Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Climbing Report 12: Blackhawk Christian

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Varsity Match Report
Well, that was intense.

We continue to focus on ways that we can get better. In Liam's match last night, there were two clear examples of how to play within our matches, and I'll cover those in the climbing up section. But boy, it was nerve-wracking to watch those play out.

While watching Liam's match, Nathan, Jacob and I were discussing the fact that we've haven't gotten to sing as much as we like in this season. It's a BC tennis tradition going all the way back to 2005 to sing Sarasponda after our wins, but they've been a little far between this season. So, when the varsity match was tied at 2-2 and Liam lost the first set in a tiebreak of a match we needed to win... it was making us nervous.

But, apparently, it didn't make Liam nervous. It didn't look like much made him nervous. After going down 3-0 to start his match, Liam and his opponent had been going back and forth, trading games. But his opponent always seemed a bit ahead. In the second set, Liam found himself down 5-4. Blackhawk's Ethan Yourdon had a chance to end the match when he had the advantage in this game, but Liam denied the first match point and then won the game to tie it at 5-5.

However, Yourdon took a 6-5 lead. Liam rebounded from that disappointment to force the next game to deuce, but Yourdon kept getting the advantage. 4 times, Yourdon had the advantage and a match point, but 4 times Liam saved the point. The last of these saved points was the best, as Liam was brought forward by a short volley when Yourdon attacked the net, and Liam was able to slice a backhand volley crosscourt to end a point where both players had opportunities to win.

Liam won the game to force a tiebreak to end the second set. In the tiebreak, Liam took an early lead but it was Yourdon who earned his 6th match point with a 6-5 lead. On this match point, Yourdon came to the net and Liam hit a forehand passing shot down the line. Yourdon hit a crosscourt volley that Liam had to sprint and stretch to scoop up over the net. Liam got it, but left the whole court open behind him. Yourdon simply had to put a backhand volley into the open court, but the ball ticked off his frame and fell into the net. It was unfortunate for him, but gave Liam another chance.

All through this, our gathered players gave positive energy to Liam, cheering on each big point. To be sure, the Blackhawk players were doing the same. It was a great atmosphere. Liam sealed the next two points to force a third set. With darkness coming on and a long ride ahead of Blackhawk, we decided that a 10 point tiebreak would be the best idea.

Liam took a 3-1 lead, but then Yourdon ran off 5 points in a row to go up 6-3. It looked bad again for Liam, but again he responded. Methodically, he kept the ball in play and forced Yourdon to be the attacker. Then Liam would flip a switch and find the forehand, lob, or volley to end the point. 5 points in a row for Liam had him leading 9-6 with match points of his own. Yourdon saved one match point before hitting the next out. And Liam had provided his second match winning third set tiebreak of the season.

Of course, there were other great performances on the night. Nathan shook off second set nerves to find his stroke and help #1D win in two sets. Jonah and Philip continued to learn about simple aggression and were able to confidently take two sets from the Braves. Even in losses, Jacob and Joel were able to learn lessons... or find out about a new podcast to listen to in order to help their mental game :-)

I was proud of the energy around the team tonight. I was proud of how we responded. I am proud of how we support each other. I can't wait to see this team keep growing. Two and a half weeks left, let's keep climbing.
JV Match Report
Speaking of climbing, it has been a joy to watch our JV guys get better throughout the season. We're learning strokes, tactics, and mental game... and then we are learning how to put those into play. Tonight saw two great singles matches and 3 really gritty doubles matches.

I was impressed by the command that Will showed in his singles match. Time after time he worked his opponent from one side of the court to the other, until provoking the error. At #2S, Braden also worked the points well. These two guys have really taken to the idea of improving, and I love watching them compete.

At doubles, there was lots of energy. Energy that I hope translates to the whole team. Braydon continues to celebrate his great points, continues to encourage his partners, continues to showcase his strengths. He and Joseph played a close match, but when the big volleys were needed, Braydon had the hands to put them away.

Chris and Tyson showed great chemistry, working together and never giving up on points. My favorite point was when Tyson was near the net and began to move over to a ball that he thought that he could get. But the ball was in an awkward spot, to near to his feet and he would have only been able to smack it out. So, without a word, he jumped over the ball and Chris swooped in behind him to knock it back over the net. It was as if they had planned it. That effort is amazing!

In the end, the JV match came down to the tiebreak at #3DJV. Kameron and Theo had thought it might be an easy match, but the Blackhawk players were excellent at patrolling and controlling the net. With a simple change (simple is always good in doubles), Kameron and Theo started hitting around the net player in the tiebreak, and secured the JV victory in the growing dark.

Climbing Up
What lessons to learn as we run back to the ladder after the NorthWood match and try to climb on. Let's examine just Liam's match...

1st Rung - Negative Energy Hurts Your Game
It was evident watching Liam that every time he turned to showing negative energy, his on court tennis play would suffer. Sometimes, we think that when the coaches ask us to not do these things it is because they are making arbitrary rules to make the game more sportsmanlike. That is somewhat true. At a tennis level though, negative outbursts hurt. Let's continue to let go of foot-slamming, slumped shoulders, hanging heads and other forms of talking ourselves down... instead...

2nd Rung - Positive Energy Boosts Everyone
In Liam's match, one thing I loved was his positive outbursts. There were several big points that Liam won where he pumped both fists. Where he hustled to the ball for the next point. Where he spun around and ran back to the baseline. These are great expressions of positive energy. And it made everyone else feel good too. Those playing next to him in JV doubles had great expressions of support for Liam. I loved that Tyson, during Liam's second set tiebreak, asked me how things were going for Liam when we met at the fence. I loved that the positive attitude spread.

3rd Rung - Under Pressure, Swing Through Like You Normally Do
The biggest key from Liam's match is that when you are under pressure and when you are not, you have to take your normal, loose, accelerating swings. Several times when facing match points, Liam's opponent charged the net. This is often a good strategy on pressure points, because the attack often causes the opposing player to feel pressure, tighten up and either float a ball to you to smash or crush a ball to far long. But Liam just hit Liam's shot, a smooth topspin ball down the line or a perfectly weighted lob.

He's able to do this because he basically always hits the same. He hits these loose shots in practice, in matches, when goofing around. This is what we've got to develop. Our shots. One's that we know that we hit all the time. Then, under pressure, just starting a match, whenever - we just hit how we hit and play how we play. Liam showed us a great example of that in this match.

#1S - Jacob Woolace - 1-6, 0-6 - Drew Hall (12)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 6-7 (4), 7-6 (6), 10-7 - Ethan Yourdon (12)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 1-6, 0-6 - Josh Carlson (12)
#1D - Jonathon Yousey/Nathan Oostland - 6-3, 6-3 - Zach Kaufman (11)/Matt Winteregg (9)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Philip Krabill - 6-4, 6-3 - Logan Foote (12)/Isaiah Messburg (12)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Will Nisley - 6-1 - Jimmy Bunner
#2SJV - Braden Bohn - 6-0 - Colton Romines
#3SJV - Tommy Nguyen - 3-6 - Ben Figgins
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 6-4 - Aaron Jentgen/Bear Roberts
#2DJV - Chris Craw/Tyson Miller - 4-6 - Wes Taner/Ryan Neff
#3DJV - Kameron Branum/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 6-5 (2) - Caleb Gibson/Chandler Pope
#4DJV - Angel Torres/Jim Lyu - 0-6 - ??? / ???

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