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Cindysphinx
03-12-2007, 09:59 AM
This isn't really a pointed question; it's just another thing to help me procrastinate.

I was talking to my sister yesterday. She captained a 2.5 team for one year and captained a 3.0 team for maybe 3-4 years. Each of her teams went to districts each year. The team was quite dominant; it wasn't unusual for them to finish undefeated. They never won state though, getting knocked out each year.

I was asking her what it was like to win like that, since I've never come close.

Her answer suprised me. She said that if she had it to do all over again, she wouldn't be quite so focused on winning. For instance, each year the bottom couple of players wouldn't be invited to return because they were the weakest and none of the better players wanted to play with them. Everyone wanted to win, and no one wanted to be the last to make it to 3.5.

Also, my sister didn't guarantee equal playing time, which caused stress over who would and would not get to play. Weak players were benched completely for districts.

Thinking back on it, she wouldn't do these things, she says. Away from tennis and no longer being caught up in the moment, she doesn't see the point of all the winning. Feelings were hurt, people were disappointed, and for what? A piece of plastic? A paper certificate? A handshake from the league coordinator? An utterly meaningless team title?

For those who are on more the competitive/successful teams, what makes it worth it? Is it really more rewarding to finish 11-1 and go to districts as opposed to finishing 6-6 and going on vacation in July instead?

raiden031
03-12-2007, 10:18 AM
My team is 4-3 right now, but probably would be 6-1 if we played our best players in certain lineups during certain matches. We have both really good and bad players. My captain's policy of playing everyone equally has certainly hurt our team's record, but I'm sure my captain sleeps better at night.

The only way I would approve of the other team strategy would be if every player knows what your policy is BEFORE committing to join your team. That way they might only join if they are a strong player, or are also on other teams and just needed as a sub on your team.

To me, NTRP team competition means nothing because skill divisions are completely arbitrary, and there's nothing you can do to ensure victory other than recruiting players that you are certain are above level and predicting the actions of the computer rating system to keep your players from getting disqualified. In other words you have to cheat to win.

chaz_233
03-12-2007, 10:23 AM
Depends on how civilized people are. For some it's about destroying the weak and eating their corpses. For others it's more about human relationships, about having a lasting fun that goes beyond the short-lived egotrip of seeing the enemy die right in front of you.

Cindysphinx
03-12-2007, 10:49 AM
My team is 4-3 right now, but probably would be 6-1 if we played our best players in certain lineups during certain matches. We have both really good and bad players. My captain's policy of playing everyone equally has certainly hurt our team's record, but I'm sure my captain sleeps better at night.

The only way I would approve of the other team strategy would be if every player knows what your policy is BEFORE committing to join your team. That way they might only join if they are a strong player, or are also on other teams and just needed as a sub on your team.

To me, NTRP team competition means nothing because skill divisions are completely arbitrary, and there's nothing you can do to ensure victory other than recruiting players that you are certain are above level and predicting the actions of the computer rating system to keep your players from getting disqualified. In other words you have to cheat to win.

Raiden, say you had it to do all over again knowing what you know now.

Would you want to be on the type of team you are on now, or would you want the team that plays the best players and therefore wins?

I was talking to my mixed 7.0 captain yesterday. Nice guy, good 3.5, six-and-a-half feet tall, athletic. The kind of new player 3.5 teams slobber over. He's getting heavily recruited for the spring, and he's struggling with these issues. One team that wants him was in the hunt for nationals last season, always wins the division, plays the strongest players available, and practices two weeknight evenings a week. My captain said he isn't sure whether it is worth it.

Again, I have no point, really. Just still procrastinating.

raiden031
03-12-2007, 11:01 AM
Raiden, say you had it to do all over again knowing what you know now.

Would you want to be on the type of team you are on now, or would you want the team that plays the best players and therefore wins?

I was talking to my mixed 7.0 captain yesterday. Nice guy, good 3.5, six-and-a-half feet tall, athletic. The kind of new player 3.5 teams slobber over. He's getting heavily recruited for the spring, and he's struggling with these issues. One team that wants him was in the hunt for nationals last season, always wins the division, plays the strongest players available, and practices two weeknight evenings a week. My captain said he isn't sure whether it is worth it.

Again, I have no point, really. Just still procrastinating.

I would rather be on a team that plays everyone equally, because it guarantees I myself will get a decent amount of playing time. Otherwise what happens if I choke in a few matches, I could get yanked from the lineup.

Also I have no interest in going to Nationals because I probably won't have the time or money to fly across the country for it. And I'm much more interested in my individual record than my team record. I have no control over what happens in the courts next to me, and nobody else has control over what happens in my court. The only thing I care about would be my doubles partner, if I'm playing doubles. Since this person is part of my match, I would want a strong player beside me.

Bottom line, if I was playing a team sport where everyone plays together, I would care more that the best players are in the game with me. But since tennis is a bunch of individual matches combined to form a team effort, I am mainly concerned about my own match (and my doubles partner). Not to say I'm not excited if my team gets the win, but its just not a big concern for me.

tennis-n-sc
03-12-2007, 11:47 AM
Cindy, you persist in bringing up these issues as if you are deeply involved in some kind of inner struggle between right and wrong or the forces of good and evil. It is just recreational league tennis, no matter what level you are playing. Do you think your life will somehow be enhanced with a 3.5 rating? You are likley to the only one that cares. If you ask me, your sister has learned a very important lesson in life and I aplaude her. Winning is nice but not at any cost. You'll get a lot of arguments against this, stating winning is the only reason to play. These people haven't learned what your sister has and probably never will At some point, all of us become one of the two weakest players on the roster and with every roster, there are always weaker players in relation to the stronger players. To me, league tennis has always been about the bonding of human beings, of the stronger players helping the weaker players to improve, of learning something new about someone and forging friendships that will last longer than my concern for my NTRP rating. I really like Raiden and Chaz's responses because they ring true. But you have to decide for yourself which road you want to travel and get on with the journey. In the end, tennis will still be a game. I hope you get more out it than a rating.

raiden031
03-12-2007, 12:00 PM
I just thought of some more stuff to share. Cindy, what are your goals in playing tennis? That should help direct you.

For instance, my primary goal is basically to retain and even gain more physical fitness to stay healthy as I get older. Plus I want to remain competitive athlete because I have always had so much fun doing so throughout my youth. Tennis just happens to be the best outlet for me to reach these goals. My tennis goal is to become a top contender in regional or state-wide tournaments in singles, but maybe even doubles play as well. League tennis is just a way for me to have fun and gain experience to help improve my game. I realized that worrying about my computer rating is not doing me any good because whether I am considered a 3.0 or 3.5 doesn't put me any closer to my goal. So as long as I'm playing at a level that provides challenging matches, I am on a path to improve. As long as 3.0 players are capable of beating me, then I will play at 3.0. I'd rather be a strong 3.0 and get more playing time than be a weak 3.5 and get no playing time. There's plenty of time in practice matches to play 3.5+ players, but I also need to ensure I'm getting alot of USTA matches under my belt because thats where you feel the match pressure needed to develop your mental game.

