Swallowing An Upset

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Oct 24, 2007.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Oh, lordie.

    My ladies 6.5 combo team (5-3 on the season) played last night. I didn't play. Our opponent is 2-6, with four 2.5 players and nine novice 3.0s. No 3.5s. Should be an easy win, right? A chance to let some of my weaker players get in their allotment of 5 matches, eh?

    We lost!

    I sent a 6.5 pair out onto Court One. They got spanked 2-6, 3-6.

    I sent a "developing" pair onto Court Two, a pair that is committed to playing together and is improving and working on things. They won 6-3, 6-0.

    I sent my veteran co-captain and a singles specialist onto Court Three. They split sets and then the match timed out with the 10-point tiebreaker at 9-4 for the opponent.

    So that is a team loss of 1-2 against a team that is so weak I can hardly believe they dared to play 6.5 ladies combo at all.

    In truth, I'm a little disappointed. Our team splits playing time equally. Last season, I tried to put two good doubles pairs out there for each match with one weaker pair. This didn't work too well because, frankly, we don't have enough good doubles pairs to staff every match that way. We went 4-8 last season.

    So this year I decided it was time for certain veterans to Step Up Already and stop hiding on Court Three. For matches against the tough teams, I use the best players who are available. For matches against the weak teams, I use the weaker players. And look what happens.

    Ugh. We always have e-mail discussions after our matches about what happened, so I guess I'll try to be upbeat about this particular whipping. I think I'll go with a theme of, "Hey, you lose sometimes, but so long as you put it all out there and played your best tennis, it's OK."

    What I really want to say is something else, though. What I really want to say is that each of us needs to ask ourselves whether we are playing the kind of tennis we want to play, and if not, what are we going to do about it. What I really want to do is scold my team for having attendance at team practice that was so spotty that I finally gave up and canceled team practice altogether. What I really want to do is ask when my teammates last took a hopper and practiced their serve for an hour. What I really want to ask is whether they have a practice partner and the last time they got together and worked on things.

    But I won't.

    'Cause people would have their feelings hurt.
     
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  2. Topaz

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    #2
  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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  4. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    I'm sorry that your team lost. However, from the paragraph above, it looks like you know the exact reason why they failed.

    I've been lucky the past couple years. I was recruited by an "all-star" USTA League team after I won a few tournaments in the area. The captain told me straight out that the bottom line was winning, and that our goal was to make it to sectionals at least. It was abundantly clear that there would be no favors or playing time awarded just for being nice - you had to win 80% of your matches to stay in the lineup. That set the tone and we all knew what was expected of us. The funny thing is that we don't have team practices. Everybody on the team plays tournaments or plays frequently, so there is no need to get together as long as we are all taking care of ourselves elsewhere. For us, we're all about the competition and the winning.

    It sounds like you do need to clearly define what your team is playing for and get them all on the same page. If they are there to win, then you expect them to be playing 4-6 times per week, practicing their serves, staying fit, and playing tournaments to get match tough. If that's too much for them, then maybe they're better off on a "laugh and giggle" team. I know that may sound harsh to some, and I know that this isn't pro tennis. However, every level of tennis has a standard of excellence, and it sounds like your team needs to decide if winning is a priority for them.
     
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  5. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    I agree with all of this as well.

    Although I would add that a lot of people will say winning is a priority but when the reality of their real adult life sets in (job, family, etc...) it's not always likely that they will do everything needed to accomplish the goal of winning.

    It's kind of like when I look for people to play, even for fun. There are people that I know if I call them and they want to play, we are going to be playing. (because they really want to) And then there are the other people who will say they really want to play, but if something else comes up that is more important to them (which always tends to happen) then our tennis plans will get cancelled.

    Even though the latter will sound good and say how committed they are, I know that they are not. And if somehow they make their way onto my league team, that knowledge allows me to not feel that badly if I dont play them that often, and in most cases, sure enough, they dont even complain about it.

    That's why in these leagues it's very important to choose the right players for your team. Even if you dont care about winning first place, you at least have to choose the right people that share your goals for the team so you as the captain can also have a fun enjoyable season without pulling your hair out.
     
