Friday, August 18, 2017

Climbing Report 3: Goshen


Varsity Match Report
In many of our matches, we get so concerned about winning or losing. As we try to be leaders, as we try to learn and climb up the ladder, I want to focus on these lessons instead of the wins or losses. So, here's the lessons from each match.

#1S - The way to deal with nerves is to swing through the ball. 

Jonathon dominated the first set of this match. He was moving, he was forcing his opponent deep into the court, he was giving away very few errors. In the second set, after the rain delay, Jonathon became increasingly tentative with his swings. That allowed Wes Beck, Goshen's #1, to become more comfortable in attacking and moving Jonathon around. By the time Jonathon realized what he was doing, he was very nervous because the match was close and it was difficult to swing through the ball. When we realize that we aren't playing as well as we'd like, or we are beginning to get nervous, the cure is to find the middle of the court and swing through. Get that stroke loose again.
#2S - Movement is key to competing.

What was super cool about watching this match was that even though it was Philip's first varsity match of the season, he definitely had the strokes to compete in this match. But Simon Myers, Goshen's #2, is a very gifted mover. He has good strokes, but he gets around the court quickly. As a result, Myers was rarely hitting the ball from a bad position. He was balanced and able to take intentional swings to targets. Usually the player who is hitting through the ball in their strike zone more often wins the match. That was the case here. In order to move up the ladder, we have to find ways to get more balls in our strike zone... and movement is the beginning of that.

#3S - Each point has its own consequences.

Joel hit some wonderful shots tonight. He also hit some bad ones. In talking after the match, Joel admitted that he cannot turn off the feedback loop in his own head after his bad shots, and that if someone would yell, "It's alright, Joel!" after a bad shot it would make him more upset. I totally get that. But the truth is that it is alright. We tend to beat ourselves up for bad shots. We get upset and mad at ourselves. But the bad shot already had it's consequence - we lost the point. It is not helpful nor necessary to continue to be mad at ourselves. We have to come back to a focus for the next point.

#1D - Making things simpler makes them better.

This match went back and forth and back and forth, in fact, I don't think that either team ever led by more than a game except when Dustin and Jacob won the first set. What the match usually swung back and forth on was the complexity of the shots that we were trying to hit, especially with volleys. The key thing to remember with volleys is that you are simply trying to guide them to the area of the court that gives you the best advantage. Most of the time, that's right to the open court, between your two opponents, or towards the feet of the net man. When Dustin and Jacob stayed ready to hit volleys out like that, they won a high percentage of the points. When they tried to hit the volleys down into the court for putaways, they began to lose. This simplicity carried over to groundstrokes too. When we swung big from bad positions, bad things happened. When we got into good positions, well... we talked about that in #2S above :-)

#2D - Push into each challenge. 

At this position, there was one player who was clearly better than everyone else. And he hit the ball h.a.r.d. This knocked Nathan and Jonah back on their heals a little bit as they tried to compete. Mentally, they found it hard to keep their energy. I would point out to them the lesson from #3S, that the reward for their opponent hitting a good hard shot is that they won the point, and that we should move onto the next point with a new focus. But also, we should be sure to learn that when someone hits the ball harder than us, or moves better, or has a better serve... we should see that as an awesome challenge - almost like a riddle. Then, we do whatever we can to relish that and come back against it. Almost like, "Okay... (high voice squeak) I see you... well, watch what I'm going to do back." Have fun with the challenge, have fun with yourself as you find a way to take it on.

JV Match Report
I didn't get to see any of the JV matches, but I got to hear about them in a big jumble as the guys rolled off the bus back at Bethany to come eat with the varsity. What I gathered is that we had some incredibly fun matches, where we started down and made comebacks, or went back and forth the whole time, or grabbed our first win. I was really glad to hear the joy in the guys voices, to see them eat and run out onto the tennis court. I'm disappointed when I don't get to see everyone play, but I love to hear your excitement.

In the end, it seems that it came down to one final tiebreak, and if Aaron and Angel had won it, we would have had a 5-3 victory. It seems that the Double A's were a little nervous, and came out on the losing side. Perhaps this is a lesson that they could also learn from what I wrote about the #1S varsity match, making sure that in a nervous situation, we are always coming back to the same focus.

I'm proud of the guys that competed so well though. Like I said on the Instagram post, I like you all so much that I'm ready to celebrate some team victories together.

Climbing Up (Great Moments of the Match)
For the most part, we'll be having 5 different great moments of the match. Tonight, just 3 because it was only the varsity match that I got to see. As we go up, these moments will more and more exemplify what I hope our team will be like. 

1st Rung - Drop volley. Jonathon Yousey had several awesome shots last night, but one of my favorite was when he made Wes Beck run wide to hit a forehand and came forward to the net. When Beck hit a stinging forehand passing shot, Jonathon looked out of position. But quick footwork moved him out of the way, and he got right on top of the net to brush the ball with his racket. It tumbled to the other side, barely a foot from the net and Beck had to just watch as he knew he couldn't get there. Great movement, great decision and great execution.

2nd Rung - Simple placement. I loved Dustin Miller's volleys tonight, so often he would simply guide the ball to a part of the court where the other team was not at. One time, the Goshen net player started for the middle of the net and Dustin slowly poked a volley down the line. The Goshen player strained to get back, but couldn't. The ball landed NOT on the doubles sideline, but almost on the singles sideline - plenty of room to spare before being out. It was a great shot.

3rd Rung - Never give up. Probably my favorite point of the night was Jacob Woolace. Jacob recently admitted to me that his favorite drill is the "Grit" drill, where we run to get difficult balls. Well, tonight he showed us why we do that. Diego Torres of Goshen's #1D got a simple forehand volley, and hit an extreme angle from right to left through the court and off of the deuce side where Jacob had served from. Jacob took off at a full spring toward Jonathon Yousey's court and it looked like he had no chance to get the ball. So much so that Goshen's other net player turned toward Torres to celebrate the point. But Jacob strained on. Reaching out he lifted the ball down the line, behind the head of the Goshen net player who never saw the ball until it landed in the corner behind him, in the court for a winner. The positive momentum of that point spurred Dustin and Jacob on to an eventual win.

#1S - Jonathon Yousey - 6-0, 6-7 (3), 3-6 - Wes Beck (11)
#2S - Philip Krabill - 0-6, 0-6 - Simon Myers (12)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 1-6, 1-6 - Ryan Harmelink (10)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jacob Woolace - 6-4, 7-6 (2) - Diego Torres (11)/Ben Bontrager-Singer (11)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 2-6, 2-6 - Tony Quann (12)/Drake Crowder (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braden Bohn - 8-3 - Austin Peeler (11)
#2SJV - Tommy Nguyen - 2-8 - Wyatt Fisher (10)
#3SJV - Tyson Miller - 3-8 - Carlos Lichty (9)
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Will Nisley - 8-6 - Josh Haimes (11)/Axel Brown (11)
#2DJV - Chris Craw/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 5-8 - Braxton Kincaid (11)/Brenton Pham (9)
#3DJV - Kameron Branum/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 8-4 - Austin Cain (11)/Anton Pham (10)
#4DJV - Angel Torres/Aaron Shenk - 8-9 (3) - Kobe Gritzmaker (10)/Cormac Koop Liechty (9)
#5DJV - Tyson Miller/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 8-2 - Cade Fisher (12)/Daniel Mora (9)

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