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Getting ready for spring break

Jeff Northam - Tuesday, March 15, 2016

It’s been a bit of a strange week. Well honestly the week before spring break is always a bit strange. With a two-week break the professors at Whitman often pile on the work – lots of mid-terms, papers, and tests. Also, without fail, seems this is the week when guys' immune systems break down. With the long hours of studying and lack of sleep, it seems like members of the team always get sick. In fact, this week many on the team did get sick and/or had to miss practice because of academic pressures. After two decades of coaching I finally learned my lesson about spring break. Last year we started off spring break trip playing in the StagHen tournament. This amazing tournament typically attracts some of the top teams in D3 tennis. However, the event starts Friday morning which means leaving Thursday morning. Also academically everyone has to cram one of the hardest weeks of the year into a couple days. Plus, last year we had flight issues with Delta and we ended up having to drive part of the team to Boise, ID to take an early morning flight to join the rest of the team in Los Angeles. As if that wasn’t enough we also encounter record high temps in Southern California. With the tough academic week, short week, bad travel, and high temps it’s no wonder we struggled in our first matches of spring break. We ended up falling to two top 10 teams in brutal physical matches – Trinity 3-6 and Kenyon 4-5. Plus, sandwiched between those two matches we lost to Case in a match where I had to pull 4 of the top 6 players due to heat exhaustion.

 

This year I took a different approach to spring break. We limited the time training on court and reduced the physical conditioning load. I will say it’s nice to have a motivated team that really wants to play and train – it’s not an issue to get them to play! Also leading up to the weekend I let it be known my priority was to play the lower guys on the roster against conference opponents Willamette/Linfield. We had already defeated both of these teams 9-0 and I didn’t feel it would do any good playing the top guys. The past month has been incredible competition for the team – we have played Division 1 teams Idaho and Seattle U, we played 2 of the top teams in the conference, and we recently hosted two good D3 teams in Cal Lu and Swarthmore. So this was a great opportunity for the guys outside the top 6 to play meaningful matches.

 

What can I say - the lower guys were ready to play and came out on fire! In fact, we didn’t drop a set the entire weekend! Nice effort from everyone defeating Willamette, Spokane CC, and Linfield 9-0 within 24 hours! I also feel that the effort from the non-starters is going to pay big dividends during spring break. The top guys on the team got a chance to rest, recover from various ailments, and practice/play sets on their own over the weekend. Unlike last year we should be rested heading into a big week of matches.

 

We have a great week of opportunities ahead of us. We start our California trip against #9 Bowdoin (at CMS), Thursday we take on defending national champions CMS, Fri off, Saturday #14 Redlands and we wrap up Sunday against #21 Tufts (we are currently #17).

Floating the Wallowa

Jeff Northam - Thursday, March 10, 2016

 

With Monday off I took Whitman tennis alumni Colton and James Rivers (both graduated in 2015) for an afternoon kayak float down the upper stretch of the Wallowa River. When I say upper stretch I mean the 10-mile section from Lower Diamond Lane to the Minam Hotel.


This is a great way to spend the afternoon. Grant and Lottie at the Minam Hotel are incredible – friendly, helpful and they have a HUGE selection of gear for rental and purchase. We each rented an “I.K.” (inflatable kayak) for the float. For $40 we got a kayak and all the gear needed for the day (life vest, dry bag, paddle, & helmet). Honestly besides hiking I can’t imagine a better outdoor value.

 

Even with the chilly temperatures (still some snow along the river) we had an absolute blast. This section of the Wallowa (at least this time of the year) is mellow and makes for easy floating. Plus, the river has awesome scenery: we spotted a herd of deer swimming across the river, and many different types of riparian wildlife -- beaver sign, ducks, geese, hawks, and a few steelhead fishermen (thought I’m not sure if they are considered riparian).

 

Overall the float took about 3 hours. No real troubles on the float except when James “pushed” me into the river. OK he didn’t really push me in, I jumped out of my kayak to test out my dry suit. This is the suit I purchased for my winter rafting trip down the Colorado River (which unfortunately got cancelled).

 

For those looking for a great afternoon water adventure I highly recommend heading out to Minam for some time on the Wallowa River. I suggest calling the Minam Hotel and Raft Rental before heading out to make sure they have kayaks available (plus they will get them set up) 541-437-1111. Here are the directions from Walla Walla to Minam (about 90 minutes)

 

Swarthmore weekend

Jeff Northam - Wednesday, March 09, 2016

 

This past weekend the men’s team was fortunate to host Swarthmore, Cal Lutheran, and Lewis Clark. It’s fun to host teams that have never been to the PNW, or in some cases, never played tennis indoors. I also try to make this trip as easy and convenient for the visiting coaches and players. I know first hand the hassles of traveling with a team – it can take forever to get a van rental at the airport, the time spent traveling to and from the match sites, the pains of getting an entire team loaded into a cramped van to find food. So I make it easy. Teams can fly into Walla Walla or Pasco (50 mins away) and I pick them up in a Whitman turtle top van and take them to the Red Lion Hotel. The Red Lion has been wonderful to work with during these types of events, they give us special pricing and best of all they are located across the street from the indoor tennis courts. Also since Whitman is located next to downtown there are dozens of great restaurants within a two block walk. I think it’s awesome that a team can come to town and not need any kind of transportation.

