Monday, October 15, 2018

Academic All-State Awards

Congratulations to Jonah Farran and Philip Krabill. In addition to being wonderful tennis players, they've also been named to the Indiana All-State Academic Team!

Philip was awarded 1st Team.










Jonah was awarded "Honorable Mention."









This award is only given to senior athletes, and combines tennis aspects (players must compete on varsity for the season) and also academic elements (GPA and SAT/ACT scores). It is clear that these two seniors have worked hard on both the court and in the classroom and I am glad that they have won this extremely awesome award.

Below is a list of Bethany players who have won the Academic Award...
2017 - Joel Yoder (1st Team), Jonathon Yousey (Honorable Mention [HM])
2016 - Simon Hurst (1st), Brandon Nguyen (HM), Team All-State Academic
2015 - Ethan Lapp (HM)
2014 - Jesse Amstutz (HM), Landon Weldy (HM), Sol Brenneman (HM), Hans Miller (HM), Team All-State Academic
2013 - Parth Patel (1st)
2012 - Ike Lehman (HM)
2011 - Blake Shetler (1st)
2010 - Ben Mast (1st)

Note: I was unaware to this award's existence prior to 2010, so had not nominated. We had plenty of student athletes who would have won before this time too :-)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Perspective on the 2018 Season #3

"Perspectives" Series
- How good was our schedule?
- How did each position do?

DID WE REALLY IMPROVE?
First of all, there are many ways to look at improvement. First let's look at improvement from last season to this season. Many years ago, I looked at the statistics around the area and our own stats and figured out a little formula to generally predict records the following season. It basically goes like this:

- If a player stays at the same varsity position, there record generally increases by 20-30%. For example, Ben Mast was 12-8 his junior year at #1S. That's 60% win percentage. His senior year he went 18-4 at #1S. That's 81% win percentage. So, he increased by about 21% staying at the same position.

- If a player moves up a varsity position for the next season, their win percentage usually drops 5%-10%. For example, Ike Lehman went 8-7 at #3S in 2011, for 53% win percentage and then in 2012 went 7-8 at #2S for a 47% win percentage.

- For a doubles team, you can average their winning percentages together and then apply the formula to get a decent prediction.

So with that idea in mind, here would have been some projected records for our lineup in 2018.

PositionName2017 Record2018 Projection2018 Actual
#1SLiam Bradford10-1110-139-13
#2SCaleb Shenk2-38-1411-12
#3S Philip Krabill1-49-1412-11
#1D Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland12-9 / 12-1010-1311-12
#2DWill Nisley/Tyson Miller8-5 / 3-127-1612-10

So, you can see that there was significant improvement over what the expectations could have been, especially at #2S, #3S, and #2D. Even at the #1 positions, which tend to have the hardest competition, there was slight improvement or at least close to what was expected. Plus, Liam played a killer schedule at #1S (more on that coming up in its own post!) Just know that 12 of his 13 losses came to players who were All-District, All-Conference, or won some other type of postseason award.

So, from season to season, we actually improved slightly more than the expected norm. But what about our improvement through the course of the season?

One way to see that type of improvement is to look at our play against the same team from the beginning of the year to the end of year. We played Goshen the first week of the season and then also in the last week of the season. I could tell just by watching us play against Goshen in the Sectional that we were playing our best tennis at the end of the year. The scores bear that out too. Below are our scores from the first Goshen match as compared to the second one. Note that Goshen strengthened their doubles teams after our first match, by moving Diego Torres from #2S to #1D, and Drake Crowder from #1D to #2D.

Goshen Scores
1st Match was during first week of season, 2nd match was in Sectional

1st Match2nd Match
#1S0-6, 0-66-7, 2-6
#2S1-6, 1-63-6, 1-6
#3S2-6, 0-66-7, 4-6
#1D3-6, 4-63-6, 3-6
#2D6-7, 7-6, 3-66-4, 3-6, 1-6
TOTAL GAMES29-6738-54
PERCENTAGE30.20%40.40%

So, looking at scores, it is clear that we played a much better match at the Sectional than earlier in the season. It's not quite a perfect science, but it does show that we were fighting hard and playing well toward the end of the year.

Good Matches vs. Bad Matche
Another way of looking at how well we were playing is looking at each position and seeing how many bad losses we had. I classify a bad loss "very scientifically" (meaning not scientifically at all :-) It is a bad loss if we played badly, a good loss if our opponent just beat us. In that way, we could have "bad wins" as well, where we won but didn't play well.

