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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 were state finalists the last time there was a state tourney in 2019.

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.


Last edited by Young Drachma : 04-01-2022 at 01:22 AM.
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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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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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Join Date: Oct 2000
Location: Cincinnati, OH
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
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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
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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
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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
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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
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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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Old 03-06-2022, 05:59 PM   #33
Young Drachma
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Howdy boyz:

We're back for another season, this time it'll be a full season rather than the abbreviated thing we had last year and we'll also be able to play for state...so there's finally something to play for beyond just District bragging rights.

Despite how much I talked up our team last year, we're somehow -- on paper -- better this year, because we were able to replace what we lost in the ways I'd hoped.

Before I get into the roster, there's a potential development on the state tournament end. If you recall from the earlier part of this story, the Oregon HS tennis state championship is determined based on points won in the state singles/doubles tournament for the 3 classifications (6A/5A/4A-1A) in tennis on the boys & girls side.

Well for decades, a cadre of coaches have been trying to change it but to no avail because the state association didn't have any real interest in doing something that might require more work, and also...fairness to tiny schools without full teams (which like...why should a school with 2-3 players be able to win a state title when the roster has 12?)

Anyway, the committee that discusses these potential changes only meets every 3-4 years and this is their meeting cycle. So I submitted the proposal I'd worked on with some other more senior coaches including the tennis rep to the state coaches association. Folks are skeptical that the committee will be open to these changes and alas, they weren't super mean about it, but certainly had two questions they wanted answers and asked me to go back and get some feedback.

I sent the survey around to coaches and there hasn't been a huge response, but the responses we did get were unanimous in favor of changing the way we pick the team state champion. I'm going back to the committee in two weeks and my goal this time is to get them to let us pilot this for the large school (6A) level for 2-4 years to see how it actually works in practice. I think once folks get a taste of it, they're gonna want it in all the classifications, because it's a really easy way to give a bunch of kids a chance to "go to state" and it's just adding a max total of 4 matches to the regular season schedule to make it happen.

I have no idea if they'll bite, but I'm hoping that using the data and coupled with a refined plan from the one we originally proposed -- along with some info from other states that do this, so they get a mental model for how it's actually done -- might make them throw us this bone. One of the data points I used is that because football has so many kids on a roster, boys are disproportionately able to "play in the playoffs" more than girls, even with volleyball existing as a non-boys varsity sport. Obviously boys tennis would get to play in the post-season too in this format, but it's still a way to give girls who maybe only play tennis but are 3rd or 4th doubles the experience of playing for something more than just a first-round lost in the district tournament.

I'll know more soon.

Next post, I'll get into our roster for this year.
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Old 03-06-2022, 05:59 PM   #34
Young Drachma
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Howdy boyz:

We're back for another season, this time it'll be a full season rather than the abbreviated thing we had last year and we'll also be able to play for state...so there's finally something to play for beyond just District bragging rights.

Despite how much I talked up our team last year, we're somehow -- on paper -- better this year, because we were able to replace what we lost in the ways I'd hoped.

Before I get into the roster, there's a potential development on the state tournament end. If you recall from the earlier part of this story, the Oregon HS tennis state championship is determined based on points won in the state singles/doubles tournament for the 3 classifications (6A/5A/4A-1A) in tennis on the boys & girls side.

Well for decades, a cadre of coaches have been trying to change it but to no avail because the state association didn't have any real interest in doing something that might require more work, and also...fairness to tiny schools without full teams (which like...why should a school with 2-3 players be able to win a state title when the roster has 12?)

Anyway, the committee that discusses these potential changes only meets every 3-4 years and this is their meeting cycle. So I submitted the proposal I'd worked on with some other more senior coaches including the tennis rep to the state coaches association. Folks are skeptical that the committee will be open to these changes and alas, they weren't super mean about it, but certainly had two questions they wanted answers and asked me to go back and get some feedback.

I sent the survey around to coaches and there hasn't been a huge response, but the responses we did get were unanimous in favor of changing the way we pick the team state champion. I'm going back to the committee in two weeks and my goal this time is to get them to let us pilot this for the large school (6A) level for 2-4 years to see how it actually works in practice. I think once folks get a taste of it, they're gonna want it in all the classifications, because it's a really easy way to give a bunch of kids a chance to "go to state" and it's just adding a max total of 4 matches to the regular season schedule to make it happen.

I have no idea if they'll bite, but I'm hoping that using the data and coupled with a refined plan from the one we originally proposed -- along with some info from other states that do this, so they get a mental model for how it's actually done -- might make them throw us this bone. One of the data points I used is that because football has so many kids on a roster, boys are disproportionately able to "play in the playoffs" more than girls, even with volleyball existing as a non-boys varsity sport. Obviously boys tennis would get to play in the post-season too in this format, but it's still a way to give girls who maybe only play tennis but are 3rd or 4th doubles the experience of playing for something more than just a first-round lost in the district tournament.

