Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Climbing Report 2: Northridge

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Varsity Match Summary
As we got ready to play at Northridge, a cloud rolled in. One cloud. It flung a couple huge drops on the court, but looked like it would blow past, until it opened up and rained for 5 minutes. That was how our day went. At first, Jacob Woolace, who was going to play varsity singles tonight, had a sore ab muscle. Just one problem, so no problem. He'd stretch and everything would be okay :-) Maybe we'd have to switch him to doubles but...

Then the skies broke open and it started raining. Jacob didn't feel any better and the trainer said no playing. Will, who was slotted to play #3S, had a back spasm. So that took two singles players out of the lineup. Then, as the warmup ended, Caleb let me know that his back hurt so much he couldn't move well. And it was starting to seem like this was going to be a never ending bummer of a night.

And there's really no denying that our singles suffered from the injuries. Caleb looked nothing like his energetic and active match yesterday. With reduced movement, he couldn't get the same hits on the ball, struggled to split step, and couldn't capture a game. With Jacob and Will's absence, we moved the lineup around a bit and put others in their spot - and we didn't win very many games.

But there were still inspiring moments. Joel Yoder stepped in at #3S and played an exceptional match. Against a very talented freshman, who had every textbook shot in the book in his arsenal, Joel was able to keep points alive. Joel was able to be in control with his forehand. Joel showed incredible stick-to-itiveness.

But while the singles struggled, the doubles really came alive. Listening to my mantra of simple and aggressive tennis, Dustin and Jonathon rallied from 0-3 in the first set to truly take control of their match. With good hands, great lobs, and a wide array of other well placed shots, they fought their way to a 7-5, 6-2 win.

The #2D match was the highlight of the night, with Jonah and Nathan playing such solid doubles. I was so pleased to see them make adjustments to the way that I coached. Something we'll continue looking at in practice is our ability to adapt to situations, to change. Nathan and Jonah played a great first set, taking advantage of errors that the Northridge team made. So our Bruin #2D's just kept the ball in play and attacked the net. But in the second set, we started to make an abundance of errors. So going to a third set, we needed to mentally come back, be ready, start anew.

And we did, but then we had to battle a new enemy - nerves. As the match drew to its close, Jonah and Nathan were both feeling the nerves. But they listened to my advice for dealing with those nerves. When feeling under pressure, you have to get your muscles loose by moving. They did that, jumping around the baseline between points. Then, you have to imagine what you are going to do in that point, the awesome shot you will hit. Finally, you have to swing through those shots, even if you are nervous to do so. At the end, it was these things that pulled out the big games for Nathan and Jonah, with Nathan holding serve twice to seal a 7-5 victory in the third set. 

So, we lost 3-2. But the last match to come off the courts was the inspiring #2D match, which left me feeling really good about where the team might go... and the example that Nathan and Jonah had just showed us as they climbed up the ladder.

JV Match Summary
It's a tiring beginning of the year. This morning, I got up at 4:45 to run to Kroger and get popcorn for a class lesson today. My back is sore with the tension of coaching two long tennis matches in 2 days. My brain is tired from trying to keep track of tennis schedule and teaching schedule.

I can't even imagine how it is for you guys who are actually playing in these matches.

I mention this because the word I'd use to describe most of our JV last night is "drained." Against Jimtown, we looked excited and ready. Our body language, even in our defeats, was positive and hopeful. Tonight against Northridge, we didn't really see that. And it's easy to understand why.

Despite that, there were definitely some good matches and moments across the JV. Some I'll cover below, but I'll just point out that Braden Bohn gave great fight. In a match against a older, stronger player, Braden kept in it. And at the end of the match, I challenged Braden to try a new strategy. He won 3 straight games when he put that strategy into action. I was inspired to see that effort.

Both our #2D and #4D came away with wins on the evening, and I was glad to see that for them. In some of the doubles losses, there was great pieces. Tyson had excellent net movement, Philip was stroking the shots well, Braydon stuck with it and stayed positive.

