Follow the happenings of an animated college tennis coach and his teams in their pursuit of an NCAA National Tennis Championship. It is always the impressive trophy that is displayed for all to admire that gets the attention, but it is the journey to claiming that trophy, the relationships built, the people served and the memories created, that live forever...and what I hope you will find interesting...
Finally we were able to get over the hump and tally a win versus Flagler. I was certainly happy to win but we still have much work to do. That being said, we are pretty tough to beat in certain spots. We will need the other positions in the lineup to progress to that level in the near future if we are to achieve our goals.
We continue to struggle in doubles and we seem to have difficulty playing at a high level and with intensity at #2 and #1. David and Andreas have found the good tennis and are a perfect 3-0 on the spring trip. I must admit that I am very surprised about our lack of success at #2. Dani and Geza are a heck of a team and should be winning. It is really up to the coaching staff to figure out what is going wrong and to correct it. We need that point day in and day out. #1 is a bit of a mystery. We simply have not been able to get a pair playing at a high level at the same time. They have done a great job competing with the best but have had trouble keeping the intensity level high for an entire match. We have seen opponents do just that and that has been the difference between winning and losing. I do believe that we have seen great improvement and it should continue. I have confidence in our guys and they are open to learn and hungry to improve.
Versus Flagler, we went down again early 2-1 after the doubles. Although this was not what we were looking for or expecting in our bounce-back effort, I did feel very confident that we would be able to win five, if not six singles matches.
As I mentioned, we are pretty tough in spots. Benas played very good first and third sets and really fought hard. He is representing himself well and is improving each and every day. Benas is a young man who works very hard on and off the court and has the right attitude to succeed. I could not be more pleased. He plays with energy and intensity and that is responsible for his solid play. It was nice to see him get a win. Dani was solid defeating his opponent rather easily at #2. Andreas continues to battle but could not gain a win in another close match. Once he adjusts to the out of doors, he will be a solid top of the lineup player. David is just a machine. He does not give opponents an inch and was able to win while surrendering only one game. He has been a very bright spot on the trip. Mark is working hard at #5 and was able to win routinely. He will have to continue to work hard on fitness and maintain focus throughout an entire match. I still believe that he will drop very few matches this season. Tomasz cruised to victory and is beginning to find his singles game. He certainly has the tennis ability to succeed and will be a very tough out when his conditioning and intensity match his ability.
When all was said and done, we won the match 6-3 versus a tough Flagler team. It was great to get a win and gain some momentum going into the Armstrong match. In my opinion, along with many other coaches, Armstrong is the best team in the nation and maybe one of the best teams we have seen recently in NCAA D2. They are really not easy to beat at any of the nine positions. However, I think that we will be ready to play our best match of the young season and will compete very well. I think that we may see some nice surprises on Friday. It is very important to have a strong showing. We feel that we are a better team than our play and results have shown and that we should really be 3-0. We are essentially just two points away from being undefeated. Of course the record is what it is and our opponents have done a better job on the big points. They have been tougher and have deserved to win.
There is some good news as Geza seems to be feeling better and may be ready to play singles at the top of the lineup. It will really help us to get him back in there and move everybody down a spot. I am sure he is ready to give us a big effort.
We have a practice day today and will continue to work hard on improving each day. I will be killing it at the gym and also looking forward to another run on the beach. It is funny how beach scenery makes a run much easier and more enjoyable. I will miss that when we return back to NY or at least until there is a Bronxville beach.
I am certainly sorry to report that we lost another close one at Rollins Tuesday 5-4. Just as versus ERAU, there were some good things to take away from the match but the bottom line is that this is a match we should have won and one we will have to start to win as we go forward.
Our doubles, although improved, seems not quite good enough to get the points that we need to be a success. Andy and David continue to win and really dominated their match. We were not able to secure a point at either #1 or #2 though. Benas and Tamasz are improving but still struggle with the doubles concepts. We also are having difficulty stepping up to seize the big points. They have been right there in every match but seem to blink in crunch time. At #2 we certainly expect to be successful with the talent and experience that we have. This has not yet translated into any wins however. Dani and Geza lost another tiebreaker and once again had match points. We are certainly beginning to understand what can make the difference between a win and a loss and that can be just one point in any of the 9 matches. As a result, we were down 2-1 after the doubles.
