Tennis falls to Rockhurst in state finals

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John Flanegin

Two blemishes at the hands of the Rockhurst Hawklets will stain what would have been an otherwise undefeated season for the RBHS boys’ tennis team, who finished out the 2015 season today with a record of 22-2 and the title of Class 2 State runner-ups.
The first of the Bruin’s two losses would come on April 18th when they suffered a 0-9  defeat to the defending state champions at Bethel Park in a match that was much closer than the tally would indicate. The second would come after RBHS defeated Ladue Horton Watkins 5-0 in the semi-finals, setting up a rematch with the Hawklets for the title of state champion in which the Bruins would drop by a score of 3-5.
With the threat of inclement weather the matchup began indoors beginning with doubles play and would see Rockhurst take an early lead after winning #3 doubles 8-2. The #1 doubles team of Rohit Rao and Brian Baker, however, would even the score at 1-1 after winning their match 8-5. The Bruins would notch another point after Vaughn Mueller and John Swift won a tight match at #2 doubles by a total of 9-8 (8-6) giving them a 2-1 advantage at the conclusion of doubles.
Play would move outside as singles began, but wouldn’t last long with the arrival of lightning which sent the teams trudging back inside. Senior Rohit Rao found the shifts from indoors to outdoors as challenging to get used to, especially in such a short period of time.
“Indoor and outdoor are different surfaces and therefore the speed varies,” Rao said. “You have to play different game styles and certain game styles shine over others.”
Soon after the matches shifted back indoors Rockhurst would win consecutively in #3, #1, and #6 singles giving the Hawklets a 4-2 advantage, only one win away from taking the state title. Baker would earn a win at #2 with a score of 6-4, 6-1 and freshman Ashwath Elangovan would gain an early lead in #4 singles winning the first set 7-5, giving the Bruins a glimmer of hope. That glimmer would soon fade as Rockhurst snagged a win in #5 singles, securing the team as state champions for the third year in a row.
Although the Bruins had not won the gold sophomore Swift was ecstatic about his team’s season as a whole and was impressed with the way his team progress as competition continued.
“We improved dramatically as the season went on,” Swift said, “just looking at the improvement between the two Rockhurst matches you can clearly see that.”
Rao was also proud of his team’s run, finishing his career with four consecutive final four appearances, and after his final match finally had a chance to reflect on his “rewarding” four years in a RBHS uniform.
“I won state my freshman year,” Rao said, “and I made lots of relationships through tennis while getting better in the process.”
Despite the graduation of the decorated duo of Rao and Mueller, the exciting emergence of some talented freshman in the coming 2015-16 season is sure to bring the squad right back into the spotlight. Swift, who will be a junior next year, has just six words on how he will ease the new blood into high school competition whilst preparing the team for another run at a title.
“Lots and lots of lake runs.”
By: John Flanegin 
Photo By: Deanna Dikeman