I'll know more soon.

Next post, I'll get into our roster for this year.
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Old 03-06-2022, 07:02 PM   #35
Young Drachma
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Okay, so we're back for another year and we're better than last year. I was not anticipating this part. I knew we'd be strong in the top half thanks to our 1-2 punch at the top of the lineup...I just didn't expect we'd manage to get some depth on top of that.

Here's our provisional lineup:

For context, last year we had the Top 3 players in the conference all on our squad. This year, we bring all 3 of them back and we added a 4th player who is better than our #3.

Anyway, so now heading into opening day we've got the Top 4 players in the conference (conference/league/district are used synonymously in this dynasty...because Oregon stupidly conflates leagues with state districts) and the challenge is deciding who among them will play 1st doubles, as are the rules in our particular league. (The league I coached in during my season as a 6A coach had no such restrictions)


Singles ladder:

Top Gun #1: (12) Defending district singles champ; has never lost a dual match in HS, lost in the quarterfinals at state during her 9th grade year.

Top Gun #2: (12) Defending district doubles champ; 3rd in state at singles her 9th grade year; has never lost a dual match in HS.

The Transfer: (12) Burst onto the scene last year, having only played JV tennis as a boarding school before joining our squad and immediately becoming the best player who wasn't a Top Gun. Mostly was our #1 player all year, because I had the Top Guns sit out most of last year to give the other girls experience (since there was no state) and she made the quarterfinals at state last year. Has never lost a HS match.

New Kid On The Block: (11) NKOTB was a junior I've been trying to get onto the team since her freshman year. She finally relented this year thanks to her best friend being on the team, and also because I mostly nagged her and her mom about it for 3 years before they finally decided okay fine she can play. She's immediately our 3rd best player, even better than The Transfer
and my goal is to keep it interesting enough for her that she sticks around, because having her on our squad gives us depth that we never anticipated having. She essentially replaced the girl who played 1st doubles for us last year (two-time state qualifier) but is better than she was, which is bonkers. Ideally, she'll get some reps at singles this year, just because I know she prefers it and I think getting The Transfer & Top Gun 2 paired together as a 1st doubles team will be unbeatable.

The Captain (11) After her unexpected run to the district semis last year (she lost to Top Gun 1) I named her captain before the season even ended, which I knew the girls would approve of. She's a hard-hitting volleyball player who has turned herself into a very good tennis player and would be a solid contributor on even a 6A team, even if she's not a circuit playing everyday tennis player like my Top 3 players. Still, she's gonna be a linchpin for us. Ideally, we can find a doubles pairing for her that'll enable her to go further at state than just one round, because that's the conundrum for us.

The Rookie (9) On the first day of practice, there were two girls in JV practice who stood out and the JV coach identified them immediately. Turns out, one of them had lessons before and immediately established herself. Her running mate is a step below, but still quite good and both are immediately good enough to be in our regular lineup. Given we were missing two varsity starters on opening day, to replace them was nice. The Rookie benefits from being on a team that's so good that she can play in a spot where she can grow her confidence as the season goes on. Right now, I have her penciled in to play 2nd doubles with The Captain. I think they could qualify for state together, but we'll need to see how the pairing works as the regular season goes on.

Besides this crew, we're bringing back the rest of the starters from last year including three solid singles players (two juniors and one sophomore), the aforementioned newbie 9th grader, a rough-around-the-edges but tenacious senior doubles player and a duo of volleyball players turned tennis players who were an excellent pairing for us as utility players last year.

I also have a "project" in the form of a D1 volleyball signee and her bestie from the volleyball team who want to play (since so many volleyball girls on the tennis team) and who have been clearly working on their games some. They're very rough, but have strokes already and can serve. The JV coach is going to take them and I'm going to tell them that they have a few weeks to work the bugs out, because I'd love to use them as my 4th doubles team. Both are over 6' tall and would scare the daylights out of most opponents purely just from the optics, haha.

One of the complaints last year was that the lineup shifted too much, so I'm trying to come up with two relatively static lineups that the girls can sort of rely on. Challenges matches would be a normal way to deal with this on most normal tennis teams -- and we might use them some -- but this team is so even after you get past the Top 4 players that it doesn't matter that much, because depending on the day, you'd probably get a different result among them. Also, since regular season matches don't matter that much, so long as you're not stacking, it's all pretty subjective anyway.

We'll play 12 matches this year, 11 in the league and I managed to get us a non-conference match against a 6A school in two weeks. This makes me happy, because we were otherwise going to go from mid-March through March 31st before our first match, which I always find difficult.