 

To make this year’s event even more special we roasted a pig courtside and provided dinner Saturday for all the teams. Thanks to Tim and Nelou Fennessy for providing and cooking the pig! Makes for a nice touch to an already wonderful weekend.

 

Our first match of the weekend was against Cal Lutheran. As with most of the season we have been playing around with doubles combos and positions trying to find the best possible line-up. The guys have been great dealing with my tinkering. Every weekend of play I have tried new combos and/or move teams around in the line-up. So far it’s worked great as more guys get the opportunity to play and guys get the opportunity to play with different players. This is something different that I have done this year and its worked great and the guys have jumped on board with the strategy.

 

Earlier in the week I had decided to pull our undefeated #1 doubles team (Zach and Phil) to see how Petar/Jake would respond to playing #1 and also to see how Chase/Gary would do at #3. Funny story is I thought I had told both Zach and Phil my plans but forgot to actually tell Phil. So Phil shows up Saturday ready to go at doubles only to find out he has been benched. Phil just gave me a wry smile and a chuckle ... pretty hard to be undefeated in doubles for the ENTIRE year including wins against 2 D1 opponents only be benched against a good team!

 

The doubles switch had nothing to do with Phil/Zach but everything to do with Petar/Jake. In the couple matches they played together they looked good and I wanted to see how they would respond playing #1 against a good team. For perspective Jake/Petar had played twice before in the year: against George Fox (#2 doubles) they went down 0-2 before winning 8 straight games then the following day beat a good Lewis Clark team 8-0 (meaning they had actually won 16 straight games together which is REALLY hard to do in doubles). Against Cal Lu the duo raised their level of play winning 8-1! Great stuff from both of them and I absolutely love how well the complement each other on the court. Our other doubles teams weren’t far behind as Robert/Adam won 8-2 at #2 doubles, and Chase/Gary won 8-3 at #3. After the doubles Phil came up to me and gave that same wry smile and said it looks like he and Zach lost their doubles spot.

 

In singles we continued to roll. Even without Robert in the singles line-up (I pulled him after the doubles) we didn’t drop a set…check out these scores:

#1 Zach 62, 61, #2 Phil 63, 60, #3 Chase 62, 60, #4 Petar 62, 62, #5 Adam 62, 61 #6 Gary 62, 61

 

Whitman 9 Cal Lu 0


Sunday was the big match of the weekend as we matched up with #30 Swarthmore. We knew this was a very good and very talented team. A week prior they narrowly lost 4-5 to #20 Stevens Tech. This match came down to the wire with the #6 singles going to 3 sets. All week Coach Colton had been preaching that this was a trap match and the team needed to be prepared for a tough match.

Luckily we came out with some strong doubles to sweep Swarthmore gaining a 3-0 advantage. At #1 Phil/Zach bounced back after “the benching” to win 8-5. Even though they didn’t play their best tennis it’s amazing how these two compete and work with each other to overcome difficult situations. At #2 Petar/Jake continued their strong play winning 8-1. Just let me say these two are playing well. And at #3 Robert/Adam were up 7-2 before closing out the match 8-4.

 

I mentioned it was fortunate that we swept the doubles and it was also fortunate that we played outdoors so we could play on 6 courts (versus 4 courts indoors). The top 4 singles matches were all battles and we dropped the 1st sets at #1, #2, #3, and #4! Fortunately for us both Robert and Adam won in straight sets to give us the 5-0 win.

 

The top 4 matches turned out to be fantastic matches. At #1 Zach dropped the 1st set 1-6 before rebounding to win 6-3, 6-4. Very good win for Zach as his opponent recently defeated the #10 player in D3. At #2 Phil had an incredibly streaky match – he was up 5-1 before dropping the set 5-7 and then he won the 2nd set 6-1, and since the team match was done they played a match tiebreak which Phil dropped 11-9. Interesting match because Phil played some of his best tennis of the year but just couldn’t close out the first set. At #3 Chase really showed great composure. After dropping the 1st set and I think being down in the 2nd he rallied to win 4-6, 7-5, 10-4. At #4 Petar had the longest first set of any of the matches. In fact, his first set was still going by the time #5 and #6 had finished! Great battle from Petar - he lost 7-6, 6-3

 

One other note from the match. Since Swarthmore brought 12 players we were fortunate to be able to play 6 doubles matches and 12 singles matches. Over all in the 6 doubles matches we won 5 of them. And in the bottom 6 matches we took the top 3 matches (Gary, Nishaant, Alex) and lost the bottom 3 (Trevor, Jacob, Azur).

