Monday, September 23, 2013

Chapter 15 - Merrillville Invite

Jump like your life depends on it.
- from "Theories of Falling" by Sandra Beasley

This season teaches me every day. There are new stresses. There are new challenges. There are things I could be scared of. There are decisions to be made. There are words to write. There are people, brothers, to encourage - to love. My theory on the season has been that we play tennis for fun and for friendship - not to win and lose. This helps us manage our expectations and emotions.

This weekend, my theory was put to the test.

The Merrillville Invite is a big invitational with 8 teams. Usually, several of these teams are district ranked. Usually the competition is tight. Usually it takes forever to get the tournament done. And this year was to be no different, except for the fact that we entered the tournament with the best record of any of the teams. And I'd have said that we were the favorite to win.

But then, things happened, as things do. One of our better varsity players could not be at the tournament. We received one of the worst draws that we could have. One of the teams that was close to us in the competition made a lineup switch that caused a disadvantage for us. 

And the day didn't start off that well playing either. Jesse was our only player who breezed through his first match. Abe played well but lost. Sol struggled to a close win. Joel and Hans held a huge advantage in the second set, only to lose in a heartbreaking 10-point tiebreak. And Landon and Ryan couldn't pull off an upset in their match. 

Just like that, our advantage seemed to evaporate. Our expectation of a win, of a team trophy, seemed to be gone. But we weren't playing to win, were we? We were playing to enjoy God's beautiful day, to cheer on our teammates, to play some memorable points. Right?

Except, as the tournament started we weren't. We were playing to win. And when we didn't win, it got harder to play the rest of the day. Things that normally mattered didn't seem to matter. Strokes that we normally went after became tentative. 

Oh, there were spots of awesome in the sky. Jesse continued his dominant play and won his singles bracket. Sol looked to be the best of the #3 singles players at the tournament. Abe pulled off a stunning upset over Triton, losing the first set 0-6 (the third time he'd lost an 0-6 set to Dean Howdeshell) before turning around and winning the second set and then the tiebreak. And Ryan and Landon recovered to play excellent tennis in their final match of the day.

But I was still a bit disappointed that we hadn't won. We'd actually come in 5th.

Then we went out to eat. All good things happen when we eat I think. Sharing burgers and telling stories, this is what tennis is really about. This is the hidden story that so many other teams think is the background. We have said that this is the story. These relationships, these stories, this fun.

And so let that be true. This last week and a half of the season, let's jump into this knowledge. The tennis is the background story, the setting, the props on the stage. It may come into the action, but it's really not the action itself. 

Good job Bruins, I can't wait to see you on Monday afternoon, as we share the afternoon, some snacks, and a few tennis matches with each other. I can't wait to jump into that time together.

Abe Thorne - #1 Singles
- Centerville - Brady Wagenknecht (11) - 3-6, 4-6
- Triton -  Dean Howdeshell (12) - 0-6, 6-4, 10-2
- Highland - Jeff Michner - 1-6, 5-7

Jesse Amstutz - #2 Singles
- Highland - Nick Polster - 6-0, 6-2
- Lowell - David Delgado (11) - 6-1, 6-1
- Portage - Blake Logsden (12) - 6-2, 7-5

Sol Brenneman - #3 Singles
- Wawasee - Cal Heinsich (10) - 7-6, 6-4
- Triton - Jared Fisher (11) - 2-6, 2-6
- Merrillville - Sam Dinka (10) - 6-4, 6-2

Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - #1 Doubles
- Triton - Lucas Shafer (12)/Darrin Harrell (12) - 6-3, 6-7, 6-10
- Highland - Ben Woods/Anthony Juranovich - 6-3, 6-1
- Centerville - David Miller (12)/Miller Ferguson (12) - 2-6, 6-4, 7-10

Landon Weldy/Ryan Duckworth - #2 Doubles
- Lowell - Zeb Johnson (10)/Tyler Damm (12) - 5-7, 2-6
- Portage - Michael Lakomek (9)/Alex Tjoris (10) - 2-6, 0-6
- Wawasee - Luke Smith (12)/Tyler Hutchinson (11) - 6-4, 7-6

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