Wednesday, August 23, 2017

Climbing Report 4: Concord

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Varsity Match Report
I got the sense that on Tuesday night as our varsity entered this match, we were loose and focused. We'd had a decent practice on Monday night and were ready to go against a team who ranks among the state's top 30.

But I was so pleased at the grit the team showed in this match, the way we kept our heads up and kept working - kept believing. In #1 singles, Jacob Woolace took on Will Boyer. As a team, we've never got a win over Boyer, meaning that our 2 time All-District and all time win leader Byeong Min Lim never beat him. It was a tall challenge for Jacob, but he took a great attitude into the match. In the first game, Jacob got to see the power that Boyer packs in his shots. And soon he got to see the brilliant way that Boyer uses his whole body to create a smooth and snappy serve. But Jacob got down to business trying to figure out how he could attack, how he could move Boyer. That's an attitude that leads to improvement.

And that was the attitude across the courts, although at other positions we weren't quite as overmatched. Liam didn't play the best first set, and actually trailed 1-4 in the second. But instead of getting angry, he got focused and pulled back into the set at 3-4. Joel got down 1-4 in his first set but was able to take the set to the wire by recovering to 4-5. #2 doubles of Jonah and Nathan stumbled out of the gate to a 0-4 deficit. After losing the first set, they cruised to a 5-0 lead in the second. Then they lost 6 straight games to trail 6-5, but kept their heads and stayed aggressive. They sent the second set to a tiebreak, which they won.

In all of these matches, we faced adversity. In all these matches, we held our nerve and played through the adversity. Another great example of that came at #1 doubles. After winning the first set and holding a 5-3 advantage in the second set, Jonathon and Dustin found themselves trailing 6-2 in a second set tiebreak. With 4 set points against them (set up by a couple of flubbed volleys in the net), they could have gotten angry, sad, sullen, or pouty. Instead, they focused their energy on hitting good returns. Point after point they crawled back into the match, and when Dustin's forehand volley split the Minutemen partners for the 8th point of the tiebreak, they had won 6 straight points to take the tiebreak 8-6 and win the match.

These sorts of comebacks are exciting, and it tells me that our mental focus is in the right place. We can do it! And for that I am extremely proud.

Now, with our foot firmly planted on this lower rung, we look to climb up. The next step is the right mental and physical routine between every point. We have to return to positive energy, our "words," and our body language all the time, not just when things start going well. That will help us play at our best at all times.

Who's willing to do that? We showed some grit now I hope we're all ready to climb on up!

JV Match Report
I wasn't present for the JV match, but I heard a little report. It seems like in general we didn't play our best. I don't know why that is, we played fairly good matches last time we played, but we won't make excuses. We won't look for reasons. We'll get back to the practice court and hit a lot of balls. We won't talk about sore ankles, lack of water, difficult partners, feeling tired - or any of the myriad of things I hear when I ask how it went. Instead, we'll talk about these things...

1. We're going to start moving our feet through out the match. Not just in the points but even between them.

2. We're going to start getting to the ball at the perfect strike zone.

3. We're going to start using our whole body together to create easy power and simple shots.

4. We're going to forgive ourselves for our mistakes, because even the best tennis players make them.

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 - Stay alert. I loved a lot about our #1D match. The comeback in the tiebreak was really cool to watch, but my favorite point was in the first set. Dustin was up at the net and Jonathon was back. When Jonathon's lob fell a bit shorter than expected, Dustin scooted back toward the service line and had the ball overheaded at him. With quick hands, he flicked the ball up over the net player's head, but not out of reach. Frustrated that his overhead was retrieved, the Concord player slammed it toward Dustin again. Instead of turning backward, Dustin's alert reactions flicked the ball up and completely over the net player this time, landing between the stunned Minutemen for a winner. 

2nd Rung - Expect to win. Jacob Woolace came out for his match completely un-intimidated. The first point of the match, Jacob got a good first serve and got down and hit a great passing shot that forced Will Boyer's backhand volley to sail long. On the second point, Jacob stayed confident. After a second serve curved into Boyer's backhand, Jacob anticipated early a cross court return and moved his feet to get a forehand. Taking the ball inside-in, his hit a controlled and still powerful shot down the line for a forehand winner. These two points to start the match showed that Jacob was there to compete, not just flail around. 

3rd Rung - Stay in it. Tonight, I could sing the praises of many people who "stayed in." This means that they kept fighting even when they weren't playing well. My favorite examples however were Liam coming back in the second set. It made me so proud because he made a decision to stay with his game, and not just quit and start pounding the ball. Also, Jonah and Nathan had a 5-0 lead in the second set and then had to go to a tiebreak. In the tiebreak, they faced 4 match points that could have sealed the match for Concord. Each time, they played poised and loose. The combination ended up giving them a set point, and they won an incredible tiebreak 13-11.

#1S - Jacob Woolace - 0-6, 1-6 - Will Boyer (12)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 1-6, 3-6 - Freddy Buckingham (11)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 4-6, 3-6 - Bryson Schrock (9)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Johnathon Yousey - 6-2, 7-6 (6) - Cal Whitaker (11)/Travis Hermon (10)
#2D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 2-6, 7-6 (11), 1-6 - Jacob Shetterly (12)/Grant Lucchese (11)

Junior Varsity
#1S - Philip Krabill - 2-8 - Jack Steele (11)
#2S - Braden Bohn - 8-5 - Baily Morrison (9)
#3S - Tommy Nguyen - 5-8 - Kayden Cain (9)
#4S - Angel Torres - 2-8 - Brayden Newburn (9)
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Will Nisley - 1-8 - Broc Johnson (12)/Mark Rich (11)
#2DJV - Joseph Mounsithiraj/Tyson Miller - 4-8 - Drew McDugle (11)/Kaleb Sotcher (11)
#3DJV - Aaron Shenk/Kameron Branum - 0-8 - Cayden Rohrer (9)/Gavin Smith (9)
#4DJV - Philip Krabill/Angel Torres - 6-8 - Matt Auger (12)/Alec Eash (10)

vs. Elkhart Christian
#1S - Braden Bohn - 0-6, 0-6 - Isaac Miller (11)

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