Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Chapter 17 - vs. Fairfield

Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise, nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to those with knowledge, but time and chance happen to them all.
- Ephesians 9:11

This verse is difficult for us to accept. Time and chance happen to us all. There are times when things won't go as we want. That's part of life. There are times when the luck, the chance, the draw, whatever it is won't fall our way. That's part of life.

We deal with it the best we can. But we shouldn't get mad at ourselves for failing to impose our will. We can't get mad at ourselves because this time someone else performed better than us. We can't blame ourselves for the chance falling the other way. Because if we do, life becomes very difficult to live, since we would only be striving for perfection.

Which is the weird thing about sports. Aren't we striving for perfection? Practice that forehand until we can finish the point with it. Don't miss easy balls. Never double fault. Aren't these things that we're trying to do?

Yes and no. In tennis, time and chance happen to all. You will double fault. You will hit an easy forehand in the net, or hit an easy slam long. You will lose a big point. You will.

The key is remembering that these things happen to everybody who plays tennis, so don't internalize the errors. Don't blame yourself. There is no such thing as perfection (I mean, seriously, watch a Djokovic v. Nadal match - it's full of errors). 

We strive to be swift, strong and wise - but these are the exceptions to the rule. The times where we make swift plays, running down a passing shot and flipping up a perfect lob; that is a blessing. The times that we are strong, poaching across the net for the slam past our opponent's feet; that is a blessing. The times that we are wise, using the angle instead of pounding it into the backcourt; that is a blessing. We celebrate and praise God for times of swiftness, strength and wisdom - but don't expect perfection.

Monday night, our varsity found themselves expecting perfection. When it didn't happen, we became discouraged. At the singles positions, we almost needed perfection. That's why we were hoping for it. Fairfield's singles lineup of seniors and a junior just came off impressive victories over Angola, a team that we had lost the singles positions to in the scrimmage. Early in the match, it became evident that we were going to struggle. We tried different strategies. We tried hard. We tried to stay confident. But we couldn't find the crack to exploit. We'll work on it before Sectional, but that's a challenge we'll meet with energy.

At doubles, we entered the match with energy. But in the second sets, Fairfield changed strategy. They played to draw out our errors. Consistency, lobs, and simple serves became their mission. And we grew tentative. After a couple of mistakes, we began to think about our mistakes. To blame ourselves. To get nervous. And the match followed that pattern. We were expecting perfection, and crumbled when it didn't happen.

For the JV, it was a tense little match as well. Fairfield has a good JV, and everyone on their team had the opportunity to play twice. That meant that our lower guys had to beat at least one of their higher players in order for the JV to secure the win. It also meant that we needed all of the higher positions to win their initial matches.

And that plan worked out for the night. All of the top 5 positions won, and then Daniel Robles and Jackson King clinched the win instead of the tie. Our JV continues to play confident tennis, which I love. But throughout the year they are learning and playing smarter tennis. It's been a blessing to watch them continue to rack up the victories this year.

But it wasn't perfect. Our champions from Saturday (Lane & Brandon) lost today. Their close challengers, Matthew and Jack, also found defeat. And our juniors couldn't capture their win either. But maybe next time they will. That's the beauty of the season. Time and change will fall both ways for everyone...

#1S - Abe Thorne - 2-6, 0-6 - Austin Christner (12)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 0-6, 1-6 - Adam Yoder (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 2-6, 0-6 - Marcus Rodes (12)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-1, 4-6, 3-6 - Nathan Azzarito (11)/Landyn Nunemaker (11)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-2, 3-6, 5-7 - Samuel Clayton (12)/Isaac Miller (9)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Byeong Min Lim - 6-0 - Andrew Hoover (11)
#2SJV - Ethan Lapp - 6-4 - Clayton Bender (9)
#3SJV - Bryce Miller - 6-1 - Jesse Grimm (9)
#4SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 3-6 - Joel Kropf (9)
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 6-0 - Aaron Miller (10)/Aaron Skibbe (9)
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Neel Bhagat - 6-1 - Carver DeWitt-Gall (11)/Joey Gibson (9)
#3DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 2-6 - Andrew Hoover (11)/Clayton Bender (9)
#4DJV - Jack Erlacher/Matthew Peters - 1-6 - Jesse Grimm (9)/Joel Kropf (9)
#5DJV - Roberto Ramos/Jacob Rudy-Froese - 1-6 - Aaron Miller (10)/Aaron Skibbe (9)
#6DJV - Jackson King/Daniel Robles - 6-1 - Carver DeWitt-Gall (11)/Joey Gibson (9)

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