4 Matches in 4 Days. Kaneland Tennis is running a marathon Monday through Thursday this week…and it’s the 2nd time we’ve done it this season (shout out to all the Athletic Directors out there!)
Coach John Tsang is a well-known coach. He’s a guy that knows everyone in our sport. He’s a fantastic tennis coach and a great guy. He and his brother Dave have been guiding players of all levels through high school tennis and encouraging kids to play our sport for a long time. Kaneland has played Rosary as long as I’ve been coaching tennis (21 years), and it’s never an easy match. This year, Rosary has had a couple of injuries and lost a couple of players to other schools, so they don’t have as many players to fill in the lineup. I could see the frustration. But as always, this wasn’t an easy match.
We felt like we had more experience on the courts than some of Rosary’s players. We got ahead in the first sets, but coach Tsang never stops coaching. Seeing that they needed to look for possible advantages, he had his doubles players trying different formations all over the courts. I found myself half-running to get from court to court on changovers to talk gameplans for the different formations we were seeing.
One exerpt from one of those conversations: “Larsen, while she’s serving on the ad side, the girl in the net is on the ad side!! What do we even do?!?!” We learn. That’s what we do. We learn. This formation is called, “Australian Doubles,” and this is what we do…
So our doubles players got to solve some puzzles today. This was a good match for them. Instead of just focusing on commanding the ball and getting in control of the points, they had to look at where their opponents would be and think. In the end, this match played out well for Kaneland. We win 4-1, but it defintiely wasn’t easy.
One more note about coach Tsang. Piper played a really good tennis player at #1 singles. today. They know each other, they hit together in the off-season, and they know each other’s playing styles. So there was emotion on the court. As Piper was getting the best of the match in the second set, her opponent was understandably frustrated. She hit a ball into a fence pretty hard out of frustration. I didn’t see it as disrespectful or rude in any way, but coach Tsang quickly assessed a point penalty on his own player. He explained to her (and later to me) that it wasn’t because he was upset with her, it’s because later in her career, during a big match, like at sectionals or state, some other coaches might assess a penalty for that and it can rattle you out of winning the next several points. In his words, “A teachable moment.” He never stops coaching. Respect.
A big thank you to Sarah Nguyen for stepping into the lineup and playing #2 singles for us this week while Maddie is healing up a foot injury. You’re playing really good tennis, kid. kepp it up.