Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Advanced Scouting 4.0: Sectional Rivals

Today we'll  look at the last opponents we have to cover in this series. Our closest rivalries, our Sectional opponents. I have to say, these are also going to be some of the best teams we face all season.

A note of explanation again, specifically for Jesse (:-). The WRS is simply a count of how many varsity players are returning to a team that won their match the previous year. For example, here's the match vs. Triton last year.

#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)

At #1S, both players do not return, so no points for either team. At #2 singles, Jesse won and returns for us. So we get +1. Same for Sol Brenneman at #3 singles, so that makes +2. We won #1D, but only Hans returns so we get +0.5 for that, and then also +0.5 for Landon at #2 doubles. So in total, we have a +3 WRS against Triton, making it likely we should win again this year. Make sense? It's a handy little stat :-)

If you missed previous posts, you can catch up on the series below:

And of course, the disclaimer! I don't know everything, so don't forget that these previews are just for fun!
Things I do (usually) know:
- The players they have coming back.
- How those players faired last year.

Things I don't know:
- Any new freshman joining the team.
- Any transfers joining the team.
- The amount of work current team members put in.
- The improvement of current team members.
- Coaching changes, lineup philosophies, etc.

Here we go!
Last season we defeated the young Jimtown team 4-1. But they are an interesting team, returning a lot of their young players for another varsity season. Their talent starts at the top of the lineup, where Mikey Pawlak probably returns for another run at #1 singles. He had a great match last year with Abe Thorne, defeating Abe in two close sets. He'll be a strong player that the Jimmies will build behind. 

The rest of the matches, from #2S through #2DJV, were won by the Bruins last year. Jesse Amstutz started his great season last year with a brilliant 3 set win at #2 singles. The other matches were not as close. This is the match we start the season with, and it's a match that we'd love to set the tone for the season with. The Jimmie team will have experience coming back and we need to meet that with focus and readiness. As of right now, this is the match we are getting ready for. 

And then in the same week we will match up against Goshen. This is going to be a tricky match, a match we'll need to be on our toes for. They return much of their lineup from last season, and most of our matches with them last year were close. They were also the only JV to defeat our top 5 JV positions (we won the complete match, but if you just look at the top 5, then the Redskins won). 

Hudson Kay returns at #1 singles where he lost a one break of serve in each set to fall to Abe Thorne. Luke Rush returns as well, after defeating Sol last year. The Redskins switched up their doubles throughout the year last year, but ended up having successful teams. Goshen was the runner-up in the Sectional last year. They'll be one of our toughest and closest matchups this year.

Or, maybe even closer yet will be our matchup against NorthWood. The only player they lose from last year's varsity is #1S player Mitchell Keiser. That's 6 of 7 coming back, and last year they won both of the doubles matchups in the regular season. There is serious talent on this Panther team. You'll notice that the WRS here is 0, meaning that this seems to be an even match coming back next year.

We're very talented too. But this is the type of match where our work, our practice, our focus will matter. When we're conditioning this week, we're getting ready for matches like this. When we're trying to hit the back corners of the court over and over in the Federer Drill, we're trying to drill in patterns of play to prepare for these matches. When we're hitting one hundred serves in a row, when we're challenging each other, when someone asks you to step up and work harder . . . this match is why. Or if not this match, the Goshen match. Or if not the Goshen match, then the Jimtown match. Or if not Jimtown then . . .

the Fairfield match. The WRS stat here is telling. Fairfield returns just as many players as us (4), but they have the advantage of players who won their matches last season. That point comes mostly from their talented, pinpoint accurate #1 player Adam Yoder. Although we defeated the JV fairly easily last year, this match is one of only 2 on the season where our opponent returns more winning players than we do (the other is Westview). 

After looking at the stats, the returning players, the incoming JV players, one thing is clear to me. The best teams on our schedule are probably in our Sectional. Which is going to make the Sectional "epic." Which means than any 1 of the 5 teams can win (including us!) Which means that we've better get working hard today. Not tomorrow. Not next week. Today. 

It also means that our long term goal is the important one. We may drop an early match to Goshen, Jimtown or NorthWood. We may drop our late September match to Fairfield. But that's not the point of the season. The point of the season is to learn to embrace and push one another to deep levels of commitment and talent. In this deeper commitment, in facing adversity together, in seeking God together, in praying together, we will continue to get better. And the hope is that the season will end in sheer and savage joy.

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