Rock Bridge is expected to win Saturday’s District 5 tennis tournament, but Hickman is not far behind.
The Bruins (14-1), the defending state champions, and the Kewpies (8-7) are expected to be serious contenders in the nine-team meet at Bethel Park.
Each team will have two doubles teams and two singles players in a random draw. A team accumulates points for each round it wins. The top two teams advance to the sectional competition Oct. 18. If the Bruins win the district title, as expected, the sectional competition will be at Bethel Park.
“On paper, our chances are good to make it into the top two for sectionals,” Bruins coach Ben Loeb said. “From what I can see, it’ll be a real dogfight between Rolla, Hickman and Jeff City. We have no guarantee that we’ll be in there, but our chances look pretty good.”
Rolla defeated Hickman 5-4 in the first match of the season. On Sept. 22, Jefferson City defeated Hickman 5-4 in a match that was decided in the last match. The Lady Jays’ Rachel Hazelwood and Amanda Cook defeated the Kewpies’ Katie Glenn and Amy Trae 3-6, 7-5, 11-9.
Kewpies coach Jerry Price said the match against Rolla could have swayed either way.
“Maybe if we had played them later in the year we would have won, who knows,” Price said.
Coaches usually don’t reveal the lineup until the morning of the draw. Loeb and Price said they will finalize their lineups today.
Loeb has several options for doubles teams, and he has tested nearly every lineup during the regular season. This is the fourth year Karla Kruse and Ashley Miles have played doubles together. Whitney Reys and Kara Hickey have played tennis together for the past nine years.
The Kewpies have generally played the same doubles teams all season, Price said.
The Bruins’ Stephanie Smarr has 103 wins. If Loeb decides to play Smarr in singles, she could tie the state record with 104 wins, which Kristen Kornegay, who graduated from Rock Bridge last year, set.
The district tournament also is an opportunity for individuals to advance to the state competition in Springfield on Oct 24. If doubles or singles players finish in the top two of the district tournament, they advance to the state tournament.
Earning a team spot at the sectional competition is more important for the Bruins than winning individual spots at the state competition, Loeb said.
“Obviously, we want to qualify as a team, but we would like to get as many individuals to go to the state competition as possible,” Loeb said. “When you have the (No.) 4s, 5s, and 6s from your team playing the 1s and 2s from another team, it can start to get very competitive.”