For years, I captained 6.5 combo. After two trips to 6.5 combo districts, I decided I wanted to captain and play 7.5 instead. I told my team I wasn't going to captain 6.5 anymore, was forming a new 7.5 team. Those players who were ready for 7.5 were asked to join the new team. Since then, someone else has taken over the 6.5 team, and a few of the 3.5 players have joined the new 7.5 team. It seems that everyone who wants to play combo is doing so, and you would think this would qualify as something of a happy ending. The trouble is that some of the players who were not invited up to the 7.5 combo team are unhappy with 6.5 combo. They are strong 3.0 players or weak 3.5 players. The trouble seems to be that they tend to win their 6.5 combo matches easily and do not find them much of a challenge. Still, to the extent I have seen these players in action, the things that win them points at 6.5 would get them killed in 7.5. When the subject has come up, I have told them that the thing to do is continue playing 6.5 combo, but play Court One against the tougher opponents. Or if they are 3.0 players, they should start assuming the role of the 3.5 player and work on being aggressive and steady and court-smart enough to compensate for their partner. I don't think this suggestion is all that well received, because it still leaves them playing 6.5. Plus, only their captain can control who they get for opponents or partners. These players are Trapped Between Levels with no easy escape. I was musing about this the other day, as it must be a common problem at all combo levels. How does a player bridge the gap between levels, and how can they really know when they are ready for a move up? I certainly can see things from their perspective: If they are winning 6.5 combo matches easily, then doesn't that automatically mean they should be playing 7.5? Then again, pounding 3.0 opponents on Court Three is hardly a good measure of what someone can do at 7.5 against a 4.0 and 3.5. It's difficult for the captain of the higher-level team. I mean, I could tell them precisely what is lacking in their game. But never once has anyone ever put the question to me in quite that way. So I wind up hemming and hawing about how maybe playing up in another league is the answer . . . blech. Which rather begs the question of how they can get out of this trap between levels. I think much of this has to do with the very concept of combo. By definition, half of the players in combo are partnered with someone stronger than they are. Maybe that builds bad habits? Maybe the lower-rated player gets too complacent in attitude and play, so they are in an even deeper hole and have farther to go to be ready for a move up in combo levels? Maybe leaning on a stronger partner deceives players into thinking they are stronger than they are? I don't know.