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Old 04-20-2021, 03:27 PM   #1
Young Drachma
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Join Date: Apr 2001
Sweat Socks: RL HS Coaching Tennis Dynasty

After boring IRL friends with my travails as a high school tennis coach, I figured I'd just make a dynasty so I could document this very abbreviated season into the ether. If nothing else, surely this is the first time anyone has written about coaching high school tennis in this forum.

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My brief tennis background

Being beyond a perpetual dynasty thread starter, Godfather of Fast-sim (tm), and fan of the underdog, I've been playing tennis since I was 9. I was absolutely a late bloomer who was fortunate to have a patient coach. I had mostly group lessons, never private ones.

Anyway, by high school I ended up being a really useful cog in a well-oiled machine. My freshman year we were kind of terrible, but after that the team reeled off 3 straight state tournament appearances and won our conference (for the first time ever) during my senior year.

Over four years, I made 72 varsity appearances which isn't shabby almost entirely at doubles.

After the Air Force, I played one year of college tennis at a D3 school in Illinois that was rebooting tennis after a long hiatus. The timing was good, playing both singles and doubles in all of our matches. At the conference tournament, I made the quarterfinals surprisingly.


Player becomes coach

In high school, I sort became a player-manager as the 6th-7th player on varsity most of the time. I kept the books and could always tell my better teammates who the opponent was if we'd played them before and if they beat them. They really appreciated it over time.

Mostly I admired my HS coach, a black man who was born in 1921 and picked up tennis in his 50s. He built the entire program from scratch and developed us into a perennial contender, as well as sending tons of players to college that way. Had our school had a better reputation, more kids who lived in town would've played HS for us and we'd have surely won at least one state title.

We were truly stacked. There was a summer team circuit of sorts that we played in the 90s that pitted us against other towns. It was the time when all of the local kids came together and played regardless of our schools. The year we did it between my junior and senior year was absurd. We didn't lose the entire summer and blew out anyone and everyone we played.

Anyway, I was a big fan of my HS coach and worked to get our HS courts named after him before he retired, since it's what he said he wanted.

When I had the chance to coach tennis, I took it. First at a bunch of camps around the country. In 2008, I worked at a university doing my real job but I asked the new tennis coach (who was a basketball coach) if he wanted help in the form of a free assistant. He took me up on it.

So I spent a season as a D3 assistant tennis coach. Over the years, I had a few opportunities to coach D3 teams as a head coach or assistant, but the money is terrible and I always felt torn giving up my real career for it, so I never did it.

I coached JV tennis at a prep school in Colorado a year after that, it was the first time I'd coached girls. Previously, I'd only ever coached boys teams. There I coached boys, then they asked me to come back and coach girls. It was actually rewarding. One of my HS boys who started at JV later won the state tournament in doubles two years after I left.

After my last high school job in 2011 and a subsequent camp summer, I didn't coach a school team again until I moved to Oregon in 2018. On a bit of a whim, a 3-time state champ needed a girls coach after their coach retired. I threw my hat in and interviewed a lot better than they expected. They hired a teacher instead, but I ended up latched onto a boys program in the same conference that season.

I lucked into a German exchange student and a team of hungry seniors who would come to practice early and stay late. It would've been better if our best player hadn't been ineligible, but still with two solid varsity players and a roster of hard workers, we finished 5th in our extremely tough 6A (Top division) league and all of our teams advanced out of the first round of the league tournament.

I knew graduating all those kids -- and not getting paid, the school didn't fund tennis -- I wasn't likely to return to that program. So when a job opened up taking over the state finalists at a 4A school (It's a 3A school, but tennis is single class after 5A) I jumped at it.

After the canceled season, back again
Last year was canceled after just 2 weeks. It gave me enough time to get to know the girls, but that's about it. This year, I brought back our 3 best players (only one is a senior) and I knew we'd be good.

Turns out, we had about 5 sophomores who were tennis experienced -- but lapsed -- show up for practice this year and so, now we're a pretty deep team of raw but really good players.

Oregon inexplicably does 4 singles and 4 doubles for matches in high school. I hate it, along with the format that they use to determine state champions. Each match is worth 1 point, most points wins the dual match. If you tie, the tiebreaker is sets, then total games.

We're a private school team that would be good even if we were playing 6A tennis. I don't know that they've ever had a stretch with this much talent and it's a bummer to miss two state tournaments (last year and this one) because I think we've been robbed of at least one state title, if not two.

Speaking of state titles, our girls have won 5 titles in history. (1980, 1993, 1994, 2015, 2016) and three of my current roster players have experience deep into the singles/doubles tournament though no one on this club has a ring from the last state title and that finals team should've won one but their coach was new to the HS game and screwed up getting his players seeded at the district qualifying tournament, so our best player lost early to an upstart in the singles tourney.

2021 SEASON

The goal this year is two-pronged: 1) Win the league (and district are the same thing) regular season title 2) Win the league tournament (Which is dumb there won't be a state tournament)

We're also hoping to play at least 1 or 2 matches against some 6A schools to see where we measure up against some of the best state. We might have a game against the defending 6A champs or at least, one of the Top 5 teams in that classification. We're still see if we get the games added.

I'll do regular season recaps after each match. We play on Tuesdays and Thursdays. This season is unusually short, we're only going to play 9 regular season games (normally we'd have up to 16) and then the district tournament will happen.

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Old 04-20-2021, 04:14 PM   #2
Young Drachma
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Who is on my team?

Not gonna use names, but I'll just talk about the players.

My No 1 and 2 are two of the best juniors in their class in the entire state/region. Both have the talent to play D1 tennis, but because tennis mostly draws from foreign countries, the threshold for an American HS player to get a schollie from a top program means you really have to get your rating up.

I love explaining tennis ranking weirdness to people, because it's not like other sports. Tennis has a whole parallel circuit of junior events that happen from kids as young as 7 years old and you can play them pretty much until you're old. There's no AAU in tennis, since it's not a team sport.

Old timers in here may remember NTRP, a self-rating system that tennis players can use to self-assess their skill level. That has mostly fallen out of vogue now. Most competitive juniors rate themselves using something called UTR which purports to do a better job of matching skill levels.

For context, the top college players right now have a UTR of around 10. My two best players are somewhere in the 6 range, but are both juniors. If they managed to get into the 8 range, they'd be low-end D1 players. It's pretty cool and not an everyday thing at all.

We have another player around a 5. The rest of the team are your standard high school tennis players.

Because we're not a 6A school (Oregon has 6 classes, but only 3 for tennis) we end up playing a lot of schools who just aren't as deep as we are talentwise at tennis. It's frustrating, but it's just how it is.

There's no state tournament this year, either. So we're even more limited in terms of motivational tactics. I'm hoping that a district title, coupled with maybe some battles against 6A schools will keep my good players motivated enough to keep playing high school tennis.

Because that's the other thing. Unlike other sports (besides maybe soccer & golf to a different extent) the best players in tennis often will eschew HS tennis entirely because it stunts their development. I give my best players a bit more latitude than you'd normally give kids at that level, because I think it's good for my regular players to get the experience to work with players at that talent level even if it's only once a week.

We have 6 seniors, all of them are varying degrees of doubles players. One is our 4th best player who plays 1st doubles, the rest are solid. We got a really good group of sophomores who are angling to take those spots, which is great because we needed that infusion of talent to help us win a title next year, though I wish we had the chance to do it now.

