Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Letters from Prairie Heights

Dear Team,
Tonight was a good match to get back into the swing of things. We've been talking the last couple of days about getting better, and the first place to start was our mentality. Too often we've let the beginning of our match dictate our intensity, instead of focusing no matter what the score or the opponent. That mental intensity, that mental focus, is part of concentrating on the point, on how we are playing, rather than whether we're winning or losing.

You guys all did a great job of staying in the game tonight. I could feel the focus from most of you throughout the match. You were just trying to play good tennis points. The matches went quickly and you finished them off without too many hitches.

We'll need to continue to have this type of attitude when we are playing matches that are closer in score. We'll need to continue to be relaxed when we're tied at 5-5 in the second set, rather than up 5-0. I think we'd all agree that the matches that are 2-2 team score, 5-5 match score and you are still on the court with everything to play for - those matches are the most fun. Tonight was a good tune-up for those type of matches. Let's continue the focus.

Dear Jesse,
I appreciate your encouragement for teammates tonight. During your match, I loved that you cheered for #1 doubles and #2 doubles. Being vocal in general is not something that comes easy to this team, but it is so important. So I love that you looked up as you changed sides, watched a point or two, and gave a vocal lift to the players around you. This is all part of being a leader, and I hope the rest of our team follows this lead. Keep it up in practice too. There can never be too much positive talk.

Dear Junior Varsity,
Sorry. I don't like matches like this where only 2 of you get to play. We usually do our best to get you as many matches as possible during the season, because you have a lot of success (7-1-1 is your record now) and you've got to be ready for the coming seasons. And those two things go together. I hope your confidence is being built by the wins you are racking up, even though tonight wasn't particularly helpful.

Dear Gatorade,
When you turn to ice your are a lot of fun. It's like eating a snow cone! Except, it's really hard to get you out of your bottle, because you want to stick to the sides. And it's really hard to get you out while I'm driving a big old bus down the road. But I think you might have the opportunity at a new product here, if you could figure out. I mean, who wouldn't want to walk off the court after a hard 3-set win and be met by their teammates to give them hugs and Gatorade snow cones!

Dear God,
In the midst of the season it can be easy to lose You. Right now, everything seems so urgent. We have few practices to get better. We have a bunch of matches left that we feel the need to win. We have school work piling up. I want to rush home to spend time with my family. Truth is, the urgency comes from our desire to be in control of everything. I want to declare over our team another truth - You are in control. Please use us as Your servants. Please help us build up one another. Amen.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
Hans Miller is a player of sheer beauty. Honestly, when he is on, it's unbelievable to watch. He slams serves in, finishes volleys with precision and whacks overheads into the fence. His forehands find all sorts of incredible angles and he plays with a flowing, friendly confidence. He just has a lot of fun. Tonight, he did it in a new and interesting way. Backed up against the baseline, Hans lifted a lob high into the air. It bounced precariously close to the baseline. His opponents thought for a second about calling it out, but it caught the line. The next second, they were looking up as the ball bounced over their heads and out of the court, high above their ability to reach. We've overheaded a lot of balls over the fence, but tonight was our first lob that leaped the links.

Moment of Savage Beauty
Simon Hurst shows flashes of being the best doubles player Bethany Christian has ever seen. He's just a sophomore, so there's plenty of time to live into that. But he's already collected more of these "Moments of Beauty" than any other BC player. Tonight, he collects another one with a gorgeously aggressive baseline shot. After his crushed forehand forced a weak lob, Simon stepped forward from his baseline position and let loose on a baseline overhead. Not only did he hit it cleanly and hard, he hit it at a wide slicing angle leaving the Panthers no chance to return. These moments, powerful baseline overheads and forehands blasted up the line, are the flashes. Simon will be one of the best as his consistency grows along with his aggression.


#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-0, 6-1 - Tyler Johnson
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-0, 6-0 - Chandler Sailor
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-0, 6-0 - Lukas McClanahan
#1D - Hans Miller/Landon Weldy - 6-1, 6-1 - Logan Walter/Justin O'Connor
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Simon Hurst - 6-1, 6-0 - Justin Sutera/Cory Hollifield

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Ethan Lapp - 8-0
#2SJV - Brandon Nguyen - 8-0

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