Rockbridge tennis coach Ben Loeb retires after 27 seasons

Park Hill boys’ tennis coach Rustin Reese was training for the 2022 State Championships when he noticed a master in his trade.

His player missed a backhand kick out of speed. Across the road, Reese noticed his counterpart Ben Loeb, longtime Rock Bridge coach, writing something.

After several matches, Reese’s player made a similar mistake. Loeb pointed to the Bruins player and provided an emphatic grip pump.

“Yes,” remembers Reese. “I am practicing.”

Reese knows coaching style well.

He played under Loeb, the winning high school tennis coach in state history, in the early 2000s at the start of the Loeb dynasty at Rock Bridge.

This spring was the final season of his illustrious career in boys’ tennis. Loeb said Loeb retired from the Rock Bridge Boys program after 27 seasons, 19 consecutive Final Four games from 2002 to 2021 and eight state championships.

Loeb’s decision comes with mixed feelings. It’s not easy for him to walk away from a sport he loves and has built a solid foundation in. But it’s a decision he doesn’t hold back, as his plans include spending winters and springs in Arizona with his wife now that a son, Ben is graduating from Rock Bridge.

Rock Bridge coach Ben Loeb, left, coaches his son Ben Loeb during a game against Quincy on May 9 in Columbia.

He said that during his more than three-decade coaching career in boys’ tennis, Loeb prioritized being a leader as opposed to a dictator.

“I’m not a reliable coach,” Loeb said. “There are times when I feel like the coach has to be like that, but I prefer a collaborative approach, but I am the leader. So in the end, I need to make the final decision and I need you to go with it.”

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