There's also one other underclassmen who is somewhere between my top 3 who has opted out of HS tennis (she's a 10th grader) and I've tried each year to convince her to play so far. We'll see if next year is successful, because with her, we're an even scarier team.

Anyway, the rising class of sophomores and the extent seniors has created a bit of a lineup dilemma. Tennis lineups are more art than science, you do need to put your best players at the top of the lineup. Our league requires your 4 best players to playing 1/2 singles and 1st doubles, which is constraining, but also a bit sporting.

We don't have a problem doing that with our depth. When we're playing a team without much talent, I will often flex the lineup though and use bottom of the roster players. It's great experience for them down the road and it's also just a better experience for the kids. Plus, too many boring matches and my best players might decide it's not worth it for them.

Anyway, let's get into the schedule:

Match 1: We traveled down to Salem to play a catholic school. They only had 8 players, so they were forfeiting 2 spots from the start. The match was not challenge, but still good to be on the court. Their No. 1 player was a converted volleyball player who got really good at pushing, so she ended up being my 3rd doubles player (a senior) in that spot. It was probably a nice thing for them, as that team needed that shot in that arm.

We win 7-1 and start the year 1-0.

Game 2: Rivalry day came early. I was not happy to face them so early in the season, mostly because I usually have a month to figure out lineups, but this season I had a week to do pre-season and figure it all out. Our 2nd best player wasn't yet eligible to play (needed 5 days of practice) so I had to sit her out reluctantly.

Nonetheless, I setup our lineup thinking that if folks played to their potential -- and not knowing the full depth of my opponents lower singles/doubles players that we could take them out in a close one.

It was indeed a nailbiter that took over 4 hours. We won swiftly at 1st and 3rd singles. 4th singles I took a flier on a freshman in her first-ever match and she comported herself well, but lost in straight sets.

2nd singles, my senior co-captain and doubles star (3rd in the state 3 years ago) had to play singles to give us a legit chance at a tie. She was nervous because she doesn't play singles much. She won the first set, but then the wheels fell off and she lost 6-4 3-6 1-6.

1st doubles were facing the defending state champs at doubles. I knew it was gonna be a tough match for them, but I still put them out there (our 2nd doubles team who I bumped up for the occasion) because they're seniors and it was a bit of lineup protection against my younger players. They lost swiftly 1-6 0-6.

2nd doubles was actually closer than I expected, we put a sophomore newbie with another senior captain and they lost 4-6, 3-6.

My plan along was to hope our doubles depth would win the day. It did, ultimately. 3rd doubles comprised of two sophs who will eventually be singles players full-time won handily (6-1, 6-0) and then it came down to 4th doubles who had to win to get us the tie. They did not make it easy.

After going up 3-0, they ended up down 4-3, but recovered and won the 1st set 7-5. 2nd set was also a topsy turvey affair, but they managed to finish the opponents off and closed them out 7-5 in the 2nd set.

That win gave us the tie, but more importantly, the set tiebreaker win. We finished with 9 sets won, the rivals only had 8. Final game score was 72-70, us. We are now 2-0, going into a stretch where we play the bottom of the conference.

Our next four matches (including 2 home games against a team with a tiny roster) should be non-challenges. We did find out yesterday, that there's going to be a district tournament. It means we need to actually use our whole lineup in matches so that I can argue for seeds for our best players in that tournament.

Why is seeding important? Because otherwise, a good player can get up getting a shitty draw against one of the top players in the bracket in the 1st round when they'd otherwise win through to the quarterfinals.

In a normal year, the top 4 finishers in singles/doubles at districts, qualify for state. This year, there won't be a state tournament. (Lame) So instead, it'll just be for bragging rights. There are trophies for both the regular season title and for the district championship, so there is at least something to play for, but it's just disappointing that the best 2-year stretch in program history will likely result in no state championship at all.

Whatever. We have a match today against a public school who have already forfeited because they only have 5 players. We're still gonna play the match -- it's good experience for the kids -- but it's a relief knowing we're already 3-0 on the year.

Thursday will be the first time this year we'll play with almost our full traditional lineup (minus two doubles players) so I'm looking forward to seeing how we perform in that situation, mostly because it'll put the rest of the state on notice that they dodged a bullet.
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Old 04-21-2021, 11:05 PM   #3
britrock88
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Cool!
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Old 04-22-2021, 12:59 AM   #4
JonInMiddleGA
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Location: Behind Enemy Lines in Athens, GA
Well I'll be paying attention, cause (for better or worse, mostly worse) I do have some familiarity with the niche, parentally at least.

A few things jumped out at me in this introduction, at least one of which I gotta comment on





Quote:
Oregon inexplicably does 4 singles and 4 doubles for matches in high school. I hate it, along with the format that they use to determine state champions. Each match is worth 1 point, most points wins the dual match. If you tie, the tiebreaker is sets, then total games.

Umm ... what in name of Margaret Court is THAT? EIGHT?

Georgia is a 3 singles / 2 doubles format for HS and somewhat rarely do all the matches even finish (which would kinda screw with your tiebreaker stuff).

The biggest controversy in HS tennis in some years here has been arguments about whether to play best of 3 sets (with 7 or 10 point tiebreak for third set only) OR whether to skip third sets entirely and go straight to tiebreak. Otherwise, honestly, I thought our format was kinda the normal standard (tho I've heard of some best of 7 match stuff in a surrounding state or two)

But ... EIGHT? Who came up with THAT?

----

Side note here, just cause I figure it'll register with you more than most.

My kid's HS was/is a powerhouse, perennial state final four boys and often likewise for the girls. But the boys? They just wrapped up their THIRTY FOURTH consecutive region title. 13 state titles in that stretch, including 8 in a row (97-04), though the last came back in 2009.

Easy to figure "private school outside of Atlanta" BUT the streak has endured across numerous region realignments, multi-class "area" organization, public/private mixed, private-only alignments, and the coming & going of multiple other state contending programs (including Buford & Wesleyan) being part of the region. No matter what, they've just kept winning region titles. (And I think that's been done under at least 5 different coaches, who often contributed little to the success, mostly filling the role of coaching in the paperwork / driving the bus / making sure everybody gets fed & watered sense)

Much like you mentioned, classification doesn't matter much in terms of competitiveness when rosters are this small. Their best regular season opponents are drawn from the ranks of schools 4x-8x their size.

Sorry for the sidebar but I thought the length of the streak might resonate with you.
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Old 04-22-2021, 04:08 PM   #5
Young Drachma
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
Well I'll be paying attention, cause (for better or worse, mostly worse) I do have some familiarity with the niche, parentally at least.

A few things jumped out at me in this introduction, at least one of which I gotta comment on







Umm ... what in name of Margaret Court is THAT? EIGHT?

Georgia is a 3 singles / 2 doubles format for HS and somewhat rarely do all the matches even finish (which would kinda screw with your tiebreaker stuff).

The biggest controversy in HS tennis in some years here has been arguments about whether to play best of 3 sets (with 7 or 10 point tiebreak for third set only) OR whether to skip third sets entirely and go straight to tiebreak. Otherwise, honestly, I thought our format was kinda the normal standard (tho I've heard of some best of 7 match stuff in a surrounding state or two)

But ... EIGHT? Who came up with THAT?

----

Side note here, just cause I figure it'll register with you more than most.

My kid's HS was/is a powerhouse, perennial state final four boys and often likewise for the girls. But the boys? They just wrapped up their THIRTY FOURTH consecutive region title. 13 state titles in that stretch, including 8 in a row (97-04), though the last came back in 2009.

