Friday, August 25, 2017

Climbing Report 5: Fremont

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Varsity Match Report
Tonight's match was a nervy one for me. Going into the match, I knew how good Fremont's #1S was. He had competed well with Byeong last year, and had clearly improved during the offseason. He really is a great example of what it looks like when an athletic guy decides to play some serious tennis.

But, I also knew that we'd have a fairly certain point at #1D. Dustin and Jonathon have been playing great, and Fremont's #1D were all new players from last year. But this meant that the match was really about 3 positions, and we needed to win 2 of them.

Fremont's #2D did have one player returning from the varsity squad last year, but despite this Jonah and Nathan were able to get out to a fairly good start. They kept a comfortable lead through most of the first set, but then turned it up even more in the second set. They relaxed, which cut down on their errors, and really began to play some good tennis.

As predicted, Evan Trusty cruised at #1S. Jacob actually played one of his best matches, serving and striking the ball well. He kept most of the games close but on the big points, Trusty had an answer for almost every shot. I remember a point where Jacob served Trusty off the court on the forehand side, nailed the next shot into the back, and then dropped a volley back to the forehand side - and Trusty ran them all down to end the point with a beautiful topspin passing shot.

At #1D, we won as predicted. Which meant the match came down to #2S and #3S... and Joel wasn't on his game. In the first set, Joel struggled mightily with consistency. To which I reminded him (as always) that if we are out of position when we try to hit big shots, we will miss. And to Joel's credit, he took the advice to heart. In the second set, he was very competitive. He controlled the points for the most part and the set went back and forth - mostly decided by who would make the last error. Unfortunately, Joel fell in the second set at 4-6.

But Liam was still alive in his #2S match. Having played great tennis in a tense first set, Liam had lost the second and was losing a little focus to start the 3rd set. Down 2-0, his opponent made a couple of errors that game Liam some life, and Liam was able to get some positive momentum and come back in the third set to 2-2. From there on, it was all trading of games. At first, every time that a player took the lead with strong aggressive shots, they would follow it up with poor, timid shots and lose the next game. But by the end of the set, both players had realized that they needed to hit deep, aggressive balls in order to win the match. Fremont's Thayne Camp ripped forehands and rushed the net, playing to his strengths. Meanwhile, Liam hit passing shots and lofted up lobs, just inches over the athletic Camp's racket.

This turn of play sent the third set into a tiebreak, with the varsity team score tied at 2-2. Whoever won the tiebreak, won the match. Camp began the tiebreak strong, with several volleys and an overhead to take a 2-0 lead. But Liam responded, with some sick crosscourt forehands and passing shots to win four straight points. Camp fought back with his strengths, and tied the tiebreak at 5-5. Then Liam blistered a forehand spinner into Camp's backhand and set up a match point. But Camp responded well, charging the net to hit an overhead slam.

Changing sides at 6-6, there was a lot of tension. The next point was a long point, with nervy
backhands losing speed and lots of groundstrokes. Finally, Camp ripped a forehand into Liam's backhand that Liam could barely reach. Liam sprinted and stretched a dipped the backhand just over the net. Having to adjust down to the falling ball cause Camp to pull his forehand volley just wide. On the next point, Liam's second match point, Camp again approached to Liam's backhand. With his feet more set this time, Liam aimed a lob for the backhand corner near the baseline. Camp backpedaled but couldn't get solid contact and his leaping backhand volley fell in front of the net.

Our crowd cheered and Liam looked like nothing had happened. He was tired from a long, emotional match. But our guys slapped him on the back and sang Sarasponda (our victory song) with enthusiasm. It was great to see Liam play his best tennis under pressure. It was great to celebrate.

JV Match Report
Only one match to report on, as Fremont only had two JV players. But Braydon and Philip played a
solid match to provide the first JV victory of the season. One thing that I was excited to see in this match was the solid shots that we were hitting. Doubles, as I've tried to emphasize throughout the season, is about simple aggression.

A better way of defining this is that in doubles we should take simple shots to aggressive spots. And aggressive spots are ones the put pressure on the other team to make choices and to make shots. So that means putting the ball into the open court and coming to the net, or volleying the ball deep and in between our opponents, or even putting up a lob and attacking the net.

Braydon and Philip did these things in most of the match. Each time I looked down the courts, I saw that easy backhand slice from Braydon or Philip hitting a forehand with forward momentum. And tonight, that was enough to seal the win.

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 there was only 1 JV match. As we go up, these moments will more and more exemplify what I hope our team will be like.

1st Rung - Taking care of business. In two matches tonight, one opponent was clearly better than the other. In #1S, Evan Trusty was clearly a much more advanced player than Jacob. In #1D, Dustin and Jonathon held that distinction. But what I liked is that both of those positions just went out and played hard tennis. They hit their shots, didn't goof around, and had respect for their opponents. In some matches, the position is a mismatch. I like to see players just focus on their tennis and play their best.

2nd Rung - Listening skills. It became pretty obvious early in this match that it would come down to whether we could win #2 or #3 singles. So, I spent most of my fence visits at those two positions. What I really was struck by was how well Joel and Liam listened. The things that I suggested, they tried to do. I italicize try, because sometimes it didn't work out. But I told Liam to be more aggressive earlier in the points in his third set, and he did. I told Joel to move quicker, to play through the middle of the court, to not try and make winners when he was clearly out of position - and he did. I appreciate this type of coaching relationship, and the trust that it shows you have in me. And then I get to have trust right back at you, like when I knew that Liam could pull out his match :-)

3rd Rung - Team support. Probably my favorite moment of the night was when Braydon came up to me while Liam was playing his final point of the match and asked if we could rush the court if Liam won. Braydon was obviously excited for Liam and for the team, and when Liam won and the team roared... well, that made me proud of you guys too! I love to watch the team unite, in good and in bad. It's always fun when it gets to be the good that we're celebrating, and tonight that was the case. But let's make sure to get more and more of this vocal support even in the day to day matches. Let's hear encouragement and praise in all things. And let's not forget to lift that to God as well, who is healing this team day by day.

Final Notes
This tennis season continues to be one of trials. We've had ongoing injuries, frustrations and now are battling through a freshman wave of sickness. Tonight was fun, but please, remember to take what's going on to God.

God, our prayer is that You would form us as people moving toward You. We've got many loose ends and problems, but we want to move up the ladder with You. Give us grace when we lose our temper, give us health for our sick places, give us healing for our hurts. And then, to You be the glory, in the name of Jesus. Amen!

#1S - Jacob Woolace - 0-6, 0-6 - Evan Trusty (12)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 6-4, 2-6, 7-6 (6) - Thayne Camp (12)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 1-6, 4-6 - Quest Crotty (11)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jonathon Yousey - 6-0, 6-0 - Ben Sherbondy (12)/Luke Chelinski (11)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 6-3, 6-1 - Dylan Weisenfelder (12)/Evan Towns (9)

Junior Varsity
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Philip Krabill - 8-3 - Nick Rutherford (9)/Lucas Lennen (9)

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