I fully expected that a 4 point singles rally was within reach. I really liked our chances at 4,5, and 6 and I was not wrong as we swept the lower spots in the lineup. However, we are still struggling at the top so far this season. Benas continues to play well but has run into very tough opponents. I believe that he will develop this season as he plays the top players in the country. Andreas had a very good match at #3 that went three sets but was unable to pull it out. Andy is playing well but has just not been able get wins yet. The real surprise for me was to see Dani get soundly defeated at #2. I thought that we were starting to see the real Dani and was expecting a good effort. We didn't see that on this day and that will be something to work on. If he can produce points for us in the top half of the lineup we will be ok this year.
The good news is that we have been able to play two good matches against two very good teams. This is great experience for us and will only help us to improve going forward. As I have said quite a few times, we just need to get better every day and we will be fine in May. That being said, we have played two winnable matches, matches that we were able to win last year and in the past. Lets hope that we can build something special in the near future.
We are off to Flagler at 2:30pm today. It is another windy one but I am sure that we are all accustomed to that at this point. We will need a big response today and I will be asking for nothing but maximum statement effort. I do not expect Flagler to give us the match as they have hit some hard times recently and will be looking to bounce back themselves. We shall see.
I will try to be back on twitter today as my phone battery allows. Either way, I hope to report a win later on today.
Well it was a tough start for the team as we lost 5-4 in a longish match to Embry Riddle. Actually, the match was a bit similar to last year's contest but this time we came out on the short side.
To be honest, there were a lot of positives to take away from the match. Also, I learned many things about certain players and the team in general. I have not at all changed my opinion that we will be a very tough team in May.
The doubles has been an issue for the coaching staff all year and we know that ERAU always plays solid in pairs. I was happy to see Tomasz and Benas play with intensity. They were up against the #1 team in the NAIA so their effort was sound losing 9-8. It should only get better. I was mildly disappointed with #2 as Dani and Geza lost 9-8 as well. I would have thought prior to the match that this would be our best chance to score a point but it was not to be. We got broken 4 times in the match and this simply cannot happen going forward. If we are to be successful, this pair must pile up wins this season. We will need more aggressive play and a bit more intensity in the future. David and Andy were solid at #3 scoring a win 9-7. My only issue is that they must be able to finish when they get a lead. In all honestly, we could have won all three matches...or lost all three. However, this is why we come here every year, to get good competition and to improve.
The singles also produced some positives. Benas continues to be a solid #1. The kid is going to be a factor here at Concordia. He competed very well and his match was decided by only one break which was his first service game. What I like the most is that he is the only player on the team who came into the office and asked to play #1 singles. As a coach, you simply love that. Andy came up against a tough opponent stylewise but certainly competed to the end. Dani had little trouble at #3 and looks like the player we need him to be and seems to be feeling better physically. David was back to business. He simply does not give away any points. I really enjoyed his approach and opposing coaches always comment about his play. At #5 Mark had some trouble with the conditions but also showed tremendous will to win as he pulled out a win 7-6 in the third set. Once he gets his focus, he will be a tough out for sure. I really appreciated his increased willingness to do the work as the match progressed. If he improves his fitness and mental approach, which he will, I still believe that he will lead the team in wins this season. I was a little surprised that we didn't come away with the win at #6. Tomasz should really be a "lock" down there. He had a little trouble with his fitness and also the windy conditions. He simply provided too much charity. He did compete well and fought to the bitter end but we will really need more from him going forward.
We have a day off tomorrow and will practice some things to get ready for Rollins on Tuesday. This is a very important match that we will need to be ready for. I am sure that we will benefit from yesterday's competition and learn from our mistakes. I really believe that this is a team that has tremendous potential. We are so young and have little college tennis experience. We have a high ceiling and should get better with every match. I am looking forward to the match with Rollins as I will be excited to see if we get better. I also look forward to seeing Coach Bohrnstedt whom I really like as I do most coaches I meet. He does a nice job at Rollins and I enjoyed speaking with him in Alabama at the ITAs in the fall.
We arrived home at about 7:30pm and that left a little time to relax. Of course, Coach Neil spent some quality time in the hot tub which is always a solid move with a sun burn. It seems to be helping his ankle and achilles which is a good thing. I enjoyed a jaunt about the compound and talking with some of the retirees here at Ocean Gallery. There are folks here from all over and it is a pleasure to chat with them.
