MARYVILLE, Mo. — Maryville's senior class in tennis this season isn't so much a class as it is a person. Blake Springer is the lone senior on the Spoofhounds, but her teammates are certainly happy to have her.
“I feel like our whole team is really fortunate to have Blake as our senior this year and our only senior playing,” Maryville junior Athena Groumoutis said. “She really does bring a good attitude for all of us. The mood is always light with her. She is a phenomenal player.
“I think our whole team does really look up to Blake, the way she plays and her attitude.”
The Spoofhounds (0-2) held Senior Day on Monday in their home opener. Both the home opener and the Senior Day were delayed to start the year as Maryville was forced to sit out the first portion of the season due to too many kids in quarantine.
The team still doesn't have its whole team back with No. 2 player Lauren Cullin sitting out her final match before she is able to return on Wednesday for the Cameron Tournament, but despite not having everyone, the team is happy to be back on the courts.
“Sitting and waiting was difficult for the whole team,” Groumoutis said. “But now that we are back and in the swing of things, I think we are all grateful and excited to be back and playing.”
Without Cullin, Maryville wasn't able to match Benton's firepower and lost 6-3. The Spoofhounds fall to 0-2 this season, but have had to play two of the top teams in the MEC without a full squad.
“Everybody is really having to step up because we don't have everybody back,” McGinness said. “I'm hoping that when we do get everyone back, it is going to be that much better because they've gotten to play in spots they don't normally play, so when they move back to their regular spots, hopefully that is going to help their games out immensely. Hopefully, we've got better things ahead.”
In doubles action, the Cardinals won 2-of-3 matches. Maryville's lone win came with Springer and Jewl Galapin teaming for an 8-3 win over Benton's Mickayla Johnson and Reaganne Kovac.
“Blake always helps the younger kids,” McGinness said. “I've been really proud of her for being a good leader on the team. She wants the younger kids to do well. She helps them, she is always talking to them. I couldn't ask for a better senior, and I am so proud that she was able to at least get a win tonight.”
McGinness gave Springer her choice of junior varsity teammates with Cullin out, and the senior selected Galapin.
“Jewl takes constructive criticism very well,” Springer said. “She learns super fast, so I knew if during the game, there was something we needed to change a little bit, it'd be super easy to fix it.”
In the other doubles matches, Benton's Kally Horn and Sydney Brown beat Maryville's Arianne Skidmore and Groumoutis 8-4, and Benton's Natalie Johnston and Kelly Milichichi beat Maryville's Alyssa Pace and Dakotah Haughey 8-2.
The most exciting match came in the No. 2 singles battle where Groumoutis defeated Brown 9-8 (7-4).
“You have to stay true to yourself,” Groumoutis said. “You have to have that good mindset of: 'I can win, I can do this.'”
Groutmoutis opened the match by winning the first five games to build a 5-0 lead. Brown had the answer and won the next six games to take the lead, but Groumoutis battled back for a 7-6 advantage.
“That just prove proves that she has the confidence and mental tenacity to finish strong,” McGinness said.
Brown won the next two points for a 8-7 lead, but Groumoutis didn't surrender and forced a tiebreak. She dominated the tiebreak to escape with a win.
“Whenever you get down so much, it is easy to get hard on yourself,” Groumoutis said. “For me, I just try to keep a good attitude and stay persistent. If you have a good attitude, it is way easier to come back.”
The Spoofhounds other win came from Anna Schommer in the No. 6 singles match. She defeated Kovac 8-4.
“She took care of business right away and never looked back,” McGinness said. “8-4 is a good, strong, solid showing for her in her first match playing varsity.”
In the other singles matches, Horn defeated Skidmore 8-1, Johnston defeated Springer 8-4, Milichichi defeated Pace 8-3, and Johnson defeated Haughey 8-3.
Maryville will be in action again on Wednesday when they travel to Cameron for the Cameron Tournament. The event is scheduled to start at 8 a.m.
St. Pius X 9, Maryville 0
The Spoofhounds lost their season opener 9-0 last Wednesday at St. Pius X.
The Spoofhounds were without a pair of varsity starters and the varsity lineup was Arianne Skidmore, Athena Groumoutis, Blake Springer, Dakotah Haughey, Jewl Galapin and Kloie Rouner.