Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Prayers from Concord

Match Description
This was the closest 5-0 match that I've ever been a part of. And after last year's Goshen match, that is saying a lot! Tonight we were up against a really good and really experienced team, that is currently ranked 8th in our district. To give perspective, our team last year ended the season ranked 8th. So, tonight was a great fight for us.

I'm really proud of the way we responded, but it is also disappointing to not win any of the positions. The night started off with some very tentative tennis from the Bruins. We didn't really seem to have the confidence we needed at any of the positions. Maybe this is because we were playing a road match, because this is the second time we've come out to play with very low energy and belief and the other was on the road at Northridge.

As a result, we got knocked around pretty good in our first sets (with the exception of Byeong). Ethan lost 0-6, Jacob lost 2-6, and the doubles lost 3-6 and 4-6. It looked like it could be a long night, and yet... we weren't really playing good tennis.

In the second sets, we began to turn that around. Ethan looked much less timid and forced more errors from his opponent. Simon and Brandon picked up their attacking intensity while bringing their balls down. Lane and Jackson were simple and aggressive. With the new found confidence, our play began to match our belief. The 2nd sets were great exhibitions of how we want to play (with the exception of Byeong, who became a little tentative).

This meant that 4 of the 5 matches were going to enter high pressure 3rd sets. And just like high pressure third sets do, both teams felt the importance. The matches swung back and forth as momentum changed, frustrations mounted, belief grew and then waned. We fell behind at each position early in the sets, and it looked like a 5-0 defeat was likely. Then we surged back, taking the lead in each of the sets (with the exception of Byeong, though he did surge back to 4-5). In fact, we suddenly found ourselves leading at 3 positions, enough to win the match. Simon and Brandon held a 6-5 advantage going into Simon's serve. Ethan held a 5-4 advantage, going into his serve. Lane and Brandon were up 5-4, but big serving Braden Fish was going to be serving for Concord. One more game in three positions, and we would pull a big upset!

But each position felt the pressure in a different way. We fell back to our tentative ways, forgetting about how we want to play and fixating a bit on the score. Taking advantage, our opponents hit great, aggressive shots. One position by one, we found ourselves tight in the crucial points - knocking a simple approach just over the baseline, dumping a shoulder height volley into the net, sailing a return on the wrong side of the line. And one by one, we found ourselves shaking hands at the net, on the losing side of the scoreboard.

Disappointing, but at the same time exhilarating. Last night was the first time that I felt really alive watching our team compete. These seesawing matches are the best! And despite being close in the team score against Northridge and Goshen, neither of the matches had the "Sectional pressure" feel of this match.

Our goal this season is to progress. To continue to grow. To continue to learn. To develop habits of proper preparation, commitment, technique and strategy. And then to be honest about what we learned and do it again. Take the next step. This gave us unbelievably great competition under pressure. And we learned that we have to be more consistent with our habits.

Every point of the match, we need to develop habits of focus. Deep breath. Focus words. How do I want to play this point? Visualize that. Do it.

In the JV match, we competed very well at the top of the lineup and in the final matches. It's those middle ones that we have to figure out. Most of all in the JV, we have to figure out what our best game looks like. What are our strengths and weaknesses and how do we play to them? Our most experienced JV players have very established strengths (Daniel's speed and effort, Dustin's forehand and serve, Jonathon's net play), but our younger players haven't learned yet where they have gifts and abilities.

That's the next step for the JV, where are your strengths?

I am so proud of the team tonight. Down one set at 4 positions, we could have given in and let Concord roll to an easy 5-0 victory. But we didn't, we relaxed and took the next step. Let's take the next step tomorrow.

for the team
Lord, I am asking you to give us the proper perception of ourselves. Many times, we see ourselves as not quite as good as we are. Sometimes, we see ourselves as better than we are. Both of those false perceptions cause us to give less effort. Lord, help us to see that "we can," and that is all that matters to giving our best effort.

for the team
In the face of close losses, like we suffered tonight, there can be the tendency to turn inward to frustration. Instead, God, turn us to joy! What a night we had with our brothers, we all experienced something similar that we can share with each other. How much more brilliant it will be when we learn from this experience (together) and become even more consistent in playing how we want to play (together). I look forward to that, and am eager to begin preparing. Bless us all with this eagerness.

for the team
Lord, I long to hear positive words from my team. Let Your Spirit speak deep and positive truths to us this week. And then let those flow out of us and into each other. We have begun a great many things this month, practice, school, bands, youth group, tennis matches, and more... these things can deplete us. Fill us back up, with Your love and kindness.

Moment of Beauty
Byeong had moments of unbelievable tennis tonight. Against his most talented opponent, Byeong was forced to be on the aggressive. I loved to see it when it shown through. It's my favorite singles to watch in a while. Tonight, Byeong had a point where he drove balls into the corners and attacked the net, then angled off a short backhand volley that Will Boyer could not reach.

The best word to describe Ethan in this match against Concord was tenacious. He changed his style completely entering the second set and kept at every point. Nowhere was his aggressive and never-giving-up style more evident than when he would get into a long rally with Riley Huffer. One such rally, saw Ethan chase down several balls and then rip a forehand passing shot to Huffer's forehand corner. Huffer hit a nice passing shot down the line to Ethan's backhand which Ethan stretched to lift over the net and short to Huffer's forehand again. Rushing forward, Huffer again attempted a passing shot, and it handcuffed Ethan, coming hard at his body. But Ethan shuffled and stayed with the point, not jumping away in panic. He backhanded it floated and deep into the backhand corner where Huffer could not get back quick enough. He attempted a flicked one hand backhand that flew into the air but landed in the doubles alley of the #1 singles court beside them. A point where Ethan was both aggressive and tenacious, two great qualities under pressure.

#1S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-4, 4-6, 4-6 - Will Boyer (10)
#2S - Ethan Lapp - 0-6, 6-2, 6-7 (4) - Riley Huffer (12)
#3S - Jacob Gonsalves - 2-6, 2-6 - Nate Slabach (9)
#1D - Simon Hurst/Brandon Nguyen - 3-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4) - Mitch Boyer (12)/Nathan Hermon (11)
#2D - Jackson King/Lane Miller - 4-6, 7-5, 5-7 - Braden Fish (11)/Jake Lovette (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Daniel Robles - 8-4 - Jacob Shetterly (10)
#2SJV - Dustin Miller - 8-4 - Broc Johnson (10)
#3SJV - Philip Krabill - 2-8 - Tate Nicoson (11)
#4SJV - Tommy Nguyen - 2-6 - Brandon Pletcher (11)
#5SJV - Jonathon Yousey - 6-2 - Jack Steele (9)
#1DJV - Jonathon Yousey/Liam Bradford - 4-8 - Freddy Buckingham (11)/Drew McDougle (9)
#2DJV - Jonah Farran/Tommy Nguyen - 0-8 - Michael Hoffman (12)/Nate Rose (12)
#3DJV - Paul Krabill/Braydon Harshberger - 2-8 - Cal Whitaker (9)/Mark Rich (9)
#4DJV - Philip Krabill/Jonah Farran - 1-6 - Grant Luchesse (9)/Brock Troyer (9)
#5DJV - Paul Krabill/Daniel Robles - 6-0 - Carson Green (10)/Alex Serwatka (9)
#6DJV - Liam Bradford/Dustin Miller - 6-1 - Isaac Fisher (9)/Jared Kohn (10)

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