teams were able to make it.
“We’re still all going to make it to sectionals,” he said. “It’s good to play against people you know. It makes it more fun.”
It was especially fun for Mooney, who hadn’t got to see this moment before.
“Yeah, they are our No. 2 doubles team for a reason,” Mooney said when asked if he thought Dunlap and Walker topping Nguyen and Michael was an upset. “That’s the way tennis goes. (Dunlap and Walker) are super aggressive at the net. They have some weaknesses that the other team doesn’t and they were able to hide those weaknesses and capitalize on it.
“We don’t have a lot of matches in practice because when we do, they usually just goof off more than anything because they know each other. Now it’s, ‘Finally, I got to see what they actually play like when they face each other.’ They are out there being serious and I think the parents were goofing off more than the kids.”
It’s been a special freshman campaign for Nguyen, the team’s No. 1 singles player as his team advanced to sectionals in both the individual and team tournaments.
“It’s really been great,” Nguyen said. “We went 11-1 in duals and we won conference and districts. Just to make it to sectionals as a team and as individuals is really great. It’s been a heck of a year.”
It’s been a good year for Savidge, too, as he advanced to sectionals for the third straight year. After the junior defeated Summers, he fell to the talented Ethan Henry of Lee’s Summit 6-2, 6-1 in the final. Despite not winning a third straight district championship, Savidge is happy to get another shot at an elusive state tournament bid.
“Blake (Summers) is a great player and any day it can go either way. I just came out on top today,” Savidge said. “I am glad to go to sectionals again.
“Ethan is a great player and we’ve played against each other for a long time. He was the better player today and probably most days, too.”
Added Truman coach Scott Lett: “Blake always battles and I like how he took control of both sets early on (against Summers). He served well and was aggressive when he had a chance.”
Going into sectionals, Savidge said he’s going to work hard to get his first state tournament bid.
“I want to push whoever I play,” he said, “and maybe get that state bid for once. Hopefully this is the year.”