COLUMBIA—The Rock Bridge and Edwardsville, Ill., boys tennis match started on a cold and quiet morning at Cosmo-Bethel Park. The only thing that could be heard was the sound of tennis balls hitting racquets and players grunting each time they struck a ball over the net.
Players on the court wore long sleeve shirts and sweat pants. Some would blow on their hands before serves. Players not on a court shivered on benches, trying to stay warm under sweaters and blankets.
In the afternoon, Rock Bridge (7-1) defeated Joplin 7-2 at Cosmo-Bethel Park. Billy Swift, Raymond Majors, Jacob Winton and Harry Bozoian won in singles. The Bruins swept Joplin in doubles.
More than three hours later, the cold weather persisted and so did the tennis match. With the score at 4-4, everyone at the park had their eyes set on Court No. 4 and the final doubles duel.
Earlier, Rock Bridge had recorded singles victories from Billy Swift, Raymond Majors, Jacob Winton and Harry Bozoian to take a 4-2 lead into the doubles matches. Edwardsville needed to take all three to win.
Edwardsville won the first two doubles competitions to tie the match score at 4, and Brandon Harris and Zach Bryant took the first set against Rock Bridge’s Majors and Harry in No. 3 doubles. Majors and Bozoian won the second set to force a tiebreaker, decided by the first team to score ten points.
Trailing 4-1 in the tiebreaker, Rock Bridge scored five straight points behind several powerful shots by Majors. But then momentum shifted back to Edwardsville, as it picked up four straight points with aggressive net play. With the tiebreak at 9-8 in favor of Edwardsville, a Bozoian shot fell inches wide. Edwardsville had pulled off the doubles sweep.
Edwardsville head coach Dave Lipe hadn't believed his team would. Instead he just wanted his doubles pairings to play well.
“The prospect of sweeping the doubles was a little far-fetched in my mind,” Lipe said. “I felt it was a possibility, but that’s not where our focus was.”
Edwardsville started doubles with first set wins in all three matches. With the matches happening at courts close together, Edwardsville players like Harris realized they had a chance to win the match.
“We were aware because there was a lot of positive emotions coming from (courts) one and two, and that fueled us even more,” Harris said.