 

Whitman 7 Swarthmore 2

 

This was certainly an important match for us to get through. I thought we played well against a good team that had their sights set on defeating us. Also one of those matches where we don’t have much to gain but a lot to lose (in terms of rankings).

 

Flowers

Jeff Northam - Thursday, March 03, 2016

Planted some annual flower seeds under lights.

 

Rows 1 - 3

Alyssum Pastel Carpet

 

Rows 4 - 6

Alyssum Mulberry Mix

 

Rows  7 - 8

Lobelia Crystal Palace (Ferry Moss)

 

Rows 9 - 10

Lobelia Crystal Palace (Terrotorial Seed Co)

Splitting the Squad

Jeff Northam - Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Very interesting, and very fun weekend splitting the team into two squads. One part of the team traveled to Seattle to take on Seattle U (D1) while the other group traveled to the Willamette Valley for conference matches against Willamette and Linfield.


One reason the weekend was so awesome was our housing for the weekend. The Seattle troupe stayed with the La Cava’s in Seattle and the Willamette Valley crew stayed with Tom and Krista Herkamp. Both the families were unbelievable hosts and we all had a blast staying together in incredible homes. So to the La Cava’s and Herkamp’s THANK YOU SO MUCH!

 

I can’t speak about the Seattle match as I was with the Willamette group (perhaps Coach Colton can do a write up). What I do know it was an incredibly close and well played match. Even though we came away with a 3-4 loss all the guys felt it was a great experience and quality tennis. This match came down to the wire with the final two matches going to third sets. It was one of those days where a point here or there decided the outcome of the entire match. Was also great to have such a huge turn of alumni for the match. And thanks to P.R. and Vince for organizing the post-match activities! Greatly appreciated by all.

 

The same day as the Seattle U match I had a group playing against Willamette. One of my goals for the Willamette Valley group was to make sure everyone got opportunities to play. We have a large team with guys who consistently bust their butts in practice and conditioning, unfortunately these guys don’t get enough opportunities to play. Sometimes I wish for the opportunities to sub players in and out of a match like other team sports. However, Saturday was one of those rare days where all 15 players got to compete!

 

Against Willamette we swept the doubles but it wasn’t without drama as the #2 team of Luke/Alex couldn’t quite shake the pesky Willamette team. This match went back and forth with breaks but eventually Luke/Alex were able to prevail 8-6. Adam/Gary won 8-3 at #1 and Jacob/Joey won 8-1 at #3.

 

In singles we got quick wins at #1 Adam (6-1, 6-3), #2 Gary (6-3, 6-0), #3 Nishaant (6-1, 6-2) and #5 Jacob (6-3, 6-4 – ok this one wasn’t too quick). All great wins but matches of the day went to #4 Trevor and #6 Azur. I’m so impressed with Trevor’s improvement. As a freshman Trevor had a tendency to very hard on himself. Last year I think he had the personal motto of “my own worst enemy”. Let me say what a fantastic change a year as brought. It’s so gratifying to see him smile on the court and play upbeat tennis. Case in point, Trevor lost the first set 3-6 against a red hot Willamette player. His opponent played lights out in that first set. At the set break I spoke with Trevor about the set and he told me that his opponent played great and it was only 1 break of serve. Last year, in the same situation, Trevor would be told me how bad he was playing and put extra pressure on himself to play better this set. This time Trevor had a smile on his face after losing the first set, was truly enjoying the competition and had confidence in himself to grind out the match. I’m so impressed with him! In the second set Trevor raced out to a 4-1 lead and ended up winning the match 3-6, 6-2, 10-6. Trevor, well done!

 

The other interesting match was first year Azur Ali playing in his first ever dual match. I’ve coached long enough to know that a first dual match is not only a big deal but also a nervous deal! I’ve seen many a young player get the yips in their first match. Although incredibly nervous Azur did great! In fact, he played some of his best tennis of the year winning 6-3, 6-3.

 

On Sunday weather didn’t cooperate and we were forced into the Linfield fieldhouse (3 courts) for our 10am match. Like the Willamette match I wanted to play all 9-players but mixed up who played singles and doubles.

