Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Letters from Jimtown

Dear Varsity Team,
This was a strange and deeply disappointing match. There's no way around that truth. We were a more experienced team. Going into the match we had 5 seniors who all had some level of varsity experience. The Jimmies only had 1. They also had 3 freshman who were starting the season with no scrimmage or other varsity experience. But they were competitive, gritty, talented players who put a lot of pressure on us. They had a good team and deserved to win.

And yet... something doesn't sit right about the loss. We took the first two varsity positions off the court easily, winning #1D and #3S in straight sets that weren't really all that close. Sol, Simon and Hans - you played like we've talked about through the summer. And the other matches were odd from the beginning. Byeong, we've talked about this, it just didn't seem like you were really in the match. Your footwork looked off, a little slow, a little straight. And your swing seemed to be herky-jerky, not smooth. And #2D, it just was odd to see you struggle with parts of the game you had just dominated in your challenge match.

But that's what happens under pressure I guess. At #1S, #2S, and #2D, the Jimmies did a great job of not missing very much and at #2S and #2D, we missed a lot of shots. Of course, the thing that makes this match the most disappointing is that despite that, we were right in those matches. At #2D, we actually won the first set and had the 5-2 lead in the second, before losing 5 straight games to lose the set. In the first set at #2S, Byeong held a 5-4 lead before losing the set.

And then Jesse, I'm proud of you. You battled it out. You stuck in there, down 2-5 yourself in the second and battled your way to a brilliant tiebreak. I wish your momentum would have carried through the third set. You started well, but it was more and more difficult as the pressure built. I was very pleased at your composure and play, taking an experienced senior to three sets, one who had beaten our #1S player last year in two sets.

Team, this was difficult. But as I read after the match, love is patient. We will not overreact. We will continue to love each other. We will hold on to the gifts that God has given us and give them back to each other. We will persevere.

Dear Mikey Pawlak,
You were an incredibly good sport last night about your match. It was a pressure filled situation and you remained true and honest about calls and the way you competed. That's always a joy to see as a coach, even a coach on the opposing team.

Dear Junior Varsity Team,
I asked you on Monday to win big, and you delivered. You didn't let matches stay close. You closed out games. You committed to making the right play at the right time, especially in the doubles matches that I watched. I can't wait to see your continued maturity and talent. Grow and grow and grow and be ready to compete at a higher level before the season ends.

I really was impressed by Jacob Gonsalves big win. Last year, Jacob, you played close matches every time because you couldn't commit to keeping the ball in the court and you gave away service games and free points and the matches were always close. Last night, you attacked, you kept the ball in, you played very well.

I'm sorry I missed really watching most of the JV. I can't wait until our first home match, where I'll really get to focus on helping you get better.

Dear God,
We enter this season trying to rejoice in You. At at the end of a difficult night, all that seems to remain is love. Your love for us and our love for one another. But we know the beauty of that: love always protects, love always trusts, love always hopes and love always perseveres. Thank You for Your persevering love. May You carry us within that love.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
Perhaps not a sheer moment of joy, but a sheer match of joy. Playing in his first true varsity competition was a big moment for Simon Hurst. I know that there had to be nerves rattling around in his head and heart. But he committed to do the right things. To take the right swings, to put himself on the middle of the net, to go after his overheads. And even on a night where he completely swung and missed at one, he still came off the court with a big first win. It was a full match of beauty to see the way that he relaxed and played great tennis.

Moment of Savage Beauty
In a tense match where things don't go the way we want, there are still moments of complete beauty within the match. They are moments where you think everything might turn around, that everything might be alright. They are moments that the competitor should grab onto and remember even as the match becomes closer. It's always hard to remember the good and feel it through the tight times. But in Ryan and Landon's disappointing match, there was a beautiful moment of power. In a tight match in the 3rd set, Ryan got a ball high above his right shoulder. In looseness and confidence, he stepped forward and slammed the ball, bouncing it over the fence and into the fans. It allowed us to take an early 2-0 lead in the set, and was a moment we should gratefully remember. It represents the great way we can play under pressure.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 4-6, 7-6 (0), 1-6 - Mikey Pawlak (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 5-7, 4-6 - Holden Price (9)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-0, 6-3 - Michael Gray (9)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-3, 6-1 - Ben Janowski (11)/Hunter Price (11)
#2D - Landon Weldy/Ryan Duckworth - 7-5, 5-7, 3-6 - Isaac Pope (11)/Ben Clarke (9)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-1 - Matt DeCloedt (10)
#2SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 8-0 - Jarod Hohl (10)
#3SJV - Daniel Robles - 3-8 - Matt DeCloedt (10)
#4SJV - Dustin Miller - 8-3 - Jarod Hohl (10)
#1DJV - Brandon Nguyen/Bryce Miller - 8-0 - Jesse Oakley (12)/Conner Corl (9)
#2DJV - Lane Miller/Jackson King - 8-3 - Jesse Oakley (12)/Conner Corl (9)

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