Sunday, September 29, 2013

Chapter 19 - Wabash Invitational

"I like this tournament the best," said Abe Thorne, "because we get to be with the team all day."

At the Merrillville varsity tournament, singles players play at one site while the doubles players play down the road. It makes the tournament go faster, but the team experience is quite different. It's not as unified. I echo what Abe said. A lot of memories are made when we get to hang out together. The majority of the team nodded their agreement at Abe's statement.

What's even more awesome about this statement is that at the time Abe said it, we had won the tournament. I think it's a testament to this group of players that what they enjoy most is spending time together, playing together, and making memories together.

Coming into the tourney, I knew that this, once again, was an excellent collection of teams. Taylor was a conference champion for the second year running, going undefeated in their league. Wabash finished 2nd in their conference, with an 8-5 record on the year. Eastern was the weakest of the teams, sporting a respectable 7-10 record.

Again, we played Taylor first, and boy did we get a close match. Well, at least, the final score said 3-2. But in all honesty, the match didn't feel that close at all. Taylor won the first two matches off the courts, big wins at the #1 positions. Those had been their strengths all year, at #2 singles and #3 singles, we were playing quality opponents, but we were playing incredibly well. Sol especially had his game working in this round, hitting incredible shots like baseline overheads and leaving his opponent shaking his head. Finally, it all came down to #2 doubles, and Parth and Landon had a set advantage plus a 5-2 lead. But as Parth said, there's always got to be drama, so they faltered in finishing the set and soon it was tied 5-5. But they were able to break serve and hold Landon's serve to finish the match, as they showed continually improving nerves under pressure.

With that victory, we began play against Wabash. Sol and Abe started first, at #1 and #3 singles and both lost their first sets. It looked like we'd need all three of the other positions to win as they took the court. But enjoying their opportunity, all 3 of those other positions won with relative ease. In the meantime, Abe and Sol captured their second sets and played the third set tiebreakers. Sol won his in a close one 10-8. Abe, it wasn't so close. Abe won an unprecedented 10 straight points to win his tiebreaker 10-0. That's unheard of.

2 victories down, and we matched up against Taylor only needing this win to secure the championship. Abe won easily, overpowering his younger opponent. Jesse followed suit. Sol and #1 doubles quickly won their first sets. It looked like we'd have a 4-0 advantage and win before #2 doubles even began. But then both Sol and #1 doubles lost a little focus and had to regain their form. Things looked dicey as both matches tightened up and the Comets took the lead, while also winning the first set of #2 doubles. Luckily, Hans and Joel did the work and took the lead late in their match. Sol followed, and 10 seconds before Hans and Joel finished, Sol watched his opponent's shot fall wide to clinch the championship for us.

We hugged, ate some peanut butter sandwiches and watch #2 doubles finished. We took pictures biting the trophy and then carried the trophy to our table at Applebee's. We laughed about all the funny things of the day. Things like...

- Seth telling Abe to get his "swag" going during the second set comeback against Wabash.
- Parth crushing the ball at an Eastern doubles player, and the player catching it between his legs.
- Sol's ridiculous overheads and attacking against a Wabash player who had not lost at #3 singles.
- Hans angled slam after the ball barely got over the net, winning the match against Eastern.
- Sol's "granny shot" winner against Eastern, where he scooped the ball from between his feet for the winner.
- Landon's awesome slams throughout the day, running his opponent's into the fences.
- "Are you kitten me right meow?"
- The seniors getting back-to-back championships at this tournament.
- Great pictures of the event from our next great varsity players: Ryan Duckworth, Simon Hurst, Ethan Lapp and Byeong Min Lim.
- Singing "Sarasponda" with the trophy for a second year in a row as well.
- A rain-free tournament for the first time in years.
- Bringing our record up to 14-4 on the season.
- Jesse and Sol both finishing undefeated on the day.

And other great things. What a nice way to spend a Saturday!

Bethany Christian 3, Taylor 2
#1S - Abe Thorne - 1-6, 0-6 - Jack Lipchik (12)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-3, 6-1 - Cameron Kimbler (10)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-2, 6-1 - Casey Glick (12)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 3-6, 1-6 - Austin Douglass (12)/Cole Schroeder (10)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-2, 7-5 - Conner Leicht (10)/Treavor Harris (10)

Bethany Christian 5, Wabash 0
#1S - Abe Thorne - 1-6, 6-1, 10-0 - JD Boone (12)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-2, 6-0 - Edward Dillard (12)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 3-6, 6-3, 10-8 - Kory Fuller (11)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-2, 6-1 - Thomas Grier (12)/Aaron Hartley (10)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-1, 6-1 - Jalen Grier (12)/Taylor Vigar (10)

Bethany Christian 4, Eastern 1
#1S - Abe Thorne - 6-1, 6-1 - Ryan Manfred (9)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-2, 6-1 - Logan Colwell (12)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-3, 6-4 - Robbie Walling (12)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 6-2, 7-5 - Austin Chase (12)/Zach Walker (12)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 3-6, 3-6 - Daniel Pugh (12)/Riley Haupert (11)

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