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  6. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    First thing you have top remember/realize: being a team captain is just being the babysitter. Different people need to be motivated different ways. Should they be attending practice? You betcha. But they're not, so they should not be disappointed when they lose to a joke team. If you have a 3.5 team, and basically just lost to a LOSING 2.5 team, it's time to take inventory. This is affecting you, now. If your team is satisfied with mediocrity, let them mire in in. That's their choice.

    You either need to give them a wake-up call (politely, as these are ladies and tend to get their feathers ruffled), quit as captain, or join another team.
     
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  7. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    That's why I think it's important to be up front with your goals for the team when it is being formed, not 9 matches into the season. Everybody needs to be committed to winning from the beginning. It might not work out due to injuries or other life commitments, but everyone should understand that if winning is the priority, they need to be working hard outside of the matches in order to play their best when it counts.
     
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  8. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    Absolutely.

    To the OP: For reference, I was once on a team, and as the 1 singles, it was on me to set the tone for the rest of the matches. I was driving 2 1/2 hrs for the team, and I always partied like a rock star the night before the match (matches on Sat morning. . . yuck). Needless to say, I was either still drunk or very hungover for the first half-set. But I always showed up, and I always busted my hump in my matches. I even went so far as to sleep at the courts one Friday night, so that I would not miss the match. That was good, because it set a good tone for the team. My captain said to the team 'Look: he's wasted, still comes to the match, and gives it his all. Come on, guys!'

    As for practice, I practiced every day because I lived in a different state than my team, and could not practice with them. I took my matches seriously.

    But this is a ladies 3.5 team. Women (in my experience) at this level are not as competitive as the men. If they were, your team would have annhilated that 2.5 team.

    All I can say is that I am sorry that you feel this way, and that I completely understand. Just talk to any other captain, and they have been through exactly what you're going through. Being the Babysitter is no fun, and it is hands-down the least rewarding job in league tennis.

    Best of luck! :D
     
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  9. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    *deep breath* Please. Please do make that assumption. I understand you are talking from your experience, but as someone who is familiar with Cindy's district, I can tell you that the women are *plenty* competitive. I think some of them may not realize what is necessary to be competitive and to WIN, however.
     
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  10. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    I look at this a little differently. I don't think I have any given authority or right to be up front with the team about my goals, but rather ask them what team goals we can all agree on and then see how I can possibly help lead the team as captain toward attaining their goals.

    Being a team captain is a little like trying to herd cats. It's pretty darn hard to get everyone going in your direction. From what I have gathered from Cindy's comments, she is a very goal oriented person and winning is the largest measuring stick for determing if those goals have been met. Looks like she has a few, if not several, players on her team that aren't as committed to a like goal. There are bound to a few cats head off in different directions and that can cause a good captain that is success driven to get a major headache. But that is just part of it. Everyone has miscalculated line-ups and suffered an "upset" and I'm sure most of us have been the upsetting team on occasion. Only I doubt we ever considered it an upset. ;) I'll bet the team that won against Cindy's team has a new season highlight and they'll probably get brought down to earth hard in the next match. Such is competition.
     
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  11. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    If you had been busting your hump for the team, you would have showed up for the matches in better shape.

    If you take your matches seriously, you don't show up drunk.

    You may still be under the weather a bit. This is a 6.5 combo team, not a 3.5 team.


    In order to be a baby sitter, a captain would have to consider the team filled with babies. I've never had a baby on any of my teams. I've also never had a team member pass out in their car the night before the match so they would be there at match time.
     
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  12. JavierLW

    JavierLW Hall of Fame

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    Also meeting a team with a bunch of "new" players is the scariest thing for me, and I try to never assume that it's a weak team no matter what the numbers are next to their names.

    I made this mistake before a few times. Even you are halfway thru the season and your opponent seems to be doing poorly, they can surprise you sometimes (where if it's a team you know that does poorly every year you can feel safer about letting your weaker players in for experience).

