The Rolla tennis team played a pair of tournaments last week as they had their final tuneups before Districts. First Rolla played in the Ozark Conference Tournament on Tuesday, April 30, before playing in the rescheduled Waynesville Tournament on Friday, May 3. Rolla took fourth in the conference tournament, before a solid showing in the Waynesville Tournament.
Rolla had a bumpy road in the Ozark Conference Tournament, but got out to a solid start. Rolla kicked off the tournament with a match against Lebanon. The Bulldogs were behind early, as they were only able to win one doubles match. Josiah Homan and Owen Akins pulled out an 8-4 win at number three, but Rolla's other two matches were strong. Joel Schott and Micah Martin lost on a 7-4 tiebreaker, losing the match 9-8. Pranal Madria and Ethan Wang played a tough match at number one, but fell 8-5. The Bulldogs bounced back with singles, earning four wins. Schoot won 8-1 at number two, Martin won 8-3 at number three, Homan won 8-3 at number five and Owen Akins won 8-3 at number six. Rolla's losses were both by the score of 8-4.
"This was a better played match than we offered last time in our loss to Lebanon," said head coach Joe Schisler. "These are two evenly matched teams that will likely meet in the district tournament for another close match."
Rolla then faced off against top-seeded Kickapoo in the second round. Rolla had one tight match in doubles, as the duo of Jacob Lenox and Evan Barth fell 8-6, but the Bulldogs dropped the other two doubles matches 8-1. Kickapoo finished the sweep by winning two singles matches 8-1 to win 5-0.
"We were a little flat and intimidated but there is a reason they were the one seed," said coach Schisler. "Great team!"
The Bulldogs then had some confusion in their third place match with Central. Central shifted their lineup around due to a pair of missing players, so their submitted lineups were incorrect. Coach Schisler contested the match and therefore the full match wasn't played. Central swept doubles play, before Rolla elected to default the two singles matches to end the match. That 5-0 decision held, putting Rolla in fourth place in the conference.
After an odd end to the conference play, Rolla looked to end their week on a high note in the Waynesville Tournament. They got off to a great start in number one doubles, as Madria and Schott swept their way to a championship. They started with an 8-3 win over Lebanon, before edging Farmington's top pair 8-6. Madria and Schott then won the championship with an 8-5 win over Central, claiming the A Flight crown as the fourth seed.
B Flight doubles lost lost both of their matches, but played well. Barth and Tobenna Orizu, Rolla's eighth and 11th ranked players, opened against the top seed and lost 8-0. They then played a tight match against Lebanon, but fell 7-5.
In A Flight singles, Martin opened with an 8-0 loss to the top seed, but rebounded nicely. He started with a 6-2 win over Farmington, before finishing in fifth place with a 6-2 win against Central.
Josiah Homan wrapped up play in B Flight singles. He opened the day against the eventual champion from Central, losing 8-2. He recovered in the second round by beating Farmington 6-2, before finishing in sixth by losing to the number one seed from Richland.
"I am very proud of how the team played. Barth and Orizu played two quality matches losing to the one seed and playing a really close match with Lebanon. It shows so much when our eight and 11 kids can compete with the five and six of other schools. Barth did a good job stepping up and leading that team," said coach Schisler. "Both our singles players played really well. Josiah Homan was unseeded, he lost to the eventual champion and the one seed, but beat the two seed. All three of those matches included long rallies and good tennis."
"Martin also faced the one seed and that was his only loss," continued Schisler. "His match at the end of the day with Central was really well played. In the last game of that match Liu hot a high lob which Martin ran down, hitting the shot with his face away from the courts and back between his legs. He then recovered court position, exchanged a rally, and then hit a winner. That is the kind of point he will remember for a long time."
Rolla will open team District play on Monday, as they face off against Hillcrest as the tournament's three seed. The winner of that match will play against second-seeded Lebanon on Tuesday. The championship will be played on Wednesday.