Thats why I don't care about my team's record. It doesn't have much effect on my ultimate goal.

magmasilk
03-12-2007, 12:00 PM
in NOVA i haven't seen much sandbagging in 3.0 or 3.5 leagues. i have seen recruiting of "top" talent to form an "all-star" team and personnally i don't get it ... what's the point of building an "all-star" 3.0 team? its practically an oxymoron for lower levels. but at any level, for me, losing competitive matches is better than winning blowouts since the point of the league is competiton and not $$$.

d

cak
03-12-2007, 12:02 PM
I admit it, I like team sports. I like cheering for my team even if I'm sitting on the bench. I like showing up in the team picture. I like having the drinks and snacks afterwards, that extend til late in the evening. Tennis, in general, is not a team sport. But then they make these leagues that make it into a team sport. Cool. I have been on teams where winning doesn't matter, and everyone plays evenly. It's more like organized practice tennis, or setting up games with people you don't know. It's a way to get more tennis in, but it's not a team sport. I've been on teams that are going for the win (though realisticly, there is no chance at Nationals). In tennis I haven't yet been one of the bench sitters, unless I'm injured. But I'm sure I will be someday. I enjoy playing in front of the fans, and being a fan if I'm on injured reserve. I love the team bonding that comes from traveling to districts or sectionals. I can set up games myself. I just love the team thing. And I haven't seen the real team comradery unless we are going for the win.

Cindysphinx
03-12-2007, 12:22 PM
Cindy, you persist in bringing up these issues as if you are deeply involved in some kind of inner struggle between right and wrong or the forces of good and evil.


Hey! Whoa there!

I "persist" in bringing up "these issues" because I think they're interesting and potentially thought-provoking. Nothing more, nothing less. We have some interesting, thoughtful people here, so I figured I'd knock these issues around with them. Please believe me when I say you're reading *way* too much into my opening post if you're seeing signs of some inner struggle that might tip the balance between good and evil. I mostly just don't feel like running the vacuum.

I suppose I could try to keep things a bit more boring and mundane if my posts are getting to you. . . .

tennis-n-sc
03-12-2007, 12:42 PM
Hey! Whoa there!

I "persist" in bringing up "these issues" because I think they're interesting and potentially thought-provoking. Nothing more, nothing less. We have some interesting, thoughtful people here, so I figured I'd knock these issues around with them. Please believe me when I say you're reading *way* too much into my opening post if you're seeing signs of some inner struggle that might tip the balance between good and evil. I mostly just don't feel like running the vacuum.

I suppose I could try to keep things a bit more boring and mundane if my posts are getting to you. . . .

Oh, contraire. I find them thought provoking but usually centered along a persistent theme. Please continue to be the general manager of your universe. I still contend that your sister has learned something very important that has so far eluded you. And when you post something soliciting comments, take them all, girl, with a bit of a grain of salt or what ever seasoning you need to ignore them.

Cindysphinx
03-12-2007, 01:26 PM
Oh, contraire. I find them thought provoking but usually centered along a persistent theme. Please continue to be the general manager of your universe. I still contend that your sister has learned something very important that has so far eluded you. And when you post something soliciting comments, take them all, girl, with a bit of a grain of salt or what ever seasoning you need to ignore them.

OK, I will.

But I gotta tell ya, I do wonder why you seem to think my sister has learned something I haven't, as you put it, given that I run my team as the polar opposite of how she ran hers. Surely you know this from my previous posts? If not, I guess I could go over our team policies and goals for your benefit, but even I don't feel like procrastinating *that* much.

Anyway, please feel free to ignore my posts with their "persistent themes," as I can see why you'd find them quite tiresome and annoying by now. I'll miss your "comments," but I'll manage somehow.

Take care, my friend.

tennis-n-sc
03-12-2007, 01:34 PM
OK, I will.

But I gotta tell ya, I do wonder why you seem to think my sister has learned something I haven't, as you put it, given that I run my team as the polar opposite of how she ran hers. Surely you know this from my previous posts? If not, I guess I could go over our team policies and goals for your benefit, but even I don't feel like procrastinating *that* much.

Anyway, please feel free to ignore my posts with their "persistent themes," as I can see why you'd find them quite tiresome and annoying by now. I'll miss your "comments," but I'll manage somehow.

Take care, my friend.

Cindy, please let me continue to comment. And I am familiar with your team guidelines and how you run your team and what you do with your team members. And none of that is important to me but it is interesting to comment on. All your posts make me think about how I have captained teams in the past and how it has all changed over the years. But, if you can keep your team together and all of you improve together you will win together and still be friends without all the drama of human sacrafices. It can be done. I like what cak said about the bonding. We did manage to win state and come in second at sectionals. The team bonding was unbelieveable. It took about 5 years for all that to happen. We never cut one person and managed to get everyone equal playing time, even at state and sectionals. So, it can be done.

And you are not going to get rid of me that easily.;)

atatu
03-12-2007, 01:35 PM
Well, anyway back to the question....I've been captaining a long time and some of the guys on my team have been playing with me for over 10 years. I've had both winning and losing team and I have to say that the best times that i've had by far are when we're winning. After you've won the tough match against your rivals to clinch the trip to sectionals and you go out for a drink, - that's the best. Having said that, you obviously have to respect all your players, including the ones who you don't keep. I can think of only one guy who dislikes me because I didn't pick him up the next year. Nothing I can do about that. This year it looks like my team will not be going to sectionals as there is another team that put together an "all star" team, but I'm sure we'll still have fun.

Cruzer
03-12-2007, 02:00 PM
Once you have been to the district or sectional playoffs a few times the novelty wears off. If you decide to play to win every match with the intention of getting deep into the playoffs there are some people who are going to get ticked off. No matter what you tell people that you are going to play to win and no one is guaranteed to play any matches there will always be some players that will be angry. It always surprises me how many people think USTA league tennis is just an organized social event where you play a little tennis and then sit around with your opponents and have refreshments. Depending on where you play you need to realistically assess whether or not you have any chance to win your league and move on from there. I belong to a private club and only club member can play on the USTA teams so we are limited on who can be recruited to play. Our mens league starts in 2 weeks and the captains of at least 3 out of the 15 teams are recruiting the best players they can find from anywhere to play on their teams. They all play out of public parks and so they can recruit whomever they want. Our captain thinks we have a good chance to win the league and go on but he is a little dilusional.
Winning certainly is fun and the atmosphere at the district and beyond playoffs is certainly more intense than a typical USTA league match. Since USTA league tennis is competitive tennis I see nothing wrong with playing to win. Those that write we should just be happy we can be playing tennis have probably been playing competitive tennis for many years and they don't have the win-at-all-costs attitude that many other players have anymore. If some people don't like the competitive nature of USTA league tennis then don't play. Stick with your social tennis.

tennismike33
03-12-2007, 03:07 PM
If you are playing, do you play to lose? Now there is a thought provoking question for you to ponder.

I don't think there are too many people here who would answer that they play to lose, IMO people who play individual sports lean towards the competitive side that says, "I like winnig for myself."

A poster earlier said he could only control what happens on his/her court, that is so true, but at the end of the day if your team loses and you win do you go away satisfied?

I played 3-4 years of USTA, played mostly singles and cared VERY much about my piece of the pie as well as my team. I cheered for them, even while I was on my court, do you do that? If you do, then encouraging them would imply to me that you do care about what happens on their court.

Winning: Is it worth it, that is the question.

Winning is about getting up at 5am, getting to the gym for the past 3 years by 6am and hitting ball after ball with people. Getting in contact with people on the weekend, playing upwards of 4-6 hours a day.

IMO winning is the payoff for all of my individual work and a way to measure how far my game has evolved. Even in losing a match I found ways of winning. I won a few battles over a person who dominates me.

Winning at any cost is not what I am about. I don't purposely cheat, sure I miss a line call now and again, EVERYONE does. I will not hook a person just to gain an advantage, as a matter of fact I play a lot of out balls I have been told. I focus on hitting the ball, not where it lands.

USTA is all about winning and losing, that is WHY they keep score. USTA promotes winning by sponsoring Sectional and National events.

