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View Full Version : Should I Push For Singles Specialists?


Cindysphinx
12-20-2006, 05:17 AM
In April, I will be the captain of a ladies 3.0 team. This team will be fairly new; some of us met in fall/winter 2006 and formed a doubles combo team, and others will be new to the April spring team. A realistic goal for our team would be to finish somewhere in the middle of the division -- if we play our tennis right.

Spring play consists of three doubles matches and two singles matches. Right now, we're all doubles specialists because singles matches aren't played in the fall/winter season.

I imagine it would be better for the spring team to develop some singles specialists. I think, however, there will be a number of players who will wish to dabble in singles, maybe playing one or two matches of singles and the rest of their matches in doubles (perhaps 4-5).

Captains and players, do you have any thoughts on the value of singles specialization? Should I tell the players that if they wish to play singles, they need to commit to playing at least half of their matches as singles and practicing separately in singles? How do your teams handle this?

Ace
12-20-2006, 06:50 AM
Yes, if you can get them.
Get two solid singles players on your team, and you are almost guaranteed to win your matches, since theres a good chance you can win 1 out of 3 of your doubles courts.
I don't know how you can go about getting someone on your team to play singles if they don't already prefer it. I am lucky and have myself and one or two others that prefer singles.

cghipp
12-20-2006, 06:57 AM
I agree - you do need to recuit some people who are good and singles and want to play singles.

Supernatural_Serve
12-20-2006, 07:00 AM
Singles specialists have played on every successful USTA team I've been a part of, and are usually the best players on the team.

Hoss
12-20-2006, 07:36 AM
Cindy, I have co-captained our 4.0 men's team the last couple of years, and captained a 4.0 mixed doubles team this past fall (HTA league) season that just ended. I must honestly admit to not having any of the organizational stress that seems apparent from a couple of your posts. We generally are competitive people by nature, but league play isn't the end all be all for us.

That being said, there are a couple of people on our team who have come forward and expressed an interest and shown an aptitude in playing singles ( I am one of them). So we really don't have a problem in this area. We are kinda laid back that way.

You would be surprised how many people DON'T want to play singles. I was. That made the decision of who would play much easier for us. I certainly wouldn't demand commitments from people. Good luck.

Regards,

Geezer Guy
12-20-2006, 09:08 AM
There will be players that really want to play singles and not doubles, and
there will be players that really want to play doubles and not singles.

There will be a few (but not many) that are willing to play both - wherever you need them that week.

You need a good mix of all the above.

cak
12-20-2006, 09:12 AM
Since you aren't aiming for playoffs, just a decent showing, and you've already vetted your team with tryouts, so you don't have any really weak players, you should be able to hit your goal of solid, middle of the bunch finish just off of strong doubles alone. If you are looking at this as a building year it might be an opportunity to let as many people try out singles as are willing to play, and then if they like it they can specialize next year.

Otherwise, if you really would prefer to go to try to make playoffs and win, I'd recruit singles players rather than having doubles specialists commit to singles.

Cindysphinx
12-20-2006, 09:42 AM
Organizational stress?

:shrug:

I dunno. We want to do the most with what we have. To me, that's one of the responsibilities of a decent captain. All within reason, of course.

As a captain, I want to pursue sensible strategies without making unpopular decisions that make people unhappy needlessly. If that's organizational stress, then I plead guilty, I suppose.

rasajadad
12-20-2006, 10:07 AM
I play in several leagues and while I have my preferences on whether I'd like to play singles or doubles (it's singles) OR with whom I'd like to partner for doubles. That said, I do whatever my captain asks of me. I am a member of a team and will do whatever my captain feels is best to help us win. Hopefully, most of your team will look at it the same way.

Hoss
12-20-2006, 12:50 PM
Cindy, maybe stress is the wrong choice of words. I guess after reading the "tryout" thread and this one, it just appeared to me that you seemed to be very "intense" about your 3.0 league team.

We are in first place in our fall Houston Area league with one makeup match to play, so it's not like we don't care or aren't competitive.

We have just never had any issues (personality wise or other) in the 4 years I have been associated with our team. I guess we are lucky.

Again, stress is probably the wrong choice of words. To each his/her own. I wish you the best of luck.

Cindysphinx
12-20-2006, 01:38 PM
Cindy, maybe stress is the wrong choice of words. I guess after reading the "tryout" thread and this one, it just appeared to me that you seemed to be very "intense" about your 3.0 league team.

We are in first place in our fall Houston Area league with one makeup match to play, so it's not like we don't care or aren't competitive.

We have just never had any issues (personality wise or other) in the 4 years I have been associated with our team. I guess we are lucky.

Again, stress is probably the wrong choice of words. To each his/her own. I wish you the best of luck.

No problem, Hoss. No offense intended or taken.

Allow me to brag a bit, though.

