Great poems do not flow, they turn.
- Michael Theune
2008. We've started the season off brilliantly, although losing to Concord and Northridge, we've taken out all of the Sectional opponents we've played early in the season, including defeating rival NorthWood, the reigning Sectional champ. We enter a Saturday tournament and in the second match we face Westview. This is an good Westview team, one that we expect to see again in the Regional if we can secure a Sectional title.
We can win. We can win. We can win. But we don't. We lose one position where we don't believe we can win, 6-2, 6-2. We lose two positions where we cannot execute under pressure, falling in two 10-point tiebreaks.
But, says critic Michael Theune, great poems do not flow, they turn.
In 2008, the team had been flowing through the season. Going through the motions. When we returned to practice the next Monday, cross-court battles became intense. People played to win. Two Ball was not a fun diversion, it was a chance to practice killing some volleys. Footwork drills were done at full speed. Every challenge match was a chance to prove yourself. The season stopped flowing as it had, and it turned.
We won the Wabash Invitational the next weekend. Then we beat perennially ranked Penn. Then we captured the Sectional title. Because we turned.
Great teams do not flow, they turn.
Perhaps, for the varsity, last nights' match is the turn. Similarly to the 2008 team, we entered the match with a great chance to win. And yet lack of belief, lack of focus, and lack of consistency under pressure caught up to us.
The Westview team played excellent, in fact, they looked like a team that has made their turn and is ramping up for the rest of their season. They played experienced and poised. I was especially impressed with their #1 player, Kohle Christner and his ability to withstand a rally from Abe to seal his match.
And maybe we've got players making the turn as well. Sol Brenneman played with poise under pressure to win a match where he played very hot and cold. One game he would stroke the ball with aggression and confidence, attack and prevail. The next he would push from the baseline and flail. But in the heat, in a third set (things that have been his nemesis in the past) he continued to push and believe.
Or Joel and Hans, who laughed off mistakes, stayed at ease and became only the second team to defeat Westview's #1 doubles tandem. After dropping the first set, these guys made a turn of strategy and recognized that in this match, their strength was to play an atypical 1-up, 1-back formation. Just like their Cat and Mouse game at practice, they stayed confident and rallied through two close sets to grab a third set victory.
The JV continues to flow through their season, but they also need to understand the importance of the turn. Byeong Min Lim continues to impress at #1 singles, and Ryan and Simon won another at #1 doubles. Players are piling up impressive records, and improving. But we must stay aware of what it takes to play at another level. My goal for the JV is to have them to a varsity level, ready to compete under the pressures and stresses of the highest high school level. I'm proud of their progress, but it will take a turn, a complete other type of effort, to truly advance themselves and the program.
I'd say that we have time. But this is September. It's September for Sectional time. Now is the time to turn.
#1S - Abe Thorne - 5-7, 2-6 - Kohle Christner
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 2-6, 2-6 - Andrew Yoder
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 - Stephen Gierek
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 - Jamar Weaver/Hunter Christner
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 1-6, 6-7 (4) - Taylor Eash/Zack Schrock
#1SJV - Byeong Min Lim - 6-1
#2SJV - Ethan Lapp - 6-1
#3SJV - Bryce Miller - 6-0
#4SJV - Jackson King - 6-1
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 6-1
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Neel Bhagat - 6-2
#3DJV - Jack Erlacher/Lane Miller - 6-4
#4DJV - Brandon Nguyen/Matthew Peters - 2-6