The Rolla tennis team had a busy couple of days when they hosted Houston on Tuesday, April 17, before taking part in the West Plains Tournament on Wednesday. The Bulldogs were without one of their top competitors, as Pranal Madria was out of town with the robotics team. As a result, Rolla fell just short in a 5-4 loss to Houston, before a second place finish in the West Plains Tournament.

The Bulldogs got off to a great start in doubles against Houston, winning two of the three matches. Blake Riedle and Ethan Walker won 8-4 at number one doubles, while Josiah Homan and Jacob Lenox won 8-2 at number three. Micah Bolton Martin and Monty Jawad fell at number two doubles 8-2.

Rolla got wins in singles from Sean Kim at number five, where he won 8-0. Homan also won in singles with an 8-4 win. The Bulldogs struggled up top, as Riedle lost 8-3, Walker fell 8-5 and both Martin and Jawad lost 8-4.

Rolla swept the JV matches.

"Hats off to the best Houston team I have seen in some time. Good night of growth for our players," said head coach Joe Schisler. "We had a couple winnable matches that we just didn’t make happen. I think this is the first 5-4 loss we have suffered on the season and we were shorthanded at that." 

The Bulldogs bounced back with some great performances in the West Plains Tournament. In the top flight, the duo of Riedle and Walker started with an 8-0 win over Liberty. The second-seeded Bulldogs lost to Forsyth in the second round, but bounced back with an 8-6 win over Logan-Rogersville in the third round to finish in third. 

"Riedle and Walker were two deuce games (no add tennis so 2 points) from going to the finals and swinging team points in our favor, but lost to a solid Forsythe," said coach Schisler.

In the B flight, Martin and Jawad were unseeded, but that didn't slow them down. The Rolla pair bear the third seed, Logan-Rogersville, 8-5, before losing to the second seed, Salem 8-4. The found themselves in a rematch from Tuesday, facing off against Grady Todd and Trent Smith of Houston in the third place match. They lost the match, but still came home with a fourth place finish. 

"Our B flight entry of Jawad and Martin posted an early upset of the 3 seed to keep the team on solid ground," added the Rolla head coach. 

Homan and Lenox rounded things out in the C flight. They opened up with a win over West Plains 8-5, before beating Forsythe, the flight's top seed, 8-5. They had a heard fought match with Logan-Rogersville for first in the flight, but took a 9-7 loss to finish second.

Rolla ended the tournament with 18 team points, which put them in second place, one point ahead of Logan-Rogersville and two ahead of both Salem and Houston. Forsythe won the tournament with 21 points. 

"Excellent tournament in every way. Seeding is always tough when so many teams haven’t played each other due to geography and distance. It was also another day when we didn’t have our full team, but our kids stepped up to compete," said coach Schisler. "All in all that is a lot to be proud of in a good tournament. We won the tournament last year, so people were kind of gunning for us this year.

"We were the only top team to outperform our seeding," continued the Rolla head coach. "The team worked hard and pushed through the wind and tough competition to keep us in the tournament through the final round. In the end it came down to Forsyth winning a key battle in the A flight and cruising to an easy win in the B flight. I am very impressed with Forsythe and neighbors Salem and Houston. Both have excellent programs." 

There's no rest for the wicked, as Rolla will play in another tournament on Friday, taking part in the Waynesville Tournament.