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View Full Version : Please explain tennis as a team sport to me


SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 10:00 AM
This was mentioned in another post, and it's something I've been wondering since I've gotten back into tennis. I grew up with tennis being an individual sport. You against the guy on the other side of the net. Now a lot of tennis is team based, specifically USTA (and ALTA in Atlanta).

Now, I understand the social advantages of being on a team. But competitively I don't get it. You win your match but your team loses and you can't be happy. You lose your match but your team wins and you aren't happy. The only happy scenario is winning your match while your team wins too. You are cutting your chances of a satisfying win in half.

And while teams are great for socializing within your team, it limits interaction outside of your little circle. I can't find hitting partners because everyone sticks to practicing with their teammates. I'm returning to the sport and am steadily improving. So I have to beg to be on a team, only to improve to the next level a season or two later and have to start all over again? It seems to reward people that play at the same level over time instead of those that care enough to try to improve and move up. No wonder sandbagging is a problem.

Sorry for the rant, but I really am looking for advantages of team tennis over individual competition - as a player and for the sport in general. Thanks.

bcart1991
08-30-2010, 10:13 AM
You need netter tennis friends. ;)

Out here on the west side, we have a nice group of people at different ability levels and we get together to play socially as well as in competition.

Yes, there are some who are a bit anti-social about it, but they tend to weed themselves out quickly outside of the tennis season.

In the "team" aspect of it, it's fun to root for your teammates, and to advance in playoffs/tournaments as a team instead of individuals. Sometimes a cheering section can lift one's level of play.

cknobman
08-30-2010, 10:22 AM
SweetH20,

You make a lot of valid points and from time to time I feel exactly the same as you.

Still even with the points you have brought up team tennis can be a very good thing. There are a lot of people out there that thrive on the social interaction you get with team tennis and put the competitive aspects of the game on a secondary level.

For myself I try to balance the equation by doing the following two things:
Play singles flex leagues
Play USTA tournaments

Those allow me to enter a very highly competitive environment where Im not dependent on a team to get me the win.

beernutz
08-30-2010, 10:27 AM
I'm guessing you aren't a big Davis Cup (or Ryder, etc.) fan.

polski
08-30-2010, 10:29 AM
I played ALTA in Atlanta & loved it. ALTA is probably the biggest reason that I still play the game. I enjoy meeting people & getting together with folks from different backgrounds to play a game we enjoy. Several of my ALTA teamates were at my wedding as I met my wife through my mixed doubles partner.

As for the team aspect, you point out the scenario of you winning & the team losing. There is also the situation where you could lose, but the team still wins. In playoff scenarios, that means that you get to play another day despite your individual loss. That to me, is a good reason to play team tennis.

SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 10:31 AM
You need netter tennis friends. ;)

Out here on the west side, we have a nice group of people at different ability levels and we get together to play socially as well as in competition.

Can you hook a brother up? I've tried hanging out at a few courts and have met some nice people that way, but nobody that matches up well skill-wise, socially, etc.

OrangePower
08-30-2010, 10:35 AM
This was mentioned in another post, and it's something I've been wondering since I've gotten back into tennis. I grew up with tennis being an individual sport. You against the guy on the other side of the net. Now a lot of tennis is team based, specifically USTA (and ALTA in Atlanta).

Now, I understand the social advantages of being on a team. But competitively I don't get it. You win your match but your team loses and you can't be happy. You lose your match but your team wins and you aren't happy. The only happy scenario is winning your match while your team wins too. You are cutting your chances of a satisfying win in half.

And while teams are great for socializing within your team, it limits interaction outside of your little circle. I can't find hitting partners because everyone sticks to practicing with their teammates. I'm returning to the sport and am steadily improving. So I have to beg to be on a team, only to improve to the next level a season or two later and have to start all over again? It seems to reward people that play at the same level over time instead of those that care enough to try to improve and move up. No wonder sandbagging is a problem.

Sorry for the rant, but I really am looking for advantages of team tennis over individual competition - as a player and for the sport in general. Thanks.

You see it as cutting your chances of a satisfying win in half. I see it as doubling my chances! If I get an individual win, I can feel good about it even if my team loses. And if I lose, I'm still satisfied if my team wins.

