Diminutive Skinner big for Rock Bridge boys tennis

Bruins move to 13-0 after win over DeSemet on Saturday
Saturday, April 19, 2008 | 10:38 p.m. CDT; updated 7:27 p.m. CDT, Sunday, July 20, 2008

COLUMBIA — It’s impossible not to notice Aaron Skinner at Rock Bridge tennis matches. Skinner is the shortest player on the team, one of the most talkative Bruins off the court, and is talented. All this, and he’s only a freshman.

On Saturday, the Rock Bridge boys tennis team won the Mid-Missouri Invitational by defeating DeSmet 6-3 in the semifinals and Lafayette 8-1 in the final. Skinner won both his doubles matches, including the clinching victory over DeSmet at No. 2 doubles with senior Aron Franck.

Skinner will often bust out of his slumped posture after a point, give a fist pump like Tiger Woods, and yell, “Come on!”

“You need positive energy to be successful,” Skinner said.

Between matches, Skinner is almost always laughing or smiling. Otherwise, Skinner can be found discussing unusual topics such as stripping ping-pong paddles and how to hit the rarely used two-handed forehand.

“He brings a lot of personality,” coach Ben Loeb said. “He’s well-liked.”

Skinner fits in with his teammates, but he said he hasn’t avoided typical freshmen treatment. For example, his teammates have given him nicknames, such as Skinman, that he said he does not like.

“I haven’t gotten thrown into the lake yet,” Skinner said with a laugh.

In the final, Skinner and Franck won 8-6 at No. 1 doubles. Skinner then fell to freshman Mick Lyons, who played No. 1 doubles earlier, 6-2, 6-3 at No. 3 singles.

Loeb said the Bruins (13-0) got two very good tests from DeSmet and Lafayette this weekend and the tournament was helpful for the younger members of the team.

MU Baseball: The No. 6 Tigers beat Oklahoma 6-5 in 10 innings Saturday to guarantee their first series victory in Norman since 1971. Junior Steve Gray hit an RBI double in the top of the 10th to give Missouri the lead. Freshman Nick Tepesch retired the Sooners in order in the bottom of the inning to earn the first win of his career. Gray finished the day 3-for-5 with two doubles and two RBI. Senior Kurt Calvert was 3-for-4 with two RBI.

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