The boys team gets to travel to an overnight tournament, but we were not invited to one. I'm not super surprised by this and I'm mostly okay with it, I don't really want to be scouted by the opposition anyway and I'm just adamant about keeping this team healthy into districts and state. My best players mostly play enough matches anyway that I'm not too worried about getting them tougher competition, though I wish it were possible in just regular season matches but oh well.

Districts/State Thinking Ahead

Whoever you slot into the singles/doubles brackets at Districts are who you are fixed into for state if they qualify. So there's going to be some decision-making coming down the road as to what makes the most sense for us. Right now, there are a bunch of different permutations that could work out for us, I'm just most interested in ensuring we have the best chances to win the state title.

I think the regular season will give us a better indication of whether it makes sense of what doubles combos would be best, and whether we'll be able to unleash the full weight of our singles players onto the tournament.
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Old 03-18-2022, 12:29 PM   #36
Young Drachma
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2022, Match 1

We played a middle of the road 6A (highest classification in Oregon) school yesterday who play in one of the two best leagues in the state. Historically, the state champions often comes from the MHC (where this school plays) or the TRL (where I coached a boys team for one season before taking this job)

Anyway, I scheduled it expecting we'd win but wasn't expecting a clean sweep. Unlike our stupid league, 6A schools play their rosters straight up according to the ladder until districts so you get best players in singles and then doubles are less that way. We played our lineup like we're supposed to in our league, so 2 best players at 1-2 singles, then our 3/4 best players played 1st doubles. We were missing three players yesterday (#2 singles, #3 singles & a 4th doubles player who is playing club volleyball and will miss half the year) but since it's the day before spring break, I didn't have many JV options available when my 3-singles told me she was sick on the morning of the match. So we subbed our manager (who does practice with JV) in the 4th singles slot.

It was also raining and our opponents were playing their 3rd match in 3 days. Because it was non-conference, the coaches can be flexible about the structure of the match, so we played it as 8-game pro-sets because we only had 2 courts (our indoor courts) available for the match meaning it was going to go slow otherwise.

Thankfully, my girls didn't drag the match out by and large and we finished before our practice would've been over normally. 3rd singles and 4th singles both lost, but everyone won handily. In the case of my 4th singles player, so gets very anxious when she's having to play indoors and feels like she's being watched. Part of the reason I was really convinced I wanted a March match before spring break, was because I know it's often hard for the kids to translate stuff from practice to matches; especially the ones who don't play tennis year-round.

In the case of one of my juniors who does play year-round, but hasn't ever played HS tennis before this season, she had to get the nerves out and also adapt to playing a doubles team that were not big hitters and had no real pace. It's a different strategic thing and I think everyone needs to learn how to play against people that aren't good because if you consistently make mistakes, you can find yourself in a hole and it's hard to get out.

This is what happened to 4th singles, she just got herself in a ditch down 1-6 before I even had a chance to calm her down and by then it was really too late to salvage it because she was too far gone. 3rd singles lost 5-8, but at least tried to grind back and the girl she played was a mirror of her who had been playing more matches this week so I think the reps probably helped that girl (also my player did not hold serve against a girl who didn't serve well and I'm going to cover that when we get back post-break. It was a missed opportunity.)

Good news is, my doubles teams are way more intact than last year where besides our #1 and #4 teams, it was very permeable all year and there was no real routine or rhythm, whereas this year, I have a pretty easy time of being able to swap people into the doubles rotation.

After spring break, we only place twice in two weeks -- a home match against one of the bottom teams in our conference, then we travel to a 4A school in our hybrid conference (it's a mix of 1A-4A schools since there aren't a ton that play tennis) that's an hour away. It's the match I posted about last year with the two courts situation playing at the fairgrounds. Unlike last year, the school will transport us on buses again and it's not during the SAT day, so we'll bring the entire team to that match, because I kinda want to exact revenge on that match for how unnecessarily close it was last year relative to the competition levels.

Then the following Tuesday are the first of two tilts with our league rivals and among the 3-4 schools we're expecting to compete against us for the state title this season.

In the meantime, we're going to have to work on match situations. I've had JV practicing only 3 days a week now, meaning we get all 4 courts two days a week and that's very useful. I'm going to start emphasizing match situations and spending a bit less time doing the varied drills and focusing half the week on situational and tactical tennis, because I feel like the advantage we had at districts last year was we spent that whole doing precisely that and less time on non-real game situations and I could see the impact.

The problem with these high-achieving kids is they often can be very cerebral about everything, their confidence drops to the floor when they start facing adversity often (more the ones who don't play other sports, than the ones who do...) and if you don't catch it early enough and shake them out of it, they can blow extremely winnable matches. Thankfully, we didn't do this very often last year and the jams we did find ourselves in a few times, we were able to manage our ways out of.