But in general, we're going to want to learn from this match, and figure out how to create more energy in the matches where we don't feel it. More about that tonight at practice!

Climbing Report (Great Moments of the Match)
For the most part, we'll be having 5 different great moments of the match. As we go up, these moments will more and more exemplify what I hope our team will be like. In other words, the 1st rung and 2nd rungs might just be cool moments, but the top rungs are examples of the type of tennis we should be moving toward.
1st Rung - Grit. Late in the third set, with the score tied at 3-3, Nathan and Jonah went down 15-40. In that game, Jonah got pushed way off the court to his right, and stroked the ball back over the net. But it was cut off by the Raider net man, sending it right back down the middle. Jonah sprinted to his left and lunged out to get the ball with an awkward backhand. It lobbed over the net man, and kept the point alive! Eventually, #2D won the point and kept the game alive. They then won the next three points in a row to take the lead, 4-3, in the final set. All kept alive by Jonah's grit and hustle.

2nd Rung -  Improving strokes. I love to see the way that each JV player, especially the freshman, are starting to improve their strokes. I saw that most tonight in Joseph Mounsithiraj. Joseph's serve continue to gain consistency and power. His forehand continues to become more and more of a weapon. Both were used to great effect in his match tonight.
3rd Rung - Playing your best. Joel was suddenly promoted to #3S tonight, after playing #1DJV on Monday. Not that he didn't deserve to play there, but it was a sudden move. But rather than get freaked out, Joel simply committed to hitting his best shots. He was realistic about his match with me at the fence, and then worked his tail off to win points. After the match, he had nothing to be ashamed about. He played great, and could smile like crazy.

4th Rung - Confidence under pressure. Nathan and Jonah had plenty of pressure in their match. But I loved how they shook this off, literally bouncing up and down and shaking their arms. I loved how they stayed ready to win their match, rather than just hoping that the other team would do things to lose the match. A great example of this was in Nathan's second to last service game. Nathan struggled with double faults in the game, but was mixing them in with big serves. So Jonah wasn't doing much. But even in the pressure of the match, Jonah stayed ready. In the last two points of the game, Jonah put away volleys that hung across the net, and that helped give the Bruins the 5-3 lead in the match. It a great job staying focused when it was difficult.

5th Rung - Doing the honorable thing. In the #1D match, we were serving and were down 30-40. A long point ensued, and Logan Corns of Northridge was drawn off the right hand corner of the court where a ball from the #2D match had accidentally rolled. With correct judgment, Eric Firstenberger of the Raiders called a "let" as the ball was in his partner's way. However, the call came as Dustin was hitting the ball and Dustin hit the ball out - which would have meant that Northridge would have won the game. A "let" meant replaying the point. Jonathon thought he had heard the let call, so he asked. It would have been so easy to lie here, and say that no "let" call had been made. But Eric Firstenberger honestly said he had made the "let" call and that the point had to be replayed. Even when examples of outstanding leadership come from other teams, I think we should be inspired by them. It was a very upstanding move to be honest at a tempting time.

#1S - Caleb Shenk - 0-6, 0-3 - Simon Grevengoed (12)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 0-6, 0-6 - Gabe Rodino (10)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 1-6, 1-6 - Cooper Tavrnier (9)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jonathon Yousey - 7-5, 6-2 - Logan Corns (12)/Eric Firstenberger (12)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 6-2, 2-6, 7-5 - Brant Brouillette (11)/Avery Mantyla (10)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braden Bohn - 5-8 - Connor Glenn (12)
#2SJV - Chris Craw - 2-8 - Cameron Henry (9)
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Philip Krabill - 2-8 - Nick Garcia (12)/Aaron Cripe (9)
#2DJV - Tommy Nguyen/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 8-1 - Tyler Crisp (9)/Chris Peters (9)
#3DJV - Tyson Miller/Aaron Shenk - 0-8 - Nick Garcia (12)/Aaron Cripe (9)
#4DJV - Kameron Branum/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 8-2 - Tyler Crisp (9)/Chris Peters (9)

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