Cindy, if you only want to play tennis and not focus on the keeping score go to workouts and hit with the ball machine(even there I keep score, how many balls did I miss today?). By forming a team the intent of playing USTA tennis is winning, if your team's intent is to just show up and play, do that, the other team will ask you to keep score though, becasue they may care about the winning and losing. Make an agreement with your team that you will forego the scoring for the sake of playing for the pure joy of playing.

One last point, in my business, if the intent was to just show up and NOT keep score the company that I work for would have far fewer investors than they presently have. I could foresee many lost jobs as winning here is judged on revenue stream.

max
03-12-2007, 03:30 PM
I haven't done this in a USTA context, but one winter league, I just played to have a good time. It was doubles. My overall record was okay, but nothing special. But I got bored. So next winter in doubles league, I tried my hardest, my durndest, to win each and every match. . . even when partnered with an apathetic partner.

It turned out (a) this made me a better player, more attentive to points and my form, and (b) made it more fun.

I think in all this it's important to realize this is in the end recreational stuff, not real-life stuff. All's you get is a certificate or a ****-metal medal.

I'd avoid the "kill or be killed" coach. This just doesn't draw out the best tennis from me, but just increases normal pressure, quashing my best. Much better to have a "let's try hard" coach.

max
03-12-2007, 03:31 PM
re: above asterisks---how is the word "s-l-a-g" a problem? I'm talking about junk metal mixed together.

10sfreak
03-12-2007, 04:36 PM
This isn't really a pointed question; it's just another thing to help me procrastinate.

I was talking to my sister yesterday. She captained a 2.5 team for one year and captained a 3.0 team for maybe 3-4 years. Each of her teams went to districts each year. The team was quite dominant; it wasn't unusual for them to finish undefeated. They never won state though, getting knocked out each year.

I was asking her what it was like to win like that, since I've never come close.

Her answer suprised me. She said that if she had it to do all over again, she wouldn't be quite so focused on winning. For instance, each year the bottom couple of players wouldn't be invited to return because they were the weakest and none of the better players wanted to play with them. Everyone wanted to win, and no one wanted to be the last to make it to 3.5.

Also, my sister didn't guarantee equal playing time, which caused stress over who would and would not get to play. Weak players were benched completely for districts.

Thinking back on it, she wouldn't do these things, she says. Away from tennis and no longer being caught up in the moment, she doesn't see the point of all the winning. Feelings were hurt, people were disappointed, and for what? A piece of plastic? A paper certificate? A handshake from the league coordinator? An utterly meaningless team title?

For those who are on more the competitive/successful teams, what makes it worth it? Is it really more rewarding to finish 11-1 and go to districts as opposed to finishing 6-6 and going on vacation in July instead?
Your sister sounds alot like some of the women players around here. I've been captaining a 6.0 mixed-doubles team for a couple of years now, and I've always strived to get everyone equal playing time, and we've got a couple of REALLY weak female players. And as captain, I've scheduled myself to play with them more often than not, rather than pawning them off on the other guys on the team. Several guys have quit the team and joined others in order to win, knowing that there's no way our team is ever gonna win with those two girls on it. But, we DID win our division this time, and we'll be going to state in August. Disclaimer: Ok, so we had to wait 'till most of the good players got bumped up and no longer compete in our league to win our division, but we finally made it!
Which kinda leads me to a dilemma: Two of our best girls have gotten bumped up to 3.5, and since we can't find any 2.5 guys to play with them, I'm going to need to replace those girls, and I've had several girls tell me they want to play on my team. Fine so far. But, even if we happen to win our upcoming division again, there's no way the new girls are going to go to state. Why? 'Cause I can only take one team, and I'm definitely taking the "old" version of my team, the one I've nursed for a couple of years to finally win the division (which will include the two girls who've gotten bumped up). My question is: do I even "accept" the new girls on my team, knowing they'll have a better chance of going to state if they're on a different team (mind you, I WILL, of course, tell them of my intention up front!) Don't y'all think it would kind of such if we happen to win our division again, but since I can only take one team, then the new girls won't get to reap the rewards of their efforts?

10sfreak
03-12-2007, 04:40 PM
Cindy, you persist in bringing up these issues as if you are deeply involved in some kind of inner struggle between right and wrong or the forces of good and evil. It is just recreational league tennis, no matter what level you are playing. Do you think your life will somehow be enhanced with a 3.5 rating? You are likley to the only one that cares. If you ask me, your sister has learned a very important lesson in life and I aplaude her. Winning is nice but not at any cost. You'll get a lot of arguments against this, stating winning is the only reason to play. These people haven't learned what your sister has and probably never will At some point, all of us become one of the two weakest players on the roster and with every roster, there are always weaker players in relation to the stronger players. To me, league tennis has always been about the bonding of human beings, of the stronger players helping the weaker players to improve, of learning something new about someone and forging friendships that will last longer than my concern for my NTRP rating. I really like Raiden and Chaz's responses because they ring true. But you have to decide for yourself which road you want to travel and get on with the journey. In the end, tennis will still be a game. I hope you get more out it than a rating.
Very well written tennis! And I agree completely!

vinouspleasure
03-12-2007, 08:09 PM
I grew up playing competitive sports and the drive to win was ingrained. As I got older, I came to realize that the outcome of a tennis match was not as important as the journey. Here's what I look for in a tennis match now:

- Fun for both me and my opponent
- Good sportmanship. I find if I'm a good sport and set the tone early, my opponent will follow suit.
- Leaving it all on the courts. Going for my strokes/shots as the opportunity presents itself.
- Competition: Its no fun to beat an opponent 0 and 0. Or get beat 0 and 0.
- Comraderie: beer and talk after the match with my opponent(s)

I still play to win, but I'm not disappointed with losing if I can walk off the court meeting the goals above.

As for Cindi's sister, I believe she's right though it can be hard to manage a team with different goals. In the end, its not about winning and going to the states, its about the fun we have playing and the on and off court relationships.

spiderman123
03-13-2007, 08:29 AM
This isn't really a pointed question; it's just another thing to help me procrastinate.



Out of curiosity, since you mentioned it three times :): what are you procrastinating?

Cindysphinx
03-13-2007, 09:24 AM
Yard work, housework, bill paying. Just the usual crap . . .

raiden031
03-13-2007, 09:33 AM
Out of curiosity, since you mentioned it three times :): what are you procrastinating?

Haha, I thought it was weird that she kept using the word procrastinate. I actually thought she might've mistook it for another word, but it looks like she did intend to use that word.

Cindysphinx
03-13-2007, 09:50 AM
:sigh: Yeah, I meant procrastinate. I have to take the dog to the vet in one hour. I could use that time productively to go out into the yard and pick up sticks and tidy up, I suppose.

Nah, I think I'll hang out on the computer. :)

ATXtennisaddict
03-13-2007, 11:27 AM
I agree that winning is not everything in league tennis. It's better to distribute playing time fairly equally. Maybe a bit more to the better players but the lesser-skilled ones should also be allowed to play.

But i must admit, for a 4.0 player to double with a 3.0 or 2.5 player is frustrating. It's best to pair up similarly skilled players.

My friend who's captaining our league team often tries to pair up a 4.0 with a 3.5 or 3.0. He believes this gives the team a better chance of getting sets. I don't agree with it.

jimmycoop
03-13-2007, 11:32 AM
Some related thoughts, mine and others:

(1) It's just a game but if you don't care about winning why do we keep score? (a variation on Vince Lombardi's famous line, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?")

(2) Winning is more fun than losing.

(3) Playing and losing is more fun than not playing.

