To say this match didn't go as we had planned would be a good place to start. To say that is was completely different than what we expected would be accurate as well. Perhaps another way to describe it is pain, because that's what I felt after the match ended. But there's more to the story than that.
Like all painful losses, it's tough to write about what happened. It's tough to relive it. The match was one that we expected to be close at all positions. I expected at least 1 match to go to three sets, maybe even 3 or 4. But no positions were close. Not the positions we won, and not the positions we lost. That was a complete surprise.
Our wins came from Seth Krabill and #2 doubles, Russell Klassen and Blake Shetler. Russell and Blake are beaming with confidence right now, having played excellent tennis over the past week. They looked in control from the beginning of the match, where they hit volley after volley away. Their opponents looked out of it from the beginning, and indeed, they never found a way back into the match. It was quick, and we took the first point.
At #1 doubles, the story was reversed. The Falcons looked as if they were playing their best match of the season, relishing the chance to take on a Sectional rival. On the other side, Matt Ebersole and Kyle Miller looked out of sync. They found themselves often unable to deal with the power and aggression that the Falcons brought. We often were on our heals or flatfooted. In playing one of our poorest matches of the season, the Falcons breezed through the #1 doubles spot as we did the #2 doubles.
Another player who found himself a step behind was Ben Mast. Wyatt Stutzman is one of the area's best singles players, but Ben isn't far behind. But Ben looked off tonight, often by a half a step. Instead of driving balls into the corners, he was missing wide and long. Instead of hitting beautiful drop volleys, the ball would grab the top of the net and fall short. Instead of putting pressure on his opponent with beautiful serves, Ben put pressure on himself with double faults. He looked off and Stutzman took advantage. This was certainly a match that would be much closer if Ben could have played to his potential.
But Seth Krabill made an impressive statement. After dropping a tentative first game, Seth took off. Playing against junior Josh Mullet, who got everything back but with very little pace, Seth began to really "go for more." His angled shots and precise approaches put pressure on Mullet, who didn't have a lot of answers. As the match went on, Seth got even more aggressive. It was good to see him take control in this important match.
Finally, Nate had a tough time at #3 singles with senior Malachi Randolph's big serve. While winning his fair share of the points after they would get started, Nate found it difficult to get points started. Struggling with consistency on his own serve, Nate began to get frustrated as well. Randolph has a big power game, and while Nate has desired to play against players like this all season, it was a bit overwhelming today.
The good news: We've got a week to work on things. Things will be different next time we play. We know what to expect and we won't be intimidated by anything. I'm really starting to get excited for Sectional now, as this match had that type of intensity. We'll be prepared.
In the JV match, Fairfield won most spots easily. We looked good at a few spots, where I thought Evan Grimes did a nice job and Abe Thorne looked like he could have made his match closer. I thought Wade Troyer did a nice job, actually holding a 6-5 lead before falling. And of course, our winners, Parth Patel and Joel Gerig, making sure we didn't get shut out. Ben Mast commented during the match that Joel might be our most improved player since the summer. I thought that showed as his match wore on.
So, not a fun night to remember for Bruin tennis. But we have to remember it. We have to remember that it isn't the end of the story. We have to let it get under our skin and push us on for the rest of the season, to fuel us, to motivate us, and to give us intensity. We will be on the front foot when we play again. We will be assertive. That is what we will learn.
#1S - Ben Mast - 2-6, 3-6 - Wyatt Stutzman (12)
#2S - Seth Krabill - 6-1, 6-1 - Josh Mullet (11)
#3S - Nate Brendle - 3-6, 2-6 - Malachi Randolph (12)
#1D - Kyle Miller/Matt Ebersole - 1-6, 1-6 - Brad Shipley (12)/Jordan Hochstetler (10)
#2D - Russell Klassen/Blake Shetler - 6-0, 6-1 - Josh Ketcham (12)/Nate Kropf (12)
#1SJV - Parth Patel - 0-8 - Dillon Lockwood (10)
#2SJV - Abe Thorne - 2-8 - Landon Knepp (10)
#3SJV - Ryan Minter - 0-8 - Taylor Yoder (10)
#4SJV - Wade Troyer - 6-8 - Zach Hochstedler (10)
#1DJV - Evan Grimes/Andrew Snyder - 2-8 - Austin Beer (12)/Logan Munn (12)
#2DJV - Josh Helmuth/Joel Gerig - 1-8 - Matt Yoder (10)/Marcus Rodes (9)
#3DJV - Himal King/Justin Zehr - 2-8 - Josh Davis (11)/Drew Cosby (10)
#4DJV - Parth Patel/Joel Gerig - 8-5 - Connor Hochstetler (10)/Samuel Clayton (9)