Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Climbing Report 7: Mishawaka Marian

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Varsity Match Report
This match was one of the best matches that we've competed in all year. But we lost. And that loss stings.

Not because the Knights didn't deserve it - no, they played awesome. At #1S, I believe Jacob Woolace played by far his most impressive tennis, and lost 6-1, 6-1. And at #2S, Marian junior Josh Bussan rarely made mistakes in wrapping up a victory over Liam. Even at positions where they lost, the Knights looked well prepared and changed strategy mid-match to keep pace. At #3S, where Caleb Shenk had locked up the first set at 6-0 for us, Marian's Caleb Suarez adjusted to try to get everything in the court and it made the second set run a little closer.

The loss stings because we were so close. And that feeling (for me) is getting a little old.

In the end, the match came down to #1D, which went into a third set (which is also getting old, by the way :-) We've had 6 dual matches, and every one of them has had one varsity match go to three sets. And tonight, it decided the match. We came out firing in the 3rd set, taking a 3-1 lead behind Dustin's confident forehands and net putaways and Jonathon's cagey service games and consistency. But soon, we got a little tight. We had a chance to take a 4-1 lead, but a short lob and overhead for the Knights ignited them and propelled them into a run of 5 straight games to take the third set. In those games, we got a little tentative and a little fearful. But we are learning. It was a difficult match.

But this makes 3 straight 3-2 losses. And Northridge was 3-2. And even our 4-1 defeats have been closer than the score indicated. We just can't seem to find the one thing to flip us out on the winning side.

So, I have to step back and remind myself to take a deep breath. We knew going into this season that we were going to have to work hard to get wins. We are improving, that was seen across the board tonight. So now, we got back to the practice court on Wednesday and we improve some more. We keep working to build an attitude of gratitude - which I'll cover more in the "Climbing Up" section.

And so, I'll just say thank You, God, for these guys who are working hard to leave a positive legacy on Bethany Christian tennis. What they've done may not be seen by everyone, but I appreciate the confidence and energy with which they conduct themselves. I pray that You give us eyes to see all the moments of joy, the twinkling of beauty, and the love of our brothers.

Good match everyone, way to show some grit.

JV Match Report
In all matches except for Joel's, the JV match was fairly straightforward. We won most of the matches easily, and I was impressed by the play of several of the players. First of all, Will Nisley. Will was not moving when I first walked up to the fence to speak with him. He was taking long, slow steps around the court. I encouraged him to make the match go quickly by taking quick steps. The next thing I knew, he was walking off the courts with an 8-0 victory. Moving is THE KEY to getting better, and Will began to do it.

Another impressive player was Aaron Shenk. He's been shaky with his confidence throughout the early season, but in this match he looked very solid and dependable. His serves had some weight behind them and his groundstrokes looked smoother and cleaner. It was fun to watch he and Chris as they've both been players who dramatically improved in each season.

Other matches, I didn't get to see as much of. Braden Bohn completed an 8-0 set quickly. Braydon and Philip served well in their match. In fact, I saw several aces :-)

Speaking of aces, Joel Yoder told me that he had several in his match. That was one of the highlights for him. But, he didn't end up winning. He didn't end up winning because he lacked a finishing touch to end points. Each tennis player, to move up and become a consistent winner at a higher JV or varsity level needs to develop two things:


What I mean by weapons are ways to end points. This could be coming forward to the net to putaway volleys and overheads. This can be a strong winning shot that we blast through the open courts. This might be a heavy topspin deep ball that you can consistently drive from corner to corner. But to be good players, we have to develop these with consistency!

Climbing Up (Great Moments of the Match)
Normally, I do the moments that were emblematic of what I want to see this team become, but today I want us to be grateful. Here are the things I am grateful for.

1st Rung - I'm grateful that Caleb is starting to play like himself again. His injury really bummed me out, because he was playing so well at the beginning of the season. I'm thankful that he's able to move and be more healthy.

2nd Rung - I'm grateful to see tangible ways that we are getting better. Jacob Woolace is competing in points with HIGH level players, and he's able to bring some aggression to these points. Nathan is starting to show confidence in his net putaways. Braden is beginning to find consistency in his serve. And we could go on...

3rd Rung - I'm so grateful for the beautiful day we had to play tennis. Last year, there were many days in which we were wondering whether we would play or not. This year has been gorgeous. Now, God, I pray that continues through September!

4th Rung - I'm grateful for listeners. Yesterday, lot's of people listened and tried when I coached them. That makes for growth. People who don't listen just stay on their same trajectory, they don't get better. Yesterday, Will, Dustin, Jonathon, Caleb, Braden, Joel, and Jacob all had moments where I remember them listening, trying and succeeding. I am so thankful for that!

5th Rung - I am grateful for the support we have of each other. After Dustin and Jonathon lost, Dustin was feeling down and sitting on the bench, exhausted, as we headed toward the bus. Two players came over to me and specifically told me that they would stay behind and walk with Dustin, to make sure he knew they were there for him. We are there for each, and I'm thankful.

#1S - Jacob Woolace - 1-6, 1-6 - Cam Rafinski (12)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 2-6, 0-6 - Josh Bussan (11)
#3S - Caleb Shenk - 6-0, 6-4 - Caleb Suarez (11)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jonathon Yousey - 4-6, 6-2, 3-6 - Dominik Rafinski (12)/Michael Gray (12)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 6-3, 6-1 - Dustin Greer (10)/Jamisan Whitaker (10)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Joel Yoder - 6-8 - John Thomassan (10)
#2SJV - Will Nisley - 8-0 - Max Hall (11)
#3SJV - Braden Bohn - 8-0 - Luke Potts (10)
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Philip Krabill - 8-1 - Seth Beker (9)/Jacob Kramer (9)
#2DJV - Chris Craw/Aaron Shenk - 8-2 - Seth Beker (9)/Jacob Kramer (9)

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