Friday, September 21, 2018

Fairfield Match Report

Tonight's match was our last home match, and thus was our senior night celebration. I spoke about each senior, because I am grateful for them. To read what was said, click on their names below.

Liam Bradford
Jonah Farran
Philip Krabill
Angel Torres

Entering this match, I was excited because we had broken through this weekend at the Portage Tournament to play some of our best tennis. I was excited to see what that looked like against a team that was supposed to be much better than us this season. Our pattern has been to play poorly against the better teams, but right now we are breaking those poor patterns.

And so, I'm happy to say that we finally played a good match against a good team.

That didn't mean we won everything. In fact, we only ended up walking away from this match with one victory, and unfortunately, it wasn't for any of our seniors who were being honored. Instead, our one clinched victory belonged to Caleb Shenk.

Caleb has really started to understand how to play over his last couple of matches. He's been stroking the ball really well and learning to relax. Over the weekend, that meant that he got two fairly comfortable victories in his last two matches. Today, he got a win in a match that he had to fight until the very end. He did that with great serving, great groundstrokes and also finding the places to attack. Caleb also showed great positive emotion, something that our team needs to continue to do.

The seniors played well, but couldn't bring home the victories. The closest was Philip Krabill. He started off fast, playing well in the first couple of games, but only getting a game in the process. This led to a first set loss, but it was close and took a long time. In the second set, Philip turned the close games around. He took a 5-2 lead in the second and looked like he would take the match to a third set. At that point, we needed him to as well, because we were down 2-1 in the finished matches. Unfortunately, his opponent picked up the strategy and quality of his game. Philip couldn't close out the match, and that disappointment turned toward tiredness. He strove toward the end, but couldn't find the final shots.

Similarly, #1D struggled to finish off the final shots. They didn't have the best first set, but began the second with more confidence and energy. This was especially true of their movement at the net, as they began to cut off more shots. With their normal route of attack being cut off, the Falcons shifted strategy to lobs. This cut down our teams confidence, and we got less balls at the net to finish. Nerves also began to pile up as we saw the match get closer and closer. We became too tight to take our shots confidently and lost the second set.

At #1S, Liam tired many different strategies but couldn't find a weapon to hurt the Falcon #1. I had played Fairfield's #1S, Aaron Streit, earlier this summer and found the same difficulties that Liam was having. Streit hits such excellent angles with his shots, and doesn't make many errors. It makes him a difficult player to figure out.

At #2D, we had a little more success. Tyson and Will were serving really well, and are also really starting to understand the dynamics of playing the net. With that being the case, they were cutting off a lot of balls at the center of the net and were playing with some confidence. This was especially true in the second set, and even after losing the first set, they pushed their match to a third set. In the third set, the whole match went back and forth. Trailing 4-5, Will and Tyson went down 0-40 in returning serve. In a wonderful series of points, they erased all three of those match points against them and tied the match at 5-5. That was a wonderful response to pressure.

It was an example of how I've wanted us to play all year. In the face of pressure, play with freedom, not with fear. There is nothing to lose! There is only great memories to be gained. And Will and Tyson extended the match. Unfortunately, they didn't get the win. But it still had these great moments.

And that match today had a lot of those great moments, Philip's winners, Jonah's smashes, Liam's fierce volleys. As we move into the last week of the season, we can't wait to see more of that!

The JV definitely played their best match of the season tonight. Braden started it off with another win, bringing his JV winning percentage up to 78%. He played efficiently and quickly, and was off the court before the varsity matches were even finished. At #2SJV, Josh had quite a battle with his senior opponent. Josh played consistently and found a lot of success when he was able to force the ball deep into the court. In the final game, Josh and his opponent went back and forth with many deuces before Josh pulled out the victory.

#3SJV was similar for Chris. He and his opponent both had difficulties holding their serve, but in the end, Chris made some great shots and played more consistently to take another victory. With the singles positions swept, it was on to the doubles. Fairfield only had two doubles teams, so they each got to play twice. Joseph and Theo had a close #1 doubles matches, but their net play was the deciding factor in pulling out a 7-5 win. So in the top 4 positions of the JV match, we had a 4-0 lead.

Unfortunately, the bottom 4 positions had to again match up with the top Fairfield players. What were mostly close victories for our top guys turned into close losses for the lower guys. But I was especially impressed with our freshmen, who both fought out close losses. They all had to make impressive comebacks after getting down early in the set. It was good to see Josiah, Matthew, Austin and Jacob never give up.

That was a key thing. We looked like we always believed we could win. That is so key to continuing to get better. I loved that confidence!

It was enough to compete. In the face of senior night, a good opponent, last home match, late nights, and more, we played some of our best tennis of the season. That is enough.

You are brothers. When Philip came off the court from his long, tiring, frustrating match, he was met at the fence by Caleb. Caleb put his arm around Philip and told him nice job. I could tell that Caleb was sincere, I could tell that Philip knew it. You are brothers.

I am grateful for...
- the seniors.
- the families that raised them.
- the work they've put in this year (and other years).
- the joy that the team has for these guys.
- the players from previous years who sent texts or came out to watch.
- the fans and friends from school who "tailgated" the match.
- a wonderful meal with the parents and families.
- the beautiful weather this season. We've had no matches rained out!
- more time with this team.

Father, let us live with freedom. You have given us unassailable worth, because we are Your children. Help us live with confidence because we are already enough for You, because we are Your children, and because Your grace daily provides what we really need. Help us accept that with gratitude. Amen.

#1S - Liam Bradford - 0-6, 0-6 - Aaron Streit (12)
#2S - Caleb Shenk - 6-4, 6-4 - Eric Gaby (12)
#3S - Philip Krabill - 1-6, 5-7 - Colin Hochstedler (10)
#1D - Nathan Oostland/Jonah Farran - 2-6, 4-6 - Ben Toole (12)/Lance Martin (10)
#2D - Will Nisley/Tyson Miller - 2-6, 6-3, 5-7 - Riley Behles (11)/Isaac Inniger (11)

Junior Varsity
#1SJV - Braden Bohn - 6-2 - Kaden Plett (10)
#2SJV - Josh Cartwright - 6-4 - Jesse Miller (12)
#3SJV - Chris Craw - 6-4 - Ryan Keller (10)
#1DJV - Joseph Mounsithiraj/Theo Siemens-Rhodes - 7-5 - Dylan Yoder (10)/Ethan Yoder (10)
#2DJV - Matthew Dyck/Austin Shenk - 4-6 - Brady Cripe (9)/Collin Troyer (9)
#3DJV - Aaron Shenk/Angel Torres - 0-6 - Dylan Yoder (10)/Ethan Yoder (10)
#4DJV - Josiah Schlabach/Jacob Leininger - 3-6 - Brady Cripe (9)/Collin Troyer (9)
#5DJV - Jim Lyu/Sam Setiawan - 0-6 - Jesse Miller (12)/Kaden Plett (10)

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