In this chart, each match is marked by a "G" if we played well, a "B" for bad if we played poorly, and a "N" for neutral if it was hard to determine how well we played (usually because the other opponent was so good or so bad it was difficult to evaluate our own play). Admittedly, this is completely arbitrary. I am assigning the goods, bads, and neutrals. But I think it still reveals some interesting things.

1st Half of Year2nd Half of the Year
#1SGBGGNBBNBBBGGNGNGGNGG
#2SBGGNBGNNNBNGGGBGGGGNGGG
#3SBGNNBNNNBGBGGGNNGGGG
#1DBBGNNNNNGGNBGNGGNNGGGG
#2DBBGNNGNNBBNNBBGNBGNGGG

What I find interesting when I go through this myself is that the last "B's" that are assigned mostly correspond to the Elkhart Central match. Starting with the Portage Invite, our team really began to play our best tennis. I think there is something about that tournament that relieves our perceived pressure. We play that tournament individually, all of us in individual tournaments for our position. And I think that frees us up from the "team score" pressure. We just play, we just enjoy tennis, and that really is the final thing that lets us play our best. 

I also think we learn a lot as we play three matches in one day. I've found that the Jimtown and Fremont JV tournaments do the same thing for the JV guys. These tournament events simply "unlock" our potential.

The other factor in us playing our best matches at the end of the season was that our most athletic players really begin to round into tennis form at the end of the season. When you've been playing multiple sports, practicing them through the summer, maybe working a job too, and then the tennis matches start after just 10 practices, it can be tough to be ready at the beginning of the year. Once we hit the midway point though, we really start to see a month of practices bring out our natural ability. 

THE BOTTOM LINE
I wish we had statisticians for each court that could track winners, errors, double faults, etc. Then I could do some great analysis of our improvement. Since we don't I just have to trust my eyes. And it felt like Caleb double faulted less, Jonah hit forehands harder, Will finished more overheads, and Philip hit more winners as the season went on. Actually, this team felt like one that experienced the most growth through the season of the many that I've coached. Philip, Jonah, and Liam were a big part of that... but I'm hoping we can keep that momentum up. 

Let's keep the improvement rolling!



Monday, October 8, 2018

Perspective on the 2018 Season #2


In the last "Perspective" post, I looked at the team strength of our schedule. Today, we will take a different look at the season. Today, we'll look at how our team performed by position.

HOW WELL DID WE DO AT EACH POSITION?
2018 VARSITY

PositionRecord
#1S9-14
#2S11-12
#3S12-11
#1D11-12
#2D12-11

So, we were pretty much the same right across the board. Our strongest positions were #3S and #2D. That's awesome. Those have to be strong in order to have a good team. I've often said that teams that win #3S and #2D tend to win the Sectionals. In fact, in 2008 I did a study of the state's Sectionals, and 60 of the 64 Sectional champions won #3S and #2D. In our own Sectional championship seasons, #3S and #2D have had our best records.

Our weakest position, record wise, was #1S. But I've got Liam's back... I've got a post lined up outlining the gauntlet that he had to play at #1S. Suffice it to say, he had to play a talented row of All-District, All-Conference and All-State players.

But at four of our positions, we basically finished with a .500 record. As a team, we finished at 9-11, basically a .500 team.

As a team, our road to getting better is pretty clear: We need to have each position get better. In fact, let's compare to previous seasons to the path to an even better record.

For comparisons sake
2018 VARSITY

PositionRecord
#1S9-14
#2S11-12
#3S12-11
#1D11-12
#2D12-11

2017 VARSITY

PositionRecord
#1S6-17
#2S9-14
#3S7-16
#1D18-7
#2D12-11

So, the simple comparison to last year's team is that we improved immensely in every position except for #1D. Although, we were pretty outstanding at #1D last year. What's interesting is that we got better at almost every position while only having 3 varsity players return... and they weren't the ones who had better records. In other words, it was our first year varsity players who posted the best records this year - Philip Krabill, Caleb Shenk, Will Nisley and Tyson Miller. That bodes well heading into next year, because 3 of those 4 return.

Where we've really got to make a jump to get back to an elite status as a tennis program is the win percentage of each position. This year, we were all right around .500. But if we compare that to the last 10 years average...

