Oh for boyhood's painless play,
Sleep that wakes in laughing day,
Health that mocks the doctor's rules,
Knowledge never learned of schools...
- from "The Barefoot Boy" by John Greenleaf Whittier
Resiliency shows up in the most unexpected places when dealing with high school tennis. I stood watching warmups with one of our parents, discussing how difficult it is to deal with emotions, how hard and painful last night's loss felt, how controlling our emotions doesn't get easier just because we grow older. Out on the court, I wondered how the varsity would respond to a difficult loss last night while playing a good team (9-4 on the season) tonight.
This match represented another challenge for us. We'd beaten Blackhawk last year, down in Fort Wayne. The match had been 5-0, but it had been fairly close at several positions. The Braves only lost one player from that team, we had lost 3. We came in with a good record, but they were almost the same.
In the warmup, however, I could see one thing clearly. We were playing with much more resolve and confidence. Serves were popping, shots were being struck cleanly, guys were having fun. Their were not the obvious nerves, trying to figure out whether or not we could win. There was just the confidence that we could.
Which is all great. Which is what we need to be able to compete at a high level. But it's also something that is so difficult to teach. Which is why I feel like I need to repeat to us over and over, "as a team, we are dominant." When we rely on each other, when we don't depend on one person to get it all done, we can be brilliant this year.
How appropriate then that our hottest player, the one on the longest winning streak, was actually the only one who lost for the varsity today. Sol played a great match, but senior Chase Ramsey was his kryptonite. I won't go into too much detail about how he was able to shut Sol down (don't want to give away scouting secrets :-) but Ramsey had several different shots that played into Sol's weaknesses. Sol gave it a great battle, rallying from a 4-1 deficit in the second set to tie the match at 4-4 and then again at 5-5. Yet, he couldn't quite find the final stroke.
But his brothers were there for him.
Impressive turn-arounds were the order of the day. After being shut out at Marian, Abe looked relaxed and powerful in his matchup against Brave's junior Jeremy Hoover. Abe established his serve early, and though he was in a bit of a hole in the first set, he was able to win 3 straight games to close out the set. In the second set, he got a bit tentative and Hoover upped his level of play. In the third, Abe made a slight strategical shift, coming to the net a bit more to increase the pressure. He was able to string together another confident set of 4 games in a row to capture the match.
At #2 singles, after a long and tiring Marian match, Jesse Amstutz looked calm and breezed through a 2 set victory. After a close start to the match, Jesse really found both resolve and the deep, biting groundstrokes that he's used to playing. Passing shot after passing shot thwarted his opponent's attempt to attack the net, and Jesse had an easy victory.
Perhaps the easiest of all came at #2 doubles, where Parth and Landon played an outstanding match. Despite facing a player with one of the bigger forehands at their position this season, the guys were able to come to the net, prepare and finish. Great serving combined with great belief equaled an outstanding match for the Bruins.
And Joel and Hans, well, they continue to roll through the season. Focus needs a little fine-tuning, but they played about as error free of a first set as could be played. The 2nd set tightened up a bit, but they were able to find their way through.
Of course, the JV. Oh, my brilliant stars of the JV. Blackhawk only brought 4 players, so only 3 positions got to play. But #1 singles is proving to be an excellent spot for us. Whoever plays #1 singles for the Bruins on the season is now 16-0, with a total game score of 104-19. That's an average pro-set score of 8-1. #2 singles isn't too shabby either, especially when manned by Ethan Lapp, who's now tied Sol Brenneman's single season JV record for victories at 13. He'll have a couple more chances to get victories tomorrow and at the JV tournament this weekend. And Ryan Duckworth and Simon Hurst, looking good together and pitching another shut-out. The other day, I wrote a comparison of the varsity teams. Let's just say I'd love to see this year's JV play the undefeated 2008 JV team.
Above all, however, I enjoyed the painless play, the laughing days, the jokes, the team, the brotherhood. We played better, but I think we also began to focus on the right things again. Each other and all of God's beautiful blessings.
#1S - Abe Thorne - 6-4, 3-6, 6-2 - Jeremy Hoover (11)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-2, 6-0 - Ben Bailey (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 2-6, 5-7 - Chase Ramsey (12)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-0, 6-2 - Jared Fiedler (10)/Ryan Overbeck (11)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-1, 6-1 - Triston Mills (12)/Joel Vastbinder (11)
#1SJV - Byeong Min Lim - 8-0 - Luke Martin (11)
#2SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-2 - Joseph Angelo (10)
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 8-0 - Ross Norton (10)/Bailey Brouwer (10)