COLUMBIA — Many athletes are described as quiet leaders, but few epitomize it as much as Rock Bridge senior Jay Kinderknecht.
Kinderknecht and the rest of the Rock Bridge boys tennis team swept the Marshall Owls 9-0 in dominant fashion at Rock Bridge on Tuesday.
Kinderknecht won his singles match handily at No. 1 singles 6-1, 6-1 and teamed with senior Aron Franck to win 6-0, 6-0 at No. 1 doubles.
That doubles team is a unique combination because Franck and Kinderknecht carry themselves differently during matches. Franck isn’t afraid to talk to himself after missing a shot, but it is very rare to see Kinderknecht show emotion. Kinderknecht has taken to the role of leader this season, but chooses to lead by example. Often, he is the one telling his teammates to clean up the courts after practices and matches.
“To be a good leader, you don’t necessarily have to be vocal,” Kinderknecht said. He added that he likes the role and tries to carry himself the right way so his younger teammates will know how they should act.
Coach Ben Loeb said he thinks Kinderknecht has done a great job as the leader of the Bruins this year.
“Jay has been very consistent, which doesn’t surprise me because his demeanor is consistent,” Loeb said.
Kinderknecht and Franck have split time at No. 1 singles this year. Loeb said he has never had such a close competition for the No. 1 spot before.
Kinderknecht is going to Baylor University next year, but doesn’t plan on playing tennis there. He said he knew he didn’t want to play in college when he was applying to schools.
Tuesday’s dual was not a very competitive affair. Rock Bridge only played two regular varsity players in singles and still did not lose a set and won 6-0 in 10 of the 18 sets. Loeb said it showed the depth Rock Bridge (14-0) possesses. Kinderknecht said it was important to stay focused despite the lack of competition.
“At times it’s tough to get in a rhythm without any long rallies,” Kinderknecht said.