LAST 10 YEARS AVERAGE
PositionRecord
#1S16-8
#2S16-8
#3S15-9
#1D16-9
#2D16-8

We can see that over the past 10 years, we've had some stellar tennis players. This year, our average record was like 11-12 while over the past 10 years we've had average records of 16-8! I mean, each position has been impressive, and each position has had stars and down years.

How did these records get so good? What is the difference between the past 10 years and the last two? And how do we get back there again? Well, in each of the last 10 years, from 2007-2017, we had a majority of the varsity taking lessons during the off-season, like 3-4 guys each year. Then, the extra positions of the varsity have been filled in by guys who are athletic and involved in multiple sports. 

Over the past two years, since the Racket Club inconveniently turned into soccer fields and baseball cages, we haven't had as many guys pursuing lessons and such. We've played well over the summer, which has made us a middle of the road team. Getting back to the elite level means spending some extra focus on tennis, either during the offseason or during the summer. 

I'm pretty confident about the guys we have moving up from the JV though. We've got a good crop of young players ready to move in and make their own marks. Let's look at how the JV positions did on the season below.

HOW ABOUT THE JV?
2018 JUNIOR VARSITY TOP 5 POSITIONS

PositionRecord
#1SJV8-6
#2SJV4-9
#3SJV4-9
#1DJV8-7
#2DJV4-9

So, we can see that our top positions actually posted winning records. That's impressive, and it shows that we are ready to move up and take advantage of the openings on varsity next year. The #2SJV, #3SJV, and #2DJV positions were often played by freshmen this year, giving them good experience and readying them for the leap that it will take to move forward.

And how does this compare to previous JV years? Are we making any progress?

2017 JV TOP 5 POSITIONS

PositionRecord
#1SJV7-11
#2SJV6-12
#3SJV3-13
#1DJV7-10
#2DJV4-9

You can see that we made significant progress from last year. Each position except for #2SJV had a better record this year than last year. That's also promising, because of the players who achieved these records last year, 3 then moved up and competed well for the varsity (Will, Tyson, and Philip). So in general, things are moving in the right direction :-)

2018 JV OTHER POSITIONS

PositionRecord
#4SJV1-4
#5SJV0-2
#3DJV2-6
#4DJV2-4
#5DJV0-2

Our lower JV positions didn't fare as well. We actually picked up some wins early in the season, and lost some really close match in these spots late in the season. We showed so much improvement, and we'll just have to play a lot of tennis for these records to improve.

SUMMING IT UP
We made great progress this year, but we want to push up into being a team that consistently wins. In order to do that, each individual position is going to have to win a few more matches on the season. It's what we talked about all year, we are going to be the confident ones who take the shot to win the point, set or match - instead of being tentative and fearful in the big moments. 

As we play more tennis, get used to taking the big shots, and find success... that will translate to more wins. But I was so glad to see us improve each position from last year, and also to watch us improve through the season. How did we improve through the season? Let's look at that in the next post!

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Perspective on the 2018 Season #1

It's interesting to look back at our season in many different ways. A lot of times we judge ourselves harshly when we don't need to, or we don't realize our great wins or good losses. In order to put that in perspective, I will be making a series of posts with a bunch of weirdish facts from our season.

HOW GOOD WAS OUR SCHEDULE?
Sectional Winners Faced on the Year
In Regular Season
- Fairfield
- Concord
- Westview

In Tourneys
- Merrillville (we tied them 2-2, finished higher at #1D)
- Chesterton (we lost 0-2, finished lower at every other position)
- St. Joseph (we lost 0-3, finished lower at other positions)
- DeKalb (JV)

We actually faced less teams that won their Sectional this year than last year. Last year, Angola and Wabash ended up winning their Sectionals - and so that was two more teams we faced with titles. This year, during the regular season we played the teams all the teams that advanced to our Regional except DeKalb. However, our JV did play DeKalb in a tournament.

At the Merrillville tourney, we finished 4th behind Chesterton, St. Joseph, and Portage. Portage didn't win their Sectional, but Merrillville who we actually won 2 matches against and lost 2 matches against did. So, in all, we played in some form 7 of the 64 teams who ended up being Sectional champions.