 

We started off the match in strong fashion only dropping 6 games in the 3 doubles pro-sets (8-0, 8-2, 8-4). In singles the guys played well not dropping a set the entire day. Luke had the most competitive match of the day winning 6-4, 6-3 after being down 1-4 in the 1st . Azur was even more impressive in the second match of his career, winning 6-1, 6-2 – in this match he won the 1st 13 points! In practice Azur has a tendency to swing for the fences and try to finish points way too fast and way too big. Against Linfield he was the model of consistency, he was patient from the baseline and when he did get opportunities he didn’t try to paint the line with hardest hit ball known to mankind, instead he was played to big targets with a well-shaped ball. True story, Joey is playing next to Azur and on a changeover he leans over to me and asked what happened to Azur. He said he is like a new player and that he should play that way in practice. Joey I couldn’t agree more!

 

Here are the scores against Linfield.

#1 doubles Gary/Adam 8-0

#2 doubles Trevor/Nishaant 8-2

#3 doubles Jacob/Joey 8-4

#1 Adam 6-1, 6-1

#2 Gary 6-3, 6-2

#3 Alex 6-0, 6-1

#4 Joey 6-1, 6-2

#5 Luke 6-4, 6-3

#6 Azur 6-1, 6-2

 

Thanks to all the parents who came out to the matches. I speak for all entire team when I say we appreciate your support and it’s so nice to be loaded up with bags of fruit, cookies and treatsJ

 

Couple nice awards this week. Adam was named NWC Player of the Week. Also Azur was voted the yellow jersey by his teammates.

Lettuce seeds and clean up

Jeff Northam - Monday, February 29, 2016

It's February 29th! With the day off I decided to do a bit of gardening.

 

Cleaned up the raised beds and tilled the soil. Once the soil compacts a big I will plan on adding compost to the top.

 

Planted lettuce seeds indoors.

 

Rows 1 - 3

Arugula

 

Rows 4 - 6

Super Gourmet Salad Blend (LT389 Territorial Seed Company - 2013)

 

Rows 7 - 10

Lettuce Little Gem - Baker Creek Herloom Seeds (2014)

Gardening seeds round 2

Jeff Northam - Friday, February 26, 2016

Had a few moments this morning so I planted another batch of seeds. Also finally took the time to get a timer for the growing lights! Hopefully no more issues of leaving them on/off for 24 hours at a time. Also some of the seedlings from first batch have sprouted. Expect pictures soon.

 

Below in information from the seed packs

 

Rows 1 +2

Brandywine Tomato (sero biodynamic seed). (OP) 85 days. This cherished heirloom has the flavor to which all other tomatoes are compared. An indeterminate, potato-leaf variety with a sweet, rich, slightly spicy flavor. The somewhat squat, lobed fruit are large, up to 7” inches across. Not a heavy-yielding tomato. Brandywine is best staked or caged. A Long season tomato, but this is one of the earliest strains we’ve trialed at London Springs.

Sowing indoors: Start seeds in sterile seedling mix, 6-8 weeks before your average last frost date. Water lightly after planted and cover with a grow dome or plastic to ensure that seeds do not dry out. When the first set of true leaves have emerged, transplant them into a larger pot, burying the stem to a point just below the first set of leaves. At this point make sure not to overwater, so the stem will have time to adapt in the soil and develop roots.

Growing tips – Cover the young plants with a floating row cover or a protect them with cloches to help promote early growth. The use of Red Plastic Mulch can also increase yields.

Fertilization tips – as transplants, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer every 10-14 days. Apply ¼ cup of organic fertilizer into the soil around each plant.

Seed life – 3 years

 

Rows 3+4

Indigo Rose Tomato (sero buidynamic seed) (OP 80 days). The premier high anthocyanin tomato, these 2 inch fruit are loaded with health-giving antioxidants and a complex tomato flavor profile. Indeterminate plants are highly productive, yielding heavy clusters of fruit that ripens to a deep, purple/black where they’re exposed to the sun and burgundy/red on the shaded areas.

Sowing indoors: Start seeds in sterile seedling mix, 6-8 weeks before your average last frost date. Water lightly after planted and cover with a grow dome or plastic to ensure that seeds do not dry out. When the first set of true leaves have emerged, transplant them into a larger pot, burying the stem to a point just below the first set of leaves. At this point make sure not to overwater, so the stem will have time to adapt in the soil and develop roots.

Growing tips – Cover the young plants with a floating row cover or a protect them with cloches to help promote early growth. The use of Red Plastic Mulch can also increase yields.

Fertilization tips – as transplants, fertilize with a high nitrogen fertilizer every 10-14 days. Apply ¼ cup of organic fertilizer into the soil around each plant.

Seed life – 3 years

 

Rows 5&6

Sage (perennial Salvia Officinalis) Territorial seed Company (older seeds)

Germinate – at temps between 60-75

Large seeds need to be covered with soil at least as thick as the seed. May be slow and erratic to germinate.

