Thursday, September 25, 2014

Letters from Bremen

Dear Team,
Let me start by saying good job! We've raised our record to 13-2 and the JV to 15-1-1. We took care of business on a night that always feels a little odd. It is the last competition for us in a long stretch. Do you realize that over the last 8 days we've played 8 matches? So if you felt a little competition weary in your play last night, that's probably why!

Of course, let's think about what we've done in those 8 matches. Both varsity and JV picked up 5 dual wins. The varsity won a team championship at Merrillville and 3 individual titles, while the JV picked up a 3rd place in the Fremont Invite - where Jacob Gonsalves got 2nd. That's a pretty impressive stretch! In fact, it's close to perfect.

All I've been asking this season is that we focus on how we want to play and get better. I think this part of the season says that we did. In our 5 dual matches, we defeated 4 teams with winning records. Between the matches and the tourney, the varsity team bested two district ranked opponents (Elkhart Central and then Centerville at Merrillville). No one on the varsity has a losing record. The JV team has at least two players who have broken the record for most JV wins in a season (set just last year by Ethan Lapp).

And while that's been awesome, the wear and tear showed a little bit last night. I'd say that at each position, we didn't quite play "how we want to." Still, it was a good showing. We won the matches we needed to in order to get the wins and we didn't make it a nerve-wracking ending in doing so. We sang Sarasponda in a most unorderly and out-of-tune fashion and drove away from Bremen with a win.

Dear Jesse,
Excellent match tonight. As I told you in the hallway at school, this was a good victory over a good opponent. I'm most proud of the way that you were able to keep your calm in the third set. After not playing your best and battling negativity in the second set, he won the first game of the third. And yet you didn't get too far down. Bremen's coach shouted to his player in starting the second game of the set that it was a big game. He was right, after that second game lasted 10 minutes, you won it. Then you turned around and quickly won the 3rd game to take a 2-1 lead. And 10 minutes later, the whole match was over. You seized momentum did a great job.

I don't think I've ever really complimented you enough for the way you've handled the #1S position this year. You now have more wins than Abe piled up last year, with at least 3 matches to go. And Abe was a solid #1. You are more than solid, you are good. I'm glad your hard work got paid off last night. I think there may be even better things ahead.

Dear Byeong,
Good recovery, but from now on, let's keep track of the score better :-) Same could be said for Sol and Jesse, who both lost track of the score at points tonight. Honestly though, that was a weird situation in the middle of your match, and I'm sure it was hard to handle. You felt like you had won a set, and then all the sudden it was back to 5-3 in the first, and you had to win it all over again. Great job getting in control of your emotions again, and then finishing things out with 7 straight games. These "mental wins" should serve as a good memory bank if you are under pressure again. You've done it under pressure before, remember how well you can play in these situations and play with confidence when they come again.

Dear Lucas,
The last two singles matches have really shown your potential. I've been so impressed at the way you work points, finding angles, forcing short balls. You play with a natural tactician's skill and eye. That's what I love about you as a coach: you think like a coach. Your ball hitting skills have gotten so much better this year too. I can't wait to teach you the other skills and watch you grow even more.

Dear God,
Breathe your joy into us. Revive us with Your Spirit. Bring us back to where we started this year, yearning for sheer and savage joy!

Moment of Sheer Beauty
Best point of this team match occurred in the third set of Jesse's #1S match. It may have been the single point that changed the whole complexion of his match. With Krent Hueni leading 1-0, 30-30 in the game, Jesse and Hueni played one of the longest points that I've seen all year. Back and forth the ball went, both players sticking to the baseline, both players hitting the ball deep, both players staying safe. During the point, Sol turned to me and said this could be a long third set with points like this. I said it could be, or Jesse might get aggressive. Just as I said that, Jesse stepped close to the baseline and hit hard forehand into Hueni's backhand. Hueni gave a ball that bounced weakly by the service line and Jesse struck it into the forehand corner with authority. Hueni hustled over and tried another deep groundstroke, but the pace, speed and placement of Jesse's shot were just enough to help push his ball inches long. Jesse went on to win that game, and the next 5 after.

Moment of Savage Beauty
No shot in anyone's arsenal makes opponents more frustrated than Byeong's drop volley. He hits them into the corner and then gives them no chance to get back. In this match, Byeong's match got tight at 5-4. But in that final game to grab the set, his opponent got frazzled as Byeong put together an excellent series of points. The final point came from hitting deep to the backhand and then finishing with a simple forehand drop volley. It was savage because there was nothing his opponent could do. Sometimes that's the beauty, a perfectly played point that therefore frustrates your opponent because they couldn't play it any better, but still lost the point.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-1, 4-6, 6-1 - Krent Hueni (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-4, 6-0 - Bryce Devine (11)
#3S - Sol Brennenam - 6-4, 6-0 - Zac Burkholder (9)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 5-7, 5-7 - Austin Ingle (12)/Tommy Foster (11)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-2, 6-0 - Ryker Hand (11)/Chandler Snyder (10)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 5-8 - Bryce Sterling (9)
#2SJV - Jackson King - 8-3 - Jake Strehler (9)
#3SJV - Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes - 8-0 - Evan Reed (10)
#1DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 8-4 - Josh Ukinski (11)/Bryce Tolle (9)
#2DJV - Dustin Miller/Jonathan Yousey - 8-1 - Brian Cruz (9)/Jordan Thornton (9)
#3DJV - Daniel Robles/Joel Yoder - 6-8 - Hudson Thornton (10)/Seth Stine (9)

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