Teams with a Winning Record
- Angola
- Jimtown (14-7)
- Northridge (9-7)
- Goshen (17-4)
- Marian
- Concord (18-2)
- Fremont (9-7)
- Westview (15-4)
- NorthWood (13-5)
- Fairfield (16-4)
- Wabash (13-9)
- Goshen (17-4)

These are opponents that we faced in dual matches. It does not include opponents that we played against in the Portage tournament (because then we could add St. Joseph, Chesterton, Portage, Merrillville, Centerville and Highland to this list!)

All this list goes to show is that we've played some really good competition as a team this season. 11 of the teams we played in dual matches had a winning record. And we had 11 losses on the season. You can see that we couldn't quite get over the hump with teams that were really good this year.

It is really interesting to look at some of the matches that we had. For example, Westview ended at 15-4 on the season - and they felt like a team we really could have beaten if we'd have been on top of our game that day. They also won their Sectional. Fairfield advanced to the Regional final, and I remember thinking that we were going to beat them as #1D, #2D and Caleb all held 2nd set leads in their matches. So, it's really interesting to think about how close we were to teams that really had fantastic seasons.

So that speaks a little about how good the teams were that we played. How well did we do at each position? That will come in our next post.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Wabash Invitational Match Report

Photos: Click Here

MATCH REPORT
There's lots that I could report about this match. I could give the play by play of each match, could talk about my kids running around during the day, could say all the things that I appreciate and all the things that got on my nerves. But instead, let's make this short.

It all came down to the Wabash match for who would win this tournament, and while we started out strong and were given the opportunity to win - we seemed to see that opportunity as something to fear. So instead of closing out a couple of close matches, we lost 3-2.

Which meant that our last match was a little dicey, because Wabash had only beaten Eastern by a score of 3-2. What was really important about the day is how we would respond. And we responded so well. Liam bounced back from his defeat in the Wabash match with a very controlled 6-2, 6-2 victory. Caleb fought off his disappointment to play a dominating match, winning a close set 6-4 before turning on the jets and winning 6-0 in the second. And #1D, after having lost in a 10 point tiebreak, redeemed themselves in the Eastern match. They went down 2-7 in the 10 point tiebreak, looking like they were headed to another loss. But Nathan and Jonah decided they were not going to lose, and reeled off 8 of the next 9 points to win the third set 10-8. Their demeanor, their belief, everything changed.

And Philip at #3S, Tyson and Will at #2D, they performed really well in getting 3 victories on the day. As we ended our regular season at 9-10, we have improved with 2 more victories than last season. Every position on our team has around a .500 record, and is playing their best heading into the end of the year. That's a really fun place to be.

IT WAS ENOUGH
It was enough to see your response. To see you come back from the disappointment of Wabash with a new energy and new belief. It is amazing how much our attitude and belief has to do with how we move and how we play. It was most evident in #1D, but I have seen it everywhere throughout the season. It was enough to see you return to what you wanted to do.

YOU ARE BROTHERS
You are brothers. I love this tournament because it is always such a chill environment. I love Portage because it's big, complex, and teaches you to work through matches with your partner or to motivate yourself. I love Wabash because it is intimate, the matches are close by each other, the courts are shaded by trees, it's often cold... all these things that make me want to snuggle up with my coffee and watch you guys compete. And you did. And then you sat around and laughed at the picnic tables. You gave energy to #1D as they completed their comeback. You understood what it takes to win. I love you guys. You are brothers.

I AM GRATEFUL
I am grateful for...
- the ways I saw us play at our best.
- a wonderful weather day to coach and play in.
- my kids ability to be around you players.
- the vocal support the team lent to each other in this match.
- so many more things that I can't write them all...

A PRAYER
God, it's been a great regular season. I give all credit to You for keeping us free of injury and helping us work together as different people pursuing faith and tennis. As we head into the end of the season, God, grant us freedom and lightness. Not to come down hard on ourselves but to know that where we are is enough, because we are Your children, and You've given us a lot of wonderful gifts this season. Thanks, in Jesus name, amen.

