2021 Varsity Masked.jpg

Lady Bowmen Tennis

Season Recap 2021

2021 was an awesome season for Sherwood Girls Tennis.  Here's a look back at the season from a coach's viewpoint, which will give a little different take on things.  I'll also add a few comments from other coaches around the league where I can.

Here is the very long recap.  Apologies - who knew a short season warranted so much writing?

Starting with the most basic thing - being grateful for the year we've had.  Here is a short list of things we had this year, with some comparisons to other years and other schools this year:

  • Most years, we have 12-15 organized practices.  This year was 2 weeks shorter than usual, but:

    • We had 25 practices in the Fall with up to 44 players per practice.  Some schools were not allowed to practice at all.

    • We had another 13 practices prior to the season in 2021.

    • We had 15 practices during the season due to zero days being entirely rained out. 

    • Many schools were not allowed any off-season practices, so we were fortunate.

  • Our players and families stepped up to keep themselves and others safe from Covid, with barely any players missing any practices or matches and no cross-team quarantines.

    • Our competition did the same, which kept us safe and on the court without any cancellations or reschedules.​

  • We played the District Tournament and had 13 team matches on varsity and nearly that on JV and JV2.  Our league even had a full-league JV/JV2 tournament for the first time ever.  As a comparison:

    • The 3 schools in Bend only got 6 matches total, all against themselves (3 times each against the 2 other schools, and they are not usually very evenly matched).

    • The Three Rivers League schools (our prior league) had 7-8 matches and no tournament.

  • We had 7 very committed coaches, many of whom were present far beyond their initial plans for the season / year.  We also had some other coaches step in to fill gaps in the Fall, which helped a ton.  From the Glencoe coach at the JV tournament, "Sherwood has more coaches here than we have players."

So, thank you to everyone who stepped up to make that all happen.  On to the recap.

Let's start easy though.  Here is the season by the numbers for varsity:

  • 12-1 Team Dual-Match Record (best ever in a 6A league)

  • 90-19 Record for Individual Matches in Dual-Matches

  • 39-13 Singles Record in League Play

  • 51-6 Doubles Record in League Play

  • Our average match score was better than 6-3, 6-3 (very close to the all-time record)

  • 16 Main Draw District Tournament Wins

  • 3 "State Qualifiers"

All that adds up to these standings/awards:

  • Pacific Conference Dual-Match 2nd Place

  • Pacific Conference District Tournament 2nd Place

  • Conference Singles Champion (Mandie Jensen)

  • Conference Doubles 2nd Place (Lauren Anderson/Morgan McArthur)

2021 was a very interesting year for high school tennis.  After the cancellation of the 2020 season and the shifting rules around Covid restrictions, the mixed bag of high school tennis got even more mixed.  There are usually quite a few schools who struggle to put experienced teams on court for a variety of reasons.  This year, there were more of those teams and they were even less experienced than usual.  Hopefully that will correct itself next year with far less restrictions in place this summer.

 

The extra Fall Season that the OSAA and Sherwood Schools allowed us to have was a game-changer for our program.  We debated whether or not we would allow brand new players to start in the fall, and we decided that we would commit to supporting it.  We expected a couple new faces to show up.  Then they did, and them more did and more did.  We ended up with 19 new players in the fall, many of whom opted to try tennis while waiting for soccer, volleyball and basketball to start.  That was a lot of new players to support, but we could not be happier that we made that decision.

With our extra practices in the winter and March, players who typically would have started in the spring had already had 20-40 practices - 1-2 years worth.  That turned Sherwood Girls Tennis from a good team into one of the best top-to-bottom teams in Oregon, if not the actual best.

When the season came around, we were already firing on all cylinders at both the Varsity and JV level.  As mentioned above, the same couldn't be said for all the teams in Oregon.  So, that led to a bit of a lopsided year with us being at our best when several others were at their worst due to all the restrictions.