(4) "If you're not going to play to win, you might as well hold the Olympics in someone's back yard." Jesse Owens

Cindy, it is a tight rope to walk but I think we can try to win while holding on to the important human relationship factors that you obviously value, as I do.

skiracer55
03-13-2007, 11:38 AM
...about either NTRP or League tennis. I'm 58 and I play exclusively Men's 45, Men's 50, or Men's Open. I like it because it's great tennis, fiercely competitive, but very...comradely, is about the only way to describe it. All of my tournament matches are for real, but they're also fun, and the match and its results stay on the court...I really can't describe it.

I wouldn't play NTRP or leagues if you paid me. I've seen some good stuff, but I've also seen some stuff that reminds me of everything that's wrong with junior tennis and stuff like Little League Baseball. I played on my high school tennis team, and I've trained with the coaches and hit with the players on my local college team, which I support. I think the difference is that there, the objective is right out in the open, and everybody on those teams knows what the game is: the best players play, and they play to win.

The odd thing is, the players who don't get to play are the biggest fans and supporters, and they are definitely on the team. At the last match of the season, we recognized a guy on this college team, a senior who was a walk-on and never played a match, but came to every practice and did whatever it took to help the team along...and he got the biggest ovation of any of the graduating seniors, and deservedly so...

raiden031
03-13-2007, 11:46 AM
...about either NTRP or League tennis. I'm 58 and I play exclusively Men's 45, Men's 50, or Men's Open. I like it because it's great tennis, fiercely competitive, but very...comradely, is about the only way to describe it. All of my tournament matches are for real, but they're also fun, and the match and its results stay on the court...I really can't describe it.

I wouldn't play NTRP or leagues if you paid me. I've seen some good stuff, but I've also seen some stuff that reminds me of everything that's wrong with junior tennis and stuff like Little League Baseball. I played on my high school tennis team, and I've trained with the coaches and hit with the players on my local college team, which I support. I think the difference is that there, the objective is right out in the open, and everybody on those teams knows what the game is: the best players play, and they play to win.


The problem with age brackets is that you have to be extremely good to even be competitive. I'm sure everyone playing Men's 45 tournaments are probably 4.5+ players. So the whole reason for NTRP play is for the developing players.


The odd thing is, the players who don't get to play are the biggest fans and supporters, and they are definitely on the team. At the last match of the season, we recognized a guy on this college team, a senior who was a walk-on and never played a match, but came to every practice and did whatever it took to help the team along...and he got the biggest ovation of any of the graduating seniors, and deservedly so...

I think it really depends on the player. When I was a freshman in high school, I signed up for football for my first year, and sat the bench the whole season. I was ****ed and came very close to quitting or not coming back the next year. Maybe its because I knew I had potential to be a solid starting player, and was just frustrated that I couldn't play well starting out. I was right because by my senior year I earned a couple first team honors in the local newspapers for defense.

But I guess some people come to terms with the fact that they will never be a good player and are content with sitting out and watching, but thats definitely not me.

raiden031
03-13-2007, 11:50 AM
Some related thoughts, mine and others:

(1) It's just a game but if you don't care about winning why do we keep score? (a variation on Vince Lombardi's famous line, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?")

(2) Winning is more fun than losing.

(3) Playing and losing is more fun than not playing.

(4) "If you're not going to play to win, you might as well hold the Olympics in someone's back yard." Jesse Owens

Cindy, it is a tight rope to walk but I think we can try to win while holding on to the important human relationship factors that you obviously value, as I do.

Everyone playing tennis wants to win, but the question is how far does one go to win? At one point are you going too far? I think in NTRP league tennis, where people are playing as low as 2.5-3.5, the emphasis should be on helping everyone to improve (which is not possible if you completely bench your weak players). I think when you're playing high level tennis, winning should be emphasized more.

Cindysphinx
03-13-2007, 12:02 PM
I don't think I could ride the bench. I never played any competitive sport besides league tennis, so I've never experienced being second string.

My kids swim, and the older they get the less willing they are to ride the bench. They want at least one race in the meet.

goober
03-13-2007, 12:02 PM
Some related thoughts, mine and others:

(1) It's just a game but if you don't care about winning why do we keep score? (a variation on Vince Lombardi's famous line, "If winning isn't everything, why do they keep score?")

(2) Winning is more fun than losing.

(3) Playing and losing is more fun than not playing.

(4) "If you're not going to play to win, you might as well hold the Olympics in someone's back yard." Jesse Owens

Cindy, it is a tight rope to walk but I think we can try to win while holding on to the important human relationship factors that you obviously value, as I do.

Playing to win is fine. I have a problem when people:

1) Have self rated players playing below their level.
2) Purposely lose matches or keep matches close to keep their ratings down.
3) Hide their best players in #3 doubles to protect their rating and when sectionals come around suddenly they are playing #1 singles.

There are many teams which do this I have no respect for them.

cak
03-13-2007, 03:27 PM
I don't think I could ride the bench. I never played any competitive sport besides league tennis, so I've never experienced being second string.

I see this a ton in adult leagues of all sorts. People who never played competitve sports when they were young. They never learned to win and lose gracefully. They never learned the thrill of being a part of the team, even if they aren't first string. Unfortunately, in most adult leagues, there are no coaches and the captains really hit and miss on imparting this stuff. So here these players are, stumbling around trying to understand team dynamic on their own. Some do fine. On the other hand, I've seen a grown woman haul off and slug some one in, of all things, intertube water polo. (Talk about a sport that is hard to take seriously...) It was a corporate league, and it almost cost her job.

So, for those captains who are really pushing the team experience. Emphasize practice, and if you have them, clinics. Even the weakest players are needed for practice. (And this is where the improving comes in. They don't need to play better players on other teams, better players on your own team will do.) Bring in extra players to warm up the team for a match. Have them wear the uniform. Nothing is more intimidating than showing up for a match with a swarm of people looking like they are ready to play. In those team emails, mention not only the players who played (and no, you don't need to point out who lost) but mentioned those that warmed up folks, and those that stayed and cheered, and those that acted as court monitors in case of line call disputes. Don't forget those that watched the kids of the players on the court, or those that brought the good wine. Take a team picture, and put it up on the club board. And most importantly, don't forget the end of the year party. Invite the whole team, and their spouses that put up with them for the season. If you are really into it you can give team awards.

And, most importantly, make sure you find a sport you child will enjoy, and can learn from a coach that understands good sportmanship and teamwork.

tennis-n-sc
03-13-2007, 04:07 PM
I see this a ton in adult leagues of all sorts. People who never played competitve sports when they were young. They never learned to win and lose gracefully. They never learned the thrill of being a part of the team, even if they aren't first string. Unfortunately, in most adult leagues, there are no coaches and the captains really hit and miss on imparting this stuff. So here these players are, stumbling around trying to understand team dynamic on their own. Some do fine. On the other hand, I've seen a grown woman haul off and slug some one in, of all things, intertube water polo. (Talk about a sport that is hard to take seriously...) It was a corporate league, and it almost cost her job.

So, for those captains who are really pushing the team experience. Emphasize practice, and if you have them, clinics. Even the weakest players are needed for practice. (And this is where the improving comes in. They don't need to play better players on other teams, better players on your own team will do.) Bring in extra players to warm up the team for a match. Have them wear the uniform. Nothing is more intimidating than showing up for a match with a swarm of people looking like they are ready to play. In those team emails, mention not only the players who played (and no, you don't need to point out who lost) but mentioned those that warmed up folks, and those that stayed and cheered, and those that acted as court monitors in case of line call disputes. Don't forget those that watched the kids of the players on the court, or those that brought the good wine. Take a team picture, and put it up on the club board. And most importantly, don't forget the end of the year party. Invite the whole team, and their spouses that put up with them for the season. If you are really into it you can give team awards.

