Thursday, September 21, 2017

Climbing Report 15: Fairfield

Varsity Match Report
This match was so close for us, so close to a victory. That's really the main story, but because it didn't end in a victory it's a really hard story to tell.

But, at so many positions we played some of our best tennis. Especially at #2 doubles. All season I've been trying to get this team to embrace their potential, and Monday's match showed this potential. After dropping the first 3 games, they began to move aggressively and with energy together. This energy put the Falcons on their heals. And honestly, I didn't have to make too many more visits to the fence in this match. We just road on energy and belief and strong groundstrokes and attacking net person to a comfortable victory.

Liam did much the same. With Fairfield's usual #2 sick, they substituted in a talented freshman to #2S. While Hochstedler's consistency bothered Liam in some games, he was overall very comfortable in the match and played well.

So did Braden Bohn. Moving up again into the varsity lineup, Braden hung in points confidently with senior Dylan Kaufman. However, he just couldn't find the finishing touch to end games in his favor. That's been happening a lot to our #3S players this season, and it is one of those plateau issues that I wrote about in the last match report. We are a little afraid to take an aggressive swing and win the point, and that's a thing we'll work on. But overall, Braden put his effort and energy into this match.

At #1S, Jacob Woolace had an off day while Aaron Streit was on fire. Early in this match Streit caused Jacob's energy to fizzle as he held off aggressive shots and well constructed points with big shots of his own. Streit was very impressive in this match, and Jacob just wasn't able to find the shots to consistently challenge him.

And so, the match was tied 2-2 and it came down to #1D. And that was a good thing for us, because Dustin was back to match play. He was playing with a brace on his hitting hand, but his partnership with Jonathon was great. They were energetic and moving, and after an iffy first set, they'll pulled it together and began to play with the type of skill and simple aggression that had marked their partnership before Dustin's injury.

Moving into the third set, they took a 5-1 lead. It looked like we were going to win. But Fairfield picked up their play. Over the next three games we only won ourselves two chances to finish the match. And to give Dustin a ton of credit, on one of our match points he looked across the line and initially called the Fairfield shot out. But realizing he'd made a bad call, he chose honesty and character over winning, and he corrected himself. We'd all gotten very excited, but Dustin did the right thing. That's to be commended.

And I'd like to say that we still won another way. But we didn't. We struggled to overcome the negative thoughts and nerves that go with losing a lead, and Fairfield's #1D surged ahead, winning the deciding set 7-5.

In all, I was so proud of the varsity. The night was mostly marked by outstanding play and sportsmanship. And that's what I ask for. As people, I was really, really inspired by you guys. 

And yet, there is disappointment too. We want to win. We want our great character, our honesty, our effort to be rewarded with another tally in the win column.

And it just doesn't always work like that. Winning is far more important in the short term, it gives us an energy jolt and feels good. Character is a grind, it requires grit, it takes a long time to show fruit. But it is character that gains us valuable relationships. It's character that allows us to make it through college. It is character that impresses employers, builds marriages, raises children...

Winning makes me smile. But watching men like you grow in character, it helps me put my head down on the pillow at night and know that God is loving, in control, and building you up. It lets me rest in the knowledge that there are those who want to make the world better - and you are those people. Thanks!

JV Match Report
While enthralled with the varsity, I did get to watch a lot of the JV in this match. And what I noticed is a team on the edge, of moving upward. Last week, I wrote about us being at a plateau in our growth. And I think we still are. But we are close.

The biggest thing we have to figure out now is how to win points. We are good at returning the ball over and over, but we lack the strategy to know how to finish things. That's something we've been working on this week in practice. And it is a reason that we'll have to continue to get better at volleys :-)

But the biggest thing is being confident enough in our shots to take a risk. To hit with pace to the open court. To swing with confidence for the angle. To power the ball past a net person, or trust our own judgment of a lob. To pound away overheads. These finishing shots are the next rung, the next handhold, and the better we do them, the more we'll win the close matches.

Climbing Up (A Prayer)
Great God, hear us. We are trying our best to grab on to the next rung of the ladder. We'd love to continue to see results. Give us a chance to rejoice. Something simple and tangible, something deep and meaningful, something that allows us to see the reality of what we've been doing.

#1S - Jacob Woolace - 0-6, 0-6 - Aaron Streit (11)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 6-3, 6-2 - Colin Hochstedler (9)
#3S - Braden Bohn - 1-6, 2-6 - Dylan Kaufman (12)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jonathon Yousey - 2-6, 6-3, 5-7 - Andrew Mamane (12)/Tanner Nunemaker (11)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 6-3, 6-3 - Jarin Bontrager (12)/Ben Toole (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Joel Yoder - 6-8 - Carson Yoder (12)
#2SJV - Philip Krabill - 5-8 - Tucker Miller (12)
#3SJV - Tommy Nguyen - 6-8 - Ethan Yoder (9)
#4SJV - Jim Lyu - 0-6 - Isaac Inniger (10)
#1DJV - Braydon Harshberger/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 4-8 - Riley Behles (10)/Bryce Willard (10)
#2DJV - Chris Craw/Tyson Miller - 3-8 - Isaac Inniger (10)/Lance Martin (9)
#3DJV - Aaron Shenk/Kameron Branum - 8-6 - Kaden Plett (9)/Dylan Yoder (9)
#4DJV - Angel Torres/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 8-0 - Kristof Howard (9)/Ryan Keller (9)

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