Before going on, let's take a pause on the varsity content to look at our JV programs.  After the 2019 season, we made a decision to break our JV team up into two teams because our goals for those players are very different.

 

The JV2 team has a goal of turning beginners or near-beginners into tennis players - knowing how to hit each of the shots, knowing the rules, keeping score and being able to put it all together on court in a competitive environment.  Winning is great, but learning is the #1 goal there.  The shortened season this year made that goal more difficult, but the players, along with coaches Peter and Jason really stepped up.  The players saw their first action after just 2 weeks and were competing well right away.  This was our only team to frequently play against more experienced competition, usually taking on JV squads from other teams.  Their record on the season was about 50/50 for team results, but it's actually more impressive when you look at it based on their competition:

  • When playing against JV teams, there were losses, but the scores were close (scores like 2-4)

  • When playing against JV2 teams, the results were great - solid wins (5-1 or 6-0).

That's a lot of wins for a team with learning as the main goal.  Add in a Silver Bracket Championship in the JV tournament for Madison Milton and Ashlynn Leahy and that's a pretty good season for the team.  Most importantly, the JV2 goals were accomplished.  The players from the JV2 team are now tennis players with a good understanding of the game.  They also know the rules and have better on-court etiquette than a lot of local varsity players.  They are set up for future success, and we're hoping to see them continue moving forward.

Summing up the JV season is easy.  One Word.  Dominance.  Okay.  Two words.  Total Domination!  The JV team is designed to be a competitive team for people who are still developing their games.  It honestly didn't look like that.  It looked like a group of players who knew what they were doing and knew how to do it well.  2013 has long been considered our best varsity team ever (after they dominated as JV teams in 2010 and 2011).  Their biggest win ever was losing 18 games in team match.  The JV team lost only 5 games against Putnam's varsity team, blowing away the record that had stood for 8 years.  Aside from just being awesome, that's also ridiculous.

 

To quote other coaches who saw the JV Team in action, "They look like a varsity team", "I'm sure they could compete well against and even beat a lot of varsity teams".  All we could reply was, "Yah, they've smoked a few varsity teams".  I honestly can't say enough good things about this team.  Simple things like "Our best JV team ever", or "Best JV Team in Oregon" are definitely and probably true.  But I think my true sentiment is more like, "I can't wait to see how much more these players can do from here."  We know a lot of you have commitments to other sports too, 

 

To the Honors:

  • JV District Gold Bracket Champions: Paige Bittner and Paige Evans

  • JV District Gold Bracket 2nd Place: Jackie Barritt and Hannah Brown

  • JV District Gold Bracket 3rd Place:  Mackenzie Farmer (sub for Payton Brower) and Macy Odella

  • JV District Gold Bracket 4th Place:  Laney Richards and Lila Boughey

  • Other Notable Finishes:  The rest of the team!  Everyone on our team got plenty of wins and were even beating the #1 teams from other schools.

JV2 Picture Day 2021.jpg

On to Varsity.  From the numbers at the very top of this page, you can see it was pretty clearly a good year.  We had our best record in 6A ever, and some of our most dominant matches ever.  The competition wasn't always the strongest, but it's still not easy to put up the kinds of numbers and scores that we did.  When other teams arrive and their coach declares, "I'm just hoping we win more than 5 games", you know you've got a pretty solid team, and other coaches have noticed.

As a coach, one of the ways to look back on the season is where in the lineup we won and where we lost.  And I like to look at it without player names because it gives a more general overview of the the whole program as well as how the coaches used our players.  In general, spots have these characteristics:

  • #1 and #2 Singles:  How good is our Top-End Strength?

  • #3 and #4 Singles:  This is the Wild West where you never know what you'll see.  50/50 is pretty normal here.

  • #1 Doubles:  Do you have more than 2 "better than good" players?

  • #2 and #3 Doubles:  Team Balance/Tipping Point: Whoever wins here usually wins the match

  • #4 and #5 Doubles:  How Deep is the team/How good is the overall program?