In September, we started a 5.5 team almost from scratch (with a base of 5 players who had played on a 0-11 team). We held try-outs and picked the best players we could find, although we wound up with some Seriously Weak Players. We committed to play everyone equally regardless of skill, and we did. I poured over the schedule, noodling over how to get my weak players their matches, how to do things that made sense, running myself ragged finding enough indoor court time for us to practice weekly.

We finished 11-1, with the second-place team at 7-5. Eight of those victories were 2-1. All of the 3.0s signed on for the next season. Huzzah!

Yeah, I'm kinda intense, but I think that intensity paid off. We're a new team. We don't have the most talented players (yet). We have to make up for that in intensity and smart decision-making. Which causes me to wring my hands about things like whether to advocate that we ask that those who play singles to commit to specialize in it for the season.

I gotta say, though, that the people on this board have been really helpful. I've had a lot of questions, many of which probably sound kinda weird but which stem in part from the fact that I'm still pretty new to the whole captain thing.

So thanks, folks!!

TriCitiesTennis
12-20-2006, 08:34 PM
CINDY -

You can try this, this is how I run my teams.

At the start of the season I get a total of 20 people together who express to having an "interest" in playing on my team.

While signups are still going on for other teams, I hold a mandatory practice in which everyone plays a round robin while I watch.

After the roundrobin, I total all the points won by every player....the players with the lowest scores are then removed from the team.

For example:

Player A plays and wins 3 sets (6-3, 6-4 and 6-2)...Player A has 18 total points

Player B plays and wins 3 sets (6-1, 6-1 and 6-1) Players B also has 18 total points

Therefore, I take the lowest points given up which would be player B.

Alot of "league play" tennis league's don't employ the strategy that I use, however I am upfront in my team, honest and don't lie to any member wishing to join.

On a regular spring team with a 2 singles - 3 doubles matches I will have 3 singles players and 8 doubles players on my team for a total of 11 players. All of my players are expected to be at every match (regardless of playing or not).

If you are the #4 Doubles team or the #3 singles player, then you must challenge and beat the #3 Doubles or the #2 singles player in a best of 3 sets match during the week.

I dont know if any of this makes sense to you, but this is how I do things and I have my players tell me they really respect me for it. We usually are very competitive in all league's.

tennis-n-sc
12-21-2006, 04:31 AM
CINDY -

You can try this, this is how I run my teams.

At the start of the season I get a total of 20 people together who express to having an "interest" in playing on my team.

While signups are still going on for other teams, I hold a mandatory practice in which everyone plays a round robin while I watch.

After the roundrobin, I total all the points won by every player....the players with the lowest scores are then removed from the team.

For example:

Player A plays and wins 3 sets (6-3, 6-4 and 6-2)...Player A has 18 total points

Player B plays and wins 3 sets (6-1, 6-1 and 6-1) Players B also has 18 total points

Therefore, I take the lowest points given up which would be player B.

Alot of "league play" tennis league's don't employ the strategy that I use, however I am upfront in my team, honest and don't lie to any member wishing to join.

On a regular spring team with a 2 singles - 3 doubles matches I will have 3 singles players and 8 doubles players on my team for a total of 11 players. All of my players are expected to be at every match (regardless of playing or not).

If you are the #4 Doubles team or the #3 singles player, then you must challenge and beat the #3 Doubles or the #2 singles player in a best of 3 sets match during the week.

I dont know if any of this makes sense to you, but this is how I do things and I have my players tell me they really respect me for it. We usually are very competitive in all league's.

What a great format for recreational tennis. This has to be a women's league. Men would never put up with this of do-do.;)

cghipp
12-21-2006, 04:46 AM
I was thinking the same thing (about recreational tennis). No way I would put up with that crap.

Out of curiosity, what NTRP level are you talking about?

Ace
12-21-2006, 04:47 AM
One thing you also might want to think about is that you are at a "beginning" 3.0 level. At this level, there will be people who increase their skills very rapidly, and there will be people who do not.
There may be people who do not look so good now who will pick up their skills quicker than anyone else on your team. Sometimes the people who look solid at a 3.0 level stay a 3.0 for years and years because they aren't trying to change their game.
I guess what I am getting at, is that, at this level, if you get too picky and exclusive, you may regret it.
This years "losers" may be high 3.0, 3.5, or even 4.0 level players in one or two years and they will remember you as the captain who didn't want them.
If you are one of the people who increase rapidly, that might not be so bad, but if you don't, you may just end up looking like a "schmuck".

Cindysphinx
12-21-2006, 04:52 AM
I don't do things the way you describe, but so long as you're honest about things up front, you'll attract people who like that method.

I keep a bigger squad. We're all busy women. No one can possibly commit to play all 12 of our matches. I don't require anyone to come to a match as an alternate. Instead, I designate an alternate, whose job it is to hold the date open in case another player needs to cancel. So far, this has kept us from defaulting a match. If someone gets stuck in traffic or has some other last-minute problem, we have no back-up, though. My players appreciate not having to waste hours of their time serving as alternates for a recreational league.