SCORES
Round 1 - v. Taylor
#1S - Liam Bradford - 6-1, 6-2 - Ethan Klepinger (10)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-1, 6-1 - Casey Switzer (12)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 6-1, 6-0 - Evan Fleek (9)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 6-0, 6-1 - BJ Pemberton (12)/Kendall Lanning (10)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - Forfeited by Taylor

Round 2 - v. Wabash
#1S - Liam Bradford - 2-6, 2-6 - Rob Ford (11)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-4, 1-6, (5-10) - Alex Driscoll (12)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 6-0, 6-0 - R.J. Steig (10)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 6-4, 1-6, (6-10) - Asif Khan (11)/Jonah France (11)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - 6-0, 6-2 - Gage Ballard (12)/Logan Lutterall (10)

Round 2 - v. Eastern
#1S - Liam Bradford - 6-2, 6-2 - Matt Harrison (11)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-4, 6-0 - Lukas Darling (11)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 6-0, 6-0 - Sam Salkie (11)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 3-6, 6-2, (10-8) - Josh Rush (11)/Caleb Newhouse (12)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - 6-3, 6-3 - Andrew Hartman (11)/Nolan Lapp (11)

Friday, September 21, 2018

Fairfield Match Report

SENIOR NIGHT
Tonight's match was our last home match, and thus was our senior night celebration. I spoke about each senior, because I am grateful for them. To read what was said, click on their names below.

Liam Bradford
Jonah Farran
Philip Krabill
Angel Torres

VARSITY MATCH REPORT
Entering this match, I was excited because we had broken through this weekend at the Portage Tournament to play some of our best tennis. I was excited to see what that looked like against a team that was supposed to be much better than us this season. Our pattern has been to play poorly against the better teams, but right now we are breaking those poor patterns.

And so, I'm happy to say that we finally played a good match against a good team.

That didn't mean we won everything. In fact, we only ended up walking away from this match with one victory, and unfortunately, it wasn't for any of our seniors who were being honored. Instead, our one clinched victory belonged to Caleb Shenk.

Caleb has really started to understand how to play over his last couple of matches. He's been stroking the ball really well and learning to relax. Over the weekend, that meant that he got two fairly comfortable victories in his last two matches. Today, he got a win in a match that he had to fight until the very end. He did that with great serving, great groundstrokes and also finding the places to attack. Caleb also showed great positive emotion, something that our team needs to continue to do.

The seniors played well, but couldn't bring home the victories. The closest was Philip Krabill. He started off fast, playing well in the first couple of games, but only getting a game in the process. This led to a first set loss, but it was close and took a long time. In the second set, Philip turned the close games around. He took a 5-2 lead in the second and looked like he would take the match to a third set. At that point, we needed him to as well, because we were down 2-1 in the finished matches. Unfortunately, his opponent picked up the strategy and quality of his game. Philip couldn't close out the match, and that disappointment turned toward tiredness. He strove toward the end, but couldn't find the final shots.

Similarly, #1D struggled to finish off the final shots. They didn't have the best first set, but began the second with more confidence and energy. This was especially true of their movement at the net, as they began to cut off more shots. With their normal route of attack being cut off, the Falcons shifted strategy to lobs. This cut down our teams confidence, and we got less balls at the net to finish. Nerves also began to pile up as we saw the match get closer and closer. We became too tight to take our shots confidently and lost the second set.

At #1S, Liam tired many different strategies but couldn't find a weapon to hurt the Falcon #1. I had played Fairfield's #1S, Aaron Streit, earlier this summer and found the same difficulties that Liam was having. Streit hits such excellent angles with his shots, and doesn't make many errors. It makes him a difficult player to figure out.

At #2D, we had a little more success. Tyson and Will were serving really well, and are also really starting to understand the dynamics of playing the net. With that being the case, they were cutting off a lot of balls at the center of the net and were playing with some confidence. This was especially true in the second set, and even after losing the first set, they pushed their match to a third set. In the third set, the whole match went back and forth. Trailing 4-5, Will and Tyson went down 0-40 in returning serve. In a wonderful series of points, they erased all three of those match points against them and tied the match at 5-5. That was a wonderful response to pressure.

It was an example of how I've wanted us to play all year. In the face of pressure, play with freedom, not with fear. There is nothing to lose! There is only great memories to be gained. And Will and Tyson extended the match. Unfortunately, they didn't get the win. But it still had these great moments.

And that match today had a lot of those great moments, Philip's winners, Jonah's smashes, Liam's fierce volleys. As we move into the last week of the season, we can't wait to see more of that!

JV MATCH REPORT
The JV definitely played their best match of the season tonight. Braden started it off with another win, bringing his JV winning percentage up to 78%. He played efficiently and quickly, and was off the court before the varsity matches were even finished. At #2SJV, Josh had quite a battle with his senior opponent. Josh played consistently and found a lot of success when he was able to force the ball deep into the court. In the final game, Josh and his opponent went back and forth with many deuces before Josh pulled out the victory.

