Friday, September 14, 2012

#13 - The Beauty of a Team


But we had the momentum.

Nathan had completed his important match, beating the a very well rounded competitor in Nick Burton in two sets. #1 doubles had fought brilliantly, getting close in the second set, but hadn't been able to prolong their best play. Ike had played a 2 hour match and only gotten through 2 sets, but was final undone by the consistent depth of sophomore Eric Burton. But Abe had rallied through some mental lulls in his match to pull out the second point for the Bruins.

And Joel and Hans... well, after trailing 4-3 in their second set, they turned the tide with double attacking tennis. While they had often been aggressive with one at the baseline, one at the net, in the second set they began to both come to the net. The smaggressive play in the pressure situation worked, forcing the Blazers to tighten up a bit and giving the Bruins some energy. At one point, Hans at the net was able to drill the volley at the Blazer net player. A smart, aggressive, and correct play. Three game wins gave us the second set, and it was onto the third.
A third set for the match.

A third set to decide the team match as well.

But Hans and Joel didn't know that, they just knew that they needed to stay aggressive. The rest of the team began gathering round to watch the final match play out. In the first game, the Blazers served really well and took a 1-0 lead. But Hans served really well in the next game, and then we aggressively returned to take the 2-1 lead. Frustration was growing for the Blazers, but the match stayed tight, 3-2 at the next changeover. We went up 4-2 after Hans next service game, but couldn't pull away and changed over again at 4-3.
It was Joel's serve. The Central coach had warned Joel about foot faults, and went over to watch the line. I reminded Joel that not foot faulting would actually help his serve. And help the serve it did. Joel had his best service game that I can remember, putting real power and authority into his serves. Hans missed a volley though, and Joel missed a baseline shot and the game went to 15-40. It looked as if a 4-4 tie was coming. And Joel missed his first serve, giving the Blazers a shot at the game on a second serve.

But Joel pounded a second serve unexpectedly into the forehand corner of the service box. Break point saved. Then another big serve caused a Central error. Back to deuce. Then two more great serves followed by return errors and we were within one game of the set, match, and team win. The team excitedly watched each following point, giving out encouragement and watching the awesomeness unfold. Hans pounded a return. Love-15 for the Bruins. Joel returned down the line and the Central volley squirted wide. Love-30 for the Bruins. A double-fault. Triple match point for the Bruins. Joel's next return tipped the tape and bounced wide. But Hans next return dropped deep in the court forcing a forehand error, and the #2 doubles had sealed a tight 3-2 win for our team.

And the beautiful thing was the whole team was there to watch. They flooded out onto the court to give Hans and Joel hugs and congratulations. Nathan ran around pumping his fists with the excitement. Everybody was smiling. It was a good night to be part of the Bruins team.

Nights like this are why I still love to coach. The wonder of a group of oh-so different guys coming together around a common goal and celebrating joyously together. We've suffered together too, whether through workouts, or close losses, or fatigue. Now, tonight we got to experience the other side of it. It reminds me of the way that church is supposed to work. Sharing the suffering, sharing the joy, being one, joined in Christ. The tennis team became a beautiful picture of that oneness tonight, and that's something we hope to remember.

Notes & Stats
- The JV won tonight 5-4. The top 5 positions all won their matches which were decently close. The JV has been improving so much throughout the course of this season. They are now 5-8 on the season but have won 4 of their last 5.

- Tonight saw Josh Weaver's coaching debut for the Bruins as well. Josh just joined the team for practice on Monday, and tonight was his first match. He got to see quite a match.

- Sol leads the JV now with 9 victories. Nathan is leading the varsity with 12.

- I'm so excited for the tournaments this weekend. Is that a note that I should include?

#1S - Nathan Brendle - 7-6 (1), 6-1 - Nick Burton (12)
#2S - Ike Lehman - 4-6, 2-6 - Eric Burton (10)
#3S - Abe Thorne - 7-6 (5), 6-4 - Jake Mullins (12)
#1D - Himal King/Parth Patel - 2-6, 2-6 - Riley Futterknecht (12)/Alex Moon (12)
#2D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 5-7, 6-4, 6-3 - Mikey Namisnak (12)/Will Riblet (10)

#1SJV - Sol Brenneman - 6-4 - Curtis Hill (9)
#2SJV - Tristan Clark - 6-4 - Alex Boyer (9)
#3SJV - Neel Bhagat - 6-4 - Christian Lankford (9)
#4SJV - Jack Erlacher - 0-6 - Curtis Hill (9)
#5SJV - Paul Krabill - 0-6 - Christian Lankford (9)
#1DJV - Wade Troyer/Landon Weldy - 6-2 - Matt Morrison (12)/Scott Hanberg (10)
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Ethan Lapp - 6-0 - Riley Norris (9)/Josh Santos (9)
#3DJV - Roberto Ramos/Noah Hochstetler - 1-6 - Matt Morrison (12)/Scott Hanberg (10)
#4DJV - Jacob Rudy-Froese/Delan Schrock - 2-6 - Riley Norris (9)/Josh Santos (9)

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