Let's see. What else do we do that's a bit different?

On the try-outs, we didn't keep score. My co-captain and I just watched. It wasn't hard to tell who had good strokes, who was athletic, who couldn't volley.

We don't pick one day for try-outs, again a nod to the busy schedules of prospective players. We do a try-out whenever the prospect has time. I don't focus on whether she is the weakest player on the court; this is expected since I use my strongest players in try-outs. Again, I just observe her strokes and movement.

So I guess our team would be considered "TriCitiesTennis-Lite." :D

Thanks, TCT!

Cindysphinx
12-21-2006, 04:54 AM
One thing you also might want to think about is that you are at a "beginning" 3.0 level. At this level, there will be people who increase their skills very rapidly, and there will be people who do not.
There may be people who do not look so good now who will pick up their skills quicker than anyone else on your team. Sometimes the people who look solid at a 3.0 level stay a 3.0 for years and years because they aren't trying to change their game.
I guess what I am getting at, is that, at this level, if you get too picky and exclusive, you may regret it.
This years "losers" may be high 3.0, 3.5, or even 4.0 level players in one or two years and they will remember you as the captain who didn't want them.
If you are one of the people who increase rapidly, that might not be so bad, but if you don't, you may just end up looking like a "schmuck".

That's a good point, Ace. Personally, if the choice is between a player who has played five years at 3.0 and a person who just started last year at 2.5 and moved to 3.0, I might have a slight bias toward the latter on the theory that they have potential to improve. This is especially so if the less seasoned player is more athletic.

Supernatural_Serve
12-21-2006, 05:00 AM
This is especially so if the less seasoned player is more athletic.Being match tough shouldn't be discounted. USTA seasons, as you know are short, there are only so many matches, so you want people who can play and win matches. So, I would go with match experience also as an important factor. Some folks regadless of level hit a ball well, but can't reproduce it during a match because they lack match experience, awareness, judgment, and toughness.

Cindysphinx
12-21-2006, 05:55 AM
Amen to that, SS. I have a new, wonderfully athletic player. She's better than I am, and she only started in June 2006 taking a weekly drill class. Played a lot of sports in high school and college.

Despite how well she plays in practice, I'll start her on court 3 with a veteran player, for exactly the reason you describe.

Geezer Guy
12-21-2006, 08:32 AM
Well, as a player I've played for captains who just seemed to throw out whoever was available on whatever court, with no seeming rhyme or reason.

I've had other captains that I could tell put some thought into the line-up's and court positioning.

I would MUCH rather play for the latter.

slewisoh
12-21-2006, 08:37 AM
Hi Cindy. We also field 3 courts of dbls and 2 singles. Every team I have played on has 2-3 singles players and maybe one person who has the skills to play both singles and doubles.

Odds are that a doubles specialist will not be terribly successful at singles without working on the skills and strategies that are specific to singles. If a player is reasonably athletic, has a consistent serve and reliable groundstrokes, then they can probably apply a few singles strategies and be successful.

Perhaps you can put together a few drills in which the pros work specifically on singles strategies. Things involving lateral baseline movement, approach shots, court coverage, etc. You and your team mates might be surprised who emerges as potential singles players.

You also might be able to form an informal singles ladder within your team to give people an opportunity to try singles. You don't have to play sets. You can perhaps have a few courts of singles and have each court play 6-8 games then switch.

It has always been most difficult for us to field singles courts, so it is in your best interest to encourage as many folks as possible to at least try singles.

Hoss
12-21-2006, 11:30 AM
Well, as a player I've played for captains who just seemed to throw out whoever was available on whatever court, with no seeming rhyme or reason.

I've had other captains that I could tell put some thought into the line-up's and court positioning.

I would MUCH rather play for the latter.

Geezer, I'm sure there is a happy medium between just throwing out people willy nilly, and TriCities totalitarian regime. I think that's where most of us team captains try to live.

Regards,

cghipp
12-21-2006, 11:37 AM
I've had a couple of seasons recently where I never played with the same partner more than twice, if that. Makes for pretty bad tennis if you don't know your partner's game. I agree, there is a happy medium.

North
12-23-2006, 11:24 AM
I played one season of USTA league tennis (zero fun - I quit due to the widespread sandbagging but that belongs in your bad league experiences thread) and exclusively played singles. The team captain was thrilled that I only wanted to play singles (no doubles) as no one else wanted to play singles at all and had to be drafted to take their turns at singles. They also did not particularly want to practice singles, had to be drafted to take turns practicing singles with me, and the practice was not that helpful.

When we would play matches it was clear which opponents were primarily singles players and which were doubles players doing their stint at singles (I would ask the opponents after we played). Unsurprisingly, the singles specialists were invariably better at singles than the doubles players. So, if you can get singles specialists, I think that's a good idea. Just my experience.

Good luck with your team!