SPRINGFIELD, Mo. –- Both teams were assured a medal. Their chances at a championship were gone. It was the fourth match they played in two days. By most accounts, it seemed those circumstances might make for a lackluster match.
Emotions were high, though, for Rock Bridge’s Matt Dresner and Justin Winner and Helias’ Scott and Matt Schlueter. It was the third time the doubles teams met this season, and they had split the first two matches.
The first time they played, the Schlueters, who are brothers, won. In the district tournament, Dresner and Winner prevailed in the finals.
This time, Dresner and Winner won the fifth-place match of the Class 2 state tournament at the Cooper Tennis Center on Saturday after Matt Schlueter double-faulted in the ninth game of the third set. The Bruins’ pair won 4-6, 6-3, 6-3. The top six finishers in the state tournament earn medals.
“One of the worst feelings this season for me was losing to those two earlier in the year,” Winner said. “So to get them back twice? That was awesome.”
Dresner and Winner, juniors, became the third consecutive Rock Bridge doubles team to medal in the state tournament. After the match, Winner said he was thinking of next year’s tournament.
“We’re juniors and we’re already thinking of what we can do next season,” he said. “If we can medal as juniors, we should only be better as seniors.”
Dresner and Winner began the game a bit sloppily and dropped the first set but returned to form in the second. Dresner said it was nerves; Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb said Helias’ strategy affected the Bruins in the first set.
“We just came out kind of slow and we weren’t really into it,” Dresner said. “I just think our nervousness got the best of us.”
Said Loeb: “Helias just forced us to play better. We picked up on things we were doing and we had to make some adjustments to their game.”
The Schlueters’ composure seemed to unravel during the third set. After Rock Bridge broke them in the seventh game to take a 4-3 lead, Matt Schlueter, who is older, berated his brother during the crossover.
After that, Dresner and Winner won the eighth game and broke the Schlueters for the third time in the third set for the victory.
Earlier in the day, Winner and Dresner barely broke a sweat and took a little longer than an hour to defeat McCluer North’s Corey Elledge and Chris Scurry 6-1, 6-1 in the consolation semifinals.
In the singles draw, Rock Bridge senior Jon-Eric Meyer blew a 4-0 lead in the first set and lost to Parkway North’s Dan Levy 6-4, 6-4 in the consolation semifinals and finished tied for seventh.
Meyer said he was sore from Thursday’s match against Andy LeRoy in the consolation quarterfinals. In the second set, Meyer, who said he had back pains before play began, started cramping in his legs but rallied and forced a tiebreaker.
Despite more cramps in his right hand and right pectoral muscle, he outlasted LeRoy, who also began cramping late in the second set. LeRoy retired in the tiebreaker with Meyer ahead 5-2.
“My legs were still very tired and sore,” Meyer said. “I had problems pushing off the ground for my serves.”
Loeb said that Meyer’s sore muscles were part of the problem. He said Levy struggled a bit at first but became effective late in the first set and the second set.
Meyer said ending his high school career on the last day of the state tournament was important.
He said the prospect of playing Saturday and trying to qualify for a medal kept him from quitting Friday.
“I didn’t want to go home Friday,” he said. “I wanted to stay out there as long as I could. Today, it just didn’t work out for me.”