My other thing to continue contemplating is our district lineup (for state entries) because my dilemma is that our 4 best singles players are legitimately the 4 best singles players in our conference, and just based on UTR/USTA rankings as a barometer, likely are among the 5-10 best players in our classification statewide. Like, if one of my two top guns doesn't make the state singles final, it'll be an upset; both were seeded in that bracket as 9th graders and this is their last crack at it. (1-2 ranked seniors in their class on tennisreporting)

The issue is, my other senior -- who'd play #1 singles for any other team in 4A-1A short of one other school -- and the junior I've been recruiting for a while (who is better than her) are also quite good. The junior is open to playing doubles, the senior would rather not. I was going to jam them together anyway, but I've come to realize that so much of doubles is touch and feel and if you're not comfortable out there, you're going to lose to someone you shouldn't lose to.

The junior is friends with our 5th best player (3rd place in singles districts last year) and so we might just opt to let them play #1 singles for most of the year besides our rival matches, and then see if their cadence is good enough to play at districts. Since they're both returning next year as seniors, it's a nice way for them to potentially get far at state before switching to singles next season (or maybe they'll decide to team up again and see if they can get further...)

Lastly, we also a tentative match against a neighboring 5A school that'll be similar to what we played yesterday. I suspect they're maybe a little better but assuming we have anything close to our full lineup, we should win 7-1 or 8-0 and that's kind of what I'm angling for/expect.

I don't think I can scrounge up anymore non-conference matches because most teams already have their schedules set for the year, I'd love to get a crack at one of the Top 6A teams because after yesterday's match it's evident that'd we finish 2nd at worst in the 2nd league 6A league in the state, which makes me feel like it's truly state title or bust.

Don't worry, I'm not telling the team that. It's a long season and we're taking it a match at a time. I don't want them getting the impression that if we somehow don't go all the way we've failed, because stuff can happen. But after the covid years and knowing this is easily the best girls team the school has ever had (and they've won 5 state titles since 1980) -- I've had dozens of people tell me this -- I feel like we need a banner hanging to validate the past 3 years of work and recognize this team forever.

Back at it in a week.
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Old 03-18-2022, 01:06 PM   #37
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Very interested to be following along again. Good luck.
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Old 03-19-2022, 01:53 AM   #38
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Old 03-24-2022, 10:41 PM   #39
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Minor update to this during the off-week, I realized that we've added one more good player that wasn't listed in the season preview because I didn't know she existed.

Soccer Star is a 9th grader who apparently had tennis lessons in middle school. Her parents figured she'd come to tennis, play JV and hit a few times a week in-between her club soccer matches she's got. Instead, the JV coach pointed her out to me after a practice once (he's also a pro soccer coach and the assistant at our school) and told me she had good strokes and might help us out.

So I told her immediately to come practice with varsity, as I do with promising JV players. After 5 minutes at practice, the entire team was looking at me like "where did you get her? And you know she's not leaving us, right?"

Her club soccer schedule means she can only practice with us 1-2 times per week, but she's a hard-worker who has incredible strokes for someone who doesn't play regularly. Given our depth, I can have her playing 2nd or 3rd doubles without any issues and it'll give her a chance to work out the bugs, get some confidence playing matches and it shores up our lineup even more.

One of the juniors was part of an all-volleyball girl doubles duo for us last year, mostly played 4th doubles. Their chemistry alone, coupled with athleticism and net skills meant that they were really competitive. That match last year (the one with the weird court) at the barn was the one where they flat out told me "Coach, you should let us play 1st doubles tomorrow because we'll win."

I legitimately wouldn't have done that had they not had the confidence to say that. And you know what? They teamed up to beat a doubles team that ended up placing 4th at Districts later in the year.

Anyway, half of that duo is an elite volleyball player and while I still have her penciled in at 4th doubles...she's not going to be able to play more than half a season for us this year because she plays club volleyball (and is a D1 commit, officially as of last week) so getting this Soccer Star in tow is really going to shore up our depth.

As it stands right now, with my D1 volleyball player and one of my freshman who are promising but needs a bit of work, we've got 14 players for 12 spots. Given the way these kids are overcommitted, you can't expect we're going to have a ton of matches where everyone is there at the same time. So the depth is especially helpful.

Our league isn't very good, so I use the opportunities to get kids more reps, but I also like to put them in other spots. So giving those underclassmen who play doubles a chance to lead the team in key singles spots is always great confidence boosts, because anytime the kids win all the time without a challenge it's hard to learn from that when you need to turn up the heat a bit come tournament time.

As for the schedule, I'm for sure getting a 5A match at an undetermined date. I did send an email to coaches who are hosting a Saturday tournament 1.5 hours away from here. It's 3 public schools from other parts of Oregon. We're deeper than any of those teams, but each has at least one good singles player including the best (4A) player in the state, so if we could get down there it'd be nice to get some reps, but I doubt they'll invite us this late in the game.

