Friday, August 14, 2015

Prayers from Angola

This season, we're going to be devoting ourselves to 4 different things:
1. Preparation
2. Faith
3. Obedience
4. Prayer

The definition of prayer that we'll be exploring is the idea that prayer is just honest communication. So in the spirit of that definition, the theme for the match reports is going to be "prayers." They will be my honest communication with you the players and with God. Don't worry if I don't post something about you, it will probably come after another match. These are simply the things that stick out.

But, I'll always start them with a little description...

Last night, we played 3 different segments against the Angola Hornets. The Hornets played admirably, and gave us a different challenge than we are used to. One thing that I admire about Angola's play, year after year, is the confidence and power that they exude. That gave our team something new to deal with, something new to grow from.

And I am emphasizing growth as the point of this season. Winning and losing will happen, so it shouldn't be our focus. Instead, the focus should be on the process of growth. I saw that progress last night. I think the most encouraging factor of the match was that the segment in which the Bruins performed the best was the last. We got better as the match went on. That's the mark of progress.

In the first segment, all of our singles players performed well, within a game of their opponents or actually in the lead. Daniel Robles led the way with a 6-4 win at #2SJV. Ethan Lapp also performed well, holding a 4-1 lead before becoming a bit tentative. At doubles, things didn't go quite as well. Dustin and Lane were pumped up and gained an early lead, then lost some consistency. Brandon and Simon won the first game on Simon's serve, then couldn't get a break of serve.

In the second segment, we changed it up and picked it up. The JV singles players cruised through their matches, with scores of 8-1, 6-2, and 6-1. Byeong Min Lim switched to #2S and after a slow start began to get back to his line painting, consistent ways. Brandon Nguyen went from doubles to singles and after a nervy start, settled down and hit great shots and attacked well. At doubles, Jonathon Yousey and Jackson King got their varsity introduction and did well, but couldn't finish games. Simon and Lane competed with energy, but again couldn't quite find the final touch.

In the final segment, things got turned up. Byeong played his best tennis (in turn, pulling the best out of his opponent as well). Jacob Gonsalves looked comfortable at #3S, being energetic and consistent. Brandon Nguyen took his singles confidence into #1D with Simon, and they played the most entertaining doubles points of the night. In reality, everybody began to play toward their best in this last segment.

So, a good night. A growing night. A night of great preparation. As the night went on, we turned to each other. We maintained perspective. We learned to trust. That made it a step in the right direction.

My Prayer
for Byeong...
is that you will have fun with playing #1 singles this season. You've been so well prepared for this. I pray that you will work through the nerves by remembering the simplicity of the game - move your feet, concentrate on your swing, enjoy the result. I pray that your resulting joy will lead our team in that same direction.

for Brandon...
is that you will continue to carry the confidence you developed in the singles match over into other parts of the year. I hope you will carry it into doubles matches, into practice, into challenges, into the school, into your classes. I pray that you will get into a rhythm of using YOUR strengths and enjoying it.

for Simon...
is that you will remember the spirit of Hans Miller. It was great to see Hans and Jesse at the scrimmage last night, I hope their support will help you remember how fun tennis is. How great it is to laugh, and skip, and move your feet, and go for it. I saw you move in that direction in the last two segments, I pray that you will lead our team into that joy.

for Jacob...
is that you will continue to trust the process. I have seen the ideas of red-yellow-green taking root in your mind and in your game. I know that you are starting to believe you can take the next step. I pray you continue to commit to not judging yourself based on score, but based on energy, effort and consistency.

for our team...
is pretty simple. I'd love to see our faith in Jesus grow this year. So I pray that early in this season, we will turn to Jesus. I pray we'll take the first step in moving toward Jesus, using our gifts for the brothers on the team. I pray that we'll trust God, even with what we don't yet know. And I pray that we'll take those unknowns to God.

God, be the breath of growth and change in us. Be the seed of unexpected hope this year. Let us rejoice, in You, Jesus!

For the moments of beauty in last night's match, I will have to recognize that some of the most beautiful shots in the scrimmage came from our opponents. The shot that Ethan's first match ended on was one of the best shots I've seen in high school tennis, and I'm not sure his opponent could do it again in one hundred tries. However, Jaxson Davis ripped a passing shot back past Ethan from his forehand side that could not have been more perfectly angled, and Jaxson was almost running into the next court over when he did it.

However, let's award one to the Bruins as well. If I'm only giving one, I'd have to say that it goes to Brandon Nguyen. During his singles match, Brandon played a point where he worked Eric Nafziger of Angola deep to both corners. Then, Brandon got a short ball and approached. When Nafziger ran down the approach on his forehand side, Brandon picked up the short hopping return and side stepped to his left, near his backhand sideline. Brandon then hit a straight and smooth drop shot to the other side of the court that Nafziger simply shook his head at. A great point, and a safe shot I'd love to see Brandon use even more!

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