State tennis…

The state tennis was the end of an era for Hallie and it was bittersweet to say the least. But man, did we have fun cheering her on.

She worked hard the whole season (and even harder in the off-season) with her doubles partner. At the end of the season she was seeded 3rd in the state – which is an amazing accomplishment in and of itself.

My parents are unable to come for her graduation and they were feeling bad – they really wanted to support her. I suggested an even better mode of support would be coming to her state tennis tournament – and they showed up and cheered right along me. I’m so happy they were able to be here to see her showcase her talents and all of her hard work.

Hallie’s entourage showed up for her this day and I was so grateful to see their smiling faces walk through the gate. None of them know much about tennis, but they knew it was important to Hallie and they wanted to support her. I’m not sure there was any other team who had a cheering squad of this magnitude. Have I mentioned how much I love these kids?!

To add to her friend cheering squad – Hallie also had her family cheering squad. Both sets of grandparents and her aunt and uncle. And this is not a short tournament. Its a long couple days of multiple matches hours a part from each other. And they stayed all day the first day. They were troopers. Luckily, when we weren’t watching Hallie – she had other tennis friends playing and we were able to move our cheering squad to other courts and support several players!

After the first day, they had secured their spot in the quarterfinals, which is how far they got in the tournament last year. We knew this match would be tough – the other team was beatable – but not without a fight. And it proved to be a battle and we took the W.

The tournament plays 32 teams and only seeds the top 8. With our high ranking, #3, we were excited to not have to see the #1 team until the finals. But in a stroke of bad luck (and poor tournament administration), they rearranged the bracket and it put us facing the #1 team in the semi-finals. This was a pretty big blow. We knew the #1 girls were good and Hallie and Sierra were confident they could beat the #2 team, and less confident in beating the #1 team!

Truthfully, I think our girls mentally beat themselves the minute the bracket disadvantaged them (in the name of helping a few lower ranked teams) and they looked intimidated on the court – and really they shouldn’t have been – they could have totally kept up with this team. But some matches don’t go your way and despite a successful weekend, they fell to the top ranked doubles team, from the top ranked school in the semi-finals. It was a tearful end to a beautiful ride.

These two walked off the court arm in arm just as they had so many times before – there was just a little more finality to this walk-off. I would be lying if I didn’t admit to shedding a few tears behind my sunglasses as I watched her embrace her dad trying to keep her composure. She took the moment she needed. And as easy as it may have been to wallow for a while, there was no time!

She had a prom date she had to get ready for… 🙂

State tennis tournament…

Hallie wrapped up her final tennis match (state playoffs) of her junior year this evening and I’m not ready for the season to be done.

State tennis includes both individual and team competition. For individual state, you apply to compete in singles or doubles (one or the other) and Hallie applied to compete in doubles. They went into the tournament last weekend seeded as #5 in the state – which is a huge accomplishment in and of itself. They won their first two matches and ended up falling to the #4 team in the quarterfinals.

We were so proud with how they played – they battled it out in the heat of the day and didn’t give up. They are both juniors and were competing against mostly seniors so we’re excited to have another chance next year. The best part is her partner is one of her best friends and they have so much fun together – winning or losing.

And although the tournament last weekend seemed like the culmination of a great season, the girls had to show up today and compete in the quarterfinals for team state – unfortunately, we lost to the team who will end up winning state this weekend.

After watching Hallie on the court today, Steve claimed it was the best tennis Hallie has played all season. I argued her match against Xavier was her best match but he wasn’t there so today was the best he’d seen her play! She has worked so hard and has come so far – I’m grateful we have another year to enjoy from the sidelines.

Weekend soccer…

I’m not sure there has ever been, or ever will be a more perfect line up of weekend games where none of our boys game times conflicted with each other and they were all at the same location. We set up the pop-up tent in the morning and just moved it a couple yards from one field to the next. The only problem with no conflicting times means we are at soccer all day long – we walked out the door at 8:15am and walked back in at 5:10pm. I’d take that every week if that meant I could watch them all play each Saturday.

We started with Bennett’s game where we picked up a late loss…but he scored a goal so if softened the blow just a little bit. Bennett is by far the most improved player – he has grown leaps and bounds from when he started two years ago. He’s hitting his stride and he’s going to have a fun season.

Hunter’s game was next. He is playing a new position…again – which has been his story since he started club. He started as a right back defender, then center defender, then right midfielder, and now attacking/defending midfielder. He’s becoming quite the swiss army knife of soccer. He’s playing for his same team, but it looks drastically different than last year and we’re hoping they rebuild quickly.

Cannon is starting his first season of organized soccer and he’s learning so much. He has the same coach that both Hunter and Bennett had and I think he’s enjoying the familiarity. There are so many kids at Cannon’s age that are already very advanced in their soccer skills, so he’s playing some catch up but he’s working at it. He scored a goal and he couldn’t have been more pleased with himself running back to the center of the field.

Hunter’s second game was with another team in our club in the heat of the day and he had already played an entire game. His tank going into this game was low and yet, he found the energy (without substitution) to keep going. Due to the heat index, they gave the teams 2 water breaks which was his only saving grace. By the end he was spent.

Let’s be real, Steve and I were spent and were sitting in the shade all day. Of course, we didn’t mention our exhaustion to Hunter when he drug himself to the car after the second game. I’m not sure he would have given us much sympathy! 🙂

Steve and I were both able to watch our three boys in four games and I only wish that was the case each weekend. It will be more of a divide and conquer going forward, but we enjoyed it this weekend.

End of season…

Hunter plays club soccer year-round so it’s weird to even say “end of season” but we’ve reached the end of the season! We finished up a tournament this weekend and with that, the season is officially over…until tryouts in one week!

These kids end up spending a lot of time together – it’s a good thing they’ve grown to love each other. Each year the team looks a little different as kids come and go and every year its a learning curve to learn how to work together. But he’s made some great friends and he loves where he’s at.

I love where he’s at. Any competitive sport is time consuming and soccer is no different. He spends three weeknights at practice and has games on the weekend. Steve and I have both questioned at different times whether this is worth it. It takes so much out of us and him. And for many it may not be worth it, but for him, the answer is yes.

I like that he’s a busy teenager. Between studies and sports, he doesn’t have a lot of idle time – which I’m a huge fan of. He’s had to prioritize and really manage his time during the week. He’s had to tell friends he’s not available on a Friday night or Saturday afternoon to hang out – which is always tough. He’s had to sacrifice activities and events that he wanted to participate in. And in his free time he’s worked really hard to better his skills and be the best player he can be.

And I think that’s been good for him – he has greatly benefited in all aspects of his life to being dedicated to the sport.

And this year he saw more growth in his ability than ever before. It’s been fun to watch him and if I’m being honest, I always get a little sad when the games end for the season. I love spending Saturdays at the fields.

Until next season…

Let’s get physical…

The more Hunter plays soccer, the more I recognize our team is not nearly as physical as the teams we are playing. Not only that – what little force we do bring is often called as a foul. Other teams tend to get away with a lot more which means they’ve been taught something that we haven’t learned yet!

I caught this series of photos over the weekend.

Even before the other team is close to the ball, he had his arm and shoulder ready for impact.

And try as Hunter might – he couldn’t withstand the push – even though he was able to get his outer foot on the ball…

Before being toppled to the ground…

And no call.

We’ve clearly got some work to do – how to be physical without gaining the attention of the referee – it really is an art!