The great news is that we had pretty solid success at all these spots.  In other words, we had good top-end strength, more than two "better than good players", great team balance and great depth.  We had 17 people play in counting varsity matches, and all 17 had winning records.  Our strongest positions were #4 and #5 doubles where we went undefeated and typically had scores like 6-2, 6-1, even against other programs I consider deep and solid.  So, our overall program is great.

The only place our success rate was merely "pretty darn good" instead of "spectacular" was in the Wild West at 3/4 singles.  I call it that because you really never know what you'll see there.  Some teams will load up their singles spots and put their 3rd and 4th best there.  Others will load people into doubles and have their #11 and #12 there.  Our record wasn't spotless there, but we won when we were supposed to or we put up pretty good fights and got a several wins against teams that put top players there.

Across the rest of the line-up, we looked very good.  We only had a few losses at the #1 and #2 singles spots, and those came against tough competition.  We dropped a few at the #1 doubles spot against tough teams, and we were 23-3 at the #2/#3 doubles spots that matter so much.

 

Overall, our 12-1 record is obviously pretty solid.  While some of our competition was a bit weak, we did role out some wins against some good squads.  We beat Clackamas, the league champions of the Mt. Hood Conference.  Barlow were Mt. Hood conference runners-up with a couple very solid players at the top of their line-up, and we beat them pretty solidly twice.  Central Catholic is never an easy win, but we got it.  Wilsonville won their 5A league, and we took them down.  And we got a win over McMinnville in a match with funky line-ups.  So, 5-1 against teams at the top of their leagues.  All of that led to one reporter ranking McMinnville #1 and Sherwood #2 in the Oregon Power Rankings.  I love that, but I'll be honest.  The Metro League and Three Rivers League are the two best leagues in the state and have several good teams each, and their top-end strength is impressive.  Because they didn't play any inter-league matches, they didn't get ranked as high as they should.  I think we are solidly in the top 10 and are a very good team, but there is still work to do for players coming back in 2022.

 

What happened in the 1 loss?  Most of all, we came up against a tough McMinnville team that got the better of us that day.  Could we have won?  Yes, we could have and we almost did.  Maybe a different line-up could have been used, or maybe even just playing at home versus away would have mattered.  We did beat them a few weeks later in a bonus match with quite a few players picking up nice wins.  But on that day, they were better than us.  My best assessment is that they looked more like seasoned competitors and we looked a little bit young.  Finding a way to win is a skill, just like a forehand or volley, and we didn't have it that day while they did.

Before I move on to the District Tournament, let's take a quick minute for a shout-out to our seniors.  They won a lot.  Like, almost all the time in team matches.  Mackenzie was undefeated.  Sarah was undefeated.  Mia and Sophia were undefeated in until the very last match.  Sidney had a few early losses playing in the tough #3 spot, but still came through with a 7-4 record, winning 7 of her last 8 matches.  So, a hearty congratulations and thank you to our seniors for helping make this season so great!

And one more shout out to Xenia, our lone varsity freshman.  It's not easy being the lone freshman on a varsity team, and playing in the #4 singles position is tough as well.  She came through with a 7-2 record and will bring a lot of great experience into her next few years.  My favorite part is her winning sets, which were pretty consistent.  6-2, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2, 6-2 until she finally broke her streak with a 6-0, finishing with 6-2, 6-1.

I guess that takes us to the district tournament.  The tournament title is frequently won through a combination of strong play, earned good draws and getting lucky when names get pulled from the hat.  Once the seeds were voted in and names were pulled from the hat, McMinnville had earned an advantage through our prior match, and they were a tiny bit luckier than we were with the hat.  But it actually looked like someone had put the draws together to make a competitive tournament between Sherwood and McMinnville.

