Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Big Words from Concord


Wow. Good tennis tonight played by both teams. I always love playing Concord because from JV to Varsity they are going to have a solid team. What a chance for us to improve. What a chance for us to show how well we're playing. What a chance to make a great win.

However, we didn't get that win tonight. We got a 4-1 loss and a 4-4 tie :-) But we did improve. And we did show how well we can play at many positions. At #1D, Simon and Brandon picked up another win. This time they were challenged by an excellent team of brothers, who came up with big shots. Nathan Hermon especially had the ability to change the point quickly with one shot. But so did Simon and Brandon. Both players did an excellent job of volleying today, closing the net and making life difficult on returns and cross court battles. Every day, Brandon and Simon look more and more like a confident doubles team.

But I was also ridiculously impressed by Lucas and Daniel. We've been talking singles strategy, and it was obvious that both of these guys are taking it to heart. Both started out with slow first sets, where they couldn't seem to locate their shots in the court. But as the second sets began, there was no give up in them. Both found ways to make the match more difficult for their opponent. Changing up styles, being aggressive from the middle of the court, attacking the backhand, using their "swords." In the end, we simply need to work on being more consistent in those attacking elements. But we're on our way.

At #2D, a very evenly matched competition came down to who was hitting their shots well at the end of the set. Concord tonight seemed to really have the answers when the set was on the line. Lane and Dustin didn't give the match away with silly errors, but Concord was able to swing through and force difficult shots that we weren't quite able to fight off.

And at #1S, Will Boyer played fantastic. He hits such a heavy topspin ball with such consistency, and seemed to have the big shots at the big moments of the match. Byeong also dealt with times of inconsistency in this match, maybe because he became impatient to finish points and get back into a lead. I really have admired the consistency that I've seen from Boyer the last two times I've seen him play, and the resiliency he has after losing points. It was a well played match that was fun to watch.

For the JV, we actually won the top 4 positions. We swept the singles, with highlights being Jackson King's best match of the season and Jacob Woolace pulling out a dominating tiebreak. Jackson seemed to be very honed in tonight, with strokes putting pressure on his Minuteman opponent. That pressure is such an important part of forcing errors. Which is what Jacob Woolace found out as well, as his consistency ebbed and flowed throughout the match. When he put consistent pressure on with his regular strokes, he was able to succeed in the matches final moments.

Other wins came from Liam Bradford, who plays some of the most beautiful shots on our team at some of the most unexpected times. From dropshots to forehand winners to lobs, Liam has all the tools to be an excellent singles player. And Caleb Shenk and Jonathon Yousey made a sweet comeback, down 2-4 to winning 6-4. The key was hitting solid, simple shots and coming to the net to put pressure on their opponents. That was a great match to watch.

All of the other matches had highlights too. Jonah served well, Nathan volleyed well, Braydon's forehand looked great, Chris attacked his groundstrokes, and Joel Yoder opened his match with a forehand winner down the line. We just need to find consistency, we need to bring our games to more completion, which leads me to a...

We have played four matches, and we have played four good teams. Tonight, against Concord, we probably played the most balanced and talented team of the season. And so the result, losing 4-1 on the varsity and tying 4-4 for the JV, isn't that bad.

Even better news is that I've been asking each of you to concentrate NOT on the score, but instead on HOW YOU ARE PLAYING. I've been wanting you to think about hitting the right shots, moving your feet, staying smart and aggressive in big points. And tonight, I saw evidence of that, especially across the varsity positions! Daniel was mixing things up, staying in points, driving the ball, finding ways to attack. Lucas played a beautiful match, driving things deep and setting himself up for beautiful winners. I saw Liam set up beautiful points, Jacob make adjustments, Caleb keep his confidence, Jackson play with solidity... there was a lot of good in the match!

Still, if you are like me, my eye can be drawn to the things that still need to be improved. Call it the coach's eye (or the parent's eye :-) but I can see that we still haven't reached our potential. And I am athirst for that moment. I am athirst to see the completion of this team, because I think it will be so much fun. And when we are playing extremely talented teams like the Minutemen, I am disappointed when we don't get to come at them with our best. I long to see us be consistently great, and put an even better challenge into this match. 

Instead, I need to remind myself - and remind you - that we are on our way. It is good if you are feeling athirst, longing and fervent for that better play, that consistency, that final ball to find its mark. Its good because that desire is what should push you on to strive. To strive to improve. To strive to move quicker. To strive to listen, understand, and implement. To strive to have courage against what now scares you. 

Also, I need to remind myself of the improvement we've already seen. Last Tuesday, against Northridge I wrote about ataxia, things felt totally out of joint and out of place. That's not the case now, as serves, swings and strategies have come into focus and look good at times. So, we have come in sync. We have direction. Now, we want to move toward completion.

What a good picture this is of the life we live with faith in Jesus too. There are times when we are completely out of sync, disjointed, and far away. In these times, I have found that God often uses something to shake me up and remind me of Jesus' loving presence and the Holy Spirit's call on my life. In being reminded, I feel put back together, and I see flashes of God's work in me. I feel flashes of God's peace. But I don't feel the wholeness, the completion, that Christ is moving me toward.

If I am impatient for that completion, if all I am athirst for is perfection, then my next stage is frustration. I fail to notice all the good work that Jesus is doing in me and only notice what is lacking. The progress isn't fast enough for me. I still experience failures, sins, and selfishness. I lose hope and fall back to ataxia, completely out of rhythm.

However, if I am athirst for relationship with Jesus, then I am renewed with strength. Instead of focusing on the failures, I see the improvements. Instead of being impatient, I recognize the process. I see the steps that I'm taking, the blessing that God is providing, and the people that are supporting me.

In the book of John, Jesus constantly refers to himself as living water. I think that water is what we need now. If we are feeling thirsty, we need to pursue Jesus. God will open our eyes to the beauty that is around us and fill us with strength to strive on toward completion. God will show us the relationships around us that will fill us with strength to strive on toward completion. God will. 

And so, when I'm thirsty, I want to remember what I'm really thirsty for... not perfection but instead RELATIONSHIP, and two simple little words become my prayer for fulfillment this week: God will.

#1S - Byeong Min Lim - 1-6, 1-6 - Will Boyer (11)
#2S - Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes - 1-6, 2-6 - Alex Serwatka (10)
#3S - Daniel Robles - 1-6, 3-6 - Nate Slabach (10)
#1D - Simon Hurst/Brandon Nguyen - 7-5, 6-3 - Nathan Herman (12)/Travis Herman (9)
#2D - Dustin Miller/Lane Miller - 4-6, 5-7 - Jake Lovette (12)/Freddy Buckingham (10)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Jackson King - 6-1
#2SJV - Liam Bradford - 6-4
#3SJV - Jacob Woolace - 7-6 (1)
#1DJV - Jonathon Yousey/Caleb Shenk - 6-4
#2DJV - Tommy Nguyen/Philip Krabill - 1-6
#3DJV - Joel Yoder/Braydon Harshberger - 1-6
#4DJV - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 2-6
#5DJV - Angel Torres/Chris Craw - 1-6

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