Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Letters from Fairfield

Dear Team,
I really am getting to the point where I don't know what to say. We get better at each match. We've begun to pull out the tight matches. We are continuing to do well on the JV level. We're starting to make "playing the way that we want to play" our routine.

I guess again on this Monday night I was reminded how far we've come as a team, even within this season. #2D played with aggression and confidence through its whole match. Sol was able to rebound from a poorly played set with a well-played set. #1D got a little tight but were able to have fun in getting through the tiebreak, and clinching the match for us. We have really good tennis players who are playing really good tennis.

I loved everybody standing around and cheering for Sol. I loved everybody cheering for Daniel. I loved all the encouragement and cheers going up for Jacob Gonsalves. These guys, varsity or JV, these people, your brothers, are the ones that matter. We're getting better at tennis, and I hope that we don't lose sight of the fact that the tennis is still secondary, or even lower. The tennis is fun. That's all it is.

But I have to admit, the tennis was fun tonight. Good job team, it's been a while (5 years) since we can say we were victorious over the Fairfield Falcons. And we did it tonight with little doubt. Nice job Bruins!

Dear Sarasponda,
You never really get old. I'm always excited each and every time we gather on the bus or the courts to burst out in our victory song. No matter how poorly sang or overly fast the melody becomes, I can't be involved in singing without smiling. Sometimes I even want to dance. Maybe you deserve a moment of beauty all to yourself :-)

Dear JV Team,
I really, truly missed watching you over the weekend. You are a talented group of individuals, and last night I was treated to some of your amazing shots and talents. First of all, there is the way that you interact (especially as doubles teams). Every doubles team that we put out there seems to be amazingly positive with one another. That is awesome! Maybe you are taking after Hans and watching the way our doubles wins leader acts on the court. I hope so. But I saw it last night again in all three doubles matches. Joy in the good points. Encouragement in the ones that didn't go like we planned. And fun!

And some of the strokes you guys have right now, at singles and doubles, are simply remarkable. Your strengths are growing into varsity level weapons - Jonathan's volley putaways, Lucas's mid-court groundstrokes, Dustin's forehand, Jacob's divebombing forehands, Daniel's hustle, Brandon's serves, Lane's net play, Jackson's accuracy, and Joel's laser groundstrokes. These things will probably always be the foundation of your best play. Grow in them, gain confidence, smile every time you get to use them. And I'll smile when we continue to have fun and play well!

Dear Byeong,
I often don't include you here because you have handled your matches really well this year. But last night it was interesting to come to the fence and hear you complain about pain in your wrist. I knew that you were struggling, but didn't want to default your match. I asked if you could play and you said you thought so, it wasn't too bad. As I walked away, I prayed for you. I prayed that it would stop hurting you and that you'd be able to play how you wanted to. After the match, I asked if you needed ice. And you replied, "No, it just stopped hurting after we talked." I just wanted to tell you this story :-)

Dear Dustin,
I'm sorry you didn't play how you wanted to play last night. And I'm happy that is what you were upset about. It shows that you have a growth mindset, and that's the way to be a successful person at whatever we do. But don't forget the other part, which is that you have to give yourself permission to make mistakes as you grow. Which might mean that you make many mistakes, which may mean that you lose matches, even though you are trying really hard. I was really proud of your attitude last night. And don't forget that we all love you, no matter what happens on the court :-)

Dear God,
It was a fun match tonight. The fall air was beautiful. The sun going down, the shadows across the courts, the bright yellow balls flying through the air. And we won. It all seems to be perfect. And all good and perfect gifts come from You. God, as we progress through the season, give us the help of Your Spirit to review actions and attitudes. Help us understand our motivations, and bring our hearts more and more in line with Yours. A simple way of praying might be this: Your will be done, Your kingdom come. In Jesus name, Amen.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
For the moments of beauty tonight, let's celebrate the JV. Above, I talked about all the wonderful memories I'm building about the way that this JV team plays. My favorite moment of the night came from Jackson King. Sherry Good has described him as an artist on the tennis court, and I like that description. A flick of the wrist here, a carve and slice there, and he's creating a masterpiece. Tonight, he volleyed well and returned well and was fun to watch. The best was when he carved a backhand down the line, leaving his racket hanging up in the air after finishing the stroke. It zipped past the net player and landed just inches inside the baseline and the sideline. A beautiful stroke!

Moment of Savage Beauty
Continuing in celebrating my underclassmen, Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes dominated tonight. What impressed me was how many balls in his match he was able to hit clean winners on. Lucas played picture perfect singles. Deep balls to begin the rally which put his opponent on the defensive. Then his opponent would leave a ball short in the court, which Lucas would step forward and attack. The attack balls didn't get overhit, but were strategically struck to the side of the court that was most open or led to the most advantage. If his opponent hustled down one of these well-placed approaches, Lucas just dropped the volleys at the furthest point away from the opponent. It was savage, but surgically savage. Calculated and powerful, and one of my favorite matches to watch on the evening.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 0-6, 1-6 - Adam Yoder (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-1, 6-2 - Landyn Nunemaker (12)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-4, 4-6, 6-2 - Clayton Bender (10)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-1, 7-6 (2) - Nathan Azzarito (12)/Joseph Line (12)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-2, 6-1 - Andrew Hoover (12)/Isaac Miller (10)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Jacob Gonsalves - 7-9 - Aaron Miller (11)
#2SJV - Daniel Robles - 8-3 - Jesse Grimm (10)
#3SJV - Dustin Miller - 1-8 - Mitchell Yoder (10)
#4SJV - Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes - 8-0 - Tucker Miller (9)
#1DJV - Lane Miller/Brandon Nguyen - 8-3 - Joel Kropf (10)/Aaron Skibbe (10)
#2DJV - Jackson King/Jonathan Yousey - 8-2 - Joey Gibson (10)/Dylan Kaufman (9)
#3DJV - Dustin Miller/Joel Yoder - 8-1 - Jarin Bontrager (9)/Jediah Corbin (9)

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