    Plus doubles is tricky, especially in these combo league situations. Ive seen teams that rotate people around almost every single week, and most weeks they do horrible, and then all the sudden one week they have some magical combination and then they get lucky. (usually these teams are not trying for any sort of success but they are just letting people play)

    In our league, if I see a "new" 3.0 or 3.5 player I more than likely feel that they are a ringer more often then they are a brand new player to tennis. (because I know most of the 3.0 captains in our league and they only pick up ringers, they dont bother with new players, which sucks but it's true)

    At least your developing team won, that's always nice when you have one team that can win (against ANYONE, I wouldnt pooh pooh the fact that it was a weaker team).

    As far as your singles player, if you expect her to win, then you have to go to what we call "Rule 6" doubles. You have to find someone who can play in such a manner that can compliment what she is doing. (usually someone who is fast and super effective at the net)

    Outside of that, it's a lost cause. It sounds like you might have the same issue that I do. When I play doubles, I like to play "by the book", and because of that, I tend to lose with opponents that dont play by the book. Yet there are other people who win with the same said opponent.

    If your partner is stubborn and doesnt play doubles correctly, then you might as well take that book and throw it out the window, because it doesnt work. Both partners have to work together to compliment each other and you cant do that if you are not on the same page, no matter who's fault that is.

    Many of the things that you feel you are "supposed" to do, really depend on your partner to hold up their end of the bargin as well. If they dont, then you have to actually decide not to do them in a lot of cases.

    (I will admit though, I suck at this as well, and I hate succumbing to this since it means I have to play a style of doubles that I dont enjoy, but I realize if I dont Im going to lose)
     
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  13. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    I think I understand where you are coming from. I suppose that if I was the captain of an already established team, it would be much harder to get those folks to change their motivation. They would have to set the goals, and the captain would just be a facilitator.

    My situation was a little different. As I mentioned before, I was recruited to an "all-star" team where the sole purpose of playing was to win the local area and go to Sectionals (at least). The captain made it clear up front that everybody had to have the same goals in order to be on the roster. There are very few players on the team that are actually members of the club we played out of. Basically, we were all free agents that came from other clubs. (I actually live about 40 miles away from the "home" matches.) I know that he approached other good players in our area, but some of them expressed that they did not like pressure, wanted to just play for fun, or that they wanted to play #1 on their regular team (even if it meant they wouldn't go to the playoffs). This attitude didn't fit on our team, and these players didn't play for us.

    To me, the captain of our team approached the League like a college coach would. He went out and recruited the best with a specific goal in mind, regardless of where the people had played previously. It was a completely new team. On the other hand, most USTA League teams are like the Davis Cup... you play with whoever happens to be in your club (and some clubs have restrictions). In that sense, it is haphazard in that you might not have the best players around, and you certainly can't dictate the motivation of the team.

    By the way, I thought your comments to CAM178 were amusing... and correct.

    We actually had a young guy like him on our team this year - very talented and a former college player that liked to party. We told him that we didn't care if he showed up drunk as long as he won. Sure enough, he showed up for the first match hung over... and lost to an older scrapper that he should have blown off the court. That was a big wake-up call for him, and he was sober for the next 5 or 6 matches. Then, in the middle of the season, he showed up for a match half hammered again. This time, our opponents had reversed their lineup, and he ended up playing their top guy (who I had beaten in straight sets previously). Young Gun was up 6-0, 4-0 and serving at 40-0, but ended up losing in a third set tiebreaker. That was really painful for him, and he never showed up drunk again. In fact, he was an animal in all of our playoff matches. The fact that he learned his lesson and got "professional" for the team was one of the highlights this year.
     
    #13
  14. kevhen

    kevhen Hall of Fame

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    Sometimes it's tough to be the captain as not all your players are playing for the same reasons that you are. Some play for fun and not to win so much.

    As captain, I always played if I could attend since captaining is extra work so you might as well pencil yourself in to compensate for the extra work.

    If you want to win so bad then you may have to juggle your lineup some by putting your weakest team at #1.

    You may have to avoid playing your singles players too much since they may not like doubles and probably don't know how to play it very well.

    As captain, your goal should be to keep the team happy win or lose. Not every one on your team has the goal to win individually or as a team but everyone on the team wants to enjoy playing so try to pair people with others who like playing together.

    Chill out a little about losing. This is 3.0 women's doubles, not Wimbledon. Just have fun. Do your best but don't get too frustrated when others don't always do their best.
     
