We officially won the league title today after beating the only league team we hadn't played. It was never in doubt that we'd win today, just having seen their other results, but there's always a worry that when you play your bottom roster players in unfamiliar spots that it might be bumpier than it needs to be and that was today's story. Also, they only had 6 players so only played the singles flights and one doubles, which made it even more anti-climatic.
For the first time all year, two
of the matches went 3 sets. One was a fringe varsity player who played singles for the first time in her HS career. She won 6-1, 4-6, 6-2...so it was mostly nerves in that 2nd set having never been in that position before.
The other was the only match we lost today, I had my 4th singles sophomore playing 1st singles -- she'd never played above 3 for us -- against a tenacious sophomore from another school who has spent all year getting lumped by the better players around our league at 1st singles, so I knew she'd be salivating at getting a kid at her level.
My player grinded all match, but could never figure out how to put her away. She lost the first set 4-6, after being down 5-2. She won the 2nd set 7-5, after being up 5-2 and then the 3rd set she ran out of gas and lost quickly 6-1. It was for the best, ultimately. I wanted her to face a bit of adversity, because these kids playing bad players sometimes think it comes easy and will get the false notion that they're actually good and it's like 'no actually, you have a lot to work on...you're playing a lot of not good players.'
So it was a good wakeup call for her, but I appreciated her attitude throughout the match, she relished the challenge of grinding with this girl. She doesn't quite know how to put her foot on the gas yet and our schedule doesn't help with that at all.
The district tournament next Wednesday will actually be useful in that way, as some of these kids are going to play the toughest matches they've played all year just by the sheer nature of the draw.
The seeding meeting is this Saturday, I'll do my best to get a few kids seeded -- which shouldn't be that difficult. We're playing our last regular season match on Thursday, I have no idea if the team will 1) even show up and if they do 2) whether they'll bring a sufficient number of players. They don't have more than 8 kids, but perhaps they're excited to visit the city.
I think I'd probably be fine to play the match, because it's better than practice since we get bored playing against ourselves. But it's JV quality opposition, so it's kind of a mixed bag.
Nonetheless, in a year without a state tournament, an undefeated year and a league title is pretty cool in a season we didn't even know we'd get to have.
Districts next week be bittersweet, partially because it's the end of the road for these seniors, but also because we'll always wonder what might have been had we been able to take anyone to state. I'm going to be grateful for the underclassmen who'll get the experience to participate including my freshman who will now play in it, but that's about it.
Originally Posted by Portiere
This has been a fun read. While soccer is my main sport (hence the name) I also played tennis, including a bit in college, and had a fun season as an assistant at my former high school some years ago. Lots of imbalance between the teams that have players with a history of lessons and everyone else.
I was mostly a grinder, and was infamous for playing 2 hour+ long matches. I don't think I ever lost a 3-set match due to my soccer fitness. Not the best when the bus needs to leave...
We played a girl like that today at 1st singles. I looked at her past matches, she's only won 3-set matches. She either loses quickly or DRAGS you into a dogfight. It was a slog and my girl ran out of gas.
We've played 5 3-set matches across all our matches all year. We're 2-3 in them and it's never a fitness issue for my girls in these matches, it's rather all mental. Either they blow a lead and have to scratch it back or they do the work to get themselves back into it and then have to figure out how to close. It'll be something we really work on next year -- the mental game is a thing I cover, but I use video lessons and we haven't been inside -- but I might need to strategize to get them to stop adapting their games to play with whoever they're playing against because that's how they get into trouble.