The cold and rain that forced everyone else to either cancel or reschedule their varsity athletic events will never effect the Missouri Military Academy varsity tennis team because they have what no in this area has and that's an indoor facility.
For Mexico that's worked in its favor twice now, the second time being Thursday when the Fighting Colonels hosted them for a varsity boys match that the Bulldogs ended up winning 6-3 by virtue of taking all three doubles matches and the bottom half of the singles matches.
"This is the second year Griffin Henry has played with us. He's improving every time out and he had a good match tonight at No. 1 Singles against a quality opponent from Mexico (Caleb Mason)," said MMA coach Mike Pemberton. "It was good to get another match under our belt. This is a district opponent, so this match gave Henry more experience, which is what we're going to need later in the year."
The Colonel's greatest success came at the top of the singles lineup as Henry downed Mason 10-4 at No. 1 and at No. 2 Christian Foster defeated Ryan Schopfer 10-8. Just prior to that, though, at No. 1 doubles Henry and Bruno Pozzani didn't faire so well for MMA, getting edged out 11-9 by Mexico's Mason and Steve Owens.
"(Henry and Pozzani) aren't as experienced playing doubles as they are playing singles. They're just now starting to work together and doubles is all about communication," Mike Pemberton said. "Because they're starting to play together more, I think they'll just start improving with every practice. Mexico has a good team. They're No. 1 doubles is a very solid No. 1 doubles. We look forward to playing them down the road."
At No. 2 Doubles for the Bulldogs taking a 10-6 victory were Schopfer and Muhammed Waheed over the Colonel's Dongyang Chen and Foster and at No. 3 Doubles Mexico's Andrea Maffezzoni and Ryan Pemberton downed MMA's Sean Hughes and Zhouli Cai 10-0. What was unique about this is that Ryan Pemberton is not only a freshman for the Bulldogs, but his father has been the Fighting Colonel's head coach for the past 17 years.
"It's exciting to watch him play. It makes it tough to know who to root for, but no matter who wins you really can't lose," said Mike Pemberton. "It was good to see him play in person, but at the same time it was good to see him compete. He needs the experience because he's so young."
As for the rest of the singles matches, even though MMA's Pozzani did defeat Owens at No. 3, it was all Bulldogs after that. This includes Waheed for Mexico at No. 4 defeating Chen 10-0, at No. 5 Maffezzoni bested the Colonels Cai and at No. 6 the Bulldogs Ryan Pemberton beat Hughes 10-1.
"We practice doubles play a lot, so my guys know their doubles partners and it showed tonight. When Owens lost to Pozzani in the final match of the night, I think it was because he played so hard earlier in doubles and got a little tired towards the end," said Mexico coach Brad Smith. "Sometimes it happens. He played well. It came down to execution and he wasn't able to execute the way he wanted to all the way through."
Mexico also brought with them the exhibition teams of Coleman Mayhew and Casey Hamilton, as well as Ethan Prior and Spencer Harris. MMA, on the other hand, was able to counter with the exhibition duo of Cole Miracle and William Blair Outlan. When it was all said and done the Bulldogs won the first two exhibition bout 8-0 and 8-0 before claiming the third 8-4.
"From here we plan to work on consistency and playing while we're tired. A lot of our struggles came from being tired after doubles," Smith said. "We need to practice while we're tired so we can push through that wall and get over it. At Mexico we doubled in numbers from last season, so we're happy to see so many athletes excited for tennis this year. I'm glad to have so many kids out. It makes our future as a program much brighter."