#3SJV was similar for Chris. He and his opponent both had difficulties holding their serve, but in the end, Chris made some great shots and played more consistently to take another victory. With the singles positions swept, it was on to the doubles. Fairfield only had two doubles teams, so they each got to play twice. Joseph and Theo had a close #1 doubles matches, but their net play was the deciding factor in pulling out a 7-5 win. So in the top 4 positions of the JV match, we had a 4-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the bottom 4 positions had to again match up with the top Fairfield players. What were mostly close victories for our top guys turned into close losses for the lower guys. But I was especially impressed with our freshmen, who both fought out close losses. They all had to make impressive comebacks after getting down early in the set. It was good to see Josiah, Matthew, Austin and Jacob never give up.

That was a key thing. We looked like we always believed we could win. That is so key to continuing to get better. I loved that confidence!

IT WAS ENOUGH
It was enough to compete. In the face of senior night, a good opponent, last home match, late nights, and more, we played some of our best tennis of the season. That is enough.

YOU ARE BROTHERS
You are brothers. When Philip came off the court from his long, tiring, frustrating match, he was met at the fence by Caleb. Caleb put his arm around Philip and told him nice job. I could tell that Caleb was sincere, I could tell that Philip knew it. You are brothers.

I AM GRATEFUL
I am grateful for...
- the seniors.
- the families that raised them.
- the work they've put in this year (and other years).
- the joy that the team has for these guys.
- the players from previous years who sent texts or came out to watch.
- the fans and friends from school who "tailgated" the match.
- a wonderful meal with the parents and families.
- the beautiful weather this season. We've had no matches rained out!
- more time with this team.

A PRAYER
Father, let us live with freedom. You have given us unassailable worth, because we are Your children. Help us live with confidence because we are already enough for You, because we are Your children, and because Your grace daily provides what we really need. Help us accept that with gratitude. Amen.

SCORES
Varsity
#1S - Liam Bradford - 0-6, 0-6 - Aaron Streit (12)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-4, 6-4 - Eric Gaby (12)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 1-6, 5-7 - Colin Hochstedler (10)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 2-6, 4-6 - Ben Toole (12)/Lance Martin (10)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - 2-6, 6-3, 5-7 - Riley Behles (11)/Isaac Inniger (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braden Bohn - 6-2 - Kaden Plett (10)
#2SJV - Josh Cartwright - 6-4 - Jesse Miller (12)
#3SJV - Chris Craw - 6-4 - Ryan Keller (10)
#1DJV - Joseph Mounsithiraj/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 7-5 - Dylan Yoder (10)/Ethan Yoder (10)
#2DJV - Matthew Dyck/Austin Shenk - 4-6 - Brady Cripe (9)/Collin Troyer (9)
#3DJV - Aaron Shenk/Angel Torres - 0-6 - Dylan Yoder (10)/Ethan Yoder (10)
#4DJV - Josiah Schlabach/Jacob Leininger - 3-6 - Brady Cripe (9)/Collin Troyer (9)
#5DJV - Jim Lyu/Sam Setiawan - 0-6 - Jesse Miller (12)/Kaden Plett (10)

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Portage Tournament Match Report

More Photos: Click Here

MATCH REPORT
There was so much going on Saturday, it is really hard to give a play-by-play. I got here at 6:30 to prepare for the JV leaving for their tournament and then we got back around 8:30. So, all in all, it was a 14 hour day for me and many of these dedicated guys. But, I will tell you, it was a good day!

We had so many reasons to be proud. Last year when we competed in this tournament, each position got 1 win and we finished in 7th place. That's because most of us last year got our 1 win over the team that eventually came in 8th place - Triton. This year, each position got a win as well, but our wins were all over the board. It was enough for us to get 5th place, and we were 2 points from 3rd. For perspective, one more win from anybody would have been enough to move us into third.

And we finished ahead of at least one team that is currently ranked in their district - Centerville. So that was a good thing. But probably the best thing to come from this tournament is that we are starting to turn the corner and learn to take the big shots when they are available. Let's go position by position and look at the tourney.