Easy to figure "private school outside of Atlanta" BUT the streak has endured across numerous region realignments, multi-class "area" organization, public/private mixed, private-only alignments, and the coming & going of multiple other state contending programs (including Buford & Wesleyan) being part of the region. No matter what, they've just kept winning region titles. (And I think that's been done under at least 5 different coaches, who often contributed little to the success, mostly filling the role of coaching in the paperwork / driving the bus / making sure everybody gets fed & watered sense)

Much like you mentioned, classification doesn't matter much in terms of competitiveness when rosters are this small. Their best regular season opponents are drawn from the ranks of schools 4x-8x their size.

Sorry for the sidebar but I thought the length of the streak might resonate with you.

I remembered your son played HS tennis back in the day, so happy you chimed in.

Yeah, I played in NJ and all of the northeast states play 3 singles/2 doubles. Apparently even in Washington state just above us, they play 2 singles/3 doubles which is still better than the 4/4 model. I coached in Colorado where they also do 4/4, but at least there, regular season games actually mean something.

In Oregon, the state tournament qualification is borne purely from the district tournament. It's a single bracket for your whole conference (district) and the Top 4 in singles/ doubles qualify from each league. It means non-talented kids from small areas qualify and get destroyed and good players in deep districts do not get to ever play at state. It's absurd and I wrote a whole proposal to fix it, but the state association doesn't seem to care about tennis enough.

Also, we play both boys & girls in the same season which is also maddening. Wyoming and Idaho do this too but those states it makes sense because of the weather, it's not an issue here truly. And the whole thing sucks and I might keep coaching just so I can raise enough hell to fix it, because tennis kids here get the short end of the stick, largely because the state association doesn't understand the sport.

That win streak is crazy! I think the nice thing about tennis on the east coast is schools eventually become magnets for tennis players and so you get more kids who'll play for a school. Also, the competition is so much better. Even at bad schools in Jersey, you'd see extremely raw players on teams that were decent. I think smaller teams made that work better, whereas with us here, the talent disparities are extremely jarring school to school. And there's not even any real recruiting or anything, it's just talent pipelines. Our main rival is also a private school, of course. Though a 5A school that came to 4A two years ago were the last to win state the year we were last finalists.

The difference between east coast tennis and west coast tennis outside California is huge though. The lack of depth and the absurdity of the format compound the problem. The expanded rosters thing, I think is purely an artifact of 'keeping more kids involved' which I can appreciate, but also...most programs don't have more than 2 coaches, maybe 3 with a JV coach. Whereas even at a small Colorado (private) school we had 5 or 6 coaches across Varsity, Varsity 2 and JV.

Also: on the tiebreaker 3rd set controversy. We do utilize that option but only in matches where the result has already been decided (like we won or lost) just to save time. Last week, had a 4th doubles match gone to a 3rd set, I believe we'd have used it because it was already past 730 and the match would've been decided by the 3rd set either way, so better to have just finished it that way.

Oregon also doesn't use ad-scoring until the state tournament. Which is also ridiculous, though it does speed stuff up a bit.
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Old 04-22-2021, 04:11 PM   #6
Young Drachma
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Match 4: Today we're headed 10 minutes away to play a private school (Christian) that's 1-1 so far on the year. I don't anticipate a big challenge, and our No. 1 singles isnt' coming. I am not sure if our No. 2 is coming or not, but even without her, it shouldn't be a huge issue. I will say, it's the first time I've had to use 3 or 4 JV kids in a match this year against a full roster, so that'll be interesting.

But we have a tennis reporting system that's letting me see match results of other teams and so, having looked at this other club's lineup we should be in okay shape.

With the win today, we're basically 4-0 and next week's matches include the walkover from this past Tuesday and a long roadtrip to a league doormat that'll leave us 6-0 heading into the rivalry rematch at the opponent's school two weeks from today. We win that and we win the league regular season title outright.
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Old 04-22-2021, 04:58 PM   #7
Chas in Cinti
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My daughter made her HS team in Kentucky this year as a 7th grader. She's played between 2/3 singles or 1 doubles all season. I told her she's eclipsed my HS prowess already... and she's in middle school...
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Old 04-22-2021, 06:32 PM   #8
JonInMiddleGA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Young Drachma View Post


In Oregon, the state tournament qualification is borne purely from the district tournament. It's a single bracket for your whole conference (district) and the Top 4 in singles/ doubles qualify from each league.

Georgia is a hybrid of that I guess. Regular season region standings determine region tournament bracket, top four from each of the eight regions qualify for state (a total of 32 teams for each of the 8 classifications)

Quote:
Also, we play both boys & girls in the same season which is also maddening.

We do that as well, not sure I realized that the seasons were ever separated anywhere. Matches are typically girls & boys same day, same location, aside from occasional single-gender opponents (military schools, boarding schools, etc)


Quote:
I think the nice thing about tennis on the east coast is schools eventually become magnets for tennis players and so you get more kids who'll play for a school.

I don't know that we've ever drawn anyone because of tennis, as the whole area is chock full of top programs. I believe within 10 miles of each other you have at least 2-3 top 10 teams in their classification (A-Private, AAA and AAAA) for both boys and girls. Expand that by one county in each direction and you get several more.

Around here, it's all about the large number of USTA players, which extends all the way to having 60+ (or whatever their age break is) national champion teams and frequent contenders.

Quote:
The expanded rosters thing, I think is purely an artifact of 'keeping more kids involved' which I can appreciate, but also...most programs don't have more than 2 coaches, maybe 3 with a JV coach. Whereas even at a small Colorado (private) school we had 5 or 6 coaches across Varsity, Varsity 2 and JV.

I think a typical varsity roster around here is probably no more than 10 per gender (fits with 3 singles, 2 doubles pair and a little depth) and then JV squads of the same size. A few places with larger enrollment do have enough depth to field a pair of JV squads though.

Coaching is a VERY mixed bag. Our school they're basically irrelevant, most every player on both varsity rosters has had private coaching from about age 5-6. We're on the extreme end of that though, most of the local schools have at least somewhat more involved school coaches, though pretty much all the players at the top schools (public or private) are all privately coached from an early age, with both group and individual instruction. And if you don't have that in Georgia, honestly, you're not usually advancing very far once you get to state tournament play.

A lot of entire regions are one-and-done in the opening round, bagel'ed regularly by more tennis-focused regions. And this year more than ever before, there were a number of first round byes due to a lack of schools in some regions even fielding teams, even in classifications as high as AAAA.

Quote:
Oregon also doesn't use ad-scoring until the state tournament. Which is also ridiculous, though it does speed stuff up a bit.

And ours is just the opposite I guess. It's still strictly verboten in the state tournament but regular season & region tournaments were given leeway to do as they chose.
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Old 04-23-2021, 11:43 AM   #9
Young Drachma
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Chas in Cinti View Post
My daughter made her HS team in Kentucky this year as a 7th grader. She's played between 2/3 singles or 1 doubles all season. I told her she's eclipsed my HS prowess already... and she's in middle school...

I always envied states that let middle schoolers who were good enough play high school!
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Old 04-23-2021, 11:58 AM   #10
Young Drachma
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Game 4:
We played a christian school yesterday about 10 minutes from campus. I was wrong about it being our first match of the year with our entire team, instead we were missing all of our Top 3 (1/2 singles and half of 1st doubles) and a senior captain (4th doubles) and we almost got to lineup announcement with our No. 1 player (for the day) running late.

