COLUMBIA - Rock Bridge junior Eemaun Latifi has two sides.
Off the court, Latifi is one of the most talkative, easy-going members of the Rock Bridge tennis team and he’s always cracking jokes. During matches, he is fiery. Latifi is frequently yelling at himself to keep himself focused.
Saturday, the Bruins defeated Kirkwood 10-1 and Blue Valley North of Overland Park, Kan., 8-2 at Rock Bridge. Coach Ben Loeb called Latifi the star of the day. Latifi had four straight set victories, but the yelling was still there.
“If I tell myself to focus, I think I’ll do better,” Latifi said. “When I don’t, I’ll play lackadaisical.”
Loeb is always telling his players to maintain positive energy and said sometimes Latifi gets down on himself too much.
Latifi, who played No. 3 singles and No. 2 doubles Saturday, said he plays to the level of his competition too much. As a result, he has been in a lot of close matches this season, but he hasn’t shied away from the pressure.
“He’s so tough when it gets close,” Loeb said. “He gets mad rather than nervous.”
Latifi played on the Hickman tennis team two years ago to play doubles with his brother, Omeed, who is three years older than Eemaun. He transferred to Rock Bridge going into his sophomore year because he said most of his friends go there.
Overall, it was one of the best days of the season for the Bruins. Loeb called the match against Kirkwood in the morning the team’s best dual of the year. Kirkwood was without their No. 2 player, but is traditionally a contender for the state title.
Blue Valley North did not bring their top players because they just finished their Kansas district meet on Friday. However, the Mustangs did win both of the top two singles matches.
The Bruins’ (19-0) next match is against Jefferson City at 4 p.m. Tuesday at Rock Bridge.