And, most importantly, make sure you find a sport you child will enjoy, and can learn from a coach that understands good sportmanship and teamwork.

cak, what a nice post. Thank you.

skiracer55
03-14-2007, 11:05 AM
cak, what a nice post. Thank you.

...great post. This is definitely the way to go. In my post about college tennis, I talked about a bench-warmer who was a real valuable guy, but as I said, he knew the score going in. The USTA put together a noble experiment in NTRP and leagues to get people to come back to tennis after the Tennis Boom-Tennis Bust of the 70s. The emphasis was and is on fun, friendly competition where everybody gets in the game. I agree that for these leagues, if you end up being a bench-warmer, you're not likely to stay around, and you shouldn't, either. You especially should not be a bench-warmer because somebody decided that winning at all costs was the real objective.

I saw a 6.0 Sectional Mixed Doubles Final last year where Team B (the Bad Seed) put on a performance that would make Ilie Nastase blush. Bad line calls, questioning the other team's line calls, calling the ref's mother fat and ugly...you name it.

I almost went out at a changeover and said to The Bad Seed..."Wait a sec...lemme just hang on this for a minute. Are you actually telling me that you're willing to jump across the net and rip your opponents' lungs out just so you can take home a $7.95 plastic trophy that somebody bought at K-Mart? Boy, I wish I was your shrink, because I'm sure he or she is driving around in a brand new Ferrari..."

I left and went to a nearby pond to watch people throwing balls to their dogs. If you ever wind up watching a match like this, or, God forbid, playing for a bunch of these psychos, run, don't walk, to the nearest pond. I guarantee you it's a lot more satisfying than sitting on the bench at yet another presentation of the Theater of the Absurd...

travlerajm
03-14-2007, 11:28 AM
I think it's important when you captain a team that let people know when they are signing up what your priorities as a captain will be.

If you plan to play your strongest available players for every match, the weaker players need to know ahead of time, so there are no bitter feelings if they don't get a chance to play.

If you plan to give everyone a chance to play matches, the stronger players need to know ahead of time, so that there are no bitter feelings if your team misses out on sectionals because a weaker player was in the lineup at times.

jimmycoop
03-15-2007, 07:07 AM
travlerajam--you may have put your finger on the most important issue in all this winning-and-its-implications issue: communication. I have learned over many years as a captain to do exactly as you point out--let everybody know up front what the plan and priorities are, very specifically. For the most part it's worked for us. Well said.

Kaptain Karl
03-15-2007, 08:48 AM
I see this a ton in adult leagues of all sorts. People who never played competitve sports when they were young. They never learned to win and lose gracefully. They never learned the thrill of being a part of the team, even if they aren't first string. ... <snip>What a great attitude. And a good post, too. (The whole Post #33. I just didnt' quote it all.)

I'm a HS Tennis Coach -- and I ask the Parents & Players at the meeting which launces that new season if they want to be competitive at all costs ... or if they want to learn how to become a "team". And I explain that the former approach will bring a better "record" ... but it is frequently at the expense of seeing these kids "gel" into a Team.

If given the opportunity (and I usually am, since the Parents want to know my "philosophy of Coaching") I explain at the First Parents & Team meeting of each season that I am a Teacher at heart. I tell 'em what thrills me is:

... seeing a Dubs Team "click" and finally "get" the whole understanding that Dubs isn't just two Singles players on the same side of the net.

... helping a player learn point construction ... and see the fruit of his labors turn into better play.

... seeing a non-starting member of the Team grow as a player and realize he actually has a solid shot at being a Starter for next year's Team. I so appreciate it when these kids realize they, two are part of the Team.

... seeing a collection of individuals form a Team Bond ... where instead of horsing around with the cute girls who come to watch them play, they hurry over to a struggling teammate's court to urge him on to a happier conclusion (win or lose) to his match.

... the pride of witnessing sportsmanship in action. Tennis can help a boy experience ... being a good Winner / a gracious Loser / life isn't fair / some people are jerks / most tennis players are fine upstanding sportsmen / even your best efforts sometimes are not enough to reach "victory" / devoting yourself to a goal is a lot easier if you have teammates encouraging you along the way.

I'm getting preachy. Time to stop.

- KK

tennis-n-sc
03-15-2007, 10:05 AM
What a great attitude. And a good post, too. (The whole Post #33. I just didnt' quote it all.)

I'm a HS Tennis Coach -- and I ask the Parents & Players at the meeting which launces that new season if they want to be competitive at all costs ... or if they want to learn how to become a "team". And I explain that the former approach will bring a better "record" ... but it is frequently at the expense of seeing these kids "gel" into a Team.

If given the opportunity (and I usually am, since the Parents want to know my "philosophy of Coaching") I explain at the First Parents & Team meeting of each season that I am a Teacher at heart. I tell 'em what thrills me is:

... seeing a Dubs Team "click" and finally "get" the whole understanding that Dubs isn't just two Singles players on the same side of the net.

... helping a player learn point construction ... and see the fruit of his labors turn into better play.

... seeing a non-starting member of the Team grow as a player and realize he actually has a solid shot at being a Starter for next year's Team. I so appreciate it when these kids realize they, two are part of the Team.

... seeing a collection of individuals form a Team Bond ... where instead of horsing around with the cute girls who come to watch them play, they hurry over to a struggling teammate's court to urge him on to a happier conclusion (win or lose) to his match.

... the pride of witnessing sportsmanship in action. Tennis can help a boy experience ... being a good Winner / a gracious Loser / life isn't fair / some people are jerks / most tennis players are fine upstanding sportsmen / even your best efforts sometimes are not enough to reach "victory" / devoting yourself to a goal is a lot easier if you have teammates encouraging you along the way.

I'm getting preachy. Time to stop.

- KK

Naw, not preachy at all. I think the same thing applies to adult leagues as well, especially at the 2.5 - 3.5 level. Good post.

JHBKLYN
03-15-2007, 01:08 PM
I would say it's worth it. Why? Let me count the ways ...

5. None of us will ever play the pro tour and this is the next best thing for competition.

4. Nobody complains about playing time when the team is winning, the less complaints the better.

3. We rather feel the thrill of victory than the agony of defeat.

2. Most of the players in the league know each other and nobody complains of sandbagging.

And the number one reason: We're paying $35 a match, if we win, we get to play more matches for free, not to mention free drinks, granola bars and bananas!

It is fun winning but if our team didn't win, no biggie, our lives will go on and we'll get them next season. :)

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 02:37 PM
This isn't really a pointed question; it's just another thing to help me procrastinate.

I was talking to my sister yesterday. She captained a 2.5 team for one year and captained a 3.0 team for maybe 3-4 years. Each of her teams went to districts each year. The team was quite dominant; it wasn't unusual for them to finish undefeated. They never won state though, getting knocked out each year.

I was asking her what it was like to win like that, since I've never come close.

Her answer suprised me. She said that if she had it to do all over again, she wouldn't be quite so focused on winning. For instance, each year the bottom couple of players wouldn't be invited to return because they were the weakest and none of the better players wanted to play with them. Everyone wanted to win, and no one wanted to be the last to make it to 3.5.

Also, my sister didn't guarantee equal playing time, which caused stress over who would and would not get to play. Weak players were benched completely for districts.

Thinking back on it, she wouldn't do these things, she says. Away from tennis and no longer being caught up in the moment, she doesn't see the point of all the winning. Feelings were hurt, people were disappointed, and for what? A piece of plastic? A paper certificate? A handshake from the league coordinator? An utterly meaningless team title?

