Monday, September 29, 2014

Letters from Wabash


Dear Team,
Thus ends our regular season. And it was a day where we all played well and experienced good success throughout. Typically this tournament is one where all the teams are close in their talent levels and performance levels. Scores are typically 3-2 or 4-1 at best. But this was the one year where our team was at a different level. The other teams had talent, but were mostly inexperienced. You performed with talent and experience and looked like a well-oiled team.

Each match was a different type of trial. Against Taylor, they were an athletic team that hit a lot of balls back in the court. This always presents a difficult challenge because it means that we have to stay confident and finish points. Early in the season, this type of match would have given us fits. But we've grown and stayed focused even when matches were tight early on. All the singles endured close first sets, but then widened the lead and finished confidently in the second set except #1S, which stayed close throughout. But even in that match, Jesse continued to learn about belief.

In the Wabash match, we encountered a team that was loose, playing for fun because they had nothing to lose. Sometimes that can make a team lose focus, but in this match we stayed calm, had fun, and finished the matches with as little drama as possible.

And in the Eastern match, we played against a team that was inconsistent. They hit amazing shots on one point, and then the next might hit it into the net. Often, this causes teams to get lazy and not play their own style of play, to just push the ball in and wait for a mistake. We didn't. We continued to attack, to stay on our toes.

Each team presented a different challenge, and each challenge we were able to meet. I was thankful for the team attitude and encouragement throughout. I was thankful for the high fives and the smiles throughout the day. We need to bring the joy that we give to each other to the next challenges as well! Great job champions!

Dear JV guys,
Thanks for your voices and encouragement and for coming along with us to this match. It's always good to have a couple of you come along and see that it's not so scary, what you are going to be doing next year. And it's good to have as many brothers around as we can. And yes, you do deserve to be there and celebrate the trophy with us. We do all these things together. Without you, we'd be missing a part of our team. You've pushed us, and practiced with us, and prayed with us. So thanks for coming and being positive!

Dear Jeff Miller (and other parents),
Congratulations, you get an award today! As nominated by Pat Duckworth, you get the "Servanthood Award" for being Landon's personal assistant and carrying around his chair and crutches all day. In reality, I'm so thankful to all the parents. The players were remarking how much better quality our food is than other teams, with stromboli, chocolate-chip banana bread and muffins, fruit and M&M bars. And your support is always beloved as well. Thanks for being a wonderful support group, for your sons and for our team.

Dear Sol,
You get the "Not Savage Moment of Beauty" for today. In playing your first match, you hit an excellent ball that forced your opponent back to the net where he got to the ball but hit it way up in the air and then slipped and fell down. You waited on the ball to come down and bounce, and then felt bad that he slipped and hit the ball right back to him. In giving him the extra time, he stood up, got back into the point and eventually won it. While you may not have won the point, and while in tennis we want to take advantage of things like this, I'm actually glad to see that your compassion towards people creeps through. That's better in the long run. And it is the long run that we are aiming for.

Dear God,
I could go on and on about the tennis played today. It was fun. I could go on and on about the beauty of the day, because the sun was shining and it was great. But my moment of beauty was really in the early mist of the morning, when I got up to pray. I've been praying much the same thing for my tennis brothers throughout the season, and this morning, I found that most of my prayers have been answered in clear ways. I pray now that you continue to fill us with confidence, goodness, and joy. Continue Your Spirit's work in our hearts, molding us more like You. Use tennis however You want to bring us closer and closer, revealing Your presence to us. Through Jesus we pray, amen.

Moment of Sheer Beauty
Our player of sheer beauty from the preseason, Hans Miller has had many moments worthy of the award again this season. But today I saw his smile return in a way that we hadn't seen in about a week. My favorite tennis expression of that was the way he used his forehand return in the match versus Eastern. When he would get a short serve, Hans would take aim either cross-court to set he and Simon up and the net or down-the-line to win the point outright. From the first game, I knew that this was going to be a good match when he hit the first ball hard at the net man for a volley error and the next ball Hans placed in the doubles alley for a passing shot. It great to see Hans doing what he does!

Moment of Savage Beauty
Ethan Lapp has come to own this part of tennis more and more as the season has progressed. Early in the year, he was more comfortable playing baseline tennis, playing very consistent singles. Then he was called on to play doubles. My prayer for him has been, since before the season, that he would become a confident contributor wherever he was called upon. Doubles requires that net presence, that attacking power. Ethan has developed that. Today we saw it in several ways. First, his serve. He's put more pop on his serve that slides low over the net. It's a true weapon that can set up lots of Ryan's super slams. Even better though have been his slams. Today, in the first match against Taylor, he had a net set up and put it toward the Titan net player. It was hit with such pace and force that he couldn't get out of the way, jumping straight up into the air. As he tried to get out of the way, Ethan's slam pegged his foot. He wasn't hurt. It wasn't vicious. But it was the right play and executed with power.


Bethany Christian 4, Taylor 1
#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 4-6, 4-6 - Camden Kimbler (11)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-3, 6-1 - Cole Schroder (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-2, 6-3 - Bailey Owens (9)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-1, 6-3 - Conner Leicht (11)/Wynn Takacs (9)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-1, 6-1 - Colton Kimbler (9)/Peyton Tracy (9)

Bethany Christian 5, Wabash 0
#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-1, 6-1 - Kody Fuller (12)
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-1, 6-1 - Taylor Vigar (11)
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-2, 6-2 - Luke Mattern (9)
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-2, 6-0 - Aaron Hartley (12)/Cal Stone (10)
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-0, 6-1 - Adam Driscoll (11)/Aidan Benysh (9)

Bethany Christian 5, Eastern 0
#1S - Jesse Amstutz - 6-0, 6-1 - Ryan Manfred
#2S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-1, 6-1 - Daniel Pugh
#3S - Sol Brenneman - 6-1, 6-0 - Isaac Beachey
#1D - Hans Miller/Simon Hurst - 6-1, 6-0 - Jacob Kinder/Jake Hartman
#2D - Ryan Duckworth/Ethan Lapp - 6-1, 6-1 - Sam Rocchio/Manny Moreno

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