I also sent last-ditch emails to coaches at a 6A powerhouse that seemed to have open spots on their schedule to see if they'd want to play us. They're going to win their league and their #1 player almost came to our school but opted to go the public school instead. She's better than my #1 player, which is great to get her matches that get her out of her comfort zone, but outside of their Top 2 players, the rest of that team is takeable and we'll beat them.

I doubt these schools will write back or accept a match -- it's not usual that bigger schools will play down out here unless there's a preexisting relationship -- but I'm hoping for the long shot, because it'd be nice for us to mix up the schedule with some pressure-filled matches that aren't our rival.
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Old 03-31-2022, 02:57 PM   #40
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We've got a busy slate upcoming after this week.

Today we're playing a small Catholic school and their #1 player is decent but won't be here today and so I'm going to sit my #1 and #2 and move some kids up to give them some good experience playing higher positions, including one of my freshmen who has never played singles for us and a doubles team of two solid players that I want to work on their timing. For context on today's match, if we drop any matches today, I'll be annoyed.

We have 10 matches in April in 20 days during April, so it'll be kinda hardcore, but I wayyyy prefer playing matches to a bunch of extra practices to gear them up. Our league is weird because there are more schools with girls team than boys teams, so the boys end up playing on different days than we do at points. It's a bit disruptive to the practice schedule, but I think if nothing else, it'll keep the girls geared up and motivated as we move through the schedule.

I'm jazzed that getting us those two non-conference matches means we end up with 13 matches this year (barring any rainouts that don't get rescheduled), it's surely the most matches the girls team has had in a really long time.

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Old 04-01-2022, 01:15 AM   #41
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Resounding win today, 8-0 in matches, 96-7 in game score. Complete domination without needing our two best players, albeit against the worst team in the league, but for context last year we played them twice and we gave up more games despite them forfeiting spots.

Also, the system that reports matches statewide has been extremely helpful for advanced scouting because now I can see lineups in advance and even if teams switch it up slightly. You know the returning kids and even if they've improved, it's good for benchmarking. The real wildcards are when there are 9th graders on these teams that you don't know and assessing how good they might be.

We have the depth to win every night out, but because the kids are overcommitted they will sometimes miss games and so you just need to make sure they're not missing games we need them so that matches that shouldn't be remotely close don't end up that way.

Next week, we've got back to back road matches. Adding complexity is that the kids have Monday/Tuesday off school, so we'll be coming into a road game having not practiced since Friday. It'll add a degree of difficulty to the proceedings, but I'm actually kind of glad about the "adversity" that it adds to the schedule a bit, because as they overcome these milestones, it'll give them more confidence in themselves.

Also in text-sim fashion, I've been promising them things. So far, I'm the hook for Starbucks if they win a future (against a specific team, not just anyone) match in 2 hours or less and a pizza party if they beat our rivals 8-0. LOL. Whatever it takes to add a bit of bonus motivation.

For context, last year we only had like 3 players who were year-round tennis players. This year, I have 4. In addition, we're way more athletic as a ballclub. Like one of my doubles players is ALSO RUNNING TRACK this season, so she's playing both sports and we're basically sharing her with that team. Two of my doubles players play club sports (soccer/volleyball) and also aren't full-time tennis players, but it just means that the caliber of athlete we trot onto the court with our full roster is dramatic. Also, some of them have taken huge leaps to their game over the winter. One of my 4th doubles girls last year has legit leveled up enough to probably play 3rd singles if we were a "regular" tennis team and not a 6A team stuck in 4A.

Having beaten that 6A school and with a 5A school in our sights next week, just looking at the matches teams have played so far and knowing the composition of those leagues/teams/players...we'd be good enough to win all but one of the 6A leagues if we weren't marooned in 4A. It might somehow be easier for us to win the 5A title if we were in that classification, because there's no dominant team this year and no dominant player and we're just so deep from 1-12 when our full lineup is out there.

All of this stuff I don't tell the girls -- it won't mean anything to them, really -- but it just makes me hellbent on ensuring this team puts a banner up in that gym when this is all said and done, because this team is way too good and after the COVID years stole 2 likely state titles from this class, I just want the seniors to go out on top.

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Old 04-07-2022, 12:42 PM   #42
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Non-conference slate is complete, undefeated season intact.

We beat the 5A school 8-0, to maintain the defeated season. 3 of the Big 4 played in that match, since they're not in our league we played our singles lineup straight up which was fun to get to do. I don't think everyone had their best for some reason, travel matches hit the girls harder now than they seemed to pre-pandemic, but they gritted their teeth and we pulled out the dominant W.

