COLUMBIA – It's always good to be home.
For the Rock Bridge boys tennis team, home is Bethel Park, and that is where it wins. The park, just behind the school, has a pond, shelters for grilling and picnics and a large playground area for children.
The part that the Bruins love, though, is their tennis facility. It was updated with four new courts and a shelter in 2008. The raised concrete shelter sits next to two of the sets of courts and provides a perfect vantage point for spectators and coaches.
The Bruins' opponents aren't so fond of the venue, though. Hickman coach Andy Materer says he doesn't like competing at Bethel.
"It's an intimidating place to play." Materer said. "Like any athletic venue, they have an advantage. They've got a swagger there."
Jimmy Hunter, who Materer called the best player on the Bruins' squad, couldn't recall the last time his team lost at home.
"They haven't lost since I've been here," Hunter said.
The last time the Bruins lost at home was April 21, 2007, when Blue Springs South beat them in the Mid-Missouri Invitational. The Bruins are 100-3 at home since Bethel became their home in 2001. The team's three losses at Bethel all came in 2007. The first team to break a 61-match home winning streak was Jefferson City, which topped Rock Bridge on April 4, 2007.
A home court advantage that great is something that Hunter compared to Allen Field House where the Kansas men's basketball team has won 59 straight.
"Since we play here (at Bethel) all the time, we're just comfortable here," Hunter said.
The Bruins' are not just tough at home, however. They consistently finish among the top teams in the state tournament and have competed in the state semifinals for the past 8 years. They won their first boys state title 2008 and finished third in the state tournament last year.
Beginning with a win over Hickman on May 7, 2007, the Bruins' current winning streak at Bethel Park has reached 39 The Bruins' next home match is set for April 16 against Edwardsville and Joplin in the Columbia Duals. Edwardsville was the other team to beat the Bruins at home in 2007.