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  15. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I'll take what's behind door number four, Monty: Move up to 3.5.
     
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  16. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    That's the hard thing. It's one thing to start from scratch deciding, by golly, you're putting together a monster team and going to nationals. Or you're putting together a group of friends to play hit and giggle tennis.

    The problem is when you do what most people probably do (and what I did) to start a team from scratch a year ago: cast about to find people who will join your team and don't Suck Completely and seem to have potential. It is not possible at that stage -- when you are doing your best to find sufficient players even to have a team at all -- to conduct motivation assessments. You can have a preference for people who are taking instruction, in the hope that this means they are serious about improving, but it is not a perfect proxy for dedication.

    Heck, I wasn't all that hot myself, and I was supposed to reject people if they weren't hard-driven?

    What people do in this situation is either play people based on perceived strength (or winning record) or kick people to the curb. Playing based on perceived strength gets murky when I haven't even seen some of these people play in a good long while (on account of no team practices). Using Tennislink record would be a recipe for disaster, because anyone can win if partnered with the strongest player. The frustrating thing is that these women are capable of being great; it's not like we have a couple of stumps on the team dragging us down.

    We'll have a conversation about goals and policies before the April season. I know what will happen, though. Everyone will say they don't want to change any of the team's policies, as they are having fun and having no conflict and getting to play.
     
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  17. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    I can't help but be amused because my wife and the team she is on goes through the same things each season. About half the team wants to kill the other half because of lack of commitment or even showing up on time for matches. Very frustrating. I don't think men go through quite the same ordeals because they generally get their time off from the family more than the Moms do. I can see both sides but I think you will find a group that thinks like you and commits as much as they can to the game and team.
     
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  18. cak

    cak Professional

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    This is a tough one. You hand picked this team thinking they all had the same goals you did. But it sounds like they don't. Now what. I'd say ride this season out, and then next season pick from the following:

    a) Turn this into a 3.5 team, yes, a hit and giggle team that will be losing. But at least you will be losing to folks at a higher level, and you get to play as much 3.5 as you want.
    a1) Join a hit and giggle 3.5 team that you don't captain. You might not get to play as much, or you might get to play more, depending on the captain.
    b) Join a competitive 3.5 team. Downside, it will be hard finding a 3.5 team that is in the hunt, but will take a 3.0 player and actually put them on the court. But you'd get to learn a ton in the practices.
    c) Find an all star 3.0 team, and go to Nationals. It sounds like you are a borderline 3.0/3.5 player, and in singles, or with the right partner, could blaze through a 3.0 league and really go somewhere. What you need is a team of like minded players, and I'm betting there are some out there already started by a very experienced captain and is right now manning up. You might need to drive. You probably need to try out. And you might need to win to stay in the lineup. But it sounds like you are up for that. After a season or two of real competitve USTA league tennis you might find this is wonderful, or this really sucks, and you want to play hit and giggle. But you won't know until you try it.

    You could even do a combination of a1 and c if you have the time. I'd say if you captain a team, joining a competitive team too would be over the top. Your competitve captain might wonder where your alligience lies.
     
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  19. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    CAK, those are all good points.

    I've already committed to captain this 3.0 team until I am no longer eligible to play on it. Hopefully, that's Nov. 2008.

    I have a core group of 3.5s that will probably join a ladies daytime team in January (I would co-captain). Then we would convert into a 3.5 team in April, leaving me captaining a 3.0 team and co-captaining at 3.5.

    I sure wish I could find a partner who approaches the game the way I do. . . .

    Singles, I dunno. My net game is better than my baseline game. And my shot tolerance is ridiculously low in singles. Three balls over the net and I'm thinking drop shot. :)
     
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  20. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    Ummm. . . I never lost, so it does not matter what shape I was in. I was on and off the court within an hour each time.

    Showing up drunk has nothing to do with it. It is a question of heart and desire, and I have that in spades.

    Take it easy with the character assassination there, ma'am. I meant no offense, so please do not give any in return.

    Had you read my post, you would have read that I said this was a long time ago. I am no longer that person.

