Saturday, September 7, 2013

Chapter 9 - vs. Triton

We were dancing - it must have 
been a foxtrot or a waltz...
rise and fall, precise 
execution as we moved...
from "American Smooth" by Rita Dove

Morning matches in the fall have something musical to them. It's cool and quiet, little whisps of wind and whispers of yawning players as we board the buses. The ride hums by as the sun begins to light the sweeping grasses. Shoe squeaking footwork and the sighs of stretching then give way to the pa-thoomp of our warmup strokes arcing over the net.

The prelude gave way to the first notes of the match, bright notes. Short notes. At all the varsity positions, save #1 singles, we began the rise and fall of the match on the rise. Sol strode out to a 3-0 lead, Jesse got an early advantage and the doubles both began with the lead. As the match continued to swell, the dancing started.

Parth and Landon are still learning the dance together. Parth's played doubles for three straight varsity seasons, with three different doubles partners but he's never really had the right combination over baseline consistency and net power. In fact, we were recalling today some of the best we've seen at that combination: Russell Klassen and Blake Shetler. What a lethal, consistent pair they were. And today, Parth's serve popped more and Landon's went in more. They found they were also finishing more points, taking more steps, working more in tandem. They also scored a victory.

Jesse continues to play his special game of consistency and attacking. In the first set, he was able to exploit a weakness in his opponent's game. Coming to the net, he picked on the weak side of his opponent and got the set advantage. In the second set, he wore the junior Jared Fisher down with long rallies, lots of movement, and eventually it threw off the #2 singles player's execution.

But the team with some precise execution today was Joel and Hans. They've partnered for this dance before, playing together for more than a full season now. In there match, they faced a doubles team comprised of Triton's #1 singles player from last year (Lucas Shafer) and a fellow senior with a booming serve. Playing their own unique style (Hanzoel!) Joel and Hans confidently attacked throughout the match. In the first set, they never trailed, but had to go to a tiebreak to finish out the set. Never losing their nerve, they found the combo of baseline rally and quick aggressive volley movement.

The second set was just as close, and Shafer and Harrell did not back away from any challenge. But again, Joel and Hans took advantage of all their skills and took a 5-4 lead. Then Harrell boomed 3 aces to help even the match at 5-5. Then the amazing dance took over. Joel swept in his serves and Hans attacked the vollies. They held Joel's service game at love. Then Shafer served, and with one small exception, #1 doubles put every foot right, every volley in the right place, and took the close match.

Sol had long since finished up, and the team stood to cheer its efforts. The JV continued its dominant march through the season, Byeong Min Lim picking up the 11th #1 singles win for the JV this year and Ryan and Simon got the 10th #1 doubles win. Bryce hustled like the athlete he is and has begun to find some beautiful groundstrokes. Roberto finished with a win as well, as he fought to tie his match at 5-5 and then saw his opponent quit.

All in all, when the matches drama crescendoed and our team found themselves on the big stage, they danced right through. Like the poem says, it must have been a foxtrot or a waltz - dances that require flowing confident movement not only in yourself, but also with your partner. We are not only playing very good tennis, we are playing very good tennis together.

#1S - Abraham Thorne - 1-6, 1-6 - Dean Howdeshell (12)
#2S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-4, 6-2 - Jared Fisher (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-2, 6-1 - Gavin Eads (10)
#1D - Joel Gerig/Hans Miller - 7-6 (5), 7-5 - Lucas Shafer (12)/Darrin Harrell (12)
#2D - Parth Patel/Landon Weldy - 6-3, 6-3 - Austin Sellers (11)/Alex Eib (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Byeong Min Lim - 6-0 - Spencer Glingle (11)
#2SJV - Bryce Miller - 6-2 - Dalton Bailey (10)
#3SJV - Roberto Ramos - 5-5, default to BC - Jared Stouder (12)
#1DJV - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 6-3 - Ben Waggoner (11)/Mace Eads (9)
#2DJV - Ethan Lapp/Lane Miller - 6-1 - Jared Stouder (12)/Dalton Bailey (10)
#3DJV - Justin Zehr/Jack Erlacher - 6-4 - Ben Waggoner (11)/Mace Eads (9)

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