Platte County senior Gavin Nichols hits a shot during a match against Staley on Wednesday at Platte County High School. TODD NUGENT/PC Preps Extra

After 1st dual loss of season, Platte County bounces back with pair of dominant wins

Nichols hitting stride at top of lineup while combo of seniors Bunge, Miller in doubles plus junior Havemeier at No. 6 singles paying off for Pirates.

The first response to adversity shows the potential for more postseason success.

Platte County senior Quentin Miller hits a serve in a doubles match during a dual with Staley on Wednesday at Platte County High School.

Coming off the first dual loss of the season, Platte County recorded back-to-back convincing wins over Staley and Kearney, the latter a 9-0 shutout on the road Thursday afternoon at Kearney High School. The Pirates recorded a third straight win in the rivalry series since a 5-4 loss in the 2021 Class 2 District 8 championship in 2021.

Platte County has lost only two matches during that span, and this marked the first shutout of the Bulldogs since 2018.

“I was proud of the way we bounced back and had a good practice on Tuesday before taking care of business against Staley and Kearney,” Platte County coach Zach Keith said before looking ahead to another loaded slate of competition. “And this coming week, we have a couple of really tough duals against Park Hill South and St. Joseph Central, so those will be a good indicator of where we are as a team before we head into conference play the next week.”

With only senior No. 1 Gavin Nichols and junior Jack Bralley back from last year, Platte County continues to show the depth of the roster after graduating four starters from the first playoff team in program history. The Pirates have improved to 7-1 overall in addition to winning the Branson Doubles Invitational and placing third in a tight finish at the top of the standings in a loaded field of teams at the Platte County Invitational.

Park Hill ended Platte County’s unbeaten dual start on Monday, but the result didn’t affect the rest of the week. After dispatching Staley, the Pirates were even more dominant against Kearney, which won just three games in three doubles matches.

Platte County junior Paul Havemeier hits a backhand during a dual against Staley on Wednesday at Platte County High School.

Platte County led 3-0 after seniors Daniel Bunge and Quentin Miller — two of three first-year seniors contributing this season — recorded an 8-0 shutout in the No. 3 match, while Nichols and junior Hayden Cook were 8-1 winners at No. 1 and Bralley and senior Aaron Vaughan prevailed 8-2 at No. 2. Nichols (No. 1), Bunge (No. 5) and junior Paul Havemeier (No. 6) all recorded 8-0 victories in the singles sweep.

Uniquely, Platte County continues to use seven players in duals with Miller forming a dominant No. 3 doubles team with Bunge, while Havemeier plays singles only. Bunge and Miller won the No. 3 flight at the Branson tournament and have just two losses, as does Havemeier in singles.

In addition, Bralley moved all the way up from No. 4 to the No. 2 spot behind Nichols, a three-time Class 2 District 8 singles champion.

The results so far make Platte County an obvious contender to repeat last year’s team title and challenge to again maximize individual qualifiers for the Class 2 MSHSAA Tennis Championships. In addition to Nichols going three straight years in singles, Bralley helped make history when the Pirates sent both district doubles entrants to state for the first time in program history.

Nichols became a two-time Class 2 state medalist (seventh in 2021 and sixth in 2023), while Jack Forrest and Nathan Vanek — two of the four graduated seniors — became Platte County’s first doubles team to make the podium (sixth). That duo and Bralley plus Jaron Cook, another key piece of last year’s postseason runs not back, became the first to win a state match in doubles for the Pirates.

Platte County junior Jack Bralley hits a serve during a dual against Staley on Wednesday at Platte County High School.

Platte County 8, Staley 1

The Pirates came out ahead after two dominant doubles victories Wednesday at Platte County High School and pulled away for a comfortable nonconference victory.

Staley grabbed a tight 8-6 victory at No. 2, but the teams of Bunge/Miller (8-1 at No. 3) and Nichols/Cook (8-2 at No. 1) provided plenty of momentum. The sweep of singles included an 8-0 shutout for Nichols at No. 1 and Bralley’s opponent forfeiting at No. 2. Vaughan also came up with an 8-2 victory at No. 4, but Havemeier (8-5 at No. 6), Bunge (8-5 at No. 5) and Cook (8-6 at No. 3) helped make the final score of the dual not quite indicative of the competitiveness between the two teams.

Park Hill 6, Platte County 3

The Pirates recorded a pair of tight doubles wins Monday in Kansas City but couldn’t replicate the effort in singles, resulting in the season’s first loss.

Park Hill recorded a 9-7 win at No. 1, but Platte County’s teams of Bralley/Vaughan (No. 2) and Bunge/Miller (No. 3) recorded identical 8-6 margins of victory to provide the initial advantage. Nichols continued a strong run of singles play with a 10-3 victory at No. 1, but the Trojans ended up taking the other five matches to record the team win.

“The week got off to a disappointing start in the sense that we played really good doubles tennis against Park Hill but struggled significantly in singles just being consistent,” Keith said. “Obviously, the player on the other side of the net plays a big role in that, but we made a lot of mistakes in singles play and were uncharacteristically inconstant. All that being said, Park Hill is a really good team, and it was good for us to see how we stacked up against them.”

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