COLUMBIA – The first set of the No. 1 singles match couldn’t go any worse for Rock Bridge tennis player Alex Jones.
The senior was trying to avenge a 6-1, 6-1 loss earlier in the season to Jefferson City’s Sam Johnson.
Jones consistently sent balls out of play in a 6-0 first set defeat. On the set point for Johnson, Jones bungled the return hit and the ball landed on the next court over, almost hitting teammate Billy Swift.
“In both matches, I had a slow start,” Jones said about this season's matches against Johnson. “I didn’t move my feet at all.”
Jones started the second set well. He caught a lucky break when one of his shots hit the top of the net and slowly fell over the other side. Jones broke a smile for the first time in the match.
Jones had a 3-2 second set lead until Johnson won the last four games to win the match 6-0, 6-3. Jones said that Johnson didn’t give up many short balls that would allow Jones to play around the net, which is where he plays his best tennis.
“My game is based around staying back for one or two shots, and as soon as I get a short ball, I move up to the net,” Jones said.
The Bruins (12-1) won the other eight matches. Rohit Rao, Jacob Winton, Raymond Majors and Harry Bozoian won their singles matches in straight sets.
Swift won at No. 2 singles 6-4, 5-7, 10-4 tiebreak. Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said the way Swift responded after losing the second set impressed him.
“He lost the second set after having a lead and showed a lot of emotional resiliency to play a very strong match tiebreaker,” Loeb said.
After Swift’s singles victory, which lasted more than two hours, he immediately played doubles with Winton and won 6-2, 6-0.
“I was mentally prepared to have a long, tough match,” Swift said about his singles match. “My legs were a little tired, but I worked in the offseason to play matches like that and be fine.”
Majors and Alex Wadsen won at No. 3 doubles 6-1, 6-0. Jones and Rao defeated a Jefferson City pair that included Johnson and David Clausen at No. 1 doubles 7-5, 6-4.
Rock Bridge and Jefferson City are the top two seeds in the Class 2, District 9 tournament that starts Monday. Both teams will have a first-round bye and begin play on Tuesday. Hickman is the No. 3 seed and hosts Helias on Monday at Cosmopolitan Park.
Supervising editor is Grant Hodder.