This year, the role of the league's 3rd and 4th best teams, Forest Grove and Glencoe was significant as they looked to be spoilers.  Neither quite had the firepower to contend for the title, but they had enough tough players to significantly influence results.  And let me just say this - they stepped up big with great tournaments.

On Day 1, both Sherwood and McMinnville had 7 victories that looked fairly certain and one match that wasn't going to be so easy.  On the Sherwood side, Emma W had the tough match and went to battle with Century's 2nd best player.  After a tough 1st set loss (4-6), Emma stormed back for a 6-1 second set win, bringing on another hour of play as the day got warm.  Coaches and players texted point-by-point updates across the venues (which apparently Emma could see on her watch, which I'm sure did not make her nervous at all).  At the end, Emma dropped the third set 6-7 after a tight tie-breaker over 2.5 hours after they started.  But what a great effort!  McMinnville had a similar situation with their 4th doubles against Liberty's 2nd and 3rd best players, and they got the 6-4, 6-3 win to give them a day 1 lead.  Forest Grove matched Sherwood by gathering up 7 wins themselves, keeping themselves in the race.

 

Meanwhile, Emma's loss meant she wasn't done for the day with two additional consolation matches (pro sets) still to be played.  Of course, her first consolation match was another tough battle that Emma won 8-6, willing herself through her near-exhausted state.  Only one more to go that day!  Fortunately, that one was against a weaker opponent and featured lots of short points for an 8-0 win.  To finish the Emma story, she had two more matches to play on Day 2 getting an 8-4 win before falling 1-6, 3-6 to one of Newberg's best in the Consolation Final.  For those counting, in a 30-hour period on hot days, Emma's scores were 4-6, 6-1, 6-7, 8-6, 8-0, 8-4, 1-6, 3-6.  This is why we don't feel sympathy when people complain about conditioning.  Tournament play is grueling!

Once you get to day 2 of the tournament, it's all about head-to-head matchups between contenders, with spoilers looking to make some noise.  The morning saw a big matchup between Meg and one of the league's most steady players, McMinnville's #3 singles who hadn't lost a singles match all year.  Mia and Sophia were stuck with the #3 seeded team (McMinnville's #2 team), and there were great matches on tap with Sidney vs a tricky Century player, Keeley/Jessica vs Glencoe's strong #1 singles who moved over to doubles, and McM #3 vs FG #1.

Meg had a fantastic season going undefeated in league play and with just one pre-season loss.  That was good enough for the league coaches to vote her in as the #3 seed for the district tournament.  She showed everyone why and got us off to a great start with a 6-3, 2-6, 6-4 battle that raged for 2.5 hours.  Anyone who has watched her opponent knows that is a tough and exhausting win.  Mia and Sophia kept their undefeated streak intact through the first round of the tournament, but couldn't pull off the upset as their #3 seeded opponents showed why they were also undefeated for the year.

 

Sidney's opponent for round 2 has a very nice game that's hard to beat.  In the past, she hasn't always been able to keep it going for the full match, so the strategy is to endure until an opening presents itself.  Unfortunately for Sidney, the tournament was one of the days where her opponent played great from start to finish to knock Sidney out 6-4, 7-5.

 

The section of the draw with the #4 seed is always the most competitive section.  It frequently features the league's #4, #5, #6 and #7 teams all fighting for one spot in the semi-finals (and state tournament, usually).  So, as expected, all four of the doubles teams who survived round 1 were evenly matched.  This section also had the potential to sway the tournament heavily in Sherwood's or McMinnville's favor if either could get two more wins.  That was no easy task though.  If fact, it was so difficult that neither managed to get the morning victory.  Glencoe's #1 player switched over from singles to doubles for the tournament and used her 8 years of tennis experience to tip the favor on her side for a 6-4, 7-5 win over Keeley/Jessica, while the Forest Grove team lived up to their #4 seeding and helped us out with a 7-5, 7-5 win over McM (as well as knocking out another McMinnville team on another court).  

