RBHS girls’ tennis match with Blue Valley High School cancelled

Junior+Abbie+Sivaraman+and+senior+Gabi+Tella+play+doubles+against+Helias+Catholic+High+School.+Photo+by+Ben+Loeb

Junior Abbie Sivaraman and senior Gabi Tella play doubles against Helias Catholic High School. Photo by Ben Loeb

Sarah Ding

The junior varsity girls’ tennis team planned to play a home junior varsity tournament with Ladue Horton Watkins High School, Helias Catholic High School and Blue Valley High School (BVHS) Sept. 18. In addition, the varsity team was scheduled to play against BVHS in a dual. However, the team did not show up.

The absence occurred because of a miscommunication with the BVHS athletic department, coach Ben Loeb said. He said the coaches came together late February to organize the match.

“The coach was excited to be part of the event,” Loeb said. “But then the coach left, and did not pass it on to the athletic director that they had committed to it.”

The BVHS athletic director received a contract for the match but never signed and returned it. The old coach also never relayed the varsity dual information to his successor. Loeb said the new coach did not know the home match at RBHS was scheduled previously and apologized for the misunderstanding.

Sophomore varsity player Abbie Sivaraman looked forward to the BVHS match. She felt nervous, but excited to play the school. She said she knew the team’s top girls were highly ranked, which worried her. Still, Sivaraman said strong players result in strong competition.

“I was sort of disappointed because I wanted to watch some of the matches,” Sivaraman said. “And I wanted to play obviously. . . I like staying busy with tennis.”

The Bruins’ regular season hasn’t slowed down since it began, as the girls often compete in three matches per week. To be able to play against so many teams, Loeb said he puts a great deal of time and effort into organizing these matches.

“I have to work very hard at contacting a lot of teams and trying to encourage them to be part of events we host,” Loeb said. “We host a lot of events. Most schools don’t host nearly as much as we do, [but] they travel a lot. So I just try and create a situation we have a lot of home events, whether it be tournaments, or double duels, or things of that nature.”

Because of this, Loeb said he feels frustrated BVHS did not come through. Although this is the first time during his coaching career a team did not show up to a match, Loeb said what is more “infuriating” is two other teams, Marquette High School and Villa Duchesne and Oak Hill School, wanted to bail out of the Sept. 28 Columbia Tournament. Loeb convinced the coaches to stay in the tournament.

“They’ve got other social activities going on at their school that they didn’t realize about when they agreed to be part of the event,” Loeb said. “They. . . give way too much input to some of the players to be able to back out, rather than be taught the value of making a commitment to a team and to your word.”

After Loeb found out from the new BVHS coach that the team would not show up, the girls resumed the junior varsity tournament and later practiced with each other. Freshman junior varsity player Kinley Schade played singles matches against girls from other schools.

“It was really hard when I was playing a Ladue girl,” Schade said. “It was really close, but I got tired and ended up losing. It’s really hard to stay positive when that happens.”

Some Bruin team members scrimmaged players from Ladue and Helias. Sivaraman played in number one junior varsity doubles against both schools with senior junior varsity player Gabi Tella. Although they secured wins in both matches, 8-1 against Ladue and 8-6 against Helias, Sivaraman said the second match was much more challenging. Usually, Sivaraman and Tella compete in varsity doubles as opposed to junior varsity. Had BVHS showed up, the girls would have played them instead of participating in the JV tournament.

However, the Bruins managed to pull through. After being down in the match, the last few games were a sprint to the finish by Sivaraman and Tella.

“And then once it started getting tough,” Sivaraman said, “we kind of picked it up, and then it got a lot better, and then we ended up finishing off the match pretty cleanly.”

Will you be at the next RBHS girls’ tennis match? Let us know in the comments below!