Driving. Stretching. Praying. Playing. Playing great! Raining. Canceling. Waiting. Driving. Waiting. Playing. Playing great! Playing okay. Playing tired. Playing well. Waiting. Driving. Eating. Driving. Driving. Driving.
Did you read all that? I'm impressed :-) That's a summary of our day. It felt like a mingled mash up of good within the bad, and bad within the good.
We arrived at the tournament to sunny skies, but soon after, the clouds began to roll in. As we started our first match versus Northwestern, there was thunder threatening in the distance but hope that it would slide north of us. To our team's credit, we started out playing great. Byeong especially was on fire, finding the corners and angles and consistency to bring against an opponent he went 3 sets against last season. This year, in 15 minutes, he'd won the first set 6-0.
As had #1D, Brandon and Simon, playing with dominant aggression. And Daniel had one more point before closing out his first set 6-0. And Jonathon was close to a 3-1 lead. But then the rain switched from threatening to pouring, and we headed to the bus.
After a quick conversation and look ahead at the radar, the tournament was cancelled. But my brother, the head coach at Western, asked if we'd want to stay and play a duel match at the racket center in Greentown, which was a 20 minute drive from the school. Since we were already 2 hours away from home, I figured we might as well go play some tennis. So we drove to the racket center.
With only four courts, the match was going to take some time. But we got our warmup going and introduced the lineups by 11:00 and took the courts. Western was a team that beat us 3-2 last year and only lost one huge varsity contributor. They are a young team this year with lots of talent. But we came out ready to play. At all positions on the court, our team took the early leads.
Byeong looked especially on his game. Besides loving to play inside, Byeong's groundstrokes looked better than they have yet this season. He was moving, keeping points alive, following through on his swing. In short, he was playing fantastic. Last year, Haran beat Byeong in straight sets 6-1, 6-1. This match saw Byeong slowly build a first set lead, taking advantage of mistakes from his opponent.
There was nothing slow about the match at #1D. Brandon and Simon were fairly dominating from the beginning. The match started with Gifford serving for Western, and he has a beautiful big serve that really cracked with sound inside the tennis center. But the Bruins met his power with their own, and played to their strengths. Simon dominated the net, with power and touch, while Brandon had a good volleying day of his own right. When they broke that first service game, I could tell they would be in for a great day. Indeed, they played their best tennis of the season and sailed through the match.
So, good starts for both #1's. But it didn't last forever with Byeong. The good was mingled in with some bad. Some of Byeong's poor patterns emerged in the second set, as well as a nagging hip injury from all the running around Haran was forcing him to do. Soon, he found himself struggling to stay in points and lost the set. In the third set, Byeong played some of the most beautiful points I'd seen him play all day - but couldn't find a way to win games. In the end, one of his best played matches overall of the season actually ended in defeat.
Other positions saw this same pattern, the good and the bad mingled together. Jonathon Yousey was playing his first matches of varsity singles. One point he would fight to force an error, and the next he would float a simple backhand long. One point he would drive a passing shot at his opponent's feet, the next he would float a lob to be hit for an overhead. One point he would show positive passion, the next he would be frustrated. But overall, Jonathon played some of his best tennis, but like Byeong ended up with a loss.
Daniel Robles definitely played some of his best tennis in the second set of his match. The first set saw Daniel play a little timid, but in the second he struck the ball with authority. Unfortunately, it brought the best out of his opponent as well. Short points where both players were making simple errors turned into long points requiring excellent shots to win the point. And Western's #3 ended up making more of those great shots.
And there was that familiar mixing of good and bad when #2D took the court as well. The duo dominated the net, but putting the Panthers in difficult positions, but couldn't always find the final touch. Killer scissor kick overheads would be followed by second serve returns being sent long. There was desire and passion to win, which was awesome, but not always the execution. But the good stretches were getting longer for them.
Which is the goal really. No one ever plays a perfect tennis match. Tennis is a sport of mingling. Actually, if you can back up and admit that the good is always mingling with the bad, I think it becomes easier to deal with the things that are frustrating. Because you realize that just around the corner something good is about to happen, as long as you keep striving.
And after the matches are all over, the mingling doesn't stop. We went to BW's to get some wings and sat around enjoying laughter, soda, wings, football, discussion, and so much more. God has blessed us with some wonderful teammates, and that is what always brings good to any situation for me. Hanging out with the team, seeing my brother and his team, my parents coming to the match - its these relationships that make life sweet even in difficult. Thanks to God for that!
#1S - Byeong Min Lim - 6-2, 2-6, 1-6 - Pranav Haran (11)
#2S - Jonathon Yousey - 2-6, 2-6 - John Sullivan (12)
#3S - Daniel Robles - 2-6, 2-6 - Tate Lockwood (11)
#1D - Simon Hurst/Brandon Nguyen - 6-0, 6-2 - Chad Gifford (12)/Henry Lerche (11)
#2D - Lane Miller/Dustin Miller - 4-6, 5-7 - Ashton Guyer (11)/Mason Anderson (11)
#1SJV - Lucas Brownsberger-Keyes - 2-4, 4-2, (5-10) - Burkely Seekri (10)