Picture Break:  One comment on this picture of the district tournament.  Not only was this year's team one of the best on-court teams we've ever head, they were also one of the best off-court teams.  The support each player gave their teammates through every match and the district tournament was great to see.

2021 Districts Day 3 v1.jpg

Back to Districts:

After her really tough 2nd round match, Meg only got an hour off court before heading out again for a match with the Liberty #1.  With popped blisters on her feet, Meg made it through the match and put up a good fight, but the earlier match just took too much out of her to get the win.

In 3rd Round doubles action, Lainey and Emma D were set to battle the undefeated #1 seed from McMinnville.  They came out a little shaky and unconfident and dropped the first set pretty quickly.  Then they got a game.  And another, and all the sudden they were keeping the 2nd set close.  It went to a a tie-breaker and even to 5-5 in the tie-breaker, but the next few points went McMinnville's way.  But this was a great example of getting out there and fighting in a match, even when you "aren't supposed to win".  I think this match showed them how good they are and gave them more confidence than they had the rest of the season.  After the district tournament, they came out and dominated the net in the final match of the year for a big victory in another match that they "weren't supposed to win" on paper.

Also in 3rd Round action, Morgan and Lauren were up against yet another Forest Grove team looking to ruin someone's day.  Their #1 and #2 teams did us favors by getting big wins the whole tournament.  This time it was their #3 team looking for a huge upset.  The match started out pretty firmly in favor of Morgan and Lauren, and then all the sudden, Forest Grove came alive.  They were hustling, hitting big, and all of the sudden, making just about everything.  It was top-notch tennis for about an hour as FG wrestled the 2nd set away from us.  Then, as quickly as things had gone in FG's favor, a few crushed winners down the line by both Morgan and Lauren pushed FG's confidence aside and we got the victory in the 3rd.

I should probably mention Mandie at some point too.  As the #1 seed in the tournament, she got the draw that #1 seeds frequently see - smooth sailing for the first two days of the tournament.  And she took full advantage keeping matches short to qualify for the final day.

Day 3: This is it - the semi-finals and finals.  The players remaining in the main draw for day 3 would normally already be qualified for the state tournament, so day 3 is sometimes a little casual.  With no state tournament this year and just the tournament titles on the line, it was not one of those years.  And doing the math on the tournament, we came up with a very simple, two part plan:

  1. Win every match we play

  2. Hope Forest Grove helps us one more time by beating someone from McMinnville

Simple, right?  By the time day 3 started, strong play by the #4 singles and #4 doubles from McMinnville had given them a clear advantage.  But there was hope.

Mandie started off with a solid performance against McMinnville's #1, getting a 6-1, 6-4.  Her opponent is tough and has a style similar to Mandie's, but Mandie was able to pull a few more shots out when they were needed.  Then Morgan and Lauren took to the court to show us how good they can be.  Watching them all season, they were good, gathering up an 8-1 record with pretty easy wins.  But in those previous matches, they never looked this good, and they were rarely pressured like this.  Strong serves, strong returns and blast after blast down the line gave them a 6-3, 6-2 victory over a very good McMinnville team.  So far so good on part1 of the plan.

The Finals:  Mandie was up first with the Forest Grove #1 on the other side.  Her opponent got seeded #2 and got the finals by hitting big forehands with very good consistency and placement.  And from the first point of the match, she made Mandie work.  Retrieving side to side, Mandie was just fast enough to get to each shot until her opponent would finally miss or give Mandie an opportunity to attack.  During that time, we noticed a small weakness in her opponent's game, and Mandie was able to make adjustments to take advantage of that earlier in each point, earning the singles title 6-2, 6-1.

The plan was still intact, with Morgan and Lauren taking on the undefeated #1 seed, and Forest Grove and Liberty also still playing in matches that could help us out.  None of these were easy.  Remember the 8-1 record for Morgan/Lauren?  The 1 was a 1-6, 3-6 loss to this team.  After that loss, Todd gave them goal of being "as good as that team by next year".

