COLUMBIA—For the second consecutive Friday, the weather at Cosmo-Bethel Park was unfavorable for tennis.
Rock Bridge played Edwardsville last Friday morning in temperatures in the low 40s and heavy wind.
The cold and wind continued on Friday afternoon with the sun occasionally peaking between the clouds during Rock Bridge’s 7-2 win over Blue Springs South in the semifinals of the Mid-Missouri Invitational.
“The conditions are tough out there with the wind and the cold,” Rock Bridge head coach Ben Loeb said. “It’s just not a good combination, especially the wind. I think our guys responded well today.”
One player that responded well to the wind was Rock Bridge senior Billy Swift. In the morning quarterfinal match against De Smet, Swift won his singles match 6-1, 6-1 over Andrew Shaw at No. 2 singles. The Bruins beat De Smet 8-1.
Swift defeated Alex Barber from Blue Springs South 6-1, 6-1 at No. 2 singles in the afternoon. Swift said he was able to adjust to the wind by being more patient and playing a smarter game.
“It’s tough on the serve with the toss and getting it in the right spot,” Swift said. “The ball moves all over the court on you.”
A week before tennis tryouts, Swift got mononucleosis and was worried he would miss part of his senior season. It took Swift a month to recover and he returned before matches started.
“Coach (Loeb) has been good on letting me get back into it and taking it slow,” Swift said.
Swift was frustrated when he returned because he felt out of shape and would get tired on the court. Now he feels healthy and thinks he has played well at No. 2 and No. 3 singles. His coach agrees.
“He’s doing well at whatever position he is at,” Loeb said. “His endurance is improving and his serve has just been flat out outstanding.”
Swift won both his No. 1 doubles matches on Friday with Bruins No. 1 player Alex Jones. This is the first year the seniors have played doubles together, but they have developed great chemistry, Swift said.
“I can count on him to make the right shot,” Swift said. “It takes some of the pressure off me and it makes it more fun to play with him.”
Swift and Jones talked and high-fived each other with a smile after most points in their 8-4 victory over Blue Springs South’s Paul Province and Alec Barber.
“We tell each other where we are going to serve and where we are going to be,” Jones said. “Half the time we tell each other jokes to keep a light mood, and try to have fun.”
Rock Bridge (9-1) will play Westminster in the Mid-Missouri Invitational championship at Cosmo-Bethel Park at 9:30 a.m. Saturday.