The fellas enjoyed some Texas Holdem for amusement only as per NCAA regulation of course. I am happy that the "bracelet" was won by me!!! Domination! I will be off to the gym for a nice workout and then to the beach for some cardio. I love being able to get some runs in here while enjoying the scenery. Of course, I sorely need it as Coach Neil keeps me eating meals all day long. That guy can really cook...and eat.
We are in limbo somewhat as the weather is not cooperating this morning. We are waiting to hear from the coach at ERAU to see what the playing conditions are. The rain has left us but we have heavy winds that may interfere. Of course, we strongly want to play as we have come a long way and at great expense for these good matches. Of course, it would not really do us any good to play through a tornado but we are hopeful.
Stay tuned. We hope to get on the way to Daytona shortly. Follow me on twitter for match updates through
Well I am happy to report that I avoided the CiCi's Pizza fiasco. Most of the boys, including the man with which I am sharing living quarters, including the restroom, attended the low quality pizza mania. However, I enjoyed a nice salad and a bowl of butternut squash soup at Crispers, a Panera Bread knockoff. Very tasty actually but a but expensive.
In any case, back to the condo for a nice shower, which was quite welcomed as there was a water main break which left us without water in the units until 7:30pm. I might add that we had practice until 6:30pm and some of these fellas are a little spicy to begin with.
The couch was a little uncomfortable as I kept falling between the mattress and couch. Up early and went to kill it at the well stocked gym at the complex. Met some nice folks and enjoyed being called the young fella. Wish I hadn't told the truth when they asked me what I did for a living as I ended up answering question after question about their ailments. It's all good, happy to help actually.
Still waiting for good old coach Neil to wake up from a well deserved sleep. I am sure he was exhausted from the trip and the ill advised 1.5 hour hot tub soak last night. The condo complex has instituted a "last call" at 11pm just for folks like Coach Neil.
We will have double session practice today and hope that the weather holds up for us. Every minute we get to hit some balls in the out of doors conditions will only help us in the matches to come.
That's all for now. I am going to wake up the bear from his cave and get some food.
We have made our safe arrival to St. Augustine, FL and things look pretty much the same. We are here a day earlier than normal this year as our first match is Sunday vs. Embry Riddle.
We have a party of 12 this year as the roster is an even ten with the two coaches. As a result, we have three condos rather than two. However, we do not get the third until tomorrow. As a result, close quarters tonight for the fellas.
We will take a couple of hours to relax from the long trip and early rise. I will make my claim to the pull-out couch and let old man take the bedroom. We shall see how my back holds up on that center bar. Practice is set for 4pm. It will be our first opportunity to get accustomed the conditions. I fully expect some early difficulty but have every confidence that the team will ready themselves quickly for the tough competition to come.
I have brought the sticks with me and expect to hit a few balls in the 85 degree temps. Alert Flagler Hospital...I might be back.
I got involved with Concordia Tennis as a way to honor my parents who were both professors and coaches at the college back in the 1960's and also to give back to the program that provided so much for me.
I started with a dream of taking a team to the National "Sweet 16". However, once we got there and I saw what it took to win a National Championship, it looked possible and that became my goal. I thought for a long time that I must have one. However, over time, I realized that it is more important to focus on building champions rather than winning championships and that relationships are far more important than achievements. Thus, a stronger purpose became clear. I am here to love, serve, care for and lead my teams...
"I came to realize that life lived to help others is the only one that matters, and that it is my duty, in return for the lavish life God has devolved upon me, to help others he has placed in my path." - Ben Stein
"You are never really playing an opponent. You are playing yourself, your own highest standards, and when you reach your limits, that is real joy." - Arthur Ashe
“One man practicing sportsmanship is far better than fifty preaching it.” - Knute Rockne
“If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven't done anything today.” - Lou Holtz
"The harder you work, the harder it is to surrender." - Vince Lombardi
"The fewer rules a coach has, the fewer rules there are for players to break." - John Madden
"Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education." - Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
"Success is a journey, not a destination." - Arthur Ashe
"Champions keep playing until they get it right." - Billie Jean King
"Do you know what my favorite part of the game is? The opportunity to play." - Mike Singletary
"Don't let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do." - John Wooden
"The day you take complete responsibility for yourself, the day you stop making any excuses, that's the day you start to the top." - O.J. Simpson
"It's what you learn after you know it all that counts." - John Wooden
"Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit." - Aristotle
"If you want to be good, focus on making yourself better. If you want to be great, focus on making yourself and your team better." - Jon Gordon