For those who are on more the competitive/successful teams, what makes it worth it? Is it really more rewarding to finish 11-1 and go to districts as opposed to finishing 6-6 and going on vacation in July instead?

Your sister has it nailed correctly.

In the long run, who remembers or even cares who went to Districts, who went to Nationals, who got the trophy?

But hurting people just for the sake of winning? Not worth it.

I'm in a similar situation right now. I'm about to step down as a captain of a team because players are refusing to play with weaker partners. I have always play with the weaker players, because I don't care if I win or lose. I'm out for fun, and meeting new people. But the politics has gotten bad as some players experience success.

I'm considering just going to tournaments so I can visit new places and meet new people while getting a good workout :)

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 02:42 PM
in NOVA i haven't seen much sandbagging in 3.0 or 3.5 leagues. i have seen recruiting of "top" talent to form an "all-star" team and personnally i don't get it ... what's the point of building an "all-star" 3.0 team? its practically an oxymoron for lower levels. but at any level, for me, losing competitive matches is better than winning blowouts since the point of the league is competiton and not $$$.

d

What's even worse is that these mercenary teams fall apart later because they weren't friends to begin with.

Some players like winning way too much, that they would sacrifice friends to achieve it. Strangely enough, that's exactly how they behave in real life. So if you work with these people, beware. It's only a matter of time before they put themselves above the well being of their fellow employees.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 02:47 PM
Well, anyway back to the question....I've been captaining a long time and some of the guys on my team have been playing with me for over 10 years. I've had both winning and losing team and I have to say that the best times that i've had by far are when we're winning. After you've won the tough match against your rivals to clinch the trip to sectionals and you go out for a drink, - that's the best. Having said that, you obviously have to respect all your players, including the ones who you don't keep. I can think of only one guy who dislikes me because I didn't pick him up the next year. Nothing I can do about that. This year it looks like my team will not be going to sectionals as there is another team that put together an "all star" team, but I'm sure we'll still have fun.

A core group of friends forms when even if you lose at a critical point, you go out for that drink (or food!) ;)

Anyway, I really like your attitude, especially since you got the same group of people with you.

For me, I dropped people off of my team whenever they began to put themselves above the team.

But this season, something has happened to the team members. They are no longer acting as a team, but more like mercenaries (with most of them being recruited by other teams). Funny ... when noone gave them a chance, I formed a team and had them on it. Now that people want them, they forget what it was like when noone wanted to play with them.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 02:51 PM
I grew up playing competitive sports and the drive to win was ingrained. As I got older, I came to realize that the outcome of a tennis match was not as important as the journey. Here's what I look for in a tennis match now:

- Fun for both me and my opponent
- Good sportmanship. I find if I'm a good sport and set the tone early, my opponent will follow suit.
- Leaving it all on the courts. Going for my strokes/shots as the opportunity presents itself.
- Competition: Its no fun to beat an opponent 0 and 0. Or get beat 0 and 0.
- Comraderie: beer and talk after the match with my opponent(s)

I still play to win, but I'm not disappointed with losing if I can walk off the court meeting the goals above.

As for Cindi's sister, I believe she's right though it can be hard to manage a team with different goals. In the end, its not about winning and going to the states, its about the fun we have playing and the on and off court relationships.

Nailed it right on the money! :)

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 02:53 PM
...about either NTRP or League tennis. I'm 58 and I play exclusively Men's 45, Men's 50, or Men's Open. I like it because it's great tennis, fiercely competitive, but very...comradely, is about the only way to describe it. All of my tournament matches are for real, but they're also fun, and the match and its results stay on the court...I really can't describe it.

I wouldn't play NTRP or leagues if you paid me. I've seen some good stuff, but I've also seen some stuff that reminds me of everything that's wrong with junior tennis and stuff like Little League Baseball. I played on my high school tennis team, and I've trained with the coaches and hit with the players on my local college team, which I support. I think the difference is that there, the objective is right out in the open, and everybody on those teams knows what the game is: the best players play, and they play to win.

The odd thing is, the players who don't get to play are the biggest fans and supporters, and they are definitely on the team. At the last match of the season, we recognized a guy on this college team, a senior who was a walk-on and never played a match, but came to every practice and did whatever it took to help the team along...and he got the biggest ovation of any of the graduating seniors, and deservedly so...


Great post :)

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 03:05 PM
I see this a ton in adult leagues of all sorts. People who never played competitve sports when they were young. They never learned to win and lose gracefully. They never learned the thrill of being a part of the team, even if they aren't first string. Unfortunately, in most adult leagues, there are no coaches and the captains really hit and miss on imparting this stuff. So here these players are, stumbling around trying to understand team dynamic on their own. Some do fine. On the other hand, I've seen a grown woman haul off and slug some one in, of all things, intertube water polo. (Talk about a sport that is hard to take seriously...) It was a corporate league, and it almost cost her job.

So, for those captains who are really pushing the team experience. Emphasize practice, and if you have them, clinics. Even the weakest players are needed for practice. (And this is where the improving comes in. They don't need to play better players on other teams, better players on your own team will do.) Bring in extra players to warm up the team for a match. Have them wear the uniform. Nothing is more intimidating than showing up for a match with a swarm of people looking like they are ready to play. In those team emails, mention not only the players who played (and no, you don't need to point out who lost) but mentioned those that warmed up folks, and those that stayed and cheered, and those that acted as court monitors in case of line call disputes. Don't forget those that watched the kids of the players on the court, or those that brought the good wine. Take a team picture, and put it up on the club board. And most importantly, don't forget the end of the year party. Invite the whole team, and their spouses that put up with them for the season. If you are really into it you can give team awards.

And, most importantly, make sure you find a sport you child will enjoy, and can learn from a coach that understands good sportmanship and teamwork.

Great post ... you put into words what I was thinking.

Many players in adult league didn't play as a junior, and were never really part of a team trying to achieve something (like being state champions as a team).

Someone wrote somewhere that 99% of the tennis players aren't going to be professionals. So why aren't they being taught how to have fun?

T
I think it really depends on the player. When I was a freshman in high school, I signed up for football for my first year, and sat the bench the whole season. I was ****ed and came very close to quitting or not coming back the next year. Maybe its because I knew I had potential to be a solid starting player, and was just frustrated that I couldn't play well starting out. I was right because by my senior year I earned a couple first team honors in the local newspapers for defense.

But I guess some people come to terms with the fact that they will never be a good player and are content with sitting out and watching, but thats definitely not me.

Raiden031, I'm glad you stuck with your football team. It is frustrating being benched when you know you have the potential. However, like everything in life, you have to earn your spot. And it is great that you had such belief in yourself.

I'm coaching high school tennis right now, and things are just not right. Players are not being taught by their parents that winning isn't everything, just the result of luck (being a good day for you, bad day for your opponent) as well as the result of hard work and doing the right things. They aren't being taught to try their best. Instead, the kids whine (why am I not first string?), the parents whine (why isn't my kid first string?). The parents sometimes throw money to replace spending time with the kids. The kids have learned to replace spiritual development with material development. They lack character.

Everyday, I have a freshman kid that's about 2.5 level come out and practice. Nobody wants to hit with him, so he does the drills and hits against the board. But still, he keeps coming to practice. He comes to cheer every match. I look at him, and I think, "I have a turtle." I'm really looking forward to seeing how much he's going to improve, and how he will mature and develop into an adult.

It's good you have the drive to improve, but remember, what we do is what we teach to the next generations to come.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 03:06 PM
I don't think I could ride the bench. I never played any competitive sport besides league tennis, so I've never experienced being second string.

My kids swim, and the older they get the less willing they are to ride the bench. They want at least one race in the meet.

