After having a week off for Spring Break, the Rolla tennis team returned to the courts for a rescheduled match against Willow Springs on Tuesday, April 3. The Bulldogs had some great matches in doubles, before splitting singles to hold onto a 5-4 win on the road.
Rolla got out to a strong start in doubles, but it wasn't an easy road. The number ones took care of business, as Blake Riedle and Ethan Walker beat Landon Rogers and Elias Moore 8-4, but the other two doubles matches came down to tiebreakers. The Bulldog number twos were able to pull out a stellar 9-8 win by taking the tiebreaker. The match was tied at eight, but Pranal Madria and Micah Martin were able to win the tiebreaker 7-5 over Ben and Wes Clarkson. The number three doubles also came down to a tiebreaker, but Rolla fella a couple points short. Josiah Homan and Jacob Lenox were tied at eight with Willow Springs' Jerry Wickens and Justin Chaney, which led to the tiebreaker. Wickens and Chaney were able to pull out an 8-6 victory in the tiebreaker to win the match, but Rolla still held onto a 2-1 lead going into singles.
That lead was crucial, as Rolla and Willow Springs went on to split the singles matches. Riedle won 8-0 over Rodgers at number one to get the Bulldogs off to a good start. Madria, who was eligible for the first time this season, pulled out an 8-4 win at number three, while Homan won 8-1 at number six singles. Rolla's losses came at number two, where Walker fell to B. Clarkson 8-6, number four, where Martin lost to Wickens 8-2 and number five, where Sean Kim lost to W. Clarkson 8-1. Despite the three losses in singles, Rolla pulled out a 5-4 win overall to win the match.
Rolla also swept JV doubles and singles with wins from Joel Schott, Shane McEnaney and Owen Akins.
"I am very impressed with this team’s ability to think on their feet and find ways to win," said head coach Joe Schisler. "Sometimes our kids just adapt better, other times they stick to their plan, and sometimes we just have better athletes. But we continue to find ways to compete and win."
One of the determining factors in the match was the weather, particularly the wind. Coach Schisler saw some very obvious effects from the tough weather, but was proud of how his players adapted to it.
"The wind and cold were obvious factors with winds gusting to 25 mph and a temperature that started out at about 40 degrees and dropped throughout the match. The windswept ball was blowing six to 10 inches forcing players to adapts and think through a tough match," said the Rolla head coach. "It was a comedic at times, but very frustrating for players, coaches, and even spectators. Given the crazy weather this year we are fortunate that Willow Springs allowed the match in tough conditions. Hopefully it will allow us to have a few more practice days late in the season rather than spend time making up cancellations."
Another key to victory for Rolla was getting Madria back in the lineup, as he won both his singles and doubles matches on the day.
"It was nice to have Madria back in the line-up, particularly since were missing Jawad who was under the weather," said coach Schisler. "The team continues to find ways to win both at the top and bottom of the line up."
Rolla followed that match with a home match against Hickman on Wednesday, but results were not available at press time. The Bulldogs will stay on their home court for the next couple of weeks with their next match coming against Salem on Monday, April 9.