Friday, September 1, 2017

Climbing Report 8: Prairie Heights

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Varsity Match Report
I was really grateful for the attitude of the team headed into this match. After having several difficult matches in a row, we still seemed committed throughout this match to the idea of becoming better tennis players. And only when we stay committed to that goal, time after time after time, that we will get better.

Tonight, I began to see us getting better. Jonathon got better at attacking throughout his point, #1D got better at relaxing and putting the ball in the court with authority. #2D got better at finishing points at the net. Liam got better at keeping his footwork going between points. And Joel got better at having confidence and moving to the correct spots.

None of the matches were particularly close. We didn't have to go three sets, although Joel's first set took a while :-) And getting a win felt good after the three close losses we've faced. Actually, here's a fun fact. We have had 50 varsity positions played now this season, and our record at those positions is 24-26. If we win at least 4-1 in our next match, we would have winning record at the positions, if not as a team. Tonight was a night where we put it all together.

JV Match Report
Definitely, the highlight of this match for me was getting to watch the JV play. Too often, I am still embroiled in trying to help the varsity pull out wins that I don't get to see the JV guys. Tonight, I was wowed by the improvement that was evident.

No where was that more important than in Braydon Harshberger's match. Playing one of his first singles matches, Braydon struggled early in the set with consistency to keep the point alive. He quickly established that if his serve went in he would win the point. Soon it was evident that if he could hit a good forehand, the same would happen. So, it became a battle against himself to be consistent.

These can be the most frustrating battles in all of tennis. When we know we have the ability to win, but we just keep making errors. The best thing to do is go back to the basics. Is my movement good? Am I hitting the ball in the strike zone? Am I starting the point with a safe shot that I know I can hit in?

Braydon faced those questions, righted his game and rolled off 5 out of 6 games to win the match and give himself a winning record on the season.

But the other JV matches were just as great. Tyson played the match of the night, going back and forth with a tall, athletic Panther sophomore. Like many matches for the Bruins right now, Tyson struggled to find the winning shot. He tried to attack his opponent's weakness, but couldn't complete a tiebreak win. Theo also had so many great shots in his match, but could never convert them into a game win.

Another highlight was watching our matches against ourselves. Aaron and Philip took on Will and Joesph, and they had some of the top JV doubles points I've seen this season. The thing I loved about this match was the attitude of the players. They were playing hard but not stressing. They were enjoying their partners. It was fun to watch. And it is exactly the type of attitude they need to succeed in their "real" matches.

Climbing Up (Great Moments of the Match)
In what ways am I grateful for the ways we are getting better? Here's the top 3...

1st Rung - I'm grateful for people who work on their weaknesses without fear. Tonight, I asked Jonah to work on putting away overheads, and he did. He slammed ball after ball that got floated toward the net. In Joel's match, he was hitting the ball way out of the strike zone, trying to do way too much stuff. As the match went on, we focused in on just hitting our shots in the strike zone. And it went much better :-) Braydon's match was close, and we decided to work on the weakness of consistency. With balls in the court, Braydon got his victory.

2nd Rung - Thanks to all of you parents who provide great food. So, I don't know if this helps us get better as tennis players, but tennis season is about way more than that. I've always emphasized that first of all, we are a group of guys who like to hang out together. The wonderful meals that the parents provide are such a part of this. Tonight, we munched on wings and potatoes and smiled a lot. We also got to watch people try to cool their burning tongues after attempting to eat Mango Habanero :-)

3rd Rung - I'm thankful for the time we spend together. Honestly, it was awesome to get around to more of the matches tonight. I was grateful for the time chatting with those who were watching the matches. I had fun matching up the Bethany v. Bethany matches. It makes me happy to have laid back nights like this.

#1S - Jonathon Yousey - 6-0, 6-0 - Johnny Squier (11)
#2S - Liam Bradford - 6-0, 6-0 - Malachi Malone (11)
#3S - Joel Yoder - 7-5, 6-1 - Layne Bachelor (11)
#1D - Dustin Miller/Jacob Woolace - 6-0, 6-0 - Cameron Penick (11)/Garrett Culler (11)
#2D - Jonah Farran/Nathan Oostland - 6-0, 6-1 - Logan Nott (10)/Brandon Christlieb (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braydon Harshberger - 8-5 - Ethan Hinkle (11)
#2SJV - Tyson Miller - 7-8 (5) - Elijah Malone (10)
#3SJV - Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 0-8 - Mike Perkins (10)

Bethany vs. Bethany Matches
#1D - Will Nisley/Joseph Mounsithiraj - 8-6 - Philip Krabill/Aaron Shenk
#1S - Chris Craw - 6-3 - Kameron Branum

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