Platte County junior Molly McBratney’s journey to the Missouri State Tennis Championships in singles might have seemed impossible a few years ago
Sure, circumstances fell in place, but the overwhelming amount of hard work that went into McBratney’s progression make the story that much sweeter. McBratney swept her way through the Class 2 District 8 individual tournament Friday in Kearney, Mo. with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Kearney’s Sara Dillon in the final.
McBratney made a lot of history:
First individual district champion in Platte County history
First singles state qualifier in program history
First individual state qualifier since the doubles team of Lisa Wyrwinski and Rachel Bumstead in 2009
“She had a ton of pressure on her today,” Platte County coach Zach Keith said. “She was the favorite. She felt that pressure, and it showed on several occasions. As a coach, I used to get nervous for the players, but now I find myself watching to see how different kids respond when the pressure is on. Molly kept fighting; kept working. She started doing exactly what she’s been doing for hours every day for the last several years; she starting outworking the person on the other side of the net.”
In 2009, Platte County’s program was in it second season, and the Pirates were still in Class 1. Soon after, they moved up to Class 2 and regularly competed against the largest schools in the area and oftentimes top players.
Platte County’s program successes have been limited by postseason assignment, but for 2020, the state expanded the number of classifications for tennis from two to three. The Pirates received an assignment of Class 2 District 8, and the outlook immediately changed.
McBratney changed her own outlook during her first three years on the team. As a freshman, she ranked No. 33 in the lineup out of 35 players but decided to change her level, playing two to three times a day in an effort to better her position.
As a sophomore, McBratney broke into the varsity lineup at No. 6
“It was incredible how much she’d improved,” Keith said. “I’d never seen anything like that as a coach … until this season when she made another almost unfathomable leap.”
McBratney solidified herself as Platte County’s No. 1 player this season, and she entered Class 2 District 8 play as the No. 1 seed in singles. She beat William Chrisman’s Laurie Douglas in the semifinals to guarantee a state berth before going on to be the first Pirates’ state qualifier to capture the district title.
So far this season, McBratney has compiled a 18-10 record going into the Class 2 District 8 team tournament. She’ll look to help the Pirates avenge earlier losses to Kearney and William Chrisman to earn the first team postseason berth in program history.
Platte County (6-9) opens at home Monday as the No. 3 seed, hosting No. 6 Winnetonka. The winner advances to play either Kearney or KC East on Tuesday.
In the final week of the regular season, Platte County had an exciting 5-4 victory over Grain Valley on senior night. The Pirates trailed 2-1 after doubles with the No. 2 team of senior Emma Murray and junior Sophie Curtis taking the lone win. However, they came back with singles victories from McBratney (No. 1), Curtis (No. 2), Murray (No. 5) and junior Rayna Garcia (No. 6).
Platte County then lost 8-1 to Park Hill two days before the district tournament.
In addition to McBratney, Curtis and Murray also reached the Class 2 District 8 doubles semifinals before losing to the top seed. They finished fourth place.