Guess it's glass half-empty versus glass half-full :-)

But anyway... if you're not a fan of team tennis there should be lots of other options you can take advantage of. Have you tried USTA tournaments and flex leagues?

Bedrock
08-30-2010, 10:42 AM
You see it as cutting your chances of a satisfying win in half. I see it as doubling my chances! If I get an individual win, I can feel good about it even if my team loses. And if I lose, I'm still satisfied if my team wins.

Guess it's glass half-empty versus glass half-full :-)

But anyway... if you're not a fan of team tennis there should be lots of other options you can take advantage of. Have you tried USTA tournaments and flex leagues?

In team tennis only team result matters.
Take for example Devis Cup.

spot
08-30-2010, 10:53 AM
wow... you need a different alta team. I mean I look forward to our teams practice nights more than I do my Kswiss matches. Its just more fun when you are in the playoffs and you know that if you win then the whole team advances and if you lose then your whole team goes home. Its more fun knowing that if you lose at line 1 then the day can still end well for you if the rest of your teammates play well. And seriously- how can you go wrong watching your friends play on a gorgeous day and then rolling to the bar to watch college football on a Saturday?

Just out of curiousity did you play any team sports at the highschool level or higher? To me there has been a huge difference on my team between guys who played team sports at a high level and guys who did not.

SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 11:03 AM
Guess it's glass half-empty versus glass half-full :-)
I wouldn't say that as much as just having a different point of view - I'm used to thinking of tennis as being rewarding as an individual. It's different to think of being happy for a team win when I didn't contribute.

But anyway... if you're not a fan of team tennis there should be lots of other options you can take advantage of. Have you tried USTA tournaments and flex leagues?

I play in non-USTA flex leagues and have enjoyed those. I have played socially with some of my opponents after we mutually enjoyed playing each other in a league match. I'm just having trouble with growing my tennis circle by other means and see the limitations of team tennis as one of the reasons.

SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 11:11 AM
Just out of curiousity did you play any team sports at the highschool level or higher? To me there has been a huge difference on my team between guys who played team sports at a high level and guys who did not.

I grew up with soccer being my main sport of choice by far, followed by basketball and then track/cross-country running. I didn't play tennis competitively growing up, but I enjoyed the mano-a-mano aspect of it when I played with friends as compared to the team aspect of the other sports. So maybe considering tennis as being an outlet away from traditional team sports has skewed my point of view now.

bcart1991
08-30-2010, 11:25 AM
Can you hook a brother up? I've tried hanging out at a few courts and have met some nice people that way, but nobody that matches up well skill-wise, socially, etc.

Shoot me an email (you aren't accepting them through the site).

bcart1991 at aol dot com

tennis tom
08-30-2010, 11:41 AM
This was mentioned in another post, and it's something I've been wondering since I've gotten back into tennis. I grew up with tennis being an individual sport. You against the guy on the other side of the net. Now a lot of tennis is team based, specifically USTA (and ALTA in Atlanta).

Now, I understand the social advantages of being on a team. But competitively I don't get it. You win your match but your team loses and you can't be happy. You lose your match but your team wins and you aren't happy. The only happy scenario is winning your match while your team wins too. You are cutting your chances of a satisfying win in half.

And while teams are great for socializing within your team, it limits interaction outside of your little circle. I can't find hitting partners because everyone sticks to practicing with their teammates. I'm returning to the sport and am steadily improving. So I have to beg to be on a team, only to improve to the next level a season or two later and have to start all over again? It seems to reward people that play at the same level over time instead of those that care enough to try to improve and move up. No wonder sandbagging is a problem.

Sorry for the rant, but I really am looking for advantages of team tennis over individual competition - as a player and for the sport in general. Thanks.

You're absolutely RIGHT! Tennis is NOT a team sport with the exception of the Davis Cup. At Davis Cup Ties the players are actually sitting on the side-lines observing their teammates, cheering them on. In leagues and even in high school or college ball, you are busy playing your own match. This is often far afield from your team and have one has little oportunity and shouldn't be paying much attention to what's happening on other courts. The only opportunity you have to watch your team mates is if you finnish your match early or a finals.

