Friday, August 26, 2011

The Story at Fremont: Match #7

The Lead: "Drama"
It came right down to the end. Despite all of our close matches this season, this was the first one that literally came right down to the last match on the court, tied 2-2, playing for the varsity team win.

And it hurt. Losing that last point is not fun, in any sense of the word. It's at these points that I'm at a loss for words. Did we try hard? Yes. Did we practice hard? Yes. Are we getting better? Yes. Did it make a difference tonight? No.

So, I fall on Scripture at these times. My favorite passage in all of the Bible is Lamentations 3. As I'm writing this match report, it seems appropriate to me:

"I remember my affliction and my wandering,
the bitterness and the gall.
I well remember them,
and my soul is downcast within me.
Yet this I call to mind
and therefore I have hope

Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed,
for his compassions never fail.
They are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness."

I am not consumed with discouragement, instead, I will call to mind the great blessings of the season. Dairy Queen, Pizza King, bus rides, the Goshen and Jimtown matches (still 2-0 against the Sectional), and the improvements that we made.

But the story of tonight? Well, our doubles teams got outplayed tonight. The Eagles simply had much better, much more experienced players in these crucial positions. It was clear from the beginning that while we could compete, we weren't in a good spot to win these matches last night.

The singles, well, those were another story. Ike Lehman burst out of the gates at #3 singles and took the first set. Blake Shetler and Nate Brendle were back in forth in their matches, each up or down a game at all points of the first set. So very early on in the evening, it became apparent that we'd have to win all the varsity singles spots to win the team match. And we almost did.

Blake was down 4-3 in his first set, on serve. No one had broken serve yet, and I told him that if he could pour all of his energy and focus into breaking Eagle Matt Wilcox's next service game, that I thought the rest of the game would unravel for the Eagle #2. It turned out to be prophetic. Blake won his serve and then broke, and then won the next 7 games in a row to win his match.

For Ike, it was a difficult match. He started out quickly and confidently. His net attacking game was on and he was being consistent, even throwing in an ace or two. He took the first set and took a lead in the second. But then things started to get tight. Like we've talked about, it's hard to loosen up when everything is getting tight. And after holding a 5-4 lead in the second set, Ike lost 3 straight games to split sets. A little break, a little refocusing, and back on he went. In the third set, he and Eagle Brandon Miller traded games back and forth until a 4-4 tie. At this point, behind the cheers of his teammates, Ike sent passing and approach shots sailing past his opponent. With aggressive play he took the match.

Which brought everything down to Nate's match. Nate had lost a first set tiebreak, then won a second set tiebreak where he had faced 2 match points. Pretty impressive pressure play. But tonight it wasn't to be. Eagle Matt Hoff came up with incredible shots at incredible times, saving game points with whipped forehands, saving game points with lunging volleys, serve and volleying on big points. And we fell again, 3-2.

The JV Drama
The JV match came right down to the end as well. There were some impressive individual performances, but none better than Luke Schrock and Neel Bhagat. Playing in near darkness at 9:00 PM, these guys strung together a comeback that found them playing a tiebreak to clinch the JV victory. Indeed, they won the match to give our JV a 3-1 record on the season. Excellent job!

The Hidden Narrative
Lost in the 3-2 varsity losses might be the fact that Ike Lehman has put together two impressive, pressure-packed three set wins. On Tuesday night against Columbia City, he battled to a third set lead while hoping that Blake could keep us in the team match. Although Blake fell in that match, Ike finished his off.

Perhaps that gave him confidence tonight. Down 2-1 and needing to win both positions that were on the courts, Ike played extremely composed under pressure. The most impressive thing was the way that he turned on the attack when tied at 4-4 in the final set. It was as if he loosened up just at the right time. The match winner was a perfectly struck passing shot down the line, and he had also thrown in a lob winner in the game, as well as a point won from a net attack.

Not lost in this was the support of the guys who were not playing at the time. I really think their vocal support and cheers went a long way in giving Ike confidence and energy. It was cool to watch.

Other Storylines
- More tiebreaks! Seriously, it's going to be the season of the tiebreak. The JV match was won in a tiebreak and Nate almost played 3 in his match.

- Hans Miller got 2 JV wins tonight, so he is now tied with Sol Brenneman for most wins on the season. Hans pulled the double wins at #1D JV and then at #4S JV. A real renaissance man to take both and singles and doubles match.

- Our biggest win in the JV match came at that same position, with Landon Weldy and Hans really forming a formidable doubles pairing. Maybe it was because we watched the Bryan brother's video at lunch today that they did so well!

- Parth and Joel lost tonight 2-6, 2-6. They lost on Tuesday 2-6, 2-6. We'll need to put an end to this little trend, but it is an interesting little trend.

- Nate's match took nearly 3 hours tonight, making it one of the longest he's ever played. The longest match ever in Bethany history was a 3 hour 45 minute match between Luke Hostetter and, who else, Fremont!

- Fremont plays Fairfield next week, so it will give us an interesting comparison to the Falcons. We are certainly going to need to continue to build, but that should be the fun of it!

The Scores
#1S - Nate Brendle - 6-7 (2), 7-6 (6), 5-7 - Matt Hoff (12)
#2S - Blake Shetler - 6-4, 6-0 - Matt Wilcox (12)
#3S - Ike Lehman - 6-2, 5-7, 6-4 - Brandon Miller (11)
#1D - Evan Grimes/Abe Thorne - 2-6, 0-6 - Tyler Jenkins (11)/Jake Bryant (11)
#2D - Parth Patel/Joel Gerig - 2-6, 2-6 - Glen McClain (11)/Andrew Smith (12)

#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 4-8 - Tanner Frye (11)
#2S - Wade Troyer - 5-8 - Seth Wirick (10)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 3-8 - Keith Bookwalter (10)
#4S - Hans Miller - 6-1 - Mason Kolberg (9)
#5S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-0 - Zach Easterday (9)
#1D - Landon Weldy/Hans Miller - 8-3 - Cole Trombley (10)/Derek Fischer (10)
#2D - Justin Zehr/Ryan Duckworth - 8-6 - Kraig Foley (9)/Tony LaRose (10)
#3D - Luke Schrock/Neel Bhagat - 8-7 (6) - Alberto Figueroa (9)/Jeff Herndon (9)
#4D - Colin Samuel/Roberto Ramos - 6-8 - Kyle Boekhout (9)/Drew Sullivan (9)

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