At #1S, Liam was unfortunate to draw the eventual champion in the first round. He did just as well as anyone else in the tournament, but unfortunately that still meant a 6-0, 6-0 loss. In the second round, Liam matched up against a Portage player who came out really fired up and hitting his shots with power and placement. Liam was down 3-2, but soon found his footing in the match. As the excitement faded, Liam won the last 10 games of the match to enter the 5th place match. In that match, Liam faced another fast and powerful player, Merrillville's Justin Jackson. Jackson had enough speed to run down Liam's forehand and enough power to cause Liam problems if Liam floated a short ball. Liam put up a really good fight in this match, especially in hanging on in the second set, but ended in 6th place.

Caleb started out rough at #2S. He drew Chesterton, a team that has been consistently ranked in the top of their district and finished a clear 2nd place at this tournament. He played well, but left the match with a sense of having been able to do better. Like there was a level of play that was just beyond him. He was right, and he found it in his next match. His strokes found a comfort level. His serves began to go in and he put himself in position to win. My favorite thing about this match was our conversation right before he closed out the match. I asked Caleb who was the person who hit all those good serves to give Caleb the lead in the first set. He replied, "I was." I gave the fence a little fist bump and said, "That's right, you were!" Then I bounded away smiling. Behind me I heard Caleb say, "I get it." Then he confidently served out the match. He carried that confidence right into the next match as well, quickly getting a 5th place victory over Merrillville. So two great wins on the day for Caleb.

#3S was ridiculous. Philip had to fight for every single point in every single match. He played excellent, in fact I thought that the way Philip controlled points he was the second best player in his #3S bracket. But unfortunately, he had some drops in that consistency that caused him to have to play 3 (!) third set tiebreaks. Third set tiebreaks are nerve wracking because they decide the match. But Philip fought through all three of them. In his first match, Philip was clearly the better player but stopped moving his feet and stopped playing his shots at the end of the first set. In the second set, we knew that he could do it. Philip kept his energy up and captured the second set and really dominated the third set tiebreak.

In round 2, Philip kept the energy up, but faded as the match went on. By the end of the second set against Highland, Philip was no longer controlling the points and putting the ball where he wanted to. That continued into the tiebreak, and Philip fell into the 3rd place match. In that 3rd place match, Philip looked like he really didn't want to be there in the first set. But suddenly he flipped a switch for the second set. He has winning all the close game, and won the set 6-0 to force his third third set tiebreak of the day. And while this one was close, Philip again didn't quite take control the way he had in the second set. He hung around, but his Portage opponent pulled away at the end. Philip had to settle for great memories and 4th place.

#1D and #2D had similar days. Both drew interesting opponents for their first match, Highland for #1D and Centerville for #2D. These are both teams that have traditionally been really good at their doubles positions, but we came out in these matches on fire, and both doubles teams won their first sets 6-1. The second sets were closer, as we lost some of our confidence and fire. #1D won their set 6-4, but #2D fell by the same score. That sent Will and Tyson to a tiebreak, which they nervously went back and forth in. Neither team ever led the tiebreak by more than 2 points. At the end, we were able to run off two excellent points in a row to take the tiebreak 10-8.

So both positions advanced to the semi-finals where they ran into St. Joseph's. St. Joe's is state ranked right now, and for good reason. Both of these teams had powerful strokes and beautiful strategies. They covered the court well. We kept our effort high, but struggled to come up with enough power and placement of our own to hurt the Indian doubles teams. Nathan and Jonah began to have a lot of success in the second set, probably playing some of the best tennis of the season. They did this because they were confidently putting pressure on their opponents. It wasn't quite enough to force the deciding tiebreak however.

In our 3rd place matches, it was a tale of different motivations. We were tired and at the end of a long day, and that affects both teams. In the #1D, Centerville was the team feeling that drag more in the first set. At #2D, it was us feeling the weight of the whole day. Nathan and Jonah took the first set at #1D, and we didn't at #2D. In both second sets, we struggled to find the aggressive shots to fight back against our opponents. We were tentative, and began to get frustrated. The truth is on a hot, long day where we'd been on the court for more than 4 hours - these feelings are hard to deal with. We didn't really have an answer. As #1D was forced to a tiebreak, and fighting frustration they quickly went down 5-0 in the tiebreak. That proved to much to recover from, and both doubles positions took 4th place.