Needs a period of cold stratification for successful germination. Best results are obtained when the seeds are kept warm and moist for 2 weeks followed by exposure to tems between 33-35 for at least 30-90 days

Sowing indoors – start seeds 6-8 weeks before your last frost. Transplat out after dange of frost has passed

 

Rows 7 & 8

Oregano – Greek – Territorial seed company

Germinate – at temps between 60-75

Large seeds need to be covered with soil at least as thick as the seed. May be slow and erratic to germinate.

Needs a period of cold stratification for successful germination. Best results are obtained when the seeds are kept warm and moist for 2 weeks followed by exposure to tems between 33-35 for at least 30-90 days

Sowing indoors – start seeds 6-8 weeks before your last frost. Transplat out after dange of frost has passed

 

Rows 9 & 10

Rosemary (perry Morse Seeds)

Sowing – startin indoors by seeds thicly in a light, well drained soil 8 weeks before transplanting outdoors. Needs some shade. Transplant outdoors when 6 inches tall. Grows into large perennial shrubs in warm climates but killed by frost everywhere. Cut sprgs as needed.

Suggestions – to store, dry leaves in shade or freeze them when they are cut. Rosemary is a good companion to members of the cabbage family, protecting them from pests.

 

Rows 11 & 12 Sweet Basil (ocimum basilicum) seeds from 2011

Sow in avarege soil in full sun after dager of frost. Sow seeds about 6” apparat and cover with ¼” of fine soil. Firm lightly and keep evenly moist. Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days. Thin to stand about 12” apart when seedlings are 1-2” tall. Harvest when buds begin to form up until frost


#maddypackstheiron

Jeff Northam - Wednesday, February 24, 2016

 

After a weekend of matches, the team had Monday off. With no practice I decided to take a quick camping trip to the Umatilla Wilderness for a short overnight backpacking trip. Joining me on this trip were two of my favorite “youngsters”: assistant tennis coaches Colton and Maddy. The three of us tend to make a good group. I love outdoor adventures but don’t like to go alone … they love outdoor adventures but need someone to take them.

 

The Walla Walla area is having a great snowpack year so much of the mountain areas are still covered in snow. Also a lot of roads into the mountains are closed until the middle of March. Basically not a lot of nearby options camping options, at least that don’t involve snow camping. Since I wanted to be near water I decided on the North Fork of the Umatilla trail. The trail heads into the Umatilla Wilderness area, is close to Walla Walla and is low enough elevation that while cold at least the bottom portion should be snow free.

 

Here is the official Forest Service description of the area:

http://www.fs.usda.gov/recarea/umatilla/null/recarea/?recid=57009&actid=43


Immediately upon arriving I knew we had issues. As we neared the trailhead the canyon was socked in and covered with angry clouds. In fact, once we got to the trailhead and started exploring it started to hail! That was message enough that a backpacking trip was not meant to be. I learned my lesson several years ago when I was caught in a hail storm in the Blue Mountains that literally left me bruised and battered. I had no desire to repeat that experience! Here are some pictures from the last Blue Mountain hail storm I experienced. 

 

Since we passed on a backpacking trip we decided to car camp along the S Fork of the Umatilla. Actually worked out great as we didn’t see another person the entire trip and I just happened to have a load of firewood in the truck.

 

After getting the sleeping arrangements ready for the night (in my trustee MSR Twin Brothers Shelter) we attended to the pressing needs of the evening --- getting dinner ready. In the original backpacking plan, we decided to live it up a bit and do better than bland freeze dried dinners. Also since one person would be packing the shelter (its only about 5 pounds) we should be able to pack in some cast iron and make a righteous backcountry meal. And hence the hashtag #maddypackstheiron was born. Leading up to the trip Colton and I had an enormous of fun with that hashtag. I also figured if #maddypackstheiron why not bring a long a light grill and cook up some flank steak. After all, both Colton and Maddy are young and strong and should be able to pack a few extra pounds. Plus, they are also young enough that I could convince them that I was too old to carry any extra weight. Again let me say they are perfect adventure partners!

 

For dinner I had brought alone a half dozen potatoes and some baby carrots. I also threw together some spices for the potatoes – some salt, pepper, garlic powder, oregano, thyme and red pepper flakes – after all who doesn’t like a bit of hot spice in their food? Well it turns out Maddy doesn’t. Truthfully though it actually made the dinner all the more entertaining watching/listening to Maddy as she bit into a spicy potato. Back to the cooking – we tossed the potatoes and carrots into a ziplock bag with the spices and some oil. Took the seasoned potatoes wrapped them in several layers of aluminum foil and put around the campfire fire. I didn’t want to burn the potatoes so I figured with some indirect heat it would take about 40 minutes to cook. Well after an hour the potatoes weren’t done so we transferred them the cast iron to finish up. As the potatoes were finishing Colton threw the big flank steak onto the grill and he started working the main course. Colton is getting to be a real pro at doing flank steak so I knew we were in great hands. And he did a great job on the grilling – turned out awesome. In fact, the entire dinner was AMAZING!