Team tennis is exclusionary and not unifying for the sport of tennis.

SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 11:43 AM
Shoot me an email (you aren't accepting them through the site).

bcart1991 at aol dot com

I will check my settings here, but it may be that I haven't posted enough for that privilege yet. Email will be sent soon.

spot
08-30-2010, 01:14 PM
How old are you, what part of town do you live in, and what level do you play? We have a big group of guys getting together to play Thursday night at DTC and then go out for beer afterward for the first night of college football.

SweetH2O
08-30-2010, 01:28 PM
Mid 30s, 3.5 player. Location is a lot of the problem, although bcart may show me otherwise. I'm in Paulding County, so I end up driving to west Cobb for all my tennis so far. Closer to home it's been difficult to find players if you aren't already on a team or don't live in a subdivision with its own courts. Public courts around here are hit and miss.

Thanks for mentioning your group, but Dekalb is on the other side of the world from me.

OrangePower
08-30-2010, 01:33 PM
I play in non-USTA flex leagues and have enjoyed those. I have played socially with some of my opponents after we mutually enjoyed playing each other in a league match. I'm just having trouble with growing my tennis circle by other means and see the limitations of team tennis as one of the reasons.

I hear you - I mentioned USTA tournaments and flex leagues because I've had good luck meeting regular hitting partners this way...

polski
08-30-2010, 03:09 PM
You're absolutely RIGHT! Tennis is NOT a team sport with the exception of the Davis Cup. At Davis Cup Ties the players are actually sitting on the side-lines observing their teammates, cheering them on. In leagues and even in high school or college ball, you are busy playing your own match. This is often far afield from your team and have one has little oportunity and shouldn't be paying much attention to what's happening on other courts. The only opportunity you have to watch your team mates is if you finnish your match early or a finals.

Team tennis is exclusionary and not unifying for the sport of tennis.

I'm sorry, but as a high school coach this disgusts me.

I have all my kids make sure that they are rooting for the other players while on court. During a changeover, they watch their teammates & encourage them. In between points, they sometimes do the same. And there is no greater feeling than having the players gather around the court next to the last match left playing that is deciding the match & hearing them cheer for our points.

I flat out tell my kids that if they want to do what you describe, they need to train on their own and play tournaments. If they want to be on the school's team, they need to act like teammates.

tennis tom
08-30-2010, 10:09 PM
Sorry to disgust you coach, and I'm sure you are turning out a fine group of lads who will have many happy HS memories to cherrish. But, the sad truth is that if by 15, they can't give a world class player a run for his money and if they get a college scholarship it will be the culmination in their tennis career.

Nothing wrong with winning a college scholarship, Johnny Mac attended Stanford for one year way back when. But to even get a college scholarship these days, they will have to compete with boatloads of hungry foreigners and I don't believe they have team tennis in Moscow.

If they want to get anywhere in tennis on a professional world class level they will have been playing junior tournaments and trying their hand at opens.

And good for you for not allowing them on the team if they aren't team players thus forcing them to compete in tounaments--because tennis is not a team sport (except for the Davis Cup) and that's the best thing you can do to further them along in the world of competive tennis.

I applaud you for coaching tennis to youngsters and hopefully some will get college scholarships and the rest will become good rec players who abide by the rules, etiquitte and the honor of the fine game of tennis.

Hopefully you are also telling them not to be sandbaggers when they turn 18 and are elligeble for league tennis and 3.5 captains are enticing them to play on their teams.

polski
08-31-2010, 01:34 AM
In my opinion, if kids can't enjoy tennis as a team sport - they are pretty screwed for the rest of their life. If they only see the individual accomplishment, they are destined for a lonely and selfish existence.

Pro tennis is fine and all - I certainly watch & enjoy it. However, the odds of making a good pro career is smaller in tennis than any other American sport.

If we encourage our kids to go for the pros in tennis, we will end up with a bunch of burn outs. However, if we encourage team tennis participation, they can get a balance between individual contribution & team dynamics. Seeing as the majority of the world economy revolves around team dynamics, that is the route I tend to push.