Well, they pretty much accomplished that goal in 2 weeks because they came storming out of the gate for a 6-1 first set win.  Their incredible play from the semi-finals continued into this one and the other team couldn't figure out what to do against that kind of power and placement.  After the first set, their opponents settled in and the real battle began.  They had two more long sets of fantastic tennis from both sides, with McMinnville emerging victorious 1-6, 6-4, 6-4.  That killed the plan (as did McMinnville's other players who notched good wins over their Liberty and FG opponents).  But a hearty congratulations to Morgan and Lauren for such a strong run through a tough draw of more experienced players.

Lauren Morgan 2021 Districts 2nd Place.j

Before I move on, there has been a bit of story telling, and lots of players got at least some mention.  With a team as deep as ours, that means that a lot of players worthy of mention and stories weren't lucky to be on-stage in dramatic moments this year.  So, let me give a shout out to the awesome team members who didn't get mentioned, because sometimes being drama-free is a good thing:​

  • Sofia Maciejewski was undefeated (6-0) for the season and was our only player to go undefeated in both singles and doubles.  And most of those were against our tougher competition.

  • Payton Brower joined the varsity team for the last week when some players were absent and went 2-0.

Finally, to finish the honors, congratulations to these players for their all-league honors:

1st Team All-League:​

  • Mandie Jensen

  • Lauren Anderson

  • Morgan McArthur

2nd Team All-League:​

  • Meg McLaughlin

  • Lainey Fischer

  • Emma Douglass

Looking Forward:

 

If you are still reading this far down the page and keep going, I'm going to guess that you care a lot and want to hear all this.  So, it's too much info, but good for those who really want it.

Let's start with the obvious.  We are looking good for the 2022 season.  We'll be returning about 70% of our varsity line-up, including the top couple spots in singles and doubles.  And, anyone who watched our JV team play this season knows that there are a lot of players who are capable of doing a lot more than just filling open varsity spots the graduating seniors leave behind.  2021 MAY have been our best team ever, but 2022 looks to be even better.

 

That's great for 2022, but I want players to put that out of your minds and focus on this summer for a lot of their best and most fun tennis.  Tennis season is fun, but summer should be the time when you both work to improve your game and have the most fun.  We will do what we can to find the toughest competition for 2022, but there are a two things that we know will be true, and one other possibility.

  1. We will have quite a few short matches and pretty easy wins next year at both the varsity and JV levels.

  2. We may have more than 20 players who could probably go nearly undefeated on varsity next year, but there are not enough spots on varsity for all of them.  I don't say that to mean that "You better work hard or you won't make varsity".  I say that to mean, "Make the summer your best season, and then make the most out of the official season wherever you land."  If you even try a little, you can get more good tennis out of the summer and your teammates than in the matches next year.  And all the players on all our teams are worth getting to know, so you should be able to have fun next season even if you don't make the team you are hoping for.

  3. From 2020, we should learn not to just assume that things will be normal and that we'll even have a tennis season.

There are 52 weeks in a year, and tennis season is only about 8 of them.  If you are only focused on those 8 weeks and which team you make, then you are missing out on so much of what makes tennis great.  One friend is all you need to go play.  One friend and two friendly rivals can get you 150 hours of fun doubles matches just over the summer.  And you can do that right now against good friends who give you better competition than a lot of what we'll see next year.  So, make the most out of tennis and go play this summer.  It's great if you want to work hard to make a certain team next year, but don't forget to have fun too.

Okay - back to the Outlook:  What will 2022 look like?  Are we a lock to win the league championship?  To go undefeated? Are we going to be the best team in Oregon?  No, No, and No.  McMinnville and Forest Grove graduate several of their top players, while we bring them back.  So, that certainly gives us an advantage on paper.  But anyone who watches those programs know that they rebuild very effectively each year, so nothing is ever a lock in this league.  We won the league championship in 2019 and graduated 4 players to McMinnville's 9, and I didn't consider us a lock to beat them in 2020.  Glencoe's top 6 are all coming back next year too, and they were good enough to do a little damage this year.  So, we'll need to be prepared for tough battles with a few teams.  And hopefully we'll get some tough pre-season matches and the Bend tournament to face other good teams from around the state.

