During his four years as the Lawrence High girls tennis coach, Steve Hudson never tasted victory against Blue Valley Northwest.
That all changed in a hurry Thursday, as Hudson’s Lions knocked off Northwest, 5-4, in an exciting dual at First Serve.
Thursday’s dual unfolded in a rather unusual way. After dropping two of the three doubles matches to open the meet, the Lions bounced back with four straight singles victories to win. In a meet decided by just a single victory, it can be argued for days which triumph was most important. What can’t be argued about Thursday’s meet was the importance of junior Morgan Manger and sophomore Taylor Eubanks. Together, the duo provided the Lions’ only doubles victory of the day — 8-3 against Cory Bordt and Kelsey James — and contributed a pair of singles victories, albeit in very different fashions.
Eubanks was the first to finish off her singles match. She disposed of Kristin Pratscher in about 30 minutes, winning 8-1. That opened the door for consecutive singles victories from seniors Jordan Payne, Elizabeth Simons and Manger.
While the other three had to fight hard for their victories, Eubanks revealed a secret that helped hers go so quickly.
“I wouldn’t be able to do that without singing during my match,” Eubanks said.
Same song every time: “You’re a Jerk” by the New Boyz.
“I tried to change it up once in practice,” Eubanks said. “But it just didn’t work.”
Her singles and doubles victories gave the LHS sophomore four victories in two days. Add that to the steady play of the team’s upperclassmen, and Hudson thinks he has the makings of a “once-in- a-decade team.”
Manger finished off the match with Payne’s racket because of a broken string on her own.
“Everybody really stepped up today,” Hudson said.
While Manger and Eubanks were the only Lions to pick up two victories on the day, the most impressive individual performance may have come from Simons, who rallied from a 4-0 deficit to win her singles match, 8-4.
After a rough start, Simons turned more aggressive during the final eight points and turned her strengths into a nightmare for Blue Valley Northwest’s Erin McGraugh.
“I just tried to focus throughout the rest of the match and worked on hitting good shots and placement instead of power,” Simons said. “This win gives our whole team a lot of confidence. Now we just have to keep our effort up.”
Added Hudson of Simons’ gritty victory: “It’s not every day you get a win over the No. 1 singles player at Blue Valley Northwest.”
Next up for the Lions is a home meet Wednesday.