The Rolla and Waynesville tennis team matched up in the second round of team Districts on Tuesday, May 9. After gaining an early lead in doubles, Rolla couldn't quite finish off the win, as Waynesville came back in singles play for a 5-4 win to advance to the District Championship.
There was a last minute change of time for the District Championship, which was moved up to 1:00 on Wednesday, May 10, Rolla head coach Joe Schisler decided to change up his lineups to be prepared for an early game the next day. Those changes didn't quite pay off.
"With the district decision to play at 1:00 tomorrow, I really felt like I had to roll the dice a little and change our lineup to rest people and be ready for the final," said Schisler. "It backfired. It was my mistake."
Things looked to be working out for Rolla in doubles play, as they were able to dominate one and two doubles. Nick Roshan and Drew Jones started with an 8-3 victory over Steven Berrios and Derick Anglin. Pranal Madria and Ethan Walker then cruised to an 8-1 win over Tyler Gayman and Cameron Martell. The final doubles match came down to the wire, but the Rolla duo of Blake Riedle and Sam Wilsdorf made the mistake of lobbing a few too many returns back, falling 8-6 to Davis Sneed and Eromo Aligbe.
That set up a series of dramatic singles matches, as Rolla went in with a 2-1 lead. Roshan put the Bulldogs in a good position with a win over Berrios. After dropping the first set 7-5, Roshan came back to win the next two 6-3 and 7-5 to push the Rolla lead to 3-1. Waynesville came back when Gayman beat Jones 6-4, 6-7 (1-7).
The Tigers completed the comeback when Sneed beat Madria 6-3, 6-3, tying the match at three. Walker was able to get Rolla their second singles victory by taking down Aglin 6-1, 4-6, 7-5, giving Rolla a 4-3 lead.
Waynesville then came right back, taking five and six singles, but it wasn't easy. Martell took down Riedle 7-5, 6-3, setting up a phenomenal final match. Wilsdorf took the first set against Aligbe 6-2, but lost the next two 6-3 to take home a 5-4 win as a team.
"Amazing doubles start tonight. Nick Roshan also had an amazing comeback," said Schisler. "It is unfortunate that for the third time this season, we came up just a couple games short.
"Tennis is one of those strange games where you can win more games and lose the match, Schisler continued. "We managed to do that tonight winning 87 games and losing 78 but losing the match. The guys played a fantastic match, as did Waynesville. They managed to win more of the right games and the right points. Our guys came as ready as they could be and mentally played very tough tennis. I couldn’t be prouder, and I think they deserved a better end. I was already prepared to change the lineup, but the change to a 1:00 start on Wednesday after two days on the road really forced my hand. We almost overcame not only our opponents but our illegal court situation, faulty seeding and a questionable decision to move up a match three hours because of a 30 percent chance of rain, which is now just 20 percent. The progress this team made this year was amazing, but in the end, there were just too many obstacles for we mere mortals."
The loss ends the season for Rolla as a team, but they still have the individual District Tournament, which kicks off in Springfield on Friday, May 12. Waynesville's Championship match results against Springfield Central were not available at press time. They will join Rolla in Springfield for the individual Districts.