Boys tennis takes loss against Rockhurst as motivation

Freshman+Keerthivaas+Premkumar+hits+a+forehand+during+a+meet+against+Hickman.%0APhoto+by+Catherine+Howser

Freshman Keerthivaas Premkumar hits a forehand during a meet against Hickman. Photo by Catherine Howser

Harsh Singh

Freshman Keerthivaas Premkumar hits a forehand during a meet against Hickman. Photo by Catherine Howser
Freshman Keerthivaas Premkumar hits a forehand during a meet against Hickman. Photo by Catherine Howse
It wasn’t a long time ago when the RBHS boys tennis team used to boast a lineup with two D-1 athletes in Ford Zitsch and Jack Fay. Those were the days when the Bruins won state quite comprehensively beating teams like Rockhurst High School and Christian Brothers College without even losing a match.
However, when RBHS  lost to RHS a week ago without winning a single set for the second year in a row, it wasn’t a surprise; in fact, the Bruins head coach Ben Loeb was proud his team placed third in state after beating Parkway Central. Loeb said he was happy to see his team put in all the effort to produce a successful season.
“Sometime you just gotta hand it to the other team,” Loeb said. “Rockhurst had a really deep team this year, and, you know, it wasn’t a surprise losing to such a good team. I am still a very proud man I have to say. The way the team battled this year was great to see.”
Last year, RHS got in the Bruins way to being crowned state champions, and this year was no different. Loeb said it is hard to convincingly lose to the same team two years in a row, but the players who will be playing varsity next year can be motivated by that same idea.
“We have to look forward now,” Loeb said. “We are losing three really good senior players, so next year will not be easier, but the players can take the loss against Rockhurst as motivation to train harder during off-season. I certainly don’t want to lose against them again, and I know my players don’t either.”
While the three seniors have already left their traces on RBHS tennis, they still want to see the team get better next year. Senior Harry Bozoian was a freshman for the team when he first got to see the Bruins win a state title under the leadership of Zitsch of Fay. He said he almost became accustomed to seeing the Bruins win the state title until last year when they placed second. RBHS has eight months now to prepare for another possible clash against RHS.
“I know I won’t be a playing next year, but I still wanna be part of the team and support the younger the players,” Bozoian said. “I am really gonna push the younger guys next year because I know how bad they wanna beat Rockhurst.”
Freshman Keerthivaas Premkumar played no. 9 for the team this year and said he was wants to play varsity next year so he will have a chance to play against the better teams. Premkumar didn’t have a chance to travel to Springfield this year to see his team play at state but kept following the Bruin Bear on twitter for score updates.
“I checked like every thirty minutes on Twitter to see how the guys were doing down in Springfield,” Premkumar said. “It was definitely really sad to see us lose without winning a set, but I know it makes me a lot more motivated to practice harder over summer and winter to give a better fight to Rockhurst next year. We as a team are motivated to make sure Rockhurst doesn’t win three years in a row.”
The Bruins coach has a summer camp set up the day after school gets out to start building the team chemistry for next year. He said it is important the players start playing tournaments and competitive sets to not lose their rhythm.
“I know its too far to start thinking about playing teams like Rockhurst next season, but that is what needs to inspire us to work hard and get better as a team,” Loeb said. “There is no off-season in tennis.”
By Harsh Singh