COLUMBIA — Sometimes great tennis players bring out the best in their opponents. That was the case Thursday at Rock Bridge when Bruins senior Aron Franck defeated Glendale freshman sensation Paul Nahon 9-8, (3) in the No. 1 singles match.
Nahon finished 21st in the Missouri Valley section, which comprises five states, in the USTA boys’ 18-and-under singles rankings in 2007, but Franck overcame an onslaught of powerful forehands from Nahon.
“Aron played the best match he’s played this season,” Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said. “(Nahon) is very impressive. He’s one of the best.”
Rock Bridge swept the dual 9-0. The teams played eight-game pro sets instead of full matches because both teams will be in the Mid-Missouri Invitational this weekend.
Franck said Nahon was tough because Nahon had the ability to hit his forehand for power as well as place it well and had a lot of topspin kick on his backhand. Franck laughed when asked if he preferred playing a power hitter like Nahon or a player who will try to extend points.
“I don’t usually like playing people that good,” Franck said.
Franck had to fight off three match points to get to the tiebreaker. His match was the last of the dual so the entire Rock Bridge team watched and cheered him on.
In the No. 1 doubles match, the Rock Bridge team of senior Jay Kinderknecht and junior Eemaun Latifi defeated Nahon and junior Drew Yang 8-3. Latifi said they tried to hit it to Yang whenever possible. This was Latifi’s first match since injuring his knee Friday.
This weekend, the Bruins (10-0) and Hickman will host the Mid-Missouri Invitational. Eight teams will play in the tournament.
Loeb said he was looking forward to the tournament because as long as Rock Bridge wins their first dual against Kickapoo on 10:45 a.m. Friday, they will play two solid teams. Blue Springs South won the tournament last year and Loeb said they have a formidable team this year. Loeb mentioned Lafayette and DeSmet as two other teams to watch.
Hickman will face Lafayette at 10:45 a.m. Friday at Hickman. The semifinals are scheduled to start at 2:45 p.m. and the finals are scheduled to start at 9:15 a.m. Saturday.