 

After dinner we joked about the time and how early it actually was. With no lights, cell phone service, or internet bed time tends to come a bit early. Not that there is anything wrong with going to bed early. Also it was rapidly getting chilly so getting warm in sleeping bags sounded all the more appealing.


 

Gauging by the weather forecast I knew it was going to be a chilly night and I told Maddy and Colton to be prepared for a cold night. In fact, I told them several times to be prepared. The weather forecast was correct it did cold – cold enough to freeze our drinking water, cold enough to turn dish soap into slush. Not sure how cold it got during the middle of the night but when I checked the temp at 8am it was 26 degrees. I was plenty warm – only needed a medium base layer as my zero degree sleeping bag kept me plenty warm. Coupled with my Exped UL inflatable mattress I was downright cozy.

Side note – Exped is a GREAT company. Last year I was on a solo backpacking trip with my dog Wally. Unfortunately, one morning Wally ripped a big gash in my mattress – the gash was pretty big and ripped the mattress such that I couldn’t patch it. I contacted Exped and they said to send it in for repairs. Turns out the mattress so thrashed that they couldn’t patch it but they did send me a new mattress at no cost (not even shipping). How cool of a company is that? Needless to say they now have a customer for life.

 

Back to story – I was warm, comfy and still had several layers I could use if I got chilly. Colton was also fine. Maddy not so much. She ended up having a pretty miserable, cold night Probably the only time she got somewhat warm was when Wally stuck his head into her sleeping back to try to warm himself up!

 

Since it was cold in the morning and no one was in the mood to cook we packed up camp and headed to Weston for a breakfast at the famous Long Branch Cafe and Saloon. Neither Maddy nor Colton had heard of the Long Branch but after being treated to a HUGE home cooked breakfast I imagine they head back for another meal.

 

Fun overnight trip for all and I look forward to heading back to the Umatilla Wilderness area for a proper packing trip.

 

Opening the conference season

Jeff Northam - Monday, February 22, 2016

 

Over the weekend we started conference play with 9-0 victories over George Fox and Lewis Clark College. Important victories for us as they were against two of the better teams in the NWC (Fox is #12 in the West region and LC is #13 in the region). Also the NWC has a very bizarre “round robin and half” schedule for tennis. This means we play every team once and half of the teams twice. In an effort to balance out the standings when teams play each other twice the match score is “averaged” together to make one result. So if Team A Def. Team B 5-4 early in the season but then loses to Team B 3-6 later in the year Team B gets conference victory.

 

Here is the good, the bad, and the ugly with this system (I treated myself to this movie last night). The good is it makes each individual match important. Even after clinching a dual match victory it is huge to put the hammer down and win as decisively as possible. This is great motivation for players still playing – those remaining matches can be huge in terms of conference standings.

 

In my opinion the bad of this system is two-fold – one it can make matches almost meaningless and two it can make wins worthless. Let me explain. By defeating George Fox and LC 9-0 it is almost mathematically impossible for them to record the conference “win” over us. For that to happen they would need to beat us worse than 9-0 – i.e. defeat us 9-0 and drop fewer sets. If we win 1 doubles pro-set we take the combined “match” against them. Or here is another strange example from the weekend. Whitworth “upset” George Fox 6-3 in Spokane over the weekend. I put upset in quotes because even though Fox is #12 and Whitworth #18 I predicted Whitworth would win this match. So this match puts George Fox in a bit of pickle. When these two teams play again later in the year George Fox could win the rematch but if they don’t thump Whitworth their win won’t count and they will take the “conference standings loss” – not receiving any credit for the win. I understand the reasoning behind this system. Since it’s a rotation which teams play each other twice it’s possible for one of the better teams to have a “losing” record if they play the top teams twice and a weaker team to have a better record if they play the weaker teams twice. This happened a few years ago where Pacific was the #4 seed in the conference tournament with a losing record – they played the top 3 teams twice and took 6 losses whereas the #5 team had played the weaker teams twice and picked up 6 wins. Looks funny and is confusing to see the conference standings posted on a web page and teams with better records not getting into the end of the year conference tournament.

