Sunday, September 9, 2012

#11 - Beating the Rains

On a night where few other teams in the state were playing, whether because of weather or because they'd rather be watching teenagers attempt to give each other concussions legally (also known as football), it didn't look like we'd get our scheduled match in either.

All through the warmup, all through introductions, and all through the first couple of games, a steady mist of rain fell across the NorthWood tennis courts. And in the mist, we weren't playing so well. At #1 singles, Nate lost the first game out of the shoot. At #2, Ike went down 2-0. At #3, Abe found himself trailing early in the set. Both doubles faced deficits. It looked like we were either going to get beat by the rain or by NorthWood, or both.

Finally, the courts got too slick to play and we took a five minute break. Players milled about the courts, talked to their opponents, pawed at the ground with their feet until the rain stopped and the thumbs up came to compete again.

And compete we did.

Quickly, the singles matches turned around. Ike found a groundstroke that we've been wanting to see all season. Playing #2 singles in a match that was reminiscent of Wes Klassen, Ike plastered the ball around the court after the break. After being down 2-0, Ike won 12 straight games to cruise to a 6-2, 6-0 victory.

Nathan Brendle actually beat Ike off the court, also with a 6-0 second set in hand. After being at 4-3 in his first set, Nate reeled off 8 straight games to close 6-3, 6-0. He really worked himself into an unbeatable rhythm after the close start, and junior Mitchell Keiser had few answers.

While a more nerve-wracking match, Abe Thorne provided the Bruins third and clinching point as he too found an attacking rhythm. Abe was able to attack the net repeatedly in his match against a fellow Abe (NorthWood's senior Abe Robinson). Abe Thorne's volleys were so on in this match, they were the difference between the close first set and the comfortable second.

In doubles, Hans and Joel again faced stiff competition. Like the Jimtown match earlier this year, they were just behind a bit in their aggressiveness and ability to play "on the front foot." They were facing a bit of identity crisis too, as everything that they were trying to do the Panther team was doing just a little bit better. But the sets were close, and Hans and Joel were hanging right in the teeth of the match.

Meanwhile, Parth and Himal were enjoying some of their best play on the season. In the first set, one break of serve was all that separated them from the #1 doubles tandem of Jayson Linhart and Brennan Angle. In the second set, Parth and Himal were actually able to get a lead with smaggressive tennis and really well placed groundstrokes and volleys. Also, particularly impressive tonight was their serving, as less and less points were being given away by double faults.

But as the doubles wound towards the end of the second sets, the rains came down for real. For the varsity, it was disappointing, but ultimately we had secured the 3 points necessary for the win.

For the JV, more time would have been nice to try to rally from the deficit we were in. Despite playing well, the JV had lost 4 matches and only won 1. The main difference in these matches, as it is in many of our JV defeats, was the ability to hit with power and hit against power. It all starts with our feet, which I wrote a couple of weeks ago, but we also have to practice it as much as possible. We don't have the most powerful players in the world (aside from a couple varsity guys) so it is hard to practice playing against pace. But it gives us something to look forward to in the offseason!

Because next year, we'll need to be ready again, because we've got a winning streak going right now over NorthWood that I'd love to continue to defend!

#1S - Nathan Brendle - 6-3, 6-0 - Mitchell Keiser (11)
#2S - Ike Lehman - 6-2, 6-0 - Quinn Stillson (10)
#3S - Abe Thorne - 7-5, 6-2 - Abe Robinson (12)
#1D - Himal King/Parth Patel - 3-6, 3-4 - Brennan Angle (12)/Jayson Linhart (12)
#2D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 4-6, 3-5 - Devyn Maugel (10)/Caleb Yoder (10)

#1SJV - Sol Brenneman - 8-4 - Austin Sanders (11)
#2SJV - Tristan Clark - 6-8 - Luke Stump (10)
#3SJV - Ethan Lapp - 2-8 - Cooper Clark (10)
#4SJV - Landon Weldy - 1-0 - Spencer Abel (10)
#5SJV - Justin Zehr - 0-0 - Nate Nunemaker (9)
#1DJV - Wade Troyer/Landon Weldy - 4-8 - Ryan Menzie (10)/Evan Nix (10)
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Neel Bhagat - 0-8 - Nick Myers (10)/Brock Beehler (10)
#3DJV - Noah Hochstetler/Roberto Ramos - 1-4 - Austin Conrad (11)/Riley Smith (11)
#4DJV - Jacob Rudy-Froese/Jack Erlacher - 0-3 - Michael Gongwer (9)/Sean Linhart (10)
#5DJV - Delan Schrock/Paul Krabill - 1-1 - Zach Snider (9)/Jarrett Skaggs (9)

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