We have a quick turnaround today, where we play on the barnyard fairground courts. If you recall they looked like this:



Like last year, we're going there with a short roster because of scheduling conflicts. (Jokingly, I think half the kids make sure they're busy for this match because everyone hates the trek.)

But unlike last year, where we only had 1 of our Top 5 players with us...this year, we're taking our 3/4 best players who are also the 3/4 best players in our conference. Also like last year, we're going to forfeit at least one of the positions. It was too short notice for me to get any of the JV players and our JV roster is basically beginners. Which would match our opponents, but the ones who are decent enough to hang weren't available on short notice.

Short of everyone getting food poisoning on the bus ride, there's no true threat of us losing today. The real question is, can we continue our current little streak of shutting out opponents. In singles, I don't have any real worries we should sweep.

First doubles, same. 2nd doubles will be interesting, it's a duo of my 9th graders who have good chemistry as pals and are solid players together. It'll depend on how experienced their opponents are as to whether it's a long 3-set match or whether they can compose and beat them handily. The conditions will be awkward for them, but at least the "doubles court" is closer to our bench than the singles one.

3rd doubles will be a JV senior that I elevated to varsity because she's been a dedicated practice player, and I'll likely pair her with our manager.

I'm enjoying seeing the team winning so handily and I'd prefer to see us maintain the unbeaten match streak (though technically the forfeits will mean we lose at least 1 match today) versus being concerned we'll lose or something silly.

Adding Match 15
The state assoc. limits tennis teams to 16 matches (or tournaments) during the regular season, we never come close to that normally, we play 12 conference matches and I got us the 2 non-conference games which were nice even if both were solid middle-of-the-pack programs in 6A/5A.

There's a new tennis program in our league this season, that decided to start as JV only this year so their kids could get experience. I wrote their coach and asked if she wanted to give her kids a varsity experience before graduation, especially the seniors and she said yes. So we're going to play them as our 15th match at the end of the season so I can promote a bunch of my JV players including some JV seniors to varsity for the day.

Because I have 4 freshman who play varsity they can lead the singles effort and ensure we don't accidentally lose, because I did say they were gonna play too.
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Old 04-08-2022, 08:53 AM   #43
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Game 4

We were there until 8pm, we brought 10 girls (including our manager) and we forfeited 4th doubles. Despite that, the girls surprised me and we won all 7 flights pretty handily. One one match went to 3-sets, I had a junior who can play 4th single (but preferred to move to doubles this year) playing with a 9th grader who has potential, good strokes but lacks confidence. They dropped the first set playing 2nd doubles, but after being down 4-2, they lost that set 4-6 and you could tell they understood had to string it together. They won the 2nd set 6-2 and grinded the 3rd set I think 6-3, iirc. I was proud of them for figuring it out on the fly, the team they played was mismatched but solid and didn't have a good sense of how to deal with good form.

The opposing coach doesn't like me because he has this false impression that we bring our "JV" players to play them, but this time I had 5 players out of the lineup and it was tough to even manage the lineup I did get. Also, we did bring our 3/4/5 best players with us, last year when we beat them we didn't even have that.

Lucky for them, they have to travel to us next week and I will ensure my 1-2 combo are there to give him what he seems to want, which is to kill these kids confidence playing against two D1 tennis players.

The team did well otherwise, all of them minus #1 s/d were in unfamiliar spots playing solid players who aren't technically sound, but who clearly have been coached extremely well for being straight up beginners by a non-tennis coach teacher who just cared about the program alive.

I was less concerned about losing and more about keeping our streak of wins alive because as good as we were last year, we never had a three-match stretch we won 8-0, 8-0, 7-0 in matches we played. So it's really cool to see them starting to believe they're as good as they are.

We have our rivals on the road next Tuesday. On paper, we should matchup very well against them this year because it seems we've reloaded well beyond what they did since last year, but it'll also be the stiffest test we've had all year and I don't know how the newbies playing in those lower doubles spots will respond to folks who can actually hit consistently & will challenge them.

My hope is that they'll respond well to it, but either way I'm glad we get the road version of that rivalry match out of the way well before districts, though we'll also host them later in the month.
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Old 04-13-2022, 10:36 AM   #44
Young Drachma
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Match 5
We won 93-39 total games score, 7-1 in matches, our 3rd doubles team didn't have their best day.

I expected us to win. From scouting, I assumed they weren't as strong this year as they usually are. They are, however, extremely well coached and their players for sure know how to execute. We just had more bags of tricks to pull out than they did.

Still was proud of the girls. No match went 3 sets, though two did go to tiebreakers at 2nd doubles and 1st singles, the former in the 2nd set to end it, the former in the 1st set and then she came back and rolled after that.

