Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Letters from Blackhawk Christian

Dear Team,
I was really proud of the way you played in this match. There could be a lot of excuses for not coming out focused and prepared in this game. We had a long drive, we don't know this opponent very well, there was the promise of Magic Wand on the table for after the match... and so on.

But we're doing a better job getting focused from the beginning. And I need to continue to see that grow. Really, what we're trying to do is instill a growth mindset on the season. From today to tomorrow, I need to get better. And we're really seeing that growth.

I saw that growth all over the courts tonight. #1D didn't panic when they went down 3-2 early in their match. Sol was able to finish off an opponent in a tight end of the second set. #2D didn't let their match go into 3 sets. Jacob stayed positive through a close match. Jesse regained confidence after a tough end to the first set. And more...

We still have stuff to work on. We still have things to figure out. But the joy will be in watching ourselves truly improve. Now we've just got to both believe we can (think) and set about doing it with real purpose (action). But tonight was just another night of gaining our confidence and watching ourselves grow.

Dear Mooma and Poopa,

Grandma and grandpa, thanks for coming out to my match. Grandpa, I still believe it is partly your fault that I've got this coaching mentality instilled within my personality. The games you taught me when I was younger taught me how to think like a coach, and I'm glad you both got to see me at work in this match. Also, tennis season is a furious season where I don't get to see friends and family very often. So to get to see you guys in the midst of it tonight was quite a reward. Love you!

Dear Simon,
In this match, I saw a turn in you in the middle of the first set. You went from timid to tenacious, from tentative to attacking, from lobbing to smashing. This turn is a great representation of how you should prepare in warmup to be in the very beginning of every match. In the warmups, feel that turn from tentative to attack, and let that be your mode of operation from the beginning of matches. Excellent job in this match, let's use it as we grow!

Dear Jacob,
Great job tonight in a close match. I was so proud to see you plugging away tonight with a good attitude. You kept that ball in play, you worked the match and in the end, you wore your opponent out and pulled out the win. That's just like we talked about! If you keep committed to hitting that big topspin ball in and in and in, you are going to grind down so many opponents. Congrats on a great job working the right way.

Dear Sol,
That's what it's like to close out a match. Remember how loose that felt. How aggressive. How fun. Recall this feeling when you get in another close match. 8 points in a row to close it out? Awesome.

Dear Magic Wand,
It was good to be back tonight. It's been two years since we stopped in. The ET Sundae was excellent (right Jacob?) and the clowns were still creepy. Like, so creepy that it was actually good to get going. So nice to see you, we'll be back sometime for another very quick visit. I hope I don't see your clowns in my nightmares.

Dear God,
Yes. Come. Be present and growing in us. I can feel myself, even as I write this, bearing down on the tennis part because the tournament time is growing near. Keep our eyes and hearts open to Your Spirit working within us. Because we know that this whole season is Your gift. Thanks!

Moment of Sheer Beauty
As the season goes on, it gets more and more difficult to impress me. I feel like I've seen everything. I've seen Byeong hit passing shots up the line and Sol run down drop volleys. I've seen Hans make big smashes and Ethan win cross court battles. So what made me smile tonight that I haven't seen? Well, it has to be Jacob Gonsalves' close victory at #1SJV. He's won close victories before, but I know he'd been struggling with dealing with the pressure. We talked about working his opponent with his heavy strokes and tonight he did. It was a moment of joy to see him rewarded as the winner.

Moment of Savage Beauty
Back in 2003 when I started coaching, I remember playing Concord for the first time. They mercilessly beat us down at most positions, but I remember vividly one of the #1D points. There was a half lobbed, half shanked return of serve from one of our players and the Minuteman server came forward fast to hit it in the air. He stepped up just behind the service line and let fly with a tweener overhead, not quite above his head but not quite a regular volley. The ball went million miles an hour, and slammed into the fence on the fly. They still beat us 6-0, 6-1. After the match, I told my guys I wanted them to play like that: with aggression and freedom.

When he's playing well, Simon plays with that aggressive freedom. Tonight, he got an overhead at the net to end the game, with the set tied at 3-3. He stepped forward to take a huge swing, and his opponent was intimidated enough to turn his back. But Simon framed the overhead. It went weakly toward the net player and landed fairly softly in the doubles alley. However, the Braves had no chance of getting it, because they had spun away in fear of his overhead. When we are playing with aggression and freedom, we create intimidation and maybe even frustration. We make the opponents feel under pressure, like they are going to have to play awesome to beat us. That's part of the beauty of "savage" joy or beauty, that if you play with it consistently, even our mistakes can turn out well.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 4-6, 3-6 - Jeremy Hoover (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-3, 6-1 - Ben Bailey (12)
#3S - Sol Brennmean - 6-2, 7-5 - Drew Hall (9)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-3, 6-2 - Joel Vastbinder (12)/Jared Fiedler (11)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-0, 6-2 - Graham Gnagy (9)/Ross Norton (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 8-6 - Joseph Angelo (11)
#2SJV - Jackson King - 8-2 - Bailey Brouwer (11)
#3SJV - Daniel Robles - 8-2 - Anthony Sheron (9)
#1DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 8-1 - Sam Mossburg (10)/Levi Mossburg (9)

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