So I literally made the lineup adjustments as we were walking to do introductions. We bumped 4 JV players into the lineup, two were seniors who were experienced, the 4th doubles team contained one junior who has practiced with varsity all year and played in one match so far and a JV player who had never played in a live match in her entire life.

So it was gonna be interesting, but I thought we'd still be okay.

For the first hour, it was not. looking. good. They had 5 courts, which was nice. But on those 5 courts, there was a point where we were losing on 3 of them. First singles -- my first-year player sophomore -- is gangbusters, she's played No. 1 for us twice against inferior opponents and has given up ONE GAME in those 4 sets. What a find she's been for us. It's awesome.

2nd singles, we pressed a sophomore who is still new to the game but has powerful strokes into action. She was extremely nervous and I had no expectations she'd win. She lost the first set 4-6. The second set she was down 3-4 at a point. She played a pusher who also made terrible line calls and she kept getting frustrated. I was able to calm her down and I think her competitive spirit made her realize she didn't want to lose to a fucking cheater.

One nice thing about being on a team with actual good players is these kids understand what good tennis is supposed to look like and it's hard to have that not rub off on you when you're practicing against it everyday. Anyway, she did a hell of a job winning the 2nd set 6-4. I still did not expect her to win it, but she indeed came back and beat the girl 6-4 in the 3rd set.

Third singles was my freshman discovery I mentioned earlier who we identified early as a singles player. She's still very raw, but for whatever reason she's putting it all together. She blazed through the first set 6-1 and in the 2nd set, though it was bumpy she managed to escape 6-4.

4th singles was a senior who I usually play at 3rd doubles (with the 3rd singles girl from today's match) but I broke them up because she's got clear strokes, isn't a pusher and has been around a while. She rewarded my confidence and won in straight sets 6-4, 7-5.

We won all the doubles flights except 1st doubles, which was clearly their best team. I had two singles players playing together, but the doubles game wasn't for them. They lost 2-6 2-6, but I'm glad we gave it a go anyway.

2nd doubles was my most experienced doubles team - they're seniors who are pals and really in sync with each other - but I wasn't sure how it'd go. Their opponents were okay, but not great. My girls were down 4-2 at one point in the first set and we thought for sure they'd have some issues winning. But they came back to match at 4-4 and then dragged into a tiebreaker at 6-6. The tiebreaker went to 11-9 before they won it. But that first set win was pivotal, as they took the 2nd set and that match.

3rd (6-0,6-0) and 4th doubles were cakewalks, the latter was an absolute trip because I had my JV player being carried by this barely varsity player herself, but the other team could not manage to make enough adjustments to hit it to the JV player enough to win. We won that on 7-5, 6-4.

So we move to 4-0 on the season (ties don't count, you use the tiebreaker) and thankfully we don't have to play them anymore this year. Tuesday we have to go to on our last long road trip of the year against a school with only 2 courts. They will not give us any problems, my issue is gonna be making sure we can take our strongest players down there, because the kids know it's not a tough match.

After that, we play the team that forfeited at home. Then we have a week until the defacto league championship against at rivals at their home. I've already told my team it's all hands on deck for that match, because I don't just want to beat them, I want us to win like 6-2 or 7-1 and really make people how deep our squad is this year.

No word yet on whether we'll get a 6A match before this year is out, but even if this is our only schedule, I want these coaches to realize that we can beat them even when we don't have our stars.

It was fun yesterday after I realized how much we won by, even though it looked ugly for the first hour.
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Old 04-23-2021, 12:07 PM   #11
Young Drachma
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Coaching is a VERY mixed bag. Our school they're basically irrelevant, most every player on both varsity rosters has had private coaching from about age 5-6. We're on the extreme end of that though, most of the local schools have at least somewhat more involved school coaches, though pretty much all the players at the top schools (public or private) are all privately coached from an early age, with both group and individual instruction. And if you don't have that in Georgia, honestly, you're not usually advancing very far once you get to state tournament play.

It's the same here too. My best players are surely coached and I let them go to their own coaches and leave our practices early often. But I have a whole cadre of kids who are just multi-sport athletes (small school) so they are motivated and coachable and want you to calm them down or give them tips during changeovers.

My boys team were mostly chill to be left alone most of the time, save for a few who were way needier. But on this team, I find some will actively call for me if I don't come around, which was an adjustment as I tend to be hands off. If you're doing your job in practice, they hear you in their heads when they're on the court, so you don't have to shout at them in games...they're already stressed out, you gotta keep it light.

Honestly, that team yesterday probably would've won a match or two from us if their kids had more familiarity with holding leads, but their coach probably got in their heads and also on balance we were more talented and my kids didn't crack.

That said, building a practice schedule for a team with disparities in talent is difficult with only one coach so if I do this again next year, I'm going to ask for another coach even if I just have to split my stipend to do it, I only do this for fun anyway. (my JV coach isn't a tennis coach, so he just works exclusively with the JV kids)

I am kind of over it, but with a year of practice and experience these super sophomores we've had will come back as juniors and I have those two junior rock stars who I imagine will want more crack at winning state individually so it'd be fun to give it one more whirl before handing it someone else.
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Old 04-23-2021, 02:18 PM   #12
JonInMiddleGA
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Yesterday's recap brought something to mind that I'll ask about:

What measures are in place to prevent (or limit) sandbagging?

It's not something that comes up very often here to my knowledge, but as I understood it, basically coaches could challenge placement of players if they had specific information that pointed to shenanigans. (USTA rankings can be a clear tell if someone gets too crazy with it)
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Old 04-24-2021, 03:54 PM   #13
Young Drachma
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
Yesterday's recap brought something to mind that I'll ask about:

What measures are in place to prevent (or limit) sandbagging?

It's not something that comes up very often here to my knowledge, but as I understood it, basically coaches could challenge placement of players if they had specific information that pointed to shenanigans. (USTA rankings can be a clear tell if someone gets too crazy with it)

Every league in Oregon has a different (or no) rules against stacking. My current league's rule SOPs say that your Top 4 players have to play 1st/2nd singles and 1st doubles every time. On my team there is a clear Top 3, so we wouldn't have any real reason to stack ever, but since those Top 2 only play select matches, it ends up being a bit more variable for us.

You're supposed to have a challenge ladder setup so if someone asks, you can indicate a player is really in the spot on the ladder that you say in the lineup. But it's not like New Jersey where I grew up that has a whole formal process/form for listing your lineup and stuff.

Honestly, the 4/4 situation makes stacking pretty hard even at the 6A level where I used to coach because most teams aren't deep enough to really stack heavily so even if you stack a team a bit lower than they ought to be, you're probably concedeing a match elsewhere in the lineup.

Since regular season games don't matter & there's no team tournament the incentives to stack here aren't really significant. The district tournament (singles/doubles( determines who goes to state, the state tournament (singles/doubles) decides the state champ based on points for advancing, meaning bad schools with one or two good players can win state if it lines up right.

Which drives me bonkers. 4A(3A/2A/1A) tennis is kind of boring, most of the time and I wish tennis was just single class, but they're not going to fix that, the scheduling, the seasons or anything else because the ADs control it and none of them give a shit about tennis or how it's structured.
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Old 04-25-2021, 08:56 PM   #14
Young Drachma
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Things are gonna be uneventful until our showdown versus our rivals on May 6th for the regular season title. We're supposed to travel 75 minutes on Tuesday, but our private school decided not to provide transportation for this season's road matches. Now add the fact that I have a bunch of kids absent for other reasons on Tuesday and all my juniors (3 of my 4 best players) taking the SAT during school, it seems like a legitimate reason to reschedule.