We have 2 more matches this week, but I'm happy with our output thus far.

Game scores have been pretty consistently dominant thus far:

Quote:
Match 1: (1 8-game pro set each) 52-22 (6-2)
Match 2: 96-7 (8-0)
Match 3: 96-16 (8-0)
Match 4: 88-37 (7-1)
Match 5: 93-39 (7-1)

So far, we've dropped 3 matches (not counting the forfeit from Match 4) on the whole season. (and the same people dropped them weirdly enough) This streak isn't likely to last, someone will eventually have a bad day, but it's kinda fun to keep it going. Last year's undefeated season only had 9 matches in it, one of those was a tie where we won 9-8 on sets and 72-70 in games (it was early in the year and I made a bad lineup) but generally our total matches last year was like 44-16 (in individual matches) in the 9-game slate.

This year, we'll be through 7 games after this week ends and we've lost 3 total and I'm not imagining a scenario where through 15 total matches this year where we're going to lose 16 matches as a team the rest of the year.

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Old 04-13-2022, 09:55 PM   #45
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Quick day at the office playing one of the teams near the bottom of the league standings, they forfeited 4th doubles making it easier and we were done in less than 2 hours. 8-0 win, 84-13 total game score (I didn't include the forfeit 12 games or it's a perfect 96)

We're currently one of only 8 teams statewide who are 6-0 (4 are girls programs, 4 are boys) with a shot to hit 7 tomorrow at home to end the week.

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Old 04-15-2022, 11:06 AM   #46
Young Drachma
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Ended the week 7-0, after another 8-0 victory this time over the school we played last week from the coast. We had more of our main starters this time though not all of them and we won 96-9 in total game score. It was also nice because we got to play a JV player for the first time who I hadn't realize was really solid. I promoted her to varsity mid-match which was fun.

I'm on a futile pursuit to see if I can get a last-minute match next week against a bigger 6A school the boys team is traveling to a weekend tournament F/S and so the girls are bummed we didn't get invited to anything. But also, I'd just like us to get one shot against a 6A power school before the season ends and the magic pixie dust fades a bit. I'm going to send a few emails out expecting no reply and see if anyone bites.

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Old 04-20-2022, 12:09 PM   #47
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Beat the 3rd best team in our league/district this year -- a much improved squad over last year -- yesterday in a slow one because we could only play indoors. Thankfully we have those courts because we don't have home rainouts, even if it's slow.

We had the whole lineup together, so we were able to sweep 8-0 with a game score of 96-15. It obscures how solid that team was, but just indicates how strong we are at every position.

We're now 8-0 in the year, only 4 other teams are at the same record. We're supposed to play today but it's supposed to rain all day and hasn't started yet so it might be one of those deals where they send us on the road thinking it'll hold up and then we'll get there and it'll pour. I hope cooler heads prevail though, they don't usually call the matches until noon, so we have to wait it out. If it wasn't a 45 minute drive, I'd be jazzed to play it because then we'd be 9-0 and there's no team in the state with that record but...it's a slog because it's so far.

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Old 04-26-2022, 11:14 AM   #48
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We're back in action this week with 4 contests as the regular season nears its end.

It's rivalry day today. We beat them 7-1 last time with arguably a riskier lineup than the one we're trotting out today. The open question of today is what lineup adjustments did they make. I know the varied options, we're betting on the one that's most advantageous to us.

Tomorrow is senior day, we play the only other team in our league we haven't yet played. They don't seem to be having an especially good year, I'm expecting on senior day that it'll be pretty inspired tennis and a big win.

Thursday we play the league's worst team, I'm just making sure I have at least 10 players -- they're probably going to forfeit 4th doubles -- and that we have someone for their #1 player who is solid and feisty so we don't lose the bagel opportunity.

Friday we play a match against a JV program that's in its first year. I upgraded it to varsity so I could promote a bunch of kids, but they're extremely inexperienced. The singles roles will be anchored by my Varsity 2 players who are rotation players for us, but we're too deep for them to play every match.

With them at least it'd be a 4-4 match if our doubles teams don't know how to play at all. I don't coach them, the JV coach does and there's too many kids really for us to really integrate them because the talent disparities are pretty significant. If I were to do this another season, I'd probably work to make that thing way more structured because right now anyone who is any good usually has to join varsity.

Winning today's rivalry match essentially wraps up the league title (for the 3rd consecutive season) though technically we won't formally clinch it until we win next Monday for that rescheduled rainout from last week. In theory, we could lose the next two matches but it'd require us to forfeit, as even our non Top 5 players could win us the next 3 matches without much incident. (I do not want to test this theory, universe. Just clarifying the formalities.) With the tiebreaker over our rivals, we'd just need to beat teams we usually beat, then the last two matches won't really matter (though we're pretty protective of the win streak.)

