EXCELSIOR SPRINGS – Mackenzie Phillips’ No. 3 singles match Monday was a stress reliever, rather than a stress inducer.

When Phillips and her fellow Spartans faced Excelsior Springs in a Missouri River Valley Conference varsity girls tennis dual, she played Elizabeth Casey, winning 8-0. Casey “was really sweet,” Phillips said.

“We had just a really good time,” Phillips said. “It didn’t seem stressful or anything, like the other ones.”

Typically, Phillips gets intimidated when she plays because she thinks her opponent is better than her, she said.

“I get stressed because I feel like I can’t do it,” Phillips said. “And so, I overthink – and then, I lose the match.”

Richmond coach Kevin Jermain has noticed that tendency in Phillips, too.

“When she plays confident and loose and … doesn’t have a lot of things going through her head, she plays pretty well. … The only time she really ever struggles is when she starts … letting the pressure … get up on her … and the nerves get going, etc.,” Jermain said.

By relaxing and not overthinking, Phillips helped the Spartans cruise to an 8-1 win. Richmond’s victories included a forfeit win in No. 6 singles. They also included an 8-0 win by Phillips and Ayrin McBee over Rebecca Harness and Amanda Mayfield in No. 1 doubles.

The match went well, Phillips said. Phillips attributed the victory to a key mental/emotional skill.

“Ayrin and I have really good communication,” she said. “We didn’t in the past. But right now, it seems really, really good. And so, I think we win our doubles (matches) a lot … (because of that).”

Some good net shots helped, too, McBee said.

“That’s probably one of our strengths is when we play at the net,” she said.

Other Richmond winners included junior Sophia Mendoza, who defeated Sadie Moore 8-3 in No. 4 singles. Having faced Mendoza before, the match had a familiar feel to Moore.

“Every time we play, we’re a pretty even match,” she said.

Mendoza agreed. As proof, she cited their match during a recent tournament. Although Mendoza won, it “was a tough fight,” she said.

Mayfield was Excelsior Springs’ lone winner, edging Kenzie Hughes 8-6. The Tigers had a few near-victories, too. In No. 2 doubles, Casey and Emma Kern fell to Mendoza and Hughes 8-5. In No. 3 doubles, Moore and Kaylie Como fell to Alysha Heath and Audrey McFee 9-7.

“It was (a) very good match,” Moore said.

Excelsior Springs coach Richie Marsh expected the Spartans to be tough. Having checked the scores of Richmond’s dual schedule, Marsh knew the Tigers would “need a little bit of fortune and a few things to go our way to win,” he said.

“Just didn’t work out today,” Marsh said.

A 9-0 loss to Lafayette County of Higginsville on Tuesday at Maurice Roberts Park followed Richmond’s win over Excelsior Springs. As of this writing, the Spartans were slated to head into the home stretch of their season with the conference tournament Thursday at Warrensburg, followed by the Class 1 District 15 Tournament. Richmond is scheduled to open district dual competition Oct. 7 against visiting Lexington.

Excelsior Springs had home duals scheduled Tuesday and Wednesday against Warrensburg and Kearney, respectively, before the conference tournament. The Tigers will open dual play in the Class 1 District 15 Tournament Oct. 7 against visiting Carrollton.

Excelsior Springs is seeded fourth in the single-elimination postseason tournament. Richmond is seeded third, as Marsh had predicted Monday.

Monday’s outcome was key to the Spartans’ district seeding – a point they discussed beforehand, Jermain said. Seeding “was definitely in their minds” when they played, he said.

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