AD didn't seem to agree when I asked on Friday.

Right now, I have 6 confirmed and maybe a 7th if I lean on the best senior available to make the trek. With 6 (4 singles and a doubles match) we'd have to win all of them to get the win. Is that doable? Probably. From looking at the records so far this year, their best players are their 1st doubles team and they're likely to split them up and have them play 1/2 singles. Not because it'll be a win, just so they can avoid being shutout.

But in this scenario, we'd be giving them 3 matches from the outset. My team has been beating substandard competition all year, so I'm not actually that worried about it, but I'm not sure.

My preference is going to be to reschedule, but it's good to know that if we can't (because my AD refuses to get it moved or rescheduled...) then I have at least a minimum viable roster to go down there and try to pick up the W.

One incentive for them to come to us is their coach is notorious for complaining about schools bringing their second-tier players to come down there instead of their best players. But they play indoors on two courts, so it takes HOURS to play matches there, let alone the road trip itself.

If this was the 90s, you could make a whole trip out of it and it'd probably be fun. But it's not those days, so it's just largely a fucking hassle.

Part of me enjoys the idea that we'd go down there with a small team and beat them 5-0 with that small team (it'd be 5-3 because of the forfeits) because it'd continue to showcase our depth.

Nonetheless, I'm going to press for us not to go. I've sent an email and I only have 5 for sure, with 2 seniors who'd do it if I absolutely needed them. The whole thing is a little ridiculous. We'll see if the reschedule it, but canceling it won't matter. Also, even if we forfeited the match -- which we shouldn't have to -- beating our rivals a 2nd time ensures we win the league title anyway, because we'd have the tiebreaker over them. (There's no way we'll lose any other matches this year.)

So it's just not worth the grief, honestly.
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Old 04-26-2021, 02:55 PM   #15
Young Drachma
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Update: the AD wants us to go with the short roster tomorrow. Right now I have 6 confirmed, and 2 possible which would give us 8.

As for how we'd forfeit, I have some flexibility. I could forfeit the bottom 2 doubles spots and play 4 singles/2 doubles. If we have 8, we have some leeway with losing a match and still winning the overall match (I don't even know how a tie would work when we forfeited two spots...and I'd rather not find out)

In a normal scenario, this school would have no chance at beating us in any matches. But in this instance, I'd be afraid of giving them No. 1 singles if the doubles team they split up (who are surely pushers of some kind) are going to be decent enough to run my kids around. In the world where my two seniors decide they cannot come, we're going to be going down there like a wounded deer.

My lineup going to this match confirmed would be:

Senior (has improved a lot over the year. Lefty, but still best served as a fringe varsity or 4th doubles player.)

Senior (has more experience and is one of our captains. Can hit hard, but extremely inconsistent. If she gets frustrated, her game falls apart. I prefer she has the easiest match possible.)

Sophomore (Huge strokes, inexperienced overall. But won a tough 3-set match for us the other day at 2nd singles. I cannot imagine any kid on this other team is as good as the pusher she beat, so she'd be a reliable win for us at either singles spot.)

Senior (Primarily part of my most consistent doubles pairing. Solid, but not a standout. It would be best to pair her with another person at 1st doubles, though she'd probably be a solid singles player if we needed in a pinch. Just hard to say.)

Sophomore (Is still relatively new, but is a good player who has played some singles for us this year, as well as doubles. Probably better than I think she is for this particular moment, but I'm just nervous about her facing some kid with decent strokes unwittingly. If we have to go with a 4 singles/1 doubles lineup, she'll have to play singles.)

Sophomore: (Honestly, she practices with varsity and is pretty consistent. Would play doubles. I think would be fine given the competition and not a liability there.)

The other two maybe players are two seniors who are probably our 3rd & 5th best players respectively. With them in the lineup, I'd feel a lot more comfortable.

Honestly, it's harder to get my girls to care about winning the league title in a season with no state tournament (Who can blame them?) but I'm hoping that the mere respectability of losing our perfect season to a team that is seriously the 2nd worst team in our league should rally the few troops we have to participate.

Wish us luck, I'll report back tomorrow night with the results from the carnage
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Old 04-27-2021, 12:46 AM   #16
Young Drachma
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My lineup is set. We're playing a senior at No. 1 singles, she's primarily a first doubles player, but I'm trusting that she'll be cool under the conditions.

Second singles is another senior who has not lost a singles match this year, including a breezy third singles victory against our rivals.

Third singles is the sophomore who won that gritty 3-set match at 2nd singles the other night.

4th singles will be another sophomore who I thought we would not have available, she's consistent and that match shouldn't be too big for her.

In doubles, I had a team of sophomore practically beg to play together. It's going to be a stretch for them because neither is exactly super experienced and having mapped out this team's lineup, their 1st doubles team is their best pairing.

I thought originally that their coach would likely split them up to garner two wins (possible) instead of one, especially with a potential upset on the line. But then I realized that my AD did not send him the names in advance of who is attending, only the number of people. He's going to assume that we're bringing our star singles players (a fair assumption) and he'll keep the doubles team together as they seem to play a lot better together than separately.

The better one is just a converted volleyball player (like one of my sophomores) so I feel less nervous about it than I did.

2nd doubles, I have two senior captains (I just added a new one today) playing that spot, but it's an appropriate spot for them.

If he does indeed keep the 1st doubles team together, we should sweep the singles easily. We have two common opponents, our rival and a school we beat to open the year (and only gave up 15 games to total or something in 6 matches.) They beat the one Catholic school, but gave up two matches to them despite them forfeiting another two. The positions they lost? 1st and 4th singles.

Their 2nd doubles team also hasn't inspired much confidence in the short season.

We need to win 5 of the 6 to win outright. In the unlikely event of a tie, we'd have to win all our matches in straight sets and then hope the two losses are three-set matches.

I feel a lot better about our prospects after realizing they're not likely to break up the doubles team. (A smart decision in a normal season against us when we're playing our real lineup.)

In the extremely unlikely event we lose tomorrow outright, all it does is cost us our perfect season. We still get to play the rivals for the outright league title a week from Thursday and I've been telling everyone on our team we need them that day, so we should be able to bring all of our lineup (or close) to that one.

Also a possible unlikely development, there's a sophomore who'd probably be our 3rd or 4th best player (depending on the day) who has been avoiding HS tennis for the past two seasons. I talked to her mom a lot last year to get her to play, got her to commit but then we canceled the season. This year, she was opting out entirely.

But today, out of the blue her mom replied to a note I sent a few weeks ago and asked me what the rest of the schedule looked like and how our season was going. It makes me think that she must not have any tournaments coming up between now and the end of the school year, so they want her to get some live playing. Also, she's legitimately worse than my top 2 players and I suspect someone might have gotten realistic with her/them about coming out for the team.

So long as she's registered before Thursday, I can play her against the rivals and the district tournament. With that team? We'd be pretty much unbeatable in our league because it'd take the team that I've been flexing at 1st doubles and moves them to 3rd. I'd take our top player, pair her with our top doubles player and they'd win the district.
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Old 04-28-2021, 11:41 AM   #17
Young Drachma
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We won yesterday. My last minute lineup changes I think were the key, because those doubles teams played tricky matches that would've gone different I think with my other combinations.

