Friday, August 29, 2014

Letters from Fremont

Dear Varsity Team,
I was impressed tonight with your initial energy. We came out onto the courts flying, I believe we won the first game at every single position and really looked like we were ready to play. Against Goshen on Wednesday, we looked flat as matches started. Today we looked fired up. The fire turned into big first set wins at almost every position, with doubles both winning first sets of 6-0 for #1D and 6-1 at #2D. Byeong Min Lim got a good first set win as well, while Sol Brenneman had to fight it out in a close one. Only Jesse at #1S dropped his first set.

The tides turned a bit in the second sets. I was proud though of how you kept your heads. #1D had to fight off an opponent who suddenly began to play with confidence. Fremont ripped forehands especially and finished off big overheads to challenge Hans and Simon. In a close second set, the #1D match was forced into a third set. At #2S, Byeong Min suddenly found himself down 0-4 to start the second set, which was very surprising considering the ease at which he'd won the first. Feet got a little slow, which happens when we lose our focus. Sol's went back and forth at #3S, only to fall in the second set.

As matches like this become tight, it's important to remember our tactical triangle. What's your strategy? What's your mentality? What are you hitting well? #1D entered the third set with renewed confidence. "Going and getting it" instead of "letting it happen" is a huge part of playing under pressure. #1D began to convert their serves and volleys, they cut off the middle of the net. They made plays. At it turned out for the best in a 6-3 third set win.

And Ryan and Ethan, well they also "went and got it." It was a joy to watch Ryan control the net the way he did.

At #2S, Byeong Min started moving his feet and he won a game. Then he won two. In a back and forth pressure filled game, he finished a forehand down the line to take the third game. In fact, from 0-4 down he came back to take a 5-4 lead. But the match wasn't done. Junior Logan Miller denied a match point from Byeong and tied the match up at 5-5. But team, Byeong then relaxed and just played how he wanted to play. If I could bottle that mentality and give it to you all, I would. Byeong looked smooth and in control under pressure. I was glad to see him play that way. His win clinched the match for us! And he deserved that, because he wasn't thinking about that, he was just playing every point.

Dear Junior Varsity Team,
You played another confident match against a good junior varsity team. I was really proud of the way you focused and attacked against opponents that were (in general) more experienced than you were. Now that same confidence level needs to be maintained against players who are at or above your own level. That's the next step to becoming varsity players, which I can't wait to see that step happen. Brandon smashing forehands, Bryce lacing backhands, Lane cracking overheads, Lucas controlling long rallies with his forehand, Daniel chasing everything down, Jonathan popping volleys from the middle of the net, Jacob with his devastating topspin, Dustin's one hand backhand beauties and Joel hitting overheads between his opponents legs. Let's do these things to our own varsity, to other good teams, and grow in the process!

Dear Byeong Min,
I'm grateful for our beginning of the season. I'm grateful that you listen so well. I'm grateful that you keep such a good attitude. I'm grateful that you never quit. You clinched the match for us tonight, coming for 0-4 down in the second set to seal the deciding point. And you did it by focusing on little steps and how you swing. I have nothing for praise for the way you sealed up that match. It was a good one. Your opponent was a great player. Keep up the way your playing. But what I loved even more was what you did after we sang Sarasponda (continued in the next letter . . .)

Dear Byeong Min, Brandon, and Jacob,
After the matches, it is such a joy to see you guys out hitting the ball. You go out and hit after you've played a match simply because hitting a moving tennis ball is fun! I love that. That's the joy and the relaxation I wish we'd bring to all of our competitive matches. I also love that you are hitting more together. I know that right now you are sophomores, and so you are waiting for rides and just killing the time. I hope that as you get older, you continue to stick around late into the sunsets, just killing the tennis ball because it is fun!

Dear God,
Thanks for a good night last night. The weather was great. The match went well. Help us to continue to learn that it isn't about winning and losing but instead about how we play. Just like life is really not about the outcomes, but instead about how we live together. Help us live together like You live amongst us, with goodness, joy, faith and love.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
There is just radiant joy in watching our young guys play. At Goshen I loved watching Dustin and Joel, at Concord it was a blessing to watch Jonathan and Lucas. They play with such intensity and fun. They truly look like they enjoy the game. No where was that more evident than when Lucas and Joel were playing doubles tonight. Lucas crept over to pinch the middle off of one of Joel's serves to the ad court and his opponent lifted a shot down the alley. It looked a sure winner. But there was Joel sprinting across the baseline from his serving position. Just before the ball hit the ground Joel swept it over the net. So surprised was the Fremont player that he netted the volley. He wasn't prepared for the hustle from Joel. The varsity team seated behind the court burst into cheers for the great rundown of the ball. And Joel burst into his smile!

Moment of Savage Beauty
We played an intense match today. Everybody came to play with a fire. Because of that, there were a lot of savage plays. There was Ryan's whole net game. There were Sol's piercing volleys. There were Hans's overheads, Lane's overheads, Bryce's overheads . . . There were lots of points that could be nominated.

But I'm going to recognize Simon Hurst here. His picture is on the award so it seems like he should get it every once in a while right. In the third set tonight, he finally performed the way he wanted to under pressure. At some points, that involved simply putting the ball back into play. But at some points, that involved stepping up to the ball and ripping his forehand. On one point in particular, he stepped into a weak return and crushed it up the line. His opponent stuck out a racket, but the force of Simon's shot knocked the racket backwards and sent the ball straight up in the air. Simon was so into the point, so energized and focused, that he shuffled to the net to finish the ball if the weak shot came over. It didn't but bounced just in front of the net. It was a powerful, confident play made at the right time - by a player who was simply playing how he wanted to.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 2-6, 1-6 - Blake Trusty (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-2, 7-5 - Logan Miller (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-4, 5-7, 2-6 - Brandan Arnos (11)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-0, 4-6, 6-3 - Wade Regedanz (10)/Evan Trusty (9)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-1, 6-2 - Jeremy Seiler (11)/Matt Armstrong (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 8-2 - Alberto Figueroa (12)
#2SJV - Jackson King - 8-1 - Joe Conti (10)
#3SJV - Daniel Robles - 8-2 - Thayne Camp (9)
#1DJV - Landon Weldy/Brandon Nguyen - 8-1 - Drew Sullivan (12)/Connor McCann (12)
#2DJV - Bryce Miller/Lane Miller - 8-2 - Kyle Boekhout (12)/Jayce Colclasure (10)
#3DJV - Dustin Miller/Jonathan Yousey - 8-0 - Cole Thomas (9)/Jacy Blades (9)
#4DJV - Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes/Joel Yoder - 2-8 - Jordan Rode (11)/Nathan Midtgard (10)
#5DJV - Jacob Gonsalves/Daniel Robles - 6-1 - Dylan Wesenfelder (9)/Caleb Shannon (9)

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