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Old 04-27-2022, 02:09 AM   #49
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Match against the rivals was pretty anti-climactic, we won 8-0 and by a game score of 96-26. I predicted their lineup precisely, and our first doubles pairing managed to adapt and survive. Were up 4-0 second set after winning the first, went down 4-5 and I was nervous. But they broke at 5-5, held serve at 6-5 and closed them out to win 7-5. I'm glad I caught it in time, it could've been one of those matches where I didn't notice until it was too late and they'd have played a 3-setter. Thankfully, they grinded it out and I feel like leveled up all the better for it.

Tomorrow we have the actual 3rd best team in the league this year, I was surprised they won 6-2 over the team who have more singles talent but no depth. It'll be a pesky match, but it's senior day so we're playing our core lineup and there shouldn't be any issues.

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Old 04-29-2022, 04:01 PM   #50
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Week is almost over. We have this JV match that we promoted to varsity, but I might demote it unless they win because none of my varsity regulars are actually playing in it and it won't help anything. I'm keeping the carrot of "it's a varsity match" to create a bit of tension/pride for the 4 Varsity 2 kids who are going to be carrying the JV players in this one, in the hopes that they'll feel pride at keeping the win streak up.

Another coach told me that two of the players seemed to have tennis experience, but the rest weren't very good which makes me feel a bit better about the setup. All 4 singles players and half of 1st doubles are all kids who have played at least 1 varsity match (and haven't lost by once among them) so I'm not truly worried. If this team was good enough to play varsity, they would've.

As for the rest of our schedule this week, we swept our other two matches. We won 7-1 (96-29) on Wednesday on Senior Day, all of the seniors one. I went against my better judgement and paired my two 9th graders together and they kind of get in their own heads, but it'll be a learning experience. (And one of them played yesterday and won in a 3-setter so..it's already paid dividends.)

Yesterday, because of "senior skip day" I didn't have any seniors to play for us, but that team is usually short players and so I assumed we'd be able to manage without. Their coach told me they'd have a full team, but then I got there and we went from assuming we'd be forfeiting the 2 bottom doubles spots to instead being up a match because they only have 7 kids and we had 8.

We swept the 5 matches we played and save for the three-setter, it was pretty anti-climatic.

Next week, we have three matches -- Monday, Tuesday and Friday -- but hoping it rains Monday because it's a trek to Salem for a match that we'll win. But if we do play it, it'll be my chance to give kids who aren't playing in districts one last chance to play varsity because I'm going to try to roll with my districts lineup in the last two matches.

As for districts, it'll be interesting. Things have lined up mostly how I hoped though we'll see how seeding goes. Unlike last year, where the distance between us and our rival and only other dominant team in the league was really close, we've beat them 15-1 in our two meetings. So there won't be any real debate.

Also, the online reporting system we use now will also make things easier because the stats are at our fingertips and we're able to compare H2H stats, league stats and go from there.

Getting my 1-2 singles players seeded is a virtual certainty. I'm going to make a feeble case for seeding 3rd best singles player, who mostly played 2 singles this year, occasionally plays 1 and was a district quarterfinalist last year. She'll have a harder road to semis this year than she did last year, but also played #1 singles all last year and was undefeated.

Even if she doesn't get seeded, given she'll be on the seed line for either one of the players that aren't ours, I think she can make it through. Her making state would be most ideal though, as I'd like 3 singles players instead of 2.

On the doubles end, my #1 doubles team just beat the #1 doubles team from our rivals and so they should be the top seed. I'll make the case for my #2 team as well as they've been the most consistent pairing all season and have beaten the #2s from the opposing team both team they've played them, but we'll see if someone can make a case that their top doubles teams deserve it over them.

With 6 players seeded, they just have to do what they've done all year and we'll have sewed up the district title and 4 bids to state by the end of next Monday.

Getting that additional singles player into the mix would be epic, she's a wild card because she's never played a 3-set match in her high school career, nor lost...so I have no idea what to expect she plays someone who pushes her to the limit and whether she will grind or fold.

Our school record (for girls) most players to state is 6, so I'd love to get 7 this year. Also with 7 players at state and several seeds, we'd have a good pathway to winning the whole thing.

Oh also that 6A school i wrote about playing us wrote me last night on a whim to see if we'd be able to play today last minute. I couldn't get enough girls available to make it happen, which was a bummer.

But honestly, I didn't want to attempt it unless we had our whole roster. I suspect we'll be able to schedule them next year, but unless we get some solid reinforcements, I'm not sure what that match will look like for us.

Anyway, we're one of 2 girls teams statewide at 11-0, next week would be 14-0 which for sure is a school record for most wins in a season. Not that anyone keeps records on this stuff, because it's tennis at a 3A school.

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