SuperLotto
08-31-2010, 07:20 AM
The ladies I play with only care about their own wins so they can move up. They will say they care about the team, but the pouting is ridiculous. Jealousy and chest pounding is rampant.

tennis tom
08-31-2010, 08:10 AM
Coach, you've got a right to your opinion and I respect that opinion, but the history of the US and the free world focuses (theoreticaly at least) on the rights of the individual to be the best they can be.

When you step foot on a tennis court it is just you (or a partner). Your team may be watching and that makes them spectators. They can't participate, (that's coaching and illegal in tennis), except recently the women's and HS.

But maybe this is just a part of the social changes we are experiencing and we will all be living on communes in the future. If they have grass courts that would not be so bad then.

beernutz
08-31-2010, 09:29 AM
Coach, you've got a right to your opinion and I respect that opinion, but the history of the US and the free world focuses (theoreticaly at least) on the rights of the individual to be the best they can be.

When you step foot on a tennis court it is just you (or a partner). Your team may be watching and that makes them spectators. They can't participate, (that's coaching and illegal in tennis), except recently the women's and HS.

But maybe this is just a part of the social changes we are experiencing and we will all be living on communes in the future. If they have grass courts that would not be so bad then.
I disagree. You say other team players as spectators can't participate but they do. They can yell encouragement and support to their teammates. They can also if needed bring things to the court if a team mate needed something. You think this has no effect on the outcome of a match? I know it does in my case and this is confirmed by other team members.

As for your conjecture that the history of the free world revolves around the individual, I submit that there wouldn't be a free world if not for teams of brave military units working toward that goal.

spot
08-31-2010, 11:25 AM
All I can say is that if the only leagues in atlanta were singles leagues and ALTA didn't exist then I don't think that there would be even 10% as many people that played. I just can't imagine what it would be like to get LESS enjoyment out of a sport because you are part of a bigger team.

gameboy
08-31-2010, 02:17 PM
If you are not happy because you or your team loses, USTA league may not be for you. You should be out there to have fun win or lose. You are not playing in Wimbledon, hell, you are not even playing for a state/county championship.

Relax and remind yourself that this is RECREATION.

sureshs
08-31-2010, 03:07 PM
Coach, you've got a right to your opinion and I respect that opinion, but the history of the US and the free world focuses (theoreticaly at least) on the rights of the individual to be the best they can be.


History will tell you that tennis was not invented in the US and it started as doubles and as a social recreational pastime for the aristocratic class, and invitations to such events were issued only to people with certain social graces. It was nothing like the rugged individual sport that you imagine. In the early years, even pros who played for money were patronized by socialites who demanded a certain amount of charm and etiquette in return for being invited to the events.

Also, the free world actively prevented people from participating in tennis because of their race, leading them to form their own tennis association and run their own tournaments. Not very free was it?

tennis tom
08-31-2010, 04:01 PM
Also, the free world actively prevented people from participating in tennis because of their race, leading them to form their own tennis association and run their own tournaments. Not very free was it?


In the USA tennis can be played by anyone. It is truly available to all. Every high school I know has tennis courts and public courts abound. Sadly, when I drive through ghetto areas the courts are always empty. Carrying a tennis racket in the gheto is like carrying a violin. The Williams got out of Compton as soon as they could because it was too dangerous to play on the public courts there while ducking bullets.

Courts go begging everywhere I go now a days. How come all the down-trodden aren't taking advantage of this great opportunity to play tennis and rub shoulders with the swells?

The truth is tennis is a very difiicult sport and not everyone's cup of tea. Also, the poor way it is taught makes it even more diificult to learn. In the good ol' USA, at least, no excuses, the game of tennis is available to anyone , but most young and old people prefer other pursuits such as eating, dirinking, drugs, gambling, video games, TV, skateboarding, etc. Not everything is racism.

polski
08-31-2010, 04:48 PM
I am happy to read that tom is the minority opinion on this topic.

Great call on the military analogy beernutz. You beat me to the punch.

polski
08-31-2010, 04:51 PM
When you step foot on a tennis court it is just you (or a partner). Your team may be watching and that makes them spectators. They can't participate, (that's coaching and illegal in tennis), except recently the women's and HS.


You forgot to mention college tennis...they have on court coaching.

