COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge tennis team, which finished fourth-place in the state a year ago, is always looking to find competition that can push them. Sometimes, it’s better off looking from within to find that competition.
In practice on Wednesday, coach Ben Loeb had the Bruins play matches against each other in order to prepare for Friday’s Columbia Duals, where the team will face two tough opponents, Edwardsville at 10:30 a.m. and Joplin at 2:30 p.m.
On Monday, the Bruins (5-0) defeated Quincy, Ill., but Loeb said the match didn’t provide as much competition as they will see Friday. The solution was to have the players face each other in a few eight-game sets against different teammates, as well as switching between singles and doubles. Loeb even stepped in to play because one player was not at practice, creating an odd number of players.
He said it was good to have the players face a little tougher competition, because Edwardsville and Joplin are the two best teams of the rest of the field at the Columbia Duals. Hickman, Jefferson City and Cape Girardeau Central are also going to be competing at the event that will take place at Bethel Park and Cosmopolitan Park.
Senior Jay Kinderknecht said playing Joplin is always big because they are in Rock Bridge’s sectional.
Kinderknecht played senior Aron Franck twice in doubles and once in singles on Wednesday. Franck and Kinderknecht have been switching off this season at the No. 1 singles spot so far.
“I think they like playing each other,” Loeb said.
Kinderknecht said he likes to play Franck because they are used to each other.
“They both have been even,” Loeb said. “They went 1-1 against each other in full three-set matches in the preseason. I want to give them both the chance at No. 1, but at some point it will stabilize.”
On Tuesday, the Bruins were scheduled to host Hannibal, but the match was rained out. It has been rescheduled to April 28. Also, the match against Hickman originally scheduled for April 3 has been moved to April 16. Both matches will begin at 4 p.m.