Wednesday, September 5, 2012

#10 - Opposites

Earlier this season, I noted that we would get close to good competition, but in the pressure moments we just couldn't maintain our edge and aggression, and we'd lose out on the big points. As the season progresses, I think we're starting to play the opposite.

First of all, the bad news. As an overall team, we definitely didn't play our best tennis in this match. Unlike Saturday against Triton, we did get off to good starts. But we didn't maintain that level of play. We lost aggression, got tight and nervous, didn't swing through the ball or play with consistent confidence. There were certainly times when we looked sluggish and very off our game.

But, the good news, we were tuned in during the pressure points. Westview's coach even noted after the match that we had been able to consistently perform well on the big points. And I think that's an honest reflection of what happened in each match.

Take Nathan's match as an example. His opponent, Kohle Christner, had several shots that could give Nathan fits. He had a high-kicking first serve, a very low rally shot and good control. These shots kept him in almost every point with Nathan. But a good example of winning the big point came in the last game of the match. After a long rally, with Nate holding a 40-30 advantage, Kohle hit a low backhand stretching Nathan out to the side. Nate moved quickly over and whipped a "smaggressive" forehand cross-court, with a lot of pace and spin but a safe placement. The ball dove down just inside the baseline leaving Christner speechless. He thought he had the point won but we performed "smaggressively" to take the game.

Other matches proceeded the same way. Abe Thorne had close points and long rallies but managed to come away with an easy looking scoreline and a comfortable match. #1 doubles of Himal and Parth started out slowly but really picked up steam in an admirable dismantling of the young Warriors. I really liked how Himal and Parth became more aggressive with their doubles as the match went on, as it allowed them to put away the victory with an easy second set.

And then there was Ike's match at #2 singles and the #2 doubles match. In #2 doubles, we started out about even in the first set. Westview's young players didn't hit the ball hard, but they were so competitive. They really went after every ball and did a great job putting away opportunities, so we had to remember to be the aggressive team. In the first set, I went over and told Joel and Hans to really putaway the set, get it out of reach, and they did, taking it 6-2.

I hoped the momentum would continue. But too many errors and tentative play ruled the beginning of the next set. After taking a 2-1 lead, the errors kept mounting and Joel and Hans began to become more and more unsure of every movement. They didn't attack with speed and split-steps, and soon their tight play and the smart play of their opponents sent the match to a third set.

In the third set, the tightness continued, but little by little they broke out of it. Joel really got up on top of the net to put some balls away on big points, and I think that changed the tone of the match. We got our aggression back on the points we had to win.

As did Ike. After pushing around with freshman Andrew Yoder, who is going to be an excellent player, mark my words, Ike found himself in a second straight match with a third set. In the third set however, Ike really began to find his aggressive swing. Instead of pushing the ball, he was hitting it, and the change in pace caused problems for the freshman. Ike was able to take a 5-1 lead in the set and close 6-3.
So it was a 5-0 victory for the varsity because we responded to the big points well. For the JV, it was never that close. Sol Brenneman busted through his opponent in 15 minutes. Wade and Tristan and Landon were all right behind with big victories. The JV keeps improving, and have taken leaps and bounds in the last two weeks after starting slow at the JV Invitational. Including the last round there, they've won their last three matches and their play is really steadily improving.

Can't wait to play the next one, hopefully it will be time to play our best and win the big points. That's what we're building toward.

Notes & Stats
- Nathan has one 6 straight matches that have included at least one "6-0" set. That's fairly incredible.

- Nathan also leads our team in victories, with 9 on the season. He finished with 14 victories last year.

- Since our switch in lineup, that moved Abe and Ike into singles, every position on the varsity has a winning record.

- After last night's three set match, Ike Lehman now leads the varsity in three set matches played this year as well as tiebreaks played this year. I guess Ike enjoys the tight matches.

- Abe Thorne has won 6 straight matches at #3 singles.

- Sol Brenneman leads the JV with 6 wins this season, while Justin Zehr is second with 5.

- Sol Brenneman's match tonight was so fast that when he had forgotten to change the scorecard, I thought he was still warming up. Then he changed it to 7-0 and won the next game.

- Westview had 0 seniors on the team we played last night. I guess we'll look forward to seeing each of these guys again next year!

#1S - Nathan Brendle - 6-2, 6-0 - Kohle Christner
#2S - Ike Lehman - 6-4, 2-6, 6-3 - Andrew Yoder
#3S - Abe Thorne - 6-1, 6-3 - Hunter Christner
#1D - Himal King/Parth Patel - 6-4, 6-1 - Stephen Gierek/Asher Gingerich
#2D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-2, 3-6, 6-4 - Zack Schrock/Taylor Eash

#1SJV - Sol Brenneman - 8-0 - ???
#2SJV - Landon Weldy - 8-3 - ???
#3SJV - Jacob Rudy-Froese - 4-8 - ???
#1DJV - Wade Troyer/Tristan Clark - 8-0 - ??? / ???
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Ethan Lapp - 8-5 - ??? / ???

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