Before you can learn the trees, you have to learn
The language of the trees.
from "Learning the Trees" by Howard Nemerov
This year, we have a stellar JV. This weekend, they had a chance to bring home a trophy as a memento of their wonderful talent and start to the season. But more important than a trophy, they had a chance to see what real competition is all about.
When I think about the tennis goal of every season, it is always to bring home the Sectional title. Every team, every year has that simple yet difficult dream. In 21 years of Bethany tennis, we have one Sectional title to our name. That tournament, the first round of the State Tournament, has such a different feel and pressure. You feel like you are playing for something.
But every tournament has that feel to some extent. So every one of these days is a chance to learn the "language" of the Sectional. How do you feel under pressure? What adjustments do you need to make? How can you stay focused? How do you stay loose? And what extra energy does it take to win?
Our JV had the opportunity to learn this language, plus one extra word: "unexpected." The JV had to take to the courts on Saturday without their undefeated #1 player, Byeong Min Lim. After his outstanding #1 singles varsity match on Thursday night, Byeong had gotten sick and couldn't play on Saturday.
And they got to find out right away how it would affect them. They played the other undefeated team in the tournament, NorthWood, in the first round. This match got off to a strong start for the doubles, but at #2 and #3 singles we were struggling and frustrated. Ethan Lapp manned the #1 singles position and did a great job with his match, and Ryan Duckworth and Simon Hurst also controlled their match well. As other positions lost, the match soon came down to Neel Bhagat at #2 singles. Playing outside of his normally comfortable doubles position, Neel fought back from 1-6 down to get to 5-6. But unfortunately he couldn't get the lead, and the team tasted defeat for the first time this season.
Again, as I said in the Concord match report, loss hurts but is also an opportunity. How do you respond? And the JV has had individual chances to respond to loss, now they had a collective chance. As individuals, they've always come back stronger after a loss. As a team, they did that today as well.
Against Jimtown, some positions got flipped around, and some of Jimtown's players who played varsity when we had our dual match against them came down to fill out the Jimmies JV. But our team held their nerve and battled. They picked up a 3-2 win against Jimtown, again with Ethan Lapp and Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst getting the victories at #1S and #1D. #2D joined them in the winning column this time, as Jack Erlacher and Bryce Miller picked up the win.
In their final match, the guys only gave up 8 games total as a team in defeating the Minutemen of Concord for a second time this season. That gave them 2nd place in the tournament, just behind NorthWood.
But more importantly, 8 guys got a taste of the language of competition. Each year it will grow, until hopefully they will stand with arms around one another holding their Sectional trophy. But long before they get there, they've got to keep learning.
vs. NorthWood JV
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-3 - Cooper Clark
#2SJV - Neel Bhagat - 5-8 - Court Clark
#3SJV - Justin Zehr - 2-8 - Brock Beehler
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 8-2 - Austin Sanders/Evan Nix
#2DJV - Jack Erlacher/Lane Miller - 2-8 - Austin Conrad/Riley Smith
vs. Jimtown JV
#1SJV- Ethan Lapp - 8-3 - Brock Johnson
#2SJV - Neel Bhagat - 6-8 - Nick Beron
#3SJV - Lane Miller - 4-8 - Alfredo Lima
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 8-1 - Jesse Oakley/Matt DeClodt
#2DJV - Jack Erlacher/Bryce Miller - 8-1 - Jeff Slocum/Zack Hughes
vs. Concord JV
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-0 - Braden Fish
#2SJV - Neel Bhagat - 8-4 - Spenser Jaenichen
#3SJV - Bryce Miller - 8-4 - Eric Roebuck
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 8-0 - Kell McGee/Sam Daniel
#2DJV - Justin Zehr/Lane Miller - 8-0 - Alex Diaz/Jake Lovette