Bruins, St. Joseph’s could meet in Great 8

Perennial state tennis powers among top seeds at tournament.
Friday, September 5, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 7:30 a.m. CDT, Saturday, July 5, 2008

It’s a familiar matchup waiting to happen.

The Rock Bridge and St. Joseph’s Academy tennis teams have a history of meeting each other for titles, and they might again this weekend.

They’re in the Great 8 Tournament that starts today. St. Joseph’s is the top seed, and Rock Bridge is third. They could see each other in Saturday’s final at 11:30 a.m. at Bethel Park.

Matches also will be played at Hickman High, Cosmopolitan Park and Wilson’s Beach and Tennis Club.

The Bruins haven’t won a Great 8 title, but St. Joseph’s has won five in the tournament’s eight years. Each year it has won the Great 8, St. Joseph’s has also taken the state title.

St. Joseph’s was second last year in the Great 8, losing to Clayton in the final.

Rock Bridge and St. Joseph’s have met in the state final the past four years, with each winning two.

Rock Bridge, which defeated Hickman 9-0 on Tuesday, won the state title last year.

“It just so happens that two out of the last four years, we’ve been able to beat St. Joseph’s in the end (for the state championship),” Bruins coach Ben Loeb said. “Whether than can happen again this year or not, I don’t know.’’

St. Joseph’s coach Doug Smith said the tournament will be experimental for him.

“I very seldom have an absolute pecking order; Ben’s team at Rock Bridge, he usually does,” Smith said. “Mine tends to be murky, so I spend half the season just trying to figure out the lineup.”

Smith’s configuring the lineup could give another team the advantage, but according to him, there is no clear favorite.

“This year, the tournament is up for grabs,” Smith said. “Really there are four teams who can come through. It depends on who can step up and meet the pressure.”

St. Joseph’s starts the tournament against Hickman today at 1 p.m. at Hickman.

In other first-round matchups, John Burroughs faces Belleville West (Ill.) at 1 p.m. at Cosmopolitan Park, and Springfield-Kickapoo plays Pembroke Hill of Kansas City at 12:30 p.m. at Wilson’s Beach and Tennis Club.

The doubles matches are at 4 and 5 p.m. at Bethel Park.

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