Rock Bridge boys tennis team beats Hickman

Tuesday, May 5, 2009 | 9:22 p.m. CDT; updated 9:52 p.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 5, 2009
Rock Bridge tennis player Jimmy Hunter returns a shot Tuesday in a doubles match against Hickman.

COLUMBIA — The Rock Bridge boys tennis team defeated Hickman 9-0 for the second time this season on Tuesday at Bethal Park to improve to 16-0 on the season. Hickman fell to 6-10.

The teams started with doubles first and Rock Bridge easily won all three matches. In singles, only the No. 2 and No. 2 matches were closely contested.

Rock Bridge sophomore Aaron Skinner beat Hickman senior Alex Turner 6-1, 6-4 in the No. 2 singles match and Rock Bridge junior Sam Johnson beat Hickman junior Kevin Guevarra 6-0, 6-3 in the No. 5 singles match.

When the two teams met earlier this season, Guevarra almost upset Johnson in the only real close match of that dual. Hickman coach Andy Materer said what Guevarra has has impressed him with what he has done this season.

“Kevin’s won a lot of matches this year,” Materer said. “Kevin Guevarra at No. 5 is one of our strongest positions. It doesn’t matter who he’s playing, even if it’s the state champs, he has a chance to win.”

Guevarra led the second set 3-1. After Guevarra’s third win, Johnson started getting frustrated with his play. Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb talked with Johnson and Johnson won the next five games to win the set and the match. Guevarra said he thinks Loeb’s talk helped Johnson.

“They’ve got a great coach and he calmed Sam down,” Guevarra said. “He picked up his game into a higher level. I kept fighting till the very end.”

Johnson said he loves playing Guevarra. He said he prefers a tougher match even if he sometimes gets frustrated.

“He’s a great player,” Johnson said. “He always starts off a little slow, but he comes out swinging in the second set. It’s always tough to beat him. Most of the teams we play, it’s hard to get a really good match. It’s always fun playing him.”

Rock Bridge played nine players and Hickman only played six. Materer said he was not happy with the play of his team overall.

“It probably gives us an advantage that we didn’t capitalize on,” Materer said. “I was disappointed in the one doubles. We double faulted way too much. The double faults are inexcusable, but we’re going to work on it.”

Loeb said playing more players does give some of his top guys a chance to rest a little before the district tournament, but there are other advantages.

“It’s mostly getting some other guys a chance to play,” Loeb said. “We have to take a look at what we want to do for a third doubles situation down the road. We’ve had some success, but we want to give some other guys a chance to play a little bit.”

The Hickman-Rock Bridge rivalry will always be mentioned when the team’s meet, but Loeb said he doesn’t see it that way. He knows there is a rivalry and everybody wants to win, but he feels both teams keep it classy.

“When you have only two high schools in town that have the sports that we have, it’s more than just a regular dual, but on the other hand, it’s a very respectful situation,” Loeb said. “I think, quite frankly, the kids on both sides handle it well.”

Rock Bridge plays next in the Missouri-Illinois Challenge on Friday in Troy, Ill. Hickman’s next dual is on Tuesday at Hannibal.

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