Monday, June 9, 2014

Ryan Pietsch - Minneapolis Player Sets Signs on Improvement

Three years ago, Ryan took his father’s suggestion to join Minneapolis / St. Paul Tennis League. He’s been a dedicated member since, playing in every season from spring to fall. As long as the Minnesota weather cooperates, he tries to play three to four times a week, at least two of which are official league matches.

Ryan started playing tennis after high school. Before that, he was always participating in organized team sports, but this was harder to do in college and especially after college. Tennis turned out to be the perfect physical outlet for him. Find one willing partner and a tennis court, and you’re all set! (Pun intended.)

The league has a flexible format, and this is indeed something that Ryan appreciates. It allows him to plan matches around his busy career in finance, and it’s been fairly easy to get someone on the court on a few hours’ notice.

Ryan is currently a 3.5 player, and he’s set a goal to improve his level by 0.5 per year. He’s hesitant to say if this is entirely realistic, but setting such a stretch goal has definitely accelerated his improvement. It also helps that Ryan has two rivalries with players (Shawn Hesley and Benjamin Canine) who joined the league at around the same time. The three of them keep trying to outplay each other, and the side effect is that they improve together. 

Something Ryan notes about the league is that it attracts players with vastly different styles. There are those who grew up playing tennis and are blessed with beautiful forms. Then there are those who never had any formal instruction—some of them have such unorthodox styles (you’ll never see them on the ATP Tour) and yet can effectively win matches. (Readers: You know who you are!)

When asked about memorable moments, Ryan fondly recalls the 2012 summer season. He won the 3.0 Skilled championship that season. The match that stands out in his mind, though, is not the final one but the first round of the playoffs vs. Jordan Moen. This match quite possibly was the catalyst to him winning the championship: Ryan lost the opening set handily 6-2. He felt dejected, drained, and disappointed. Despite a valiant effort, he had nothing to show for it. And yet, in between the first and second sets, Ryan was somehow able to regroup and find himself new inspiration. He kept himself focused on giving every point his best effort, and little by little he could feel the momentum begin to swing in his favor. We know the ending: He won the next two sets (6-0, 7-5) and closed out the season a newly-crowned Minneapolis champion.

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