We had to win 5 of the 6 matches. Their No. 1 singles player (The one I was most worried about) actually ended up coming late because she had a scholarship interview (technically against the rules, but what could I really say about it) but it kind of worked out in our favor because it meant that 4 other matches went on before that one did.

Because we immediately went up 2-0 (so tying the match at 2-2) it gave my girls a lot of confidence. After 4 matches, we were up 4-2, so we only had to split the last two.

No. 1 singles was indeed pretty good. My player was little hurt to start, but they had a lot of good rallies. Still, she's probably our 5-7th best player depending on the day, so it was gonna be a tall task. In the end, she lost 6-2, 6-1 (the girl absolutely cheated her out of a game in the 2nd set, because they lost track of the score...but we'd already had the match in hand that point, so we were just like...let's just get it over with and go home.)

Second singles was the same player I used in that spot last week and she delivered. Waaayyyyy too many rallies against a pusher given how much of a bigger hitter my player is, but she figured it out and won 6-4, 6-4.

Third singles should have been easier than it was, but my player there was having a mild panic attack during the match. This school plays at their county fairgrounds, there are only two courts and they're inside of this barn-like building. The lines are both for tennis AND pickleball and the courts are extremely narrow and annoying to play on. Anyway, it also means we sit on bleachers and watch both matches, but the 'SINGLES' court (only has singles lines lol what) sits directly behind the opposing team so it's kind of stressful for players.

Anyway, she regained her composure and won 6-3, 6-4.

4th singles was the final match we won and it was a senior who I knew needed a lot of margin for error but it was a cakewalk, as I'd noticed earlier in the day -- for some odd reason -- they moved a 4th doubles player into that spot. I don't know if he just doesn't have any other players or if it's an effort to turn this girl into a tennis player by giving her experience. Either way, our senior captain (and 4th doubles player now herself) won 6-0, 6-0 to clinch it.

The doubles matches could've been hairy. First doubles they took their 2nd singles player and a 1st doubles girl and paired them up. Both had HUGE serves, but that's about it and the serves were super inefficient, so it was a lot of double faults. My team were a pair of sophomores who flat out asked me in practice Monday if they could play 1st doubles because 'they would win if I put them there.'

I debated it because they're inexperienced, but after thinking about it and looking at the lineups before, it made a little sense to me so I with it and kept my fingers crossed. But they handled it well and won 6-4, 6-4. Once we won the first two matches, I was already feeling a lot less stressed and realizing we were probably gonna escape this one.

2nd doubles faced another team of volleyball players who serve REALLY hard, but when you switch it up, things get a little strange and it did in this match for sure. They didn't really have any problems and my kids play good with a lead, so I don't stress too much after we've won the first set in matches. This team was comprised of two seniors, one who usually plays 1st doubles with her bestie and another one who is tall and a lefty and has worked on her game a lot. She showed a lot of flashes of brilliance in this one, which surprised all of us, because she really did seem like the liability on that team, but she wasn't.

They won 6-2, 6-4.

So despite forfeiting two spots, we won 5-3, by winning 5 of the six matches on the day. Needless to say, this doesn't happen very often because it's kind of difficult to do and I'd never want to do it again.

We're now 5-0 on the year. We're playing the same team we beat a few weeks ago because they didn't have enough players. Seems they have 8 players now, so it'll be a good chance for some of my players to get some experience in weird spots like singles when they normally play doubles.

The real test comes next Thursday. At the rivals. We win, we're league champs. (Like I said earlier, even if we lost our last 2 games, we'd have the same number of losses as our rival, but with the tiebreaker over them, but we're not losing those matches unless we somehow forfeited them)

As it stands right now, we should have almost our entire roster at that match. I'm pretty relieved to get through the mini-gauntlet of the season though unscathed by and large.

Best part is getting these underclassmen battle tested through a season where the stakes were pretty low, but by artificially creating a bit of stress by the need to maintain the unbeaten season, etc., because next year when the matches actually count. We're going to lose some of our senior depth which won't be great, but I think culturally the team will be more in sync next year just because these sophomores really have brought a supportive climate to the situation and we'll still be bringing back 4 of our top 5 players.

On the next match.
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Old 04-28-2021, 08:31 PM   #18
JonInMiddleGA
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The "singles court" ... bruh.

That was actually enough to cause me to read that entire set of posts to my kid (who had already heard background on this dynasty previously).

Good job, despite the unnecessary stress.
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Old 04-29-2021, 12:59 AM   #19
Young Drachma
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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
The "singles court" ... bruh.

That was actually enough to cause me to read that entire set of posts to my kid (who had already heard background on this dynasty previously).

Good job, despite the unnecessary stress.

I took a pic of the court situation, because it's hard to imagine until you see the hellscape. I will say, much like Tampa Bay those catwalks (lol) on the ceiling were more beneficial to us than to them, because it seemed they were constantly moonballing shots up there that earned up points.

What's wild is, the city HAS at least one facility with 4 outdoor tennis courts. I think the HS insists on playing indoors partially because of weather concerns, but largely because it's their way of creating a fake home-court advantage by making teams playing on these terrible courts and boring them to death through 8 matches. We didn't get out of there until 8 yesterday and that's with forfeiting two matches and no matches going beyond straight sets. I can't imagine what a bunch of three-setters would've been like, because the older coaches in the league told me you could be stuck there until 11pm sometimes. It's absurd.


Last edited by Young Drachma : 04-29-2021 at 01:15 AM.
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Old 05-04-2021, 04:04 PM   #20
Portiere
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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...
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Old 05-06-2021, 12:28 PM   #21
Young Drachma
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Today is the day. We've been waiting all year for a 2nd crack at our rivals, this time for the league title. (As I've said before, we win again and we claim a tie for it, but even if we lose our last two -- we won't -- we'd still have the tiebreaker over them)

Turns out, we probably won the league title in 2019 too but nobody tracks this stuff anywhere so I'm not sure (I do know we won the district title and were state finalists, though.)

Today's lineup is our strongest of the year. The best players on this team are their first doubles team, the defending state champs in doubles who are juniors like my best players. My top two (including our 2nd best player who hasn't played all year) told me yesterday they want to play 1st doubles mostly because playing singles would be 'boring and not worth it.'

It does make things more complicated for us, lineup wise, because the guaranteed two wins they'd provide otherwise would have been nice. But I'm playing the long game and it's much better to keep these two engaged than to worry about silly things, because winning a state title with them next year becomes a million times easier than without them.

(No 2. was 3rd in the state as a sophomore. My No. 1 lost in the quarters because she managed to be unseeded in the state tournament, since their last coach didn't know how the HS tournament seeding system worked and the coaches let him do it to himself.)

Anyway, today's lineup is

1st singles - my junior who transferred from prep school and has been a shining star for us all year. She's undefeated at 1 singles (and 2 singles) but she hasn't played anyone this good all year. I think she has a puncher's chance at beating this girl.

2nd singles - This is a loss probably, I put a freshman here who I want to grow into a singles player and she's grown a lot. With those players teaming up to play doubles, I don't have anyone here who would win explicitly, so it felt like it made sense to elevate her. It's not a reach at all.

3rd singles - My last player here won in straight sets. I imagine the girl playing here should be able to slug her way to a victory. She's one of the sophomore starlets.

