COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge boys tennis player Alex Jones isn’t used to losing.
The senior and current No. 1 player for the Bruins has been part of a state championship team in every season he has been in high school. He won the state doubles tournament with Jack Fay last season.
Rockhurst at Rock Bridge
When: 4 p.m.
Where: Cosmo-Bethel Park
Jones hasn’t met his expectations early in the season. He was defeated by Jefferson City’s Sam Johnson last Wednesday 6-1, 6-1. He lost to Lafayette playing at No. 1 doubles with teammate Billy Swift on Saturday.
“I have had a slow start to the season,” Jones said, after losing on Saturday in doubles. “It hasn’t been what I wanted, but it’s getting better.”
It got better for Jones later in the afternoon. He responded with a 5-7, 7-5, 10-7 comeback victory over Parkway Central’s Jack Bridge.
“That was a really tough match and those are the type of challenges he will be up against in his (No. 1) position,” Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said.
On Sunday and Monday, Jones visited Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., where he is considering attending. Jones looked at the campus and meet the tennis team that includes his former doubles partner Fay. Jones thinks his early struggles are behind him because of the visit.
“It was great to get away and see the college, and to see how they (the Creighton players) do things,” Jones said. “It motivated me to see their level of play and what I need to do.
Jones said he has “big shoes to fill” now as the No. 1 player. Last season Ford Zitsch, who was the 2012 state singles champion and currently plays for the University of Nebraska, was the No. 1 player for the Bruins.
Jones said he is confident new players will step up with the losses of Zitsch and Fay.
“We all want to win state, and we all expect to win state,” Jones said. “We have a big burden on us, but it’s a good challenge. I like it.”
On Tuesday at practice, Jones spent extra time on his serve to prepare for Wednesday’s match against Kansas City powerhouse Rockhurst.
When his teammates took water breaks, Jones stayed on the court. He grabbed balls out of the basket and whacked serves to teammates Rohit Rao and Swift. Jones didn’t stop until all the balls in the basket were on the other side of the net.
Loeb said he is looking for his No. 1 player to play a “big game” by “generating offense with a good serve and ball speed.”
Wednesday’s match, at 4 p.m. at Cosmo-Bethel Park, is a rematch of the 2012 Class 2 state championship where Rock Bridge defeated Rockhurst 5-2.