 

www.nwcsports.com


Keeping with the movie theme here is the ugly. WE ARE THE ONLY CONFERENCE IN THE NATION THAT PLAYS MORE THAN A SINGLE ROUND ROBIN. Since tennis is limited in the dates we can play this hampers the ability to put together a competitive schedule. This schedule can also reduce the chance of making the NCAA tournament for individuals or a team seeking at large-bid. One of the criterion used in NCAA selections is strength of schedule (with emphasis on last half of the season). I’ve seen this play out several times for NCAA individual selections. If a singles player or a doubles teams “on the bubble” it ONLY hurts to play in a match with a weak strength of schedule. Hypothetically a #1 singles player could win a match 6-0, 6-0 and it hurts their strength of schedule, potentially keeping them out of the NCAA tournament. It’s just ugly to set up a conference system that rewards players for not playing! Don’t get me wrong, teams in the conference should play each other … but only once. Don’t force bad match ups on teams. I’ve been coaching in the NWC awhile now and the obvious solution is to play a single round robin and let the coaches schedule other matches. We are pretty geographically challenged (the next closest D3 school is UC Santa Cruz) so by default coaches will schedule the other teams in the conference. However, teams will probably seek out similar ability teams for competitive matches – the tops teams will probably gravitate towards each other and the weaker teams to each other looking for competitive matches. Again this after already playing a singles round robin.

 

Ok my yearly rant is now off. Let’s talk tennis!

 

On Saturday we were very fortunate to have sunny weather and was able to play our George Fox match outdoors! Even though it was a bit chilly (high 40s) all the players appreciated playing in the sunshine. Though spectators probably weren’t quite as happy.

 

We often forget how important momentum is in tennis matches. Players can get hot or cold and points can go by quickly (especially in doubles). Case in point -- #1 & #3 doubles on Satrday. At #1 doubles Zach/Phil were locked in a battle against one of the better doubles in the region (a few weeks ago the Fox team defeated the #8 doubles team in the nation). Phil/Zach were down 2-4 and then reeled off 14 straight points and 6 straight games to win 8-4! Crazy stuff at this high a level to win that many points in a row. At #3 doubles Jake/Petar went down 0-2 before winning 8 straight games. The most competitive doubles of the day was #2 were Bobby/Adam won 8-5.

 

In singles we got quick wins at #5 (Adam) 6-3, 6-2, #6 Gary (6-1, 6-1), #1 Zach (6-4, 6-1), #4 Jivkov (6-1, 6-2) to put us up 7-0. The remaining two matches featured great third set efforts from Robert who overcame some inner demons to win 4-6, 7-5, 6-2 and for Phil to grind out a 6-3, 5-7, 6-1 win over one of the better players in the conference.

 

This was a gratifying win since last time we played George Fox they swept us in doubles and we had to fight tooth and nail to pull out a 5-4 victory.

 

Sunday played a banged up Lewis Clark team. Too bad they were missing two of their better players as this would have been much more competitive match. Honestly this one of the teams in the conference I look forward to playing. Helps that I’m good friends with their coach but I know when we play against LC it’s going to be well played and a well behaved match.

 

In doubles Petar/Jake were still courting lady momentum and won 8-0 (as a duo they ripped off 16 straight games over the weekend). Impressive since they were playing against a huge serving team – both LC players possess booming serves! It was very gratifying to see the intensity and high level of play coming from Jake. After spending a semester away from tennis (study abroad in Morocco) and nursing an injury the past 4 weeks he finally finding his groove. Well done Jake! We also picked up wins at #1 doubles 8-6 (Phil/Zach) and #2 8-4 (Adam/Robert).

 

In singles Zach continued his high level of play winning 6-2, 6-1 at #1 singles. At one point Zach ripped off 8 straight winners! Chase was back in the line-up against LC and clinched the match with 6-3, 6-0 at #3 singles. We also got straight set wins from Robert at #4, Petar at #5, and Adam at #6. Fun fact Adam hasn’t lost a singles or doubles match yet this year! Another fun fact neither has Zach. Last match on (again) was Phil “I love 3 sets” Locklear – once again Phil found another gear to win 6-1 in the 3rd set. Two days in a row with dominate 3rd set wins from Phil! Yet another fun fact in the 1st set Phil had a set point and lost the set and in the 2nd set he was down a match point.

 

Next up for us are matches in Seattle and in Oregon. One group is going to travel to take on D1 Seattle U and another group is headed to the Willamette valley to play conference matches against Linfield and Willamette.

 

Here is a link to pictures from the George Fox Match

 

Indoor planting

Jeff Northam - Friday, February 19, 2016

Had a few moments this morning and I thought I would start sowing some indoor seeds. A few weeks I created a small indoor space complete with 4 rows of fluorescent lights (I should probably get some grow light blows but they are expensive) to start my garden seeds. I'm always excited to start the process of plant growing in the early spring. It's a rewarding experience to grow plants that will be used for food and/or visual pleasure (flowers to come!) Also means that summer is on it's way!

