February 21, 2014
Greetings from the state capital, Montgomery, Alabama, where the Crimson Tide is competing at the 65th Blue-Gray National Tennis Classic. An eight-team tournament for men and women (Alabama women play Friday at Noon vs. Illinois), the historic Blue-Gray takes place at Lagoon Park where a solid field of competitors will battle for three days with all eyes on capturing the coveted crown. The men’s draw includes top-seeded Mississippi State, in-state rival Auburn, Clemson, VCU (Virginia Commonwealth University), Texas Tech, Boise State, Princeton and Alabama.
The Montgomery community has put their best foot forward over the years to support this event in every aspect – facilities, officiating, corporate sponsorship, media coverage and housing to name a few. Many families open their doors to host players at their homes throughout the weekend which in turn creates new relationships and memories for everyone involved. In fact, while we made drop-offs at each home this evening, there were signs staked on the front lawns that read “Blue-Gray Tennis Classic Host Family” with the team name and logo included for all passers-by to see.
Friday morning at 9 a.m., Alabama faces defending champion Boise State. This will be the seventh meeting between the Tide and the Broncos. The last time they squared off was 2009 where No. 25 Boise State upset No. 14 Alabama 4-3 in the second round of the NCAA tournament. This time the plan is to get four points before the blue and orange do. They are very well coached by the passionate Greg Patton who I consider a friend and mentor as I have faced his squad several times during my coaching career (the first while I was at Santa Clara University). His teams come to play every day and don’t give an inch so it should be an electric and physical match.
We produced a high level of training following our only off-weekend of the season while playing outside Monday thru Thursday (Roll Tide!). Our theme for the week was ‘tenacity’. Webster/Google defines tenacious as:
1. Determined or stubborn: tending to stick firmly to any decision, plan, or opinion without changing or doubting it
2. Tightly held: difficult to loosen, shake off, or pull away from
3. Persistent: persisting for a long time and difficult to change, destroy, or get rid of
I believe our team is learning each week what it means to not only be tenacious in competition, but even more importantly, in practice. You must go to battle well-armed with good preparation, focus and follow through – very important tools of the trade. Freshman Saxon Buehning was awarded the Bama Black Jersey last Monday, an honor presented weekly to a player that has worked the hardest and made the most noticeable impact to his own and the team’s. The jersey is worn with pride by the winner for the week (and washed daily too) and includes a couple of perks like first pick for warm-up court and no ball pick up. Here’s the list of Black Jersey winners this semester:
Week 1: Andrew Goodwin
Week 2: Stuart Kenyon
Week 3: Nikko Madregallejo
Week 4: Daniil Proskura
Week 5: Sean Donohue
Week 6: Saxon Buehning
The week would not have been complete without another intense game of ultimate frisbee, a conditioning staple and team favorite. In a rematch of teams from a week earlier, the squad of Becker, Nikko, Saxon, George and Ricky (who made a cameo) defeated Sean, Andrew, Stuart, Ryler and Daniil in straight sets (5-3, 5-1). An impressive showing by all as the X Factor was definitely Coach Doverspike who slid his way to several key receptions. Don’t worry Ryler, another game is just around the corner.
So we’re ready to go and it all gets started this morning. Go to http://www.bluegraytennis.com/ for draws and tournament info with live scoring of Alabama vs. Boise State available by clicking here.
We hope that some of you can play hooky from work or school on Friday or can make the leisurely drive down from Tuscaloosa this weekend. Sunshine is in the forecast so come join the fun and let’s get after it at the Blue-Gray.