Wednesday, September 12, 2018

Blackhawk Christian Match Report

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In this match, we came out in the first sets with focus and energy. We came out with commitment to play the way that we had practiced. In every match, our opponents responded by raising their level of play. And in every match, we got nervous. And then in every match, we responded ourselves. This was a significant step forward in our tennis growth.

There's positives to point out in every match. So I'll start with the match that we lost. Philip controlled most of the match, and that is important to mark. He wasn't being pushed around the court, but instead was firmly hitting his shots. He just missed them sometimes. And sometimes didn't move with the same conviction. But I was especially proud of how he responded at the mid-point of the second set. Philip had lost a close first set in a tiebreak, and had slumped behind in the second set. It didn't look like he was going to keep competing. But instead, Philip picked himself up and fought back. By the end of the set, Philip had given himself several opportunities to take it to a third set. That was the type of fight against the situation that I love to see!

In #1D, the beauty was actually watching their attack of the net. Jonah has so improved this part of his game that it has become a strength of the team. I really loved watching them put away balls and get in attacking positions. There were parts of the match where these two got knocked onto their heels, but they kept coming back to the simple aggressive plays.

Similarly at #1S, this was one of my favorite Liam matches to watch because he continues to integrate the things we are talking about in practice. Today, he brought a bigger serve and a bigger backhand. No doubt, one of my favorite points of the match was when Liam's opponent approached to his backhand and Liam smoked a topspin backhand down the line. But in Liam's second set his focus began to slip. I began to get worried because it looked like Liam was abandoning the aggressiveness that had helped him build a comfortable lead. But in the end, Liam reenergized his feet, spun some forehands and put pressure on by coming to the net. It was really a fun match.

But it was the #2's that really responded the best to self-imposed difficulties tonight. Both Caleb and Will and Tyson took their first sets with relative ease. But in the second sets, they were faced with a lot of difficulty as they had to face self-doubt and the poor play that causes.

Caleb began to falter when up 3-0 in the second set. First, his serve became shaky and he threw in a few double faults. Then, his strokes suddenly didn't seem as easy. From up 3-0, it was suddenly 3-3. Then back and forth it went the rest of the match, Caleb not holding his serve at any point. His opponent was shaky as well, but developing confidence as Caleb had stopped being able to find attacking balls. Finally, Caleb found himself down 6-5. At fence, I told him simply that he had to stop imagining the worst and realize that the best was also possible. I told him he was going to win this service game and dominate the tiebreak. I knew it.

I don't know what changed, but from there out Caleb did dominate. He easily served out his game to force the tiebreak, and then charged through the tiebreak only losing 1 point. His win also sealed the team victory, which let me exhale and enjoy the remaining matches a bit more. That comeback from a dark mental place was impressive, and truly the mark of growth. I loved it!

#2D had to do the same thing. Faced with opponents who took the pace off the ball, Will and Tyson started doing the exact same thing. Unfortunately, they were much more timid, and their movement suffered as they got more and more nervous in the set. They started with the lead, but the most they pressed, the less they moved and the weaker they hit the ball. They lost the second set and had to go to a third set tiebreak.

But in the tiebreak, they responded. Will and Tyson didn't play perfect, but they played with purpose. That made such a difference. They didn't hit shots just to get them in, they played shots to win the point. Tyson hit some great serves. Will hit a couple of overheads. Leading 7-6, Will served 2 big points to extend the lead. It was a wonderful response.

And that was a great theme. When things go bad, it is reasonably and even probable to expect that they will go better again. Keep energy and focus high - and they probably will.

It was a short JV match tonight, but well played. Joseph and Aaron racked up their second win in a row at #1DJV, and Braden added his second win at #1SJV. Both positions faced teams that were less skilled and less confident, but this can often be a problem for JV players. It makes them lethargic (especially after an hour and a half bus ride :-) We were not lethargic, and we simply played the way that we've been practicing. Aaron and Joseph came to the net, settled balls into the court and put the pressure on. Braden used his weapons to pressure his opponent. In the end, both positions won fairly easily.

It was enough tonight that we made the effort to imagine our brighter possibilities rather than only the darker ones. It was enough that we once again realized that it isn't enough to know the right thing to do, we actually have to do it. It was enough that we then made ourselves do it.

You are brothers when you simply enjoy being together. When you get excited about things together. Tonight, the bus ride home was fun. Philip and Joseph were discussing current ideas and social issues. We stopped to get ice cream. We teased each other about the Cardinals and the Cubs and who is going out before the playoffs and in the first round. We swatted mosquitoes. We had an ease with one another that is smile inducing. You are brothers.

I am grateful for...
- the beautiful moon over the forests and cornfields as we drove home.
- a mild night to play tennis.
- our responses to adverse situations today.
- the long drive and the time to think and talk.
- Braden, Joseph, and Aaron's simple JV wins.
- for ET Sundaes and Brownie Tornados.

God, we are not ever finished products. It one of the things that is so hard about being human. But have have successes, and I pray that You can help us rejoice in them. When we take time to listen to another's feeling or point of view, when we refrain revenge, when we react with positivity to challenge - these are all places that we grow. May we rejoice in that grace of Yours. Amen.

#1S - Liam Bradford - 6-1, 6-1 - Zach Kaufman (12)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-0, 7-6 (1) - Jimmy Bunner (10)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 6-7 (4), 5-7 - Bear Roberts (11)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 6-1, 6-3 - Aaron Jentgen (11)/Colton Romines (10)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - 6-2, 3-6, (10-6) - Wes Tanner (11)/Ryan Neff (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braden Bohn - 8-2 - Tiago Freitas (11)
#1DJV - Joseph Mounsithiraj/Aaron Shenk - 8-3 - Caleb Gibson (10)/Kelson Volkert (10)

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