And college tennis in the NCAA's is about as team oriented as you can get. Once a team gets 4 wins, the other matches get suspended.

Cindysphinx
08-31-2010, 04:54 PM
This is an interesting topic.

I have been on teams where I felt very invested in how the team was doing when I didn't play. And I have played on teams where I didn't give a flying fig about anything other than my own matches.

I think it really comes down to atmosphere, and the atmosphere is largely established by the captain. If the captain takes the time to keep everyone up to date on how things are going, the team can be exciting. If matches are played but no one ever says anything, then it is hard to be very interested.

I guess it is different for teams who have socials after matches, or where everyone on the team attends every match. But my experience is that any match I don't play or didn't get told about pretty much went down a black hole.

polski
08-31-2010, 04:58 PM
This is an interesting topic.

I have been on teams where I felt very invested in how the team was doing when I didn't play. And I have played on teams where I didn't give a flying fig about anything other than my own matches.

I think it really comes down to atmosphere, and the atmosphere is largely established by the captain. If the captain takes the time to keep everyone up to date on how things are going, the team can be exciting. If matches are played but no one ever says anything, then it is hard to be very interested.

I guess it is different for teams who have socials after matches, or where everyone on the team attends every match. But my experience is that any match I don't play or didn't get told about pretty much went down a black hole.

Very good point. You would enjoy ALTA. I went to my team's ALTA matches every week. If I was not in the lineup, it was an awesome tailgate.

beernutz
09-01-2010, 07:30 AM
Very good point. You would enjoy ALTA. I went to my team's ALTA matches every week. If I was not in the lineup, it was an awesome tailgate.
I'd forgotten about this but when I was playing league I'd often go to matches just to watch even if I wasn't scheduled to play, just to root the team on. My brother plays ALTA and has told me about the quasi party atmosphere at some of his matches and I have to say I'm a little jealous.

polski
09-01-2010, 07:36 AM
I'd forgotten about this but when I was playing league I'd often go to matches just to watch even if I wasn't scheduled to play, just to root the team on. My brother plays ALTA and has told me about the quasi party atmosphere at some of his matches and I have to say I'm a little jealous.

ALTA is great. It changed my entire life. Not only did I rediscover my love for tennis, I met my wife through my mixed doubles partner. Even though I have moved from Atlanta, I keep in touch with my former teammates & many were at my wedding. So, obviously I am biased toward team tennis.

beernutz
09-03-2010, 12:21 PM
ALTA is great. It changed my entire life. Not only did I rediscover my love for tennis, I met my wife through my mixed doubles partner. Even though I have moved from Atlanta, I keep in touch with my former teammates & many were at my wedding. So, obviously I am biased toward team tennis.
That is exactly how my brother feels about ALTA. I know its a big city but did you ever happen to play the Glenn Abby team from Alpharetta?

Annika
09-03-2010, 08:52 PM
Lots of good players from there. Just down the street from where I am.

polski
09-04-2010, 04:48 AM
That is exactly how my brother feels about ALTA. I know its a big city but did you ever happen to play the Glenn Abby team from Alpharetta?

There are so many teams at so many levels. I played primarily out of Terrell Mill over in East Cobb county. While that is not far from Alpharetta, it seemed that we were always put with teams from West Cobb and wouldn't play North Fulton teams until playoffs. I remember one trip up to Alpharetta, but it was a good 5 or 6 years ago so I don't remember much details.

I also wasn't as competitive of a player as I am now. I played around B-5 level then, but now play USTA 4.5 leagues in SC. That would translate somewhere in the low or middle-A level of ALTA.

Falloutjr
09-04-2010, 05:15 AM
Playing on teams is very fun :D playing in high school was a great experience, going on the road together all over the state and hanging out together and having fun in practice, skipping school for sectionals and whatnot. To get something out of team play, you have to embrace the social aspect of it. If you don't, you won't be a happy camper.

Totai
09-09-2010, 07:24 AM
I'd rather win and have the team lose than the other way around. Does that make me selfish? maybe, but I don't care

cknobman
09-09-2010, 08:18 AM
Id rather win and be the one that doesn't make the team loose.

unfortunately that often is not the case!!