 

The information below is taken from the seed packs. Also many of these seeds are getting to be on the old side. I have a habit of buying seeds, sowing some, and then storing them in a box. I noticed some of the scallion type onions I planted were dated 11/11!

 

For potting mix I used miracle grow potting mix. For watering and fertilizing I used Clonex seed/cloning solution of 2 capfuls per gallon of water. This solution was poured into the bottom of the container to help keep the soil moist. Before covering the soil was lightly sprayed with warm water. 

 

 

Date started Feb 19

Block A

 

Rows 1&2

PP677 Hot Pepper Blend Territorial Seed Co

Indoor Sowing – start seeds 8 weeks before your average last frost date. Germination may be slow and erratic. Provide the seedlings with plenty of light to produce strong high yielding plants (not recommended to sow outdoors)

Growing tips – The number of early flowers can be increased by giving the plants a cold treatment before transplanting outside. This is done by exposing the transplants to temps of 55 during the night and 70 in the day. Cold Treatment should occur only after there are 3 sets of true leaves. Transplant out when soil temps has warmed to 60-65

Fertilization tips – high phosphorous soil amendments such as bonemeal will help get the plants off to a fast start. Apply ½ cup o of our blended organic fertilizer around each plant to provide the nutrition necessary for optimum production

Seed specs – min germ standard 70% usual seed life 2 years (these are 3)

Seed depth ¼”

Soil temp for germ 70-90

Days to germination 8-25

Light requirements – full sun

Thin plants to 12-18”

 

Rows 3 & 4

Early Jalapeno Pepper (Ed Hume Seed) – not sure of age

Sowing – So seeds indoors in March or April. Sow 2-3 seeds in individual peat pots or other containers barely covering seeds with 1/8” starter mix. Place pots in plastic seed flat with no drainage holes. Carefully pour warm water into flat, the moisture will soak up from the bottom. Keep in warm room and provide lots of light.

Thinning: When seedlings are about 2 inches high, carefully cut weather plants leaving strongest single plant per pot.

Transplanting and spacing: Harden off you plants and plant outdoors after weather has warmed, markedly and all danger of frost and cold weather has passed. Plant 18-24” apart.

Germination 2-3 weeks at 65-70. Keep soil moderately moist

Ed’s Special advice – Plant peppers in sunny, well drained spot in the garden. Cover with hotcaps when young if cool nights are expected. Feed lightly with vegetable food every 4 weeks. Carefully cut off short piece of stem with fruit to avoid damaging plant.

 

Rows 5&6

PP670 Golden Star Hybrid Sweet Pepper Territorial seed company (2014)

Sowing indoors – start seeds 8 weeks before your average last frost date. Provide the seedlings with plenty of light to produce strong high yielding plants (not recommended to sow outdoors)

Growing tips – The number of early flowers can be increased by giving the plants a cold treatment before transplanting outside. This is done by exposing the transplants to temps of 55 during the night and 70 in the day. Cold Treatment should occur only after there are 3 sets of true leaves. Transplant out when soil temps has warmed to 60-65

a fast start. Apply ½ cup o of our blended organic fertilizer around each plant to provide the nutrition necessary for optimum production

Seed specs – min germ standard 70% usual seed life 2 years (these are 3)

Seed depth ¼”

Soil temp for germ 70-90

Days to germination 8-25

Light requirements – full sun

Thin plants to 12-18”

 

Row 7&8

ON554 Walla Walla sweet Spanish Onion Territorial seed company (2014)

Sowing indoors – Start up to 100 seeds in a 4-6” pot. Place in a warm location and keep moist. If you cannot transplant outside before the tops reach 5”, then cut back the tops to 3”

Sowing outdoors – Direct-sown crops will be more uniform. Sow when soil temps are at least 55

Growing tips – Thin bulbing onions 5-7 inches between plants and bunching onions 2” between plants

Fertilization tips – Before transplant or seeding, apply ½ - ½ cup of our blended organic fertilizer per 5 row feet.

Insect prevention – because onions have a pungent odor, they repel many pests that may visit your garden. Many gardeners integrate onions throughout their garden for this reason.

Seed specs – min germ standard 75% . Seed life 1 year

Seed depth 1/1”

Soil temp for Germ 55-70

Days to Germination – 6-16

Light requirements – Full sun

Thin plants to 2-5”

 

Rows 9-12

Onion Evergreen Long White bunching (2011)

Sow – in average soil in full sun after danger of frost in spring. In frost-free areas, sow in fall. Sow thinly in rows 12” apart and cover with 1’4” of fine soil. Firm lightly and keep evenly moist. Seedlings emerge in 7-14 days. Thin to stand 3” apart when seedlings are 1-2” high

60-120 days