When there are six courts available, the average tennis dual takes more than two hours to finish. On Saturday, four tennis teams needed 2 ½ hours to play two dual matches on four courts.
Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb had fun figuring out how to make a tennis match so short. Time was not wasted. When one match finished, the next players were waiting to warm up and warm-ups lasted no more than 10 minutes.
Heavy rains Saturday morning made it impossible to finish the Mid-Missouri Invitational Tournament outside. The finals and consolation rounds moved into the courts inside Green Tennis Center.
The championship match between DeSmet and Lafayette ended after DeSmet took a 5-2 lead. Rock Bridge finished third when it defeated Glendale 8-1.
Rock Bridge lost to DeSmet 5-4 in the semifinals. It was the first regular-season loss for the Bruins in more than three years.
Green Tennis Center could spare about 2 ½ hours, so the coaches decided to change the match format.
Loeb announced each doubles match was a single set to 6, win by two. Singles were a single set to 6, win by two, and the score started 2-2. Play began at noon.
Loeb said the new match format required a change in the athletes’ play.
“Well, I think it’s imperative that you get off to a quick start,” Loeb said. “If you don’t, then you’re in big trouble.”
Rock Bridge players got their quick start and took a 3-0 lead after winning all the doubles matches.
Matt Dresner and Justin Winner played in one of the most exciting matches of the day. In No. 1 doubles, they defeated Glendale’s Cody Pusateri and Harrison Gammon 6-0.
The match was full of excellent volleys and well-placed shots. At one time, Dresner and Gammon were 15 feet away from each other trading hard shots and making spectacular saves. Dresner finally put the ball away for the hard-earned point.
Dresner said the shortened format allowed no room for error.
His play reflected his attitude. Dresner did not lose a game in his 6-2 win against Glendale’s Michael White.
“This was one of the best matches I played this season,” Dresner said.
Loeb also was impressed with Dresner’s play and his team’s ability to recover from the tough 5-4 loss to DeSmet.
Loeb said Dresner struggled with net errors Friday evening against DeSmet. For Saturday’s match, Dresner had a performance objective to have more safety over the net. Loeb said it was successful and was a major factor in the match.
Winner also had a good day on the courts. In addition to his doubles win with Dresner, Winner pulled off a 7-6 (2) victory against Gammon after trailing 5-4.
DeSmet coach David Boland was ecstatic his players could enjoy the win after many years of falling short of the championship.
“I feel great for our seniors who have put in so many years of coming out here and playing hard but going home disappointed,” Boland said.
Boland said the difference this year was his players’ abilities to keep themselves focused.
“They came here with high expectations,” Boland said. “They came here knowing what they wanted: not just to do well, not just to play respectably but to win it.”