4th singles - The girl playing 2nd today played this team at 4th singles last time and lost, but it was her 1st ever singles match. The girl they play here is a pusher and I think my sophomore I'm playing here should be a stronger opponent for her.

1st doubles - Our power club vs. theirs. We should win and if we don't, we're doomed. But seriously, it shouldn't be anything besides a straight set victory for my girls. They're just too good and together, it's gonna be gross.

2nd doubles - This is my senior paired with a sophomore. This match should be winnable for them, the senior is our 3rd best player hands down.

3rd doubles - We won this last time, this time my team that played 1st doubles have fallen to 3rd doubles this time. This should be a walkover for them

4th doubles - This team (a duo of sophomores) who have already beat this team in their first pairing together, they should wreck today.

This lineup is built for a 6-2 victory, but I'll settle for a 5-3. If my first singles girl wins, we're going to roll today and it could be a 7-0 victory.

What's the worst case scenario? Losing all the singles and winning only 3 of the doubles. That would make pairing two instant wins together a big mistake. Last time, we won 1st singles/3rd singles, 3rd & 4th doubles and then 2nd singles was a 3-setter loss.

We've won every kind of way this year, but this team is stacked and they're experienced. The nice thing about this site is that they have 7 courts, so we're going to be done a lot quicker than normal. I've been gearing up for this match all season, so I'm hoping that we tackle the last task.

We'll see!
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Old 05-06-2021, 03:11 PM   #22
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Good luck!
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Old 05-07-2021, 03:04 PM   #23
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Our depth players picked the perfect time to play their worst tennis, because we brought the Avengers with us yesterday.

1st singles: My junior wunderkind has been undefeated at singles all year, including several 1st singles wins but she's yet to be challenged. Yesterday was her stiffest test yet, against a player whose only lost was to our best player (Who played 1st doubles yesterday) and our girl won't be able to hide anymore, because she won in straight sets 6-3, 6-2.

It was just a masterful display of frustrating a big hitter who could not deal with a steady, patient player who does not make errors. It was awesome.

2nd singles: I did not match us up to win this, so it didn't matter. I have a player whose family does not want her playing indoors, so I knew this might be an issue as the rivals have 3 indoor courts (and 4 outdoor) but it was raining when we got there. Long story short, I talked to the mother (who was very apologetic) who knew she was putting us in a bind, but there wasn't a whole lot I could say to her, because I knew the score when I let this kid play this way all year.

TL;DR: My senior captain who I had benched came anyway to support the team. We called her -- she was at Starbucks -- and she came back and played instead. There just wasn't a choice, the opposing coach wasn't going to move the match outside to potentially benefit us. We lost this one 1-6, 0-6, but it's better than a forfeit and it was a great chance for my captain to redeem herself and I'm happy for that.

3rd singles: Weirdly, this was the last match of the day because of how they arranged it. I put one of our steady sophomores here, but it turns out that the rivals flipped their lineup to try to beat us in doubles since their depth isn't there usually. So 3rd and 4th singles were practically walkovers. My player had trouble closing this girl out, also it rained and they had to go inside after playing the first set and a half outside, so it took a bit but she won 6-1, 6-4.

4th singles: Like I said, this was going to be a walkover as soon as I saw the kid in the introductions. My player gave her points because she felt bad, we won 6-1, 6-1.

1st doubles: This was must-see TV. My top two players are UTR 7 singles players who both want to get their ratings up to maybe play D1. It's gonna be a stretch, just because of how competitive that is, but the fact that it's even a consideration tells you how good they are already as juniors.

Their opponents are also juniors and the defending state champs in 4A doubles. They'd never lost a dual match in high school -- or at all -- since last year, there was no season. Needless to say, they've had it pretty easy so far. They knew of both of my players and when they saw them in the lineup line, their reactions were absolutely priceless.

That said, they're champs for a reason. The match started off a bit topsy-turvey as my two girls got their timing together down. They'd only done this once before -- in a junior tournament -- and certainly never in high school before, but once they started clicking...it was party time.

We won this one 6-3, 6-1 and it was pretty awesome. Everyone wished they could've watched it.

2nd doubles: This was a last minute decision by me literally as we were walking to do lineups. With my frosh at 2nd singles out, I had to replace someone in her spot. I considered another sophomore who has had a good year in singles, but she had a fatigue-issue in her last match and had to retire, so I was nervous about giving her a task that was gonna be -- at best, a three-set match -- super tough.

So we talked about it briefly and I decided to swap her into 2nd doubles (for the girl who ended up playing 3rd singles) and it was truly the decision that clinched us the match.

Paired with a senior captain who is among our best players (3rd or 4th given the day) and has deep state experience, they rolled to a 3-0 lead in the first, before giving the lead back. They figured it out, won the first set 6-3, then blanked in them in the 2nd set 6-0. They both felt great afterwards and it was truly the win I did not have coming in my roadmap.

It was good we got that one, because i always went into this match assuming we'd win 3rd and 4th doubles like we did last time. But the rivals adjusted and moved some lower singles players into those spots so that they could potentially beat us that way. It was a smart tactical move, but also, my players there just played poorly. 3rd doubles were my steady seniors who are soccer players, but they just didn't have it at all yesterday and lost 6-1, 6-2.

4th doubles was more annoying than that. My sophomore pair of volleyball players who play together often now and were undefeated just had trouble with a pair of pushers with no serve. They won the first set 6-3, but then it fell apart and they quickly lost the 2nd set. I wish I'd given them more advice to maybe calm them down, but I assumed they had it under control. The 3rd set they lost 6-3, as well...but it was just a cascade of errors on their part.

There's a point where some players just are not good at ball recognition and know what to hit, how to it and where to hit it. That was their problem yesterday. When I realized we were already up 4 matches to 3, I wasn't worried about their collapse, because players like that need to experience a bit of adversity or stuff comes easy to them. That'll make them work harder, it'll make them remember and we'll be able to drill on some stuff to avoid that next season.

But all in all, I'm pleased with the outcome. Even if we'd somehow lost the 3rd singles match, we still won enough sets to win the tiebreaker once again, so the match was totally in hand before 6pm. With that win, we clinched our league regular season title. Because Oregon tennis is setup stupid, this doesn't actually matter in any way to anyone but...in a year without a state tournament I gotta amplify milestones to get them excited.

We have two matches next week that are walkovers essentially, and then the district tournament is the following Wednesday. We're still working out our lineup for who will play where -- I do give the players some input there if it makes sense -- but it's a singles and doubles bracket, so position doesn't matter. I can get players seeded based on performance, but not more than 2 in most years (unless we seed 8 players, then you could get 3)

This year, it'll be pretty straightforward and should have relatively minimal discussion, but I have a doubles team and at least two singles players who'd be up for consideration there.

Our ideal state: Win singles title (close it out with 2 finalists) and win the doubles title. In a year with no state tournament, it'd be a small salve.

Fingers crossed we can get to the finish line.
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Old 05-12-2021, 01:49 AM   #24
Young Drachma
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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.

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Originally Posted by Portiere View Post
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.