    If you are going to come onto a forum and ask advice, be prepared for it. Do not return fire when asked for advice.

    Again, my apologies for offending you. I meant no chauvenism, etc. My main point was that if these people (does not matter what sex) want to win, they will find a way to win.
     
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  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Cam,

    Tennis-n-sc didn't come here asking for advice. I did.

    Second, unless you took the bus to these matches, you drove impaired and risked the lives of innocent people.

    Third, when you tell that story in the future, try to sound at least somewhat ashamed of yourself, will ya?
     
    #21
  22. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    I believe you may be indulging a bit at the keyboard, bud. First, I didn't ask for your advice and second, while there's nothing wrong with it, I'm a mister and not a ma'am. Lay off the sauce for a few days and call me if your aren't feeling better.
     
    #22
  23. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    I dunno...

    ...I had an earlier post in a similar thread about how USTA league tennis had suddently turned what was basically an individual sport into a semi-team sport. I say "semi-team sport" because, for example, on most college teams, everybody knows up front what the goal is: to win. Not necessarily true for USTA leagues. Remember, the stated purpose of USTA leagues was originally to encourage and increase the participation in tennis as a fun, life-long, healthy activity.

    I don't play doubles or leagues, just singles tournaments. If I win, it's my victory. If I lose, it's my problem, and nobody else is involved in that train wreck. Regardless of whether I win or lose, my primary goal is to have fun and leave it all out on the court, and I always do that. So playing tennis, for me, is still a blast regardless of the score. If USTA League Tennis has suddenly turned into a "must win" situation for you, and not necessarily for your team members...well, I honestly dunno how to tell you to handle that one. If you don't want to walk away from the situation and go back to Just Playing Tennis, then I don't have an answer for you...
     
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  24. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    My post was aimed at Cindysphinx, not you. Let's take it easy here. This is getting way too personal for a simple tennis discussion.
     
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  25. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    Wow. Thank you for reaffirming why I no longer play mixed doubles.

    All I was doing was trying to help you with some advice, and you took this way too personally. I have apologized for offending you, but that does not seem to matter.

    All of this happened in a former life. I am no longer that person. All I was trying to point out was that. . . .you know what? Never mind. I tried to help, you don't want it. Nuff said. Rather, you want to sling insults.

    Your responses speak volumes, and help explain what is really going on with your team.
     
    #25
  26. MariaS

    MariaS Semi-Pro

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    Cam said and I quote:

    Glad to hear your're still playing tennis though.
    I always thought drinking and tennis just don't mix. That's what I like about tennis people. :wink:
     
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  27. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    Cam, go back and look at your initial reply post (#20). If you were addressing Cindy, why did you quote tennis-n-sc?

    Can't you at least see the source of the confusion here?

    Hmm... I don't see much of a personal attack in what Cindy wrote. Driving drunk is not funny. And if you've distanced yourself from such youthful indiscretions, it seems safe to think you would be embarassed by such behaviour rather than bragging about it as a testimony to your great commitment to the team.

    I also find it odd that you would follow up a call for no personal attacks and apologizing for coming across as chauvinistic... by immediately making a personal attack and being chauvinistic!

    Anyway, I'm not the forum police, and you can write anything you want. However, I hope you can see where your altruism was at least confusing.
     
    #27
  28. CAM178

    CAM178 Hall of Fame

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    Apologies. . .white flag. . .I give up.

    Truly, I did not mean to offend. And you're right: I should not have said what I did, after just stating that I was not that way. I was just offended that after my attempts to help and be nice to Cindy, that I basically was fed a turd sandwich for my efforts. If I quoted the wrong person, then my apologies. Those texts were done during a middle of the night break from work, and I did not look to see who I was quoting.

    Again, apologies to you, Jack. Too many exegeses here!

    Take care, Jack, and as the kids say now: 'we are cool'.
     
    #28
  29. Jack the Hack

    Jack the Hack Hall of Fame

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    Yep, we're cool!

    (JTH offers handshake...)

    Ummm... I would say, let's go have a beer, but that would probably ruin everything! :D
     
    #29
  30. tennis-n-sc

    tennis-n-sc Professional

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    Hey, welcome to TT. :D
     
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