Success at Liberty clinches 800th win for Bruin tennis coach

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Jilly Dos Santos

Coach Ben Loeb talks to senior Gracie Strawn Aug. 30 before their match against Rolla.
Friday, Sept. 14, the Rock Bridge girls’ tennis team loaded the bus, traveling to what would be a historic tournament in Liberty City, Mo. Playing against North Liberty City at Bennet Park, the varsity players destroyed their opponents in doubles, and with all but No. 1 Sophi Farid, junior, winning their singles sets, the team earned a 8-1 victory.
The next morning, the girls were on the Bennet Park courts at 8 a.m. to play Kickapoo. The match began with the Bruins taking every singles set, but No. 3 Tess Lovig, freshman, faced tough competition, narrowly defeating her adversary in a 7-6 tiebreaker. Last to finish, Lovig stayed motivated, keeping a cool head throughout the set.
Lovig’s opponent “hit more slices and lower balls than people usually do,” Lovig said, but “I’ve played a lot. If you get frustrated then you won’t win. It’s too close to get frustrated.” This triumph helped the girls secure another 8-1 win.
At 11:30 a.m. the team moved to Clayview Country Club to beat Lee’s Summit North 7-2.
The night before, Park Hill Coach Rustin Reys sent this message to Coach Ben Loeb: “Play with reckless abandon, unconcerned about the outcome. Play for the love of competition.”
It had been Reys’ favorite piece of advice from the Bruins’ coach, given to him when he played for Rock Bridge in Loeb’s 300th win, nearly a decade ago. He was unaware at the time that the next day, Rock Bridge’s victory over Lee’s Summit would make for Loeb’s 800th win.
Loeb expressed humble excitement at the achievement.
“I’m surprised at it myself,” he said, “It’s a real milestone. You gotta have good players. You gotta hang in it. But you gotta have good players. I’ve enjoyed [coaching for] both Hickman and Rock Bridge.”
Loeb coached for Hickman for six years before taking over at Rock Bridge in the fall of 1994, his high school coaching career spanning 23 years. He now holds the No. 2 Missouri record for boys and girls varsity wins, second to only a coach who has achieved 1100 victories over his 50+ years in the field. With over 25 years until that career milestone,  Loeb has a chance to succeed that accomplishment. And after annihilating Francis Howell 9-0 and becoming the Liberty Tournament champions once again, he’s already on his way.
Individual stats for the Tournament are as follows:
North Liberty City:
Singles matches: No. 1 Sophi Farid 4-6, No. 2 Phoebe Boeschen, sophomore, 6-0, No. 3 Tess Lovig 6-0, No. 4 Allison Baker, junior, 6.-1, No. 5 Hannah Pohl, freshman, 6-1, No. 6 Emily Shaw, senior, 6-3. All doubles matches won.
Kickapoo:
Singles matches: Farid 6-4, Boeschen 6-2, Lovig 7-6, Baker 6-3, Pohl 6-2, Shaw 6-2. Doubles matches: Farid-Boeschen 6-2, Baker-Shaw 6-0, Lovig-Pohl 3-6.
Lee’s Summit North:
Singles matches: Farid 6-3, Boeschen 6-2, Lovig 3-6, Baker 6-2, Pohl 6-3, Shaw 6-2. Doubles matches: Farid-Boeschen 6-4, Baker-Pohl 3-6, Lovig-Shaw 6-3.
Francis Howell:
Singles matches: Farid 6-1, Boeschen 6-1, Lovig 6-1, Baker 6-2, Pohl 6-1, Shaw 6-2. Doubles matches: Farid-Boeschen 6-0, Baker-Shaw 6-1, Lovig-Pohl 6-1
The team will play Gelndale Monday, Sept. 17.
By: Jilly Dos Santos