Last edited by Young Drachma : 05-12-2021 at 11:48 AM.
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Old 05-12-2021, 06:50 AM   #25
Portiere
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I think you are right about the mental part. Often for me there was a nexus. I really excelled at breaking better players down over the whole match--one of my friends suggested this was revealing a character flaw. One of the best matches I played was when I was a senior against a top ranked freshman with huge strokes. By the end of the match he was so fed up with the mix of deep looping high balls to his backhand and low slice to the other side that he was trying to hit winners from several steps behind the baseline, rather than wait for 10 or so exchanges to get a setup ball, with predictable results.
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Old 05-13-2021, 12:09 AM   #26
JonInMiddleGA
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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 --

If you covered this already I'll just have to admit that it didn't stick and instead I'll just ask:

How much action outside of HS tennis do your players get? I remember the one girl (the "can't play indoors mom says") seeming like a regular year round kind of player but I'm unclear about the rest of them.

The distinction is what I wanted to ask about: how much difference to you see in the mental games of the 12-month devoted players vs the play-during-HS-season-mostly players?
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Old 05-14-2021, 04:12 PM   #27
Young Drachma
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TL;DR: We won our final match yesterday against the Catholic school we beat at the start of the season, this time blanking them with our emergent junior (And soon to be top seed at district singles) leading the way.

We finish 9-0 and win our league title. The district tournament -- a misnomer, as it's the same teams in our league -- is next Wednesday and Thursday. I'll be disappointed if we don't win both the singles and doubles titles, as it'll take a major upset for it not to happen. Not being cocky, it's just having seen the whole league there isn't anybody really that can take the teams.

The doubles one is actually more of a debate than singles, because that defending state team we beat a few weeks ago isn't facing our 1-2 punch, but rather, the 2-3 players on our squad, but I still think as long as they can play well together, the firepower will be too much for them to overcome. (senior state semi-finalist in doubles, and a state singles semi-finalist two years ago)

Singles, it better be our true no 1 singles player and the emergent junior who has been our day-to-day no 1, since the other one is training and playing in junior tournies, most of the time this year (since there's no state tournament, again.)

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Originally Posted by JonInMiddleGA View Post
If you covered this already I'll just have to admit that it didn't stick and instead I'll just ask:

How much action outside of HS tennis do your players get? I remember the one girl (the "can't play indoors mom says") seeming like a regular year round kind of player but I'm unclear about the rest of them.

The distinction is what I wanted to ask about: how much difference to you see in the mental games of the 12-month devoted players vs the play-during-HS-season-mostly players?

I didn't cover it at all. I only have 3 real tennis players who like...take lessons regularly and would be solid college players. Two of them are fringe D1 players already as HS juniors, the last one would held a D3 team that's not in the Top 25.

The rest are just athletic kids who either had lessons in the past and haven't played in a while and generally play other sports. (I have a decent number of volleyball players and one of my seniors plays basketball)

One of the reasons I think we'd struggle if we were playing a 6A schedule night and night out have more tennis players on their rosters who can hang and work themselves out of jams. That said, it's not an issue for us playing 4A tennis where having 2 elite players and 2 very good ones is more than most teams have by far.

The mental toughness question is a good one. My elite players aren't going to panic ever because no one is good enough to beat them until the state tournament in our league. My 3rd best player who has been a state semi-finalist in doubles her freshman year doesn't play singles precisely because of the mental stuff, she kind of cracks under pressure.

So for my squad, I'd say the 12-month-a year tennis players are easier to work with because you can talk tennis with them and give them lots of information to process and they just have to execute it.

The rest of them, you're mostly speaking in parables and having to stop flaws a lot because just do stuff regular tennis players wouldn't do (shot selection, how they can be one-dimensional at times....) and when they get into jams, it can be difficult to dig them out mentally because they just don't have as much experience with the skills to be able to adapt on the fly.

It makes prepping coaching plans kinda difficult -- for me -- because I have to try to keep everyone engaged, and it's partially why I let the elite players (sans one who just likes being at practice) to skip most practices and just work with their own coaches, so it leaves me with the rest of them. Assuming I do this again next season, I'm going to see if I can't hire a 2nd coach to work on tactics with them.

The JV coach I have now is experienced as a soccer coach and understands tennis just fine...but I think we'd benefit from a 3rd coach who was focused on varsity to help me out.

Last edited by Young Drachma : 05-14-2021 at 04:13 PM.
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Old 05-16-2021, 12:10 AM   #28
Young Drachma
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Spirited district tournament seeding meeting today. A great deal of consternation among some of the old guard coaches in the league about me not playing my best players in every match this year. With no state tournament this year, the incentives weren't there, but I suspect the consternation was less about we want them to play and instead 'maybe if we make the league rules onerous enough, they'll be dissuaded and not eligible for the league tournament.'

So I have that to look forward to next year.

Anyway, this year...the bracket shaped up as well as we could've hoped. I got my top two singles players seeded as the 1 and the 3 respectively. My top doubles team are 2-seed. We'll see how it all shakes out. It'll probably come down to the wire.
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Old 05-21-2021, 12:08 AM   #29
Young Drachma
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Districts were not without adversity. On Day 1, the 4-seed got injured -- shrieking outside and had a knee issue -- but turns out it wasn't an ACL thankfully. Anyway, it meant one of my sophomores advanced by default to the quarters, she won that decisively and then played in the semis against our top seeded best player. She lost of course, but then won the 3rd place match.

Our 3-seed junior defaulted because she managed to leave before the quarterfinals, without telling anyone, assuming she could get back in time. She did not get back in time and they defaulted her. It was not fun, but a life lesson that she'll learn from I hope.

Anyway, it meant we didn't meet ourselves in the final (but rather in the top half of the semis) and it also meant the District title race (where you earn one point per round a player advances including byes) was tighter going into the last day than I'd have liked.

We went into today's semis with the two singles semi-finalist and a doubles semi-finalist, our top pairing.

Our singles player won the finals decisively 6-2, 6-0.

Doubles was a marathon, after winning the 1st set 6-2, they lost the 2nd set 3-6 and dragged into a 3rd set, but they recomposed themselves and their opponents (who have only lost once in high school) kind of pressed a bit and we were able to grind out a 7-5 win in the 3rd set to also claim the doubles title.

It was an extremely long day, but it was a fun day and culmination to the season of weirdness with masks and so forth. And while I was initially unhappy this tournament was happening, giving the seniors a sense of normalcy and a true culmination -- even if it wasn't a state championship meet -- was probably for the best, especially because it meant I got to meet all of the parents of my kids which was cool.

In the end, we won:
Quote:
District team championship
District singles title
District doubles title
District singles 3rd place
League championship

Not bad for 6 weeks of work.

So we're done for now. Looking forward to a season without masks and COVID fears and an actual state championship race.

Last edited by Young Drachma : 05-21-2021 at 12:09 AM.
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Old 05-24-2021, 01:50 AM   #30
JonInMiddleGA
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Congratulations, a fun ride, bumps and all.
I've enjoyed this one a lot, I appreciate you sharing it.


On the question side, re: meeting the parents. Was that due to a Covid attendance restriction issue?

I mean, back in normal times we pretty much had high parental attendance at all points. So I can't tell if our "normal" was unusual or if that meeting-them-late-in-the-year thing for you was covid related.
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Old 05-24-2021, 12:17 PM   #31
Young Drachma
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Yeah, parents were only allowed at our home matches. But because of the time of day (3:45pm) not a lot of parents can ditch work to watch so the tournament was easier for a lot of them since the matches were later in the day. So yeah, we have pretty good parent attendance the only parent I hadn't met were my two top players but they didn't play a lot of matches this regular season.

Appreciate you checking it out!
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Old 05-24-2021, 01:00 PM   #32
Breeze
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I enjoyed it as well. I just started playing tennis again, after more than a decade away. So it really registered with me too.
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