Wednesday, August 29, 2018

Prairie Heights Match Report

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When we were supposed to leave the school, Will's locker wouldn't unlock so he could get his tennis stuff out. My mom and kids accidentally got locked out of our house and I had to run home to let them in. The shed to the tennis courts was locked and I had to run back and open it. Locks were all working against us, so we got a late start toward the match.

As we pulled out onto Main Street, the traffic was backed up past the school. We slowly slogged our way through town and out to US 20, only to be met by a detour in Lagrange. We pulled into the match in a hurry.

We blustered out onto the courts, and found out that we would be playing slightly different positions than we thought, because the Panthers had 5 eligible players rather than 6. We knew from seeing previous results that Prairie Heights had lost to Central Noble, who had lost to Fremont, who we had beaten 5-0. So we were feeling the pressure of playing a match that we "should" win.

Oh, and it was really windy. Like, blowing our service tosses around and pushing normal forehands long type of wind.

It was a prime situation for distraction. For slow feet. For sleepwalking our way through matches. For getting drawn into close matches and potentially getting beat.

And in spite of these difficulties, our guys responded well. #1D of Nathan and Jonah did a great job of navigating the windy conditions, making simple shots and playing well within the margins of the court. They also took advantage by taking control of the net, and that allowed them to sail to an easy victory.

At the singles positions, both Will and Caleb started their matches really well. Will had great control of his shots and early in the match, his opponent did not. Will also mixed in coming to the net, and was able to force errors as his opponent tried to pass him.

Caleb struggled a bit with his serve in the wind, but was able to adjust. His groundstrokes and footwork were strong, as playing in the wind necessitates quick and nimble steps. His strong strokes forced errors from his opponent.

Liam didn't start as strong as he played against his mirror image. The Panther #1 had every page of Liam's playbook, getting forward to drop shots and playing strong slices through the wind just like Liam. He combined that with a strong serve, and was able to take a 5-2 lead on Liam in the first set. But then Liam began to pick up his own game quite a bit. He remembered to use his weapon, a whipped forehand that he has great control over. Using this weapon, Liam got back into the first set, but Panther junior Logan Nutt was able to close it out.

Caleb and Will closed off their first sets too, but then fell into the second set lull. Liam did the opposite. With his game plan now in front of him, Liam executed very well. His #1S opponent could not match his spinning forehand, especially when Liam could direct his second serve returns into the backhand side. Combine that with a couple of killer volleys and Liam had things pointed in the right direction. Though the games continued to be close, Liam's forehand was the difference at the end of games and Liam collected a 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 win.

At #2S and #3S, Caleb had a long game to start the second set. He missed a lot of forehands and serves, but was able to find a way to win it. From there, the rest of the set went quickly. Will's second set was much closer, as his opponent became a human wall, sending shot after shot back to Will. When Will moved confidently and swung through, he found himself in control of the points and winning most of them. He also helped himself out with some great volleys. He was able to close out the win too.

Liam's match wrapped things up for us and we got back on the bus. The wind had died down. The bus's locks weren't possessed. Traffic was clear as we headed home. We sang our "Sarasponda" victory song.

There was no JV match :-(

It was enough to watch you face distraction and laziness and decide not to give in. In so many cases, we are tempted to just give in to distraction. To just give in to "I'm too tired." But you guys created energy tonight by moving, by staying hopeful and positive. It was enough to not give in.

You are brothers because you adjust for each other. Tonight was tough, because we thought that PH had 6 available players, so we brought 6 guys. When the Panthers only had 5, that meant that 1 Bruin wasn't going to get to play. You were all so gracious, offering to be the one not to play, stating reasons that other guys should play, even cheering on Angel (who had just been along to spectate) to get his chance. When you are for each other, I am extremely impressed. You are brothers.

I am grateful for...
- Caleb's confident footwork.
- Will's excellent net play.
- Nathan and Jonah's comfort with each other.
- Nathan and Jonah's understanding of their roles, and their plan.
- Liam's determination to change his effort and plan.
- Tyson's sacrifice.
- forgiveness.
- Angel's presence to cheer on the team.
- safe bus rides.
- beautiful sunsets.
- laughter on the bus.
- real conversation on the bus (what are the proper expectations during prayer?)
- Andrew running practice for the guys who didn't get to play.
- so much more...

Lord God, we are trying to work this week on getting stronger. On trusting our strengths more, of not fearing our weaknesses. On working through distraction. Please, allow us opportunities to trust You more as well. Let choose understanding over dissension, unity over disorder, shalom over self. May Your grace continue to lead us. Amen.

#1S - Liam Bradford - 4-6, 6-2, 6-2 - Logan Nutt (11)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-0, 6-0 - Garrett Culler (12)
#3S - Will Nisley - 6-2, 6-3 - Mike Perkins (11)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 6-0, 6-0 - Cam Penick (12)/Logan Hamilton
#2D - Philip Krabill/Tyson Miller won by forfeit

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