The Rolla tennis team took part in the West Plains Tournament on Wednesday, April 17. The Bulldogs were without their top two players, as well as their number eight player, but still managed to come away with a fifth place finish as a team.
Micah Martin played for the Bulldogs in the A flight of singles. He opened with an 8-6 win over Houston's Clark Moore, before falling to the two seed, Ron Christopher from Logan-Rogersvlle. He bounced back in the third place match with an 8-6 win over West Plains' David Green to finish in third place in the flight.
"This is a great performance by Micah playing up against primarily most team’s top player," said head coach Joe Schisler. "It speaks well of him that he could go in and finish third."
Owen Akins then played in the B flight for singles for Rolla. He opened with a win over fourth seeded Nate Williams of Salem 8-4. He was then able to beat the flight's number one seed, Dan Ketchlof of Logan-Rogersville, 8-4 to advance to the championship, where he fell to 8-4 to Houston's Kyle Mills to finish in second.
"Owen really performed well finishing second here," said coach Schisler. "He has really been challenged as the season wears on both by the competition and his teammates. He is currently our number six player but played a lot bigger than that today."
The duo of Ethan Wang and Josiah Homan played in the A flight for double and opened with a gritty 9-7 win over Potter and Williams from Logan-Rodgersville. They fell to the number one seed, Houston's Buse/Ramsey, 8-1 to go to the third place match. The Bulldog duo bounced back by beating the West Plains pairing of Hershenson/Hollis 8-5 to finish in third.
"This doubles team just keeps improving and growing," said coach Schisler. "Prior to today they had played together just three times but without losing, so I wasn’t surprised. The Logan Rogersville team had their number one player on it, so my four and five obviously have a lot going for them. They also had a several deuce games against the eventual champion, which is a very solid doubles team. The West Plains team was made up of their number 3 and 4 players and the boys had a great result in that win too."
Jacob Lenox and Cody Neely rounded things out for Rolla in the B flight of doubles. They lost their first match to Salem's Jones/James 8-6, but bounced back with an 8-0 win over Liberty's Wood/Jholliff. They finished in sixth place after falling to Forsythe's Buerin/Reding.
"We knew this team would struggle. Neely is number nine on our team. Lenox is number seven, but has quite a bit of varsity experience," said coach Schisler. "I think nerve really got to them in the first round or they would have won. They rebounded well and won round two, but at the end of the day they were tired and feeling some pressure, since we knew the team trophy was pretty close. That is just a lot of pressure for a kid the first time they experience it."
Houston and West Plains led the team scores with 24 points a piece, while Logan-Rodgersville finished in third with 23 team points. Rolla was right in range of first place with 22 points, tying with Forsythe. Coach Schisler was proud of how his team performed despite being without their top two players.
"We handed Houston and Logan Rogersville losses in round one, but we knew it was an uphill battle when our replacement players dropped that first match to Salem in B flight doubles," said coach Schisler. "The rest of the team would have had to win out their brackets to win the team award. That being said, to bring home a second and two thirds without taking your top two players is a good day."
Rolla was slated to take part in the Waynesville Tournament on Thursday, but that was postponed due to weather. The rescheduled date for that tournament has not been announced as of press time.