My question is, being benched, does it drive them to improve? I sure hope so :)

Without growth (improvement), there is only stagnation and degradation.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 03:10 PM
...great post. This is definitely the way to go. In my post about college tennis, I talked about a bench-warmer who was a real valuable guy, but as I said, he knew the score going in. The USTA put together a noble experiment in NTRP and leagues to get people to come back to tennis after the Tennis Boom-Tennis Bust of the 70s. The emphasis was and is on fun, friendly competition where everybody gets in the game. I agree that for these leagues, if you end up being a bench-warmer, you're not likely to stay around, and you shouldn't, either. You especially should not be a bench-warmer because somebody decided that winning at all costs was the real objective.

I saw a 6.0 Sectional Mixed Doubles Final last year where Team B (the Bad Seed) put on a performance that would make Ilie Nastase blush. Bad line calls, questioning the other team's line calls, calling the ref's mother fat and ugly...you name it.

I almost went out at a changeover and said to The Bad Seed..."Wait a sec...lemme just hang on this for a minute. Are you actually telling me that you're willing to jump across the net and rip your opponents' lungs out just so you can take home a $7.95 plastic trophy that somebody bought at K-Mart? Boy, I wish I was your shrink, because I'm sure he or she is driving around in a brand new Ferrari..."

I left and went to a nearby pond to watch people throwing balls to their dogs. If you ever wind up watching a match like this, or, God forbid, playing for a bunch of these psychos, run, don't walk, to the nearest pond. I guarantee you it's a lot more satisfying than sitting on the bench at yet another presentation of the Theater of the Absurd...

LOL ... the exact same thing happened to my team this past weekend. The other team started to cheat, bully, make bad line calls, etc.

It left a real sour taste in my mouth that USTA tennis has fallen to a bunch of players that lack sportsmanship.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 03:13 PM
What a great attitude. And a good post, too. (The whole Post #33. I just didnt' quote it all.)

I'm a HS Tennis Coach -- and I ask the Parents & Players at the meeting which launces that new season if they want to be competitive at all costs ... or if they want to learn how to become a "team". And I explain that the former approach will bring a better "record" ... but it is frequently at the expense of seeing these kids "gel" into a Team.

If given the opportunity (and I usually am, since the Parents want to know my "philosophy of Coaching") I explain at the First Parents & Team meeting of each season that I am a Teacher at heart. I tell 'em what thrills me is:

... seeing a Dubs Team "click" and finally "get" the whole understanding that Dubs isn't just two Singles players on the same side of the net.

... helping a player learn point construction ... and see the fruit of his labors turn into better play.

... seeing a non-starting member of the Team grow as a player and realize he actually has a solid shot at being a Starter for next year's Team. I so appreciate it when these kids realize they, two are part of the Team.

... seeing a collection of individuals form a Team Bond ... where instead of horsing around with the cute girls who come to watch them play, they hurry over to a struggling teammate's court to urge him on to a happier conclusion (win or lose) to his match.

... the pride of witnessing sportsmanship in action. Tennis can help a boy experience ... being a good Winner / a gracious Loser / life isn't fair / some people are jerks / most tennis players are fine upstanding sportsmen / even your best efforts sometimes are not enough to reach "victory" / devoting yourself to a goal is a lot easier if you have teammates encouraging you along the way.

I'm getting preachy. Time to stop.

- KK

Excellent post :)

Raiden.Kaminari
03-16-2007, 03:18 PM
4. Nobody complains about playing time when the team is winning, the less complaints the better.

What I've found in the competitive teams were, if they were winning, the players would be complaining they weren't being played.

Every time players go out, they should be trying their best. Winning is a result of doing your best, plus a little luck (good day, bad day). That's why it feels good even when you lose if you tried your best.

If players didn't try their best, the match would be very boring indeed.

Can you image top pro tennis players that didn't bother returning serves, or serving double faults, just so they could collect their appearance fees? I would much rather watch lower ranked tennis players try their best than watch a lot of unforced errors.

Winning teams vs. friends? Friends win each and every time.

(Except this year, some of my friends really seem to have been abducted by aliens).

kevhen
03-20-2007, 10:11 AM
I am captain of a 4.0 team and my main goal was to get everyone at least 2 matches in our 6 meet season. We had to pick up some 3.5 players for away matches but they each now have a couple meets in. Otherwise I try to play the strongest players but rotate it so the guys who like to play singles get to at least once or twice. Loyalty is important to me too as I would rather play a loyal player who always shows up, instead of a guy who backs out or shows up late or is hard to get along with. It is about making friendships within your team and even with the opposing team. Winning is fun too but good competition with no gamesmanship is just as much fun. Play your stronger players more but still let your weaker players get some experience and be a part of the team.

skiracer55
03-21-2007, 03:11 PM
...what we're all forgetting is that tennis is essentially an individual sport that, fortunately or unfortunately, gets turned into a team sport some times. If you want your kids to play tennis, let 'em play tennis, with the accent on "play". I learned to play and learned to love the sport hitting balls with anybody who wanted to hit balls on the public parks in upstate New York. Later on, I got into high school and tournament tennis. I got burned out on that, quit for a bunch of years, then got back out on the courts again when my roommate and skiing buddy from Summit County, Colorado, decided to take up the game. We played a lot of Zen tennis...no score, no points, just hitting balls for hours...and I still do a ton of that, even though I got back into tournaments again...

Cindysphinx
03-21-2007, 04:05 PM
But this season, something has happened to the team members. They are no longer acting as a team, but more like mercenaries (with most of them being recruited by other teams). Funny ... when noone gave them a chance, I formed a team and had them on it. Now that people want them, they forget what it was like when noone wanted to play with them.

Interesting observation. There is a phenomenon in league tennis where people get awfully big for their britches awfully fast. Before you know it, they're Partner Snobs, refusing to play with the weaker players who play just like they did a couple of seasons ago.

So far, I've been lucky, as my three weakest players are leaving of their own accord. I've tried to find stronger replacements to reduce the Partner Snob problem, but I don't think it is a beast that can be killed.

I do wonder what my weak players think, though. They usually wind up on Court Three playing with an equally weak partner, although I try to play with them sometimes. I wonder if they are insulted. . . . It's kind of hard to ask the question directly: "Say, uh. Do you mind that I repeatedly throw you out on Court Three with a partner with whom you'll never win?"

One thing I've done to deal with this is that I don't ask people who they do and don't want to play with. I'll listen to opinions, of course. But I know captains who start the season asking each player to tell her the partners they do and don't want. Seems counterproductive to encourage the Partner Snobs to come out in the light like that, IMHO.

cak
03-21-2007, 07:21 PM
I do wonder what my weak players think, though. They usually wind up on Court Three playing with an equally weak partner, although I try to play with them sometimes. I wonder if they are insulted. . . . It's kind of hard to ask the question directly: "Say, uh. Do you mind that I repeatedly throw you out on Court Three with a partner with whom you'll never win?"

They probably think you are putting them with people who will let them play their half the court so they can actually try and improve, rather than putting them with people that will play the whole court so they can rack up a win by standing in the ally. I'm not big on playing matches that count with someone obviously better than I am. I play too conservatively, and don't go for my normal shots, figuring my partner will hit a better shot off it even if they aren't in the best position. I spent one social interclub season playing with a lovely older lady I just liked to play with, but I thought I should run down everything and take all the shots down the middle, as I was the stronger player. Well, one match I was hurt, and I watched her and another super senior (65+) collegue wander out to play against two very young (we call them pony tail) ladies. Our super seniors beat them but good. And I found out when my partner didn't have a youngun fliting around the court she was awesome; she was fast, and had a great backhand, and could run down lobs. I was limiting her game. I don't think putting them with the best players would be doing anyone any favors.


