The Rolla tennis team competed in individual Districts on Friday, May 10. A pair of Bulldogs were able to advance to Sectionals, while one more earned a District medal.
Rolla's top doubles pairing of Pranal Madria and Joel Schott is heading to Sectionals after a great run in Districts. After a first round bye, they beat the Camdenton duo of Morgan/Roettgen 6-2, 6-0. The win put the Bulldog duo in the semifinals, where they beat Lebanon's Myler/Maynor 6-0, 6-3. They ended up taking second place after a hard fought match against Central's Riddle/Shunyakov pairing in the championship. Madria and Schott took the first set 6-3, before falling 4-6. Central controlled the final set to win 6-0. The second place finish was good enough to send the Rolla pair to Sectionals.
"This was great result for two dedicated and deserving athletes," said Rolla head coach Joe Schisler. "The team that beat us in the final, found the right recipe just before it was too late. We played them earlier and they were very distracted and seemed to focus on some mental games. We won the first set, and were up 4-3 and serving in a long deuce game of like 10 minutes when they hit on the right strategic change. After that the rest of the day was theirs. It was nice to see these teams play a much more genteel match with the focus on tennis. It truly was a display of their best talents, and I think everyone walked away with a greater appreciation for the opponent."
Micah Martin was able to earn a District medal, but he fell just short of advancing to Sectionals. After a first round bye, Martin beat Camdenton's Payden Price 6-3, 6-0. He faced Lebanon's Bryson Crowell, the eventual champion, in the semifinal, falling 0-6, 0-6. He had a tight match for third, but fell 6-8 to Camdenton's Rocky Jennings.
"Micah played very well all day, his game has come a long way in a short time," said coach Schisler. "Just for reference, the third place match puts our number three guy against the top player from Camdenton. And Micah was able to make it that close. He would actually tell you he should have won since I think he lead 5-4, but those top players get so much more experience playing in close matches and finding ways to beat people that you can never count them out. I think this is just enough result to inspire him towards continued growth next year, where he might be a Sectional qualifier."
Rolla's second singles player was Owen Akins. He won his first round match over Central's John Georgitas 6-1, 6-0, before losing to Jennings from Camdenton 1-6, 2-6.
"Akins is just a sophomore and second year tennis player, but he has a lot to look forward to," said Schisler. "In the loss to Jennings he had numerous deuce games that Jennings had all the answers to. Finishing one round away from being a district medalist as a sophomore is a good sign of things to come."
The final entry for Rolla was thrown off a bit by extenuating circumstances. Josiah Homan would've played in doubles for the Bulldogs, but he was unable to attend due to a funeral out of town. As a results, the pairing of Ethan Wang and Evan Barth. They pairing had never played together, but still put up a great fight in their only match. The duo lost to Waynesville's Andrews/Medina 5-7, 6-7 (3-7).
"This pair had a lead in each I believe and had a chance for the upset, but again the more experienced team found the win," said coach Schisler. "It is hard to remember that Wang is in his first varsity season, and that while Barth lettered this year, he is relatively inexperienced. This team just never really had a solid game plan let alone aback up plan, and that is my fault just part of the circumstances...I feel bad for Homan who had such an outstanding season this year in singles and doubles. He was missed, and I think we all know he would have medaled in doubles, but family has to come first in your priorities."
Overall, coach Schisler was proud of the way his team fought all afternoon long.
"One thing this is for certain about this entire team, they support each other no matter what, and whoever plays on a given day, comes out and competes with all they have," said the Rolla head coach. "I am really proud of that as a coach."
Madria and Schott played in Sectionals at Lee's Summit North on Monday, but results were not available at press time.