COLUMBIA — Rock Bridge tennis players Rohit Rao and Jacob Winton defeated teammates and No. 1 seeds Alex Jones and Billy Swift 6-4, 6-4 in the Class 2, District 9 doubles final on Saturday.
Rao and Winton were No. 2 seeds in the 12-team bracket, but their victory against the Bruins' No. 1 team didn’t surprise Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb.
“There’s not much that separates our two doubles teams,” Loeb said. “On a given day, either team can win.”
Jones and Winton played against each other with different doubles partners in last year's district final. Jones won that match on his way to a doubles state title with Jack Fay, who graduated last year.
“We go at it just like it’s any other team, and there is just as much animosity between us,” Winton said. “We are friends afterwards, but we definitely approach it as wanting to win.”
Rao’s powerful serve and Winton’s aggressive net play gave seniors Jones and Swift trouble all match. After winning a point to clinch a game, Winton pumped his fist in celebration and ran to give Rao a high-five.
“I envisioned the match like they are any other team,” Rao said. “You can’t let the friendliness of teammates get in the way.”
Jones admitted it was hard to focus because it felt like practice and noticed how seriously Rao and Winton approached the match.
“Those are the two biggest goofballs on the team, and I have never seen them bear down and focus like they did,” Jones said.
Winton and Rao reached the final with a 6-1, 6-0 victory over Camdenton’s Connor Burton and Aric Osborn in the quarterfinals. They beat Hickman’s Junyi Wu and Daniel Shyu 6-1, 6-2 in the semifinals.
Jones and Swift will get another chance to play doubles because the top two teams in the doubles and singles tournament advance to the sectional tournament at 4 p.m. Monday at Cosmo-Bethel Park.
Camdenton’s Luc Ginoux defeated Rock Bridge’s Raymond Majors 7-5, 7-5 to win the singles tournament.
Ginoux, a foreign exchange student from France, was a No. 4 seed in the tournament. He beat Rock Bridge’s Harry Bozoian in three sets in the quarterfinals and upset No. 1 seed Sam Johnson from Jefferson City 6-3, 4-6, 6-4.
Ginoux was busy through the day, and because he played two three-set matches before the final, he didn't have time to eat. During water breaks he would take a bite from a McDonald’s Big Mac.
Ginoux and Majors will both play in the sectional tournament Monday.
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