Bruins face Kansas champion

Friday, September 12, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:22 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

High school tennis crosses borders today when two state champions meet for the fourth annual Missouri-Kansas Border War.

Rock Bridge (5-1), the defending state champion, is looking for its fourth victory against Blue Valley North High (4-1), the defending Kansas 6A champion.

“The Blue Valley North match is very intriguing because we’ve played the Missouri-Kansas Border War for the last three years and it’s become quite a heated rivalry,” Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said. “We’ve won each of the three years, but last year was a really tough dual meet and I know they are going to bring a tough team in here this year.”

He said he tries to fill the Bruins’ schedule with tough competition.

“I am looking for overall strength and I want us to play some good teams,” Loeb said. “It’s important if we want to be competitively ready for the rest of the season.”

The Bruins and the Mustangs each graduated one senior from last year’s championship teams.

“They are better this year than they were last year so that creates more of a challenge for us,” Loeb said. “If we want to be considered a very good team then we have to play very good teams and see how we do.”

If it rains, Loeb will relocate the 10:30 a.m. dual from Bethel Park to indoor courts if they are available. The Bruins also are scheduled to play Joplin at 3 p.m. The Eagles (7-0) are considered a top contender in District 6, Loeb said.

In October, the Bruins defeated the Eagles 5-1 in sectionals.

The Bruins played against another one of the best in Missouri last weekend when St. Joseph’s Academy defeated them 8-1. Senior Stephanie Smarr said the team expects the same level of intensity at today’s dual.

“(Last weekend) we weren’t thinking about it and getting prepared or psyched up,” Smarr said. “We beat Pembroke 5-4 and then had to turn around in an hour and play St. Joe’s.”

This is the first match in Columbia between Rock Bridge and Blue Valley North. Previous matches were in the Kansas City area.

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