Rock Bridge boys tennis continues to dominate

Thursday, April 23, 2009 | 8:32 p.m. CDT; updated 12:06 a.m. CDT, Friday, April 24, 2009
Rock Bridge freshman Ford Zitch returns the ball during his match against Glendale sophomore Paul Nahon on April 23. Zitch won the match 9-7.

COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge High School boys tennis team defeated Glendale 7-2 on Thursday at Bethel Park. It was the Bruins 36th-straight dual victory and 10th on the season.

The teams played doubles first, and the Bruins lost two of the three sets, making the score 2-1 going into singles. The Bruins swept all six singles matches to keep their winning streak alive.

Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said he was not expecting Glendale to be as competitive as it was.

“They surprised us a little bit,” Loeb said. “I knew at No. 1 doubles they’d be good. (Rock Bridge) didn’t play as well as we were capable of playing, and that put us in trouble.”

The 2008 state-winning doubles team of Blake Buchert and Aaron Skinner suffered a rare defeat in the No. 1 doubles match against star sophomore Paul Nahon and junior Dylan Jackson. Rock Bridge freshman Ford Zitsch got some revenge for his team by upsetting Nahon 9-7.

“Paul’s definitely really good,” Zitsch said. “He finished second in state last year. I wasn’t really expecting to win that match. I pulled it out in the end.”

Throughout the match, Zitsch and Nahon had some disagreements. Zitsch called a return serve by Nahon out, and Nahon disagreed. Loeb said these kind of arguments are not unusual when two great players compete against each other.

“It wasn’t a big deal, but they had a guy who is used to winning,” Loeb said. “Maybe it was legitimate; maybe he was trying to intimidate a kid who was younger than him. I thought Ford handled it well. One call the other guy questioned was clearly out. He was arguing about a call that he was wrong on. Ford held his ground.”

Zitsch has lost two singles matches over the past two weeks — the first two losses of his career. Zitsch said beating a top player like Nahon boosts his confidence.

“I lost some big, close matches,” Zitsch said. “Both were in tiebreakers, and I  had my chances to win. I didn’t win those, so that kind of brought my confidence level down. My confidence is definitely boosted a little bit after that win.”

Sophomore Jimmy Hunter won at No. 2 singles for the Bruins 8-2. Hunter said the victory was good to build on with the Mid-Missouri Invitational taking place in Columbia this weekend.

“Every single match is important,” Hunter said. “I’m really glad we came out here and played good today and took care of it. They have some good players on their team. It was a great dual. It was a good warm-up for tomorrow.”

Loeb said this weekend’s tournament will be competitive, but he is confident that his team will continue its strong play.

“I think we’re doing really well,” Loeb said. “This weekend’s tournament will give us another indicator of where we’re at. Our guys have performed outstanding throughout the season. We’re certainly going to meet some challenges along the way.”

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