All in all, it was a good day. No one position finished lower than 6th, quite an improvement over last year where almost all of our positions finished in 7th. Also, we were much more competitive even in our losses, with half of our losses on the day coming in 3rd set tiebreaks. If we had turned one of those tiebreaks around, we would have finished 3rd (!)

So, we capped off the good day with a trip to BWs, where we watched Notre Dame eek out their win in football and watched the Cubs cut their magic number down. Can't wait to hit the court again with this rapidly improving team!

IT WAS ENOUGH
It was enough to have fun and memorable matches. I won't easily forget Philip's 3 tiebreaks, #2D's epic pressure win in the first round, Caleb's realization that he can do it and more. It is enough to make these type of memories together.

YOU ARE BROTHERS
You are brothers. You just spent this 13 hour day together, with really no place to hide. You all had your matches, you all watched each other's matches, you were all concerned for one another, you all collapsed in the shade together in between matches :-) You were brought together like brothers.

I AM GRATEFUL
I am grateful for...
- the parents that came to support us.
- the good attitude you kept on a long day.
- the players who committed to cheering for their teammates.
- the wonderful fruit (and other food) that was provided.
- a time to relax at BWs after it was all over.
- safety on long travels.
- the sunset as we drove home.

A PRAYER
God, You are good to us. Thanks for a safe day, but thanks for the patience and understanding that the players showed within it. I pray that You will help us learn from this day, especially about challenging the patterns that we don't think we can change. Show us that there is always a place a little deeper for us to dig in to, whether that is in sports or in our relationships. Thanks God, for going to that place for us.

SCORES
#1S - Liam Bradford
Round 1 - St. Joseph - Thomas Pries (12) - 0-6, 0-6
Round 2 - Portage - Tyler Polarek (11) - 6-3, 6-0
Round 3 - Merrillville - Justin Jackson (12) - 1-6, 3-6

#2S - Caleb Shenk
Round 1 - Chesterton - Chad Whelen (12) - 2-6, 2-6
Round 2 - Centerville - Evan Witte (9) - 6-2, 6-3
Round 3 - Merrillville - Cameron Louthan (12) - 6-1, 6-3

#3S - Philip Krabill
#3S - Merrillville - Noah Terpstra (10) - 3-6, 6-4, (10-4)
#3S - Highland - Daniel Wilson (11) - 6-3, 4-6, (6-10)
#3S - Portage - Zander Marcotte (10) - 1-6, 6-0, (7-10)

#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran
#1D - Highland - Tyler Schmidt (12)/Zach Benninghoff (12) - 6-1, 6-4
#1D - St. Joseph - Andrew Sill (12)/Max Blumentritt (11) - 1-6, 4-6
#1D - Centerville - Kody Brown (11)/Nate Reed (11) - 6-2, 3-6, (2-10)

#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller
#2D - Centerville - Brian Crawley (10)/Mason Cunningham (10) - 6-1, 4-6, (10-8)
#2D - St. Joseph - Riley Mandell (11)/Nathan Roth (11) - 1-6, 1-6
#2D - Merrillville - Ivan Sahagun (12)/Josh Raddatz (12) - 1-6, 1-6

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Senior Statement: Angel Torres

Angel joined the tennis team his sophomore year, and I was excited. I had taught him in middle school, so I knew that he was a gentle and positive personality, someone who would be excellent to have on a team. Obviously, that is who he has continued to be and he has offered so much in terms of presence and personality.

First of all, have Angel around is uplifting. He is not a loud and rowdy person. He is very likely to be the person sitting off to the side of the conversation with a little, sly smile on his face. He’s likely not making the joke. But he does make everyone else feel comfortable.

Angel is also quiet most of the time, but I believe that he is a thinker. He pays attention. I know that I’ve seen this in his tennis game, because I will often feel like I’m not getting through to a whole group of players when instructing a stroke, and then Angel will walk out and attempt it just like I’ve shown. He is someone who quietly observes and enjoys the presence of those around him, learning from them and supporting them.

Angel is someone that others love to have around. Whether it is convincing him to come out for the team this year or picking him when we do drills in practice, people like to have Angel on their side. Maybe this is because he puts in a lot of work without drawing attention to himself, which makes him an easy teammate to have. I have been impressed by the quiet way he has a positive influence on everyone around him. For whatever great reason, Angel is a person that fills those around him with joy.

I am so grateful to have had Angel as a joyous part of our brotherhood.

Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.