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Rock Bridge boys tennis beats Hickman again

Defending state champion Rock Bridge coasted to a 9-0 win on Friday over Hickman, who hasn't defeated its rival since 2000.
Friday, April 10, 2009 | 7:56 p.m. CDT; updated 10:03 p.m. CDT, Saturday, April 11, 2009
Rock Bridge freshman Ford Zitsch plays against Hickman opponent Ben Levin during their match at Cosmopolitan Park on Friday in Columbia.

COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge High School boys tennis team continued its dominance over Hickman on Friday afternoon at Cosmopolitan Park.

The Bruins defeated the Kewpies 9-0, and most of the matches were not close. Hickman hasn’t deafeated Rock Bridge in almost nine years. Afterward, Hickman coach Andy Materer said his team is still a ways away from being able to compete with Rock Bridge.

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Until the Kewpies can, he doesn’t think there is much of a rivalry.

“I don’t get the sense that we have the rivalry feel,” Materer said. “It’s not hard to turn a good tennis program into a highly competitive tennis program. Right now, they’re beating us too bad for it to really be considered a rivalry.”

Hickman junior Kevin Guevarra played a good match at No. 5 singles against Bruins junior Sam Johnson. He lost 6-2, 7-6, but had a real shot at taking the match to a tiebreaker. Materer said that Guevarra's match showed that Rock Bridge is not unbeatable.

“Effort was good,” Materer said. “We had a couple of close scores. I was really happy with Kevin Gueverra, We had a chance to win one of them, and hopefully next time we play them, we’ll be closer in a couple of other spots.”

Rock Bridge freshman Ford Zitsch played Hickman junior Ben Levin in one of the most anticipated matches at No. 2 singles. The players have very different styles, and Zitsch admitted that playing Levin was stressful at times.

Levin is finesse player who avoids unforced errors, while Zitsch is a power player who relies on strong first serve to put opponents back on their heels.

“Usually there’s people who hit the ball harder than that, but you’ve got to deal with it,” Zitsch said. “He did what I think he was trying to do: take me out of my game. I started not playing my game and he started winning some games.”

Zitsch said that playing against Levin’s unique style will be good when it’s time for the district tournament.

Levin said he hopes for a chance to play Zitsch again. This is only Levin’s second year of playing tennis and he said he enjoys matching up with the best.

“I think I could have played better and hit some shots that I didn’t hit,” Levin said. “Ford’s a great player and it’s always a good feeling to get some games off of him.”

Both players usually play No. 1 singles, but their teams changed them for different reasons.

“We were trying to get Aaron Skinner some experience there,” Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said. “Aaron hadn’t been pushed yet this year and we wanted to get him some experience playing at one with more people watch.”

Skinner still wasn’t pushed as he defeated Hickman senior Alex Tuner 6-0, 6-0.

The teams will both play Saturday at the Rock Bridge Tournament. Rock Bridge will play their games at Bethel Park and Hickman will play their games at Cosmopolitan Park. The tournament starts at 9:30 a.m.


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