One thing I've done to deal with this is that I don't ask people who they do and don't want to play with. I'll listen to opinions, of course. But I know captains who start the season asking each player to tell her the partners they do and don't want. Seems counterproductive to encourage the Partner Snobs to come out in the light like that, IMHO.

I am one of those captains.

I have found ladies I love to play with, and still play socially with, but just cannot play well with. Our games don't mesh. Two of the ladies at our club are bestest friends and have taken many lessons to try and get their games to work together, and just cannot. With other partners both are awesome players. Together they do just okay. And they admit this. There are some ladies that just have a personality conflict, and putting them together on the court will not work. Just because people don't want to play together, it doesn't mean they are "Snobs". (And just because they don't want to play with each other doesn't mean they don't like each other. Check out any mixed doubles team and see how many husbands and wives don't play together.)

And even if players don't want to play with someone because they think they are not good players, I don't want to put two players out there together that don't want to play together. The best teams trust their partners implicitly. I think the worst teams are those that don't want to be out their together. This is supposed to be fun.

Every team I've been on has quite a few combinations of partners that don't play together. Doesn't stop them from partying together.

Cindysphinx
03-22-2007, 04:47 AM
Good points, CAK. Your ideas about not wanting to be with the best player are especially sound, although I feel confident that most weak players don't feel that way (although they should!). [edit: I'm not suggestion you're a weak player. Just wanted to clear that up!]

I've been on two teams where captains asked player who they didn't want to play with. As I wasn't the captain, I didn't get to see the replies. So everything I say is total supposition.

As a player, the whole process made me way paranoid, though. There were times when I wondered why I wasn't playing with this or that player when I had expressed an interest in doing so. Had they written that they'd die before they'd partner with me?

Just the other day, the mixed captain asked the team to state preferences on who they wanted to play with. I didn't reply. I dunno, I figure everybody would write the same thing: "Put me with the 4.0 guy who is on a 25-match winning streak so I won't have to do anything but show up." (Me, I don't want to play with him and perhaps be the partner who causes a spectacular flame-out that ends his winning streak).

That said, I do solicit input from players privately. We're still "playing around" and trying out different partners. If I see my best player lose with a new partner, I'll ask her what happened. Most times they'll reply that they just got beat. A few times they said their games didn't mesh though, and this was good to know. I've also asked one of my weaker players whether she could stand playing with another weak player; she replied she could do one more match for the good of the team but no more than that.

I also tend to ask my top one or two players who they'd like to play with. My thinking is that they are going to be asked to take on the toughest opponents on Court One, and I don't want them feeling like they were saddled with someone they can't win with. If they lose with the person they picked, I will hear less grumbling. Not to mention how the top players have more options to leave if they think the partner assignments are dodgy.

It's the asking everyone about everyone that I think would likely backfire, freak people out, and raise expectations that everyone will get what they want. That just isn't possible.

kevhen
03-22-2007, 08:09 AM
I will ask who everyone likes to play with and get a few replies and some guys will take me aside and tell me who they don't want to play with. Then I try to pair everyone up with people that they like to play with and if I have a choice to make will ask the stronger player which of two players he would rather play with. But I still try to get everyone in at least half of the meets.

It's a juggling act to keep everyone happy both in playing singles and in finding the right doubles partners but if you keep the communication channels open and try to be as fair as possible, the team as a whole ends up pretty happy and willing to play the next year.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-22-2007, 02:07 PM
I will ask who everyone likes to play with and get a few replies and some guys will take me aside and tell me who they don't want to play with. Then I try to pair everyone up with people that they like to play with and if I have a choice to make will ask the stronger player which of two players he would rather play with. But I still try to get everyone in at least half of the meets.

It's a juggling act to keep everyone happy both in playing singles and in finding the right doubles partners but if you keep the communication channels open and try to be as fair as possible, the team as a whole ends up pretty happy and willing to play the next year.

Trouble is ... there are times there is one person who nobody wants to partner with. As a captain, I usually partner with this player. And when I win, and help boost up his confidence, that's when other players start practicing with the player. Even when I lose, I never blame my partner. It's bad enough having two opponents on the other side of the net, and I definitely don't want four (myself included).

As a captain, during practice and scrimmages, I usually move players around trying to test their chemistry.

cak
03-22-2007, 03:16 PM
Trouble is ... there are times there is one person who nobody wants to partner with.

When I was first a captain this really tore me up. I worried about the people no one wanted to partner with. So, since I was co-captain, I go out in my first ever match with one of these ladies. And despite being up 6-0 5-0, when we lose a game, due to her error, she yells at me. We do take the match 6-0 6-1, but I decided I'm not playing with people who are so rude to their partners no one will play with them. And I decided that adults need to realize that they need to be nice to their partners. I'm not a Kindergarten teacher. If they are so annoying on the court no one will play with them they will be playing singles. At the beginning of the season if someone wants to play doubles they need to come up with a list of partners willing to play with them. I have been captain many times, I have yet to run across a nice person no one will play, regardless of what their game looks like. I have run across some extremely good players that were having a hard time finding a partner. I have found when the captains put the onus back on the players they shape up, and surprise, people want to play with them again.

Raiden.Kaminari
03-23-2007, 10:38 AM
When I was first a captain this really tore me up. I worried about the people no one wanted to partner with. So, since I was co-captain, I go out in my first ever match with one of these ladies. And despite being up 6-0 5-0, when we lose a game, due to her error, she yells at me. We do take the match 6-0 6-1, but I decided I'm not playing with people who are so rude to their partners no one will play with them. And I decided that adults need to realize that they need to be nice to their partners. I'm not a Kindergarten teacher. If they are so annoying on the court no one will play with them they will be playing singles.
Ugh! I don't tolerate having those types of players on my teams. If any player has a bad reputation (cheating, being verbally abusive, throwing tantrums, etc.), they aren't allowed on the team. Everyone's skills are about the same anyways.

At the beginning of the season if someone wants to play doubles they need to come up with a list of partners willing to play with them. I have been captain many times, I have yet to run across a nice person no one will play, regardless of what their game looks like. I have run across some extremely good players that were having a hard time finding a partner. I have found when the captains put the onus back on the players they shape up, and surprise, people want to play with them again.

The players I partner with are the ones that are nice, but aren't believed (by others) to have the skills to compete with the rest of us for our level. After I partner once or twice with them (I'm a very supportive partner), their confidence soars and they can compete with others. Unfortunately, after a while, I've found that many of them forget where they started from, since their egos get the best of them.

Cindysphinx
03-23-2007, 01:23 PM
I often partner with the weaker players. I usually put my best two players on Court One and try to win with a weaker player on Court Two or Court Three.

Results have been mixed. Sometimes we can pull it off, sometimes not. I wish I could say they soared like eagles after the experience of playing with me, but that would be a bald-faced lie.

If someone is so nasty, hopefully I learn this before I give them the team code. 'Cause they're not welcome, for singles or doubles, no matter how good their strokes are. I need people who will be nice, no matter what.

Boy, this is a rambling thread, isn't it? :)

kevhen
03-23-2007, 01:36 PM
I do have one guy on my team who some guys would rather not play with since he is rather intense, hates to lose, and makes his partner feel like it's his partner's fault for a loss. I have played with him and put him with guys who are pretty easy going since they can keep him calm. I just played him 3 times out of 6 meets since he is weaker at singles and not alot of guys will play doubles with him. Intense, blame-oriented type players just lose alot of friends on the tennis courts over time.