A season of resounding success came to an end last weekend, as Houston High School sophomore Connor McKinney fell in a Missouri State High School Activities Association Class 1 tennis state tournament sectionals singles match last Saturday in St. Charles.
McKinney was defeated by junior Thomas Griese of Duchesne, 6-0, 6-0. Griese is no stranger to the situation, as he has played in state championship final matches twice, finishing runner-up both as a freshman and a sophomore.
“It feels great to make it to the final 32 players in the state,” McKinney said. “The kid I played has been beating kids much better than me all season, so I didn’t expect to win, but I’m proud of the work I’ve put in.”
“As a coach, I have only seen one player over the years who is comparable to the kid Connor had to play today,” said HHS head coach Josh McKinney (Connor’s dad). “He had a great attitude today and gave it his best effort; unfortunately you run into some players who are just a heck of lot better than you.”
Connor won this year’s South Central Association conference singles championship and then finished second in the Class 1 District 8 Tournament to qualify for state. He said he’s already looking to improve on this season’s results.
“My goals for this summer are to improve and play tournaments against players better than me and gain experience and come into next season as a smarter, better and more experienced player ready to take on kids who play at (Griese’s) level,” Connor said. “My biggest goal is just to have fun with my tennis friends playing tournaments and to grow as a player.
“Next year, I hope to make the final 16. I want to advance next year through sectionals and get a shot at the state championship.”