Palmyra tennis duo Emmy Griesbaum and Kendra Maples are cherishing their final season together while chasing a return to the state finals.
Emmy Griesbaum and Kendra Maples were both having a great time Thursday afternoon. The two were laughing and talking about winning a second straight district championship.
Then the laughing stopped and both became serious as if they just learned their favorite pet had just died.
The news wasn’t near as serious, but kind of.
They were reminded it’s Emmy’s senior year and the season is winding down.
“I’m going to be sad next year without her,” Maples said. “It’s not going to be near as fun without her. It’s going to be sad and boring.”
The senior echoed the same sentiments.
“I don’t want tennis to end,” Griesbaum admitted. “I don’t want to be a senior.”
The two became best friends last season when they were paired together on the court. They’ve hardly been separated, on or off the court, since.
“We play more tennis at home with each other than we do here at school,” Maples said.
Griesbaum mentioned they are at each other’s house every day after school.
She also offered an apology to her best friend after making a bold statement.
“We definitely wouldn’t even be friends if not for tennis,” the senior said. “Sorry.”
Maples didn’t take any offense to the statement, though they share most of the same interests.
“No, it's OK, you’re right,” she said with a smile. “We are pretty much the same person, but we never really even saw each other in school until tennis.”
Not only are both players happy for the friendship, but Lady Panthers coach Jessica Gottman is as well.
Her top two players reached the state finals last season as a duo and head into Saturday’s individual district play with an impressive 13-1 mark this season.
Anchored by the duo, Palmyra enters the team sectional next week with a 13-4 team record.
“They are great players and great leaders,” the Lady Panthers coach said.
Gottman mentioned despite all the talking they do with each other off the court, it’s the exact opposite once they step on the court together.
“It’s so funny watching them off the court and then on the court,” Gottman explained. “They don’t talk to each other at all during a match. But you can tell they just know where the other one is going to be at all times. They just have that chemistry to where they don’t have to yell switch or anything else because they just already know what to expect.”
The friendship off the court has also eliminated any potential problems on the court.
“You just don’t see any emotion from them,” Gottman said. “They are never mad at each other, which if a doubles team doesn’t get along together it can absolutely destroy the team. They don’t get to that point and it has shown in their success.”
But ask Maples and Griesbaum and they both will admit there was one point this season where they became irritated on the court.
“Against Quincy Notre Dame (the second time), we both were mad,” Maples admitted.
Griesbaum finished, “I played awful and was the only one messing up. She got so mad at me. She was saying ‘Emmy stop, just stop.’ It was our first loss, so we both were really mad.”
And then soon afterwards, the two were “fine” according to Maples.
“But we still lost the match,” Griesbaum quickly pointed out.
The two have yet to lose since.
A return to state is something both players are hoping for before Griesbaum graduates.
“We both were really nervous last year and didn’t really know what to expect,” Maples said. “We hope we can get back this year and improve on how we played last year. Although I don’t want the season to end, it will be a great way for it to end for Emmy and I.”
Whenever the season ends this season, the two will still have time together before Griesbaum heads away to college.
“We go to every football and basketball game together,” the senior said. “And we always just seem to find something fun to do together on the weekends.”
This weekend, the two will try and have fun on the court together, as they take the first step at a return trip to the state tournament.
Individual district play gets underway Saturday at 9 a.m.