Saturday, August 30, 2014

Letters from West Noble

Dear Varsity,
I have two messages for you brothers, after today's match. First of all, we've got to come into each match with the intensity that we did the Fremont match, and then sustain it with our play. Tonight, most of our positions came out a little flat. Even where we didn't we lost our edge as we gained a lead. Tennis is a mental sport. You have to get an edge and keep it. Otherwise things turn quickly. Like they did in #1D tonight. We were off and West Noble steamed to a 5-1 lead. Then we got aggressive and intense and reeled off 9 of the next 10 games. But we lost the first set before winning the second. Despite our momentum, we were in a third set and got nervous and tentative again. West Noble's guys got the edge and ran with it, talking encouragement to each other between each point. They finished off a Charger victory. But my those changes. We need to get momentum and keep it.

We did that at a couple positions tonight, and that was one of the things that allowed us to win the match. Byeong Min and Jesse both had their "A" games from the get-go. Their consistency and well timed attacks frustrated opponents and there was no let up. We won the first sets comfortably and then kept attacking. We need to see these types of efforts across the board, match after match.

The second message, and the second factor that helped us win, was our play under pressure tonight. Both Sol at #3S and Landon and Ryan at #2D performed impressively under pressure. Despite that, only #2D was able to pull off a victory. But combined with Jesse and Byeong's complete games, that was enough for a team victory.

Sol, I was impressed with your mental fortitude to capture the second set. Playing a consistent player, a "dinker" as some say, takes a lot of poise. When you lost the first set after leading 5-4, I thought the second set would be quick and bad. But you kept at it. You were smart. You changed strategies. You hit a variety of shots. You hit aggressive overheads, approaches and volleys. I also know that you know why you lost the super tiebreaker. And that's a start... next time we'll swing through.

And #2D, I'd have loved you to put away that match when you were up 4-1 in the second. Then nerves have no play in the match. But you didn't, and you even went down 6-5 in the second before the tiebreak. But under the tiebreak pressure, you played with confidence and aggression. Everything that we've been preaching. I don't know if you realized but you hit 2 putaway volleys and 4 overheads (including 3 over the fence :-) to finish off the 7 points in the tiebreaker. Talk about getting forward and taking it to them!

All in all, I'm very proud of the team. We've had a tough week, and we've ended it with two pressure filled 3-2 wins. Hopefully this will be the springboard to some confident play.

Dear Junior Varsity,
8-3 is a popular scoreline eh? All three wins came that way. We are solidly taking care of our opponents this season, and hopefully that continues today as you play at Jimtown. I love the way that you've performed no matter where I put you. Do you realize that we've had 4 different players play #1 singles this season? And 3 different #1 doubles combinations? Or that everybody except for 2 people have played at least a match of singles and a match of doubles? Your versatility will serve you well as you prepare for playing varsity. Don't be afraid of any type of match. Just do what you do with confidence.

Dear Bryce,
I'm sorry that your playing time this season is coming to an end. It has been inspiring to watch you fight through injury, and, while I'm glad you have a medical answer, I'm sorry it means you can't play anymore this season. Tonight, I was glad to see you gutting it out against an opponent who looked like he could have competed for their #2 varsity singles spot. I'm really excited about your potential. So get well, get strong, and come back to hit some bone-crushing forehands when you are ready!

Dear God,
Thank You. You have provided for joy. In the moments where we sit behind the last match on the courts, eating and cheering and into it for one another... in those moments I am so thankful. I know that many teams have this tradition, but there is a support and a love amongst our team. Please allow us to speak that to each other, to tell each other that we are always there for each other.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
No moment made me smile more broadly than Jesse Amstutz's match at #1S. Jesse has played some great matches this season. Twice he has gone to three sets. At Goshen, he held a 6-5 lead in the first set when the rains hit and couldn't finish the set when we picked up a week later. Transitioning to #1 is tough, there are no easy opponents.

So congratulations on getting that first win tonight Jesse! The way you played, controlling your opponent and stepping up to attack the net, well, it was beautiful. It there was any one point to pull out of your match, I think I'll most remember one in the first set where the ball was dropped short with slice and you came and attacked it with control and angle, because it had dropped near your shoelaces. You picked it up and curled it down the line, followed it in, got ready, and put the backhand volley crosscourt for the winner. In control, under control, with aggression. Winner.

Moment of Savage Beauty
There's no doubt here. No doubt at all. Landon Weldy, in the 2nd set tiebreak, to win the match for the Bruins. Despite the pressure, despite the situation, Landon hit two overheads smashingly. Down with power into the court, and to make sure that the opponent had no chance, he pounded them so that they leapt over the court and into the second bank of courts behind. It was also so satisfying because this match was a similar script to the Jimtown match. But we didn't let that script play out in our mind. Instead, we focused on exactly how we wanted to play. Ball in the court. Feet moving quickly. Two to the net. Overheads all around. Savagely done.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-1, 6-1 - Jared Swank (11)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-0, 6-1 - Kolten Peterson (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 5-7, 7-5, (7-10) - Josh Gaff (11)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 4-6, 6-1, 3-6 - Ryan Kendall (11)/Grant Moser (11)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Landon Weldy - 6-2, 7-6 (3) - Trey Waring (12)/Jacob Musselman (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-3 - Luke Moore (10)
#2SJV - Bryce Miller - 5-8 - Luke Moore (10)
#1DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 8-3 - Tyler Clouse (12)/Marcus Weimer (9)
#2DJV - Jackson King/Daniel Robles - 8-3 - Tyler Clouse (12)/Marcus Weimer (9)

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