 

My biggest hope for next year is that Covid will be controlled enough to bring back a full high school season, including the Bend tournament and the state tournament.  So, when we look forward to how to make next season even more successful, we need to be asking ourselves "How do we raise our games to compete at an even higher level?"

Teams like McMinnville and Sherwood are good teams with great depth.  The players stepping on court at 3rd, 4th, 5th doubles are good players.  There are other good teams like Westview who are good because their top players are very, very good.  As in, their #4 player has been playing seriously since she was 6.  How do we compete with that?  We use our depth.  Our top players are probably going to struggle to win in those matches, and they may be fighting to just get games in some cases.  So we'll need our middle and lower parts of the line-up to dominate.  It's a full team effort, which is why challenge matches and practice matches against all your teammates is important.

For our top-end players, play each other, but also look for external competition.  George Fox/Jeff Cero has several UTR-based programs that can provide good matches (I think the Flex League has been good from what I've seen).  But also challenge the coaches and ask them to hook you up with other competitive matches.  

You always learn more from losing than winning, so we'll look at our one loss to learn the most.

Here is the upside of the the McMinnville loss.  As I said earlier, we looked a little bit young (and inexperienced).  The reason for that is, quite simply, we were a little bit young and inexperienced.  Coming in to the season, we only had 6 players with any varsity experience, and only 4 more with any high school tennis match experience.  And, we were actually young with a lot of sophomores and juniors.  So, that's a good sign for the future.  With other matches before that one not being so tough, that was the first really competitive match most of our players had.  We won't be so young next year.  Our post-season win versus them should also inspire everyone.  We were missing Mandie and Keeley that day and still got a 6-3 win.  Line-ups were mixed around a bit, but people came up with good wins.  

 

The downside of our first loss to them is that it was knock-down-drag-out fight to win tennis.  We don't get a lot of that during the season.  So we will probably still a little bit inexperienced when it comes to tough matches.

 

So, what do we need to do to catch up to that?  We need to learn to fight.  We need more serious competition wherever we can find it.  For us, we can find it locally because our team is good and so deep.  But that is something the coaches can't really provide - you have to make it happen.  It doesn't happen just by playing (although that helps).  It happens when you play hard and are working hard to win.  So, join the singles challenge ladder and fight to win.  Call up teammates to go play doubles matches and try your hardest to beat them.  Ask yourself, "Would I rather lose to my friends this summer or lose an important match during the season next year?"  The important matches next year will determine:

  • The league dual-match title

  • Qualifying for state and contending for the team championship.  This isn't just on the shoulders of our top players.  The championship can rest on matches where our 3rd or 4th singles/doubles has to beat another team's 1 or 2.  Those help get us into day 3 with a plan that's better than, "We have to win everything and hope for help from another team".

  • The Bend Tournament, where we can prove we are among the elite teams in Oregon.

  • The state singles and doubles tournament where every player is solid.

None of those are going to be easy.  Improving your skills will definitely help, but learning how to battle through tough opponents, bad days, wind and heat will matter too.  They'll also help you get more fit and hopefully win matches more quickly to avoid exhaustion.  Note that almost every one of those requires two matches per day, with the 2nd being tougher than the first.

How optimistic is Todd?  Pretty optimistic both because I think we are already strong and getting stronger, but also because I see players who are interested in working hard.  I'm also optimistic for a really fun season.  The 2022 squad seems like one that can really gel into a fantastic team, which will make our success even more fun.  A lot of my optimism rides on what happens over the next few months.  That will determine a lot of our 2022 success and team bonding, so let's get after it.