Trapped Between Combo Levels?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Oct 11, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    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.
     
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  2. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    The nature of combo league rewards, really, the players who are ready to move up but haven't yet. The strongest combo teams will have players who could probably play either the 'stronger' or 'weaker' position easily. (for instance, the 3.0 in a 6.5 combo would be a 3.0 on the verge of moving up)

    However, it may be time to move those players up to the 7.5 and give them a chance, don't you think? Maybe they will adapt once they are in a different situation, and learn how they have to change their game to be successful at the higher level.

    If they just keep spinning their wheels at 6.5 and aren't having any fun, what's the point? There are always 'growing pains' when moving to a new level.
     
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  3. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    It's hard to "give them a chance." People don't magically develop strokes they don't have just because the opponents are stronger. Instead, the reverse happens. Their strengths no longer win them points. So their strengths aren't working, and their weaknesses never did work.

    I mean, say you have a 3.0 who wins regularly at 6.5 combo with a solid 3.5 partner. She comes onto my 7.50team, which has very few 4.0s. That 3.0 is going to have a lot of problems, partly because she is used to having a stronger partner do the heavy lifting, and partly because she has no experience at all against 4.0 opponents. I had to partner with a 3.0 player in 7.5 combo once, and I was not thrilled with my captain for putting me in that position.

    So what should happen if they are spinning their wheels at 6.5? That's the dilemma. They have a real problem. But why should it become my problem? I mean, if they can't hit an overhead at 6.5, is it fair to anyone to have them not hitting overheads at 7.5? I do tend to take two players who are on the weak side per season, but that is all I can accommodate without starting to create problems.
     
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  4. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    ^^^Well, I should have clarified, I wouldn't take the 3.0s onto the 7.5 team, just the 3.5s.
     
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  5. nancyjones

    nancyjones New User

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    Cindy- No matter what you do, you are never going to make everyone happy. Just tell the 3.0 players that they are at the level they need to play this year and at the end of the year, when the new ratings come out, next year, maybe they will have a chance to play 7.5 and become 3.5 players. Our combo league, we have 15 teams which gave us 14 matches. Everyone got to play as much as they wanted and there wasn't an option to play the higher level as there were many weekends with double matches. You are doing the right thing and as a captain I know what you are going through.
     
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  6. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

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    The players unhappy at the lower level but not strong enough for the higher team should start a 7.5 combo team like you did. They can then see for themselves whether they are ready. Let both 7.5 teams practice on the same night and have a lot of crossover so friendships remain intact and its not an ugly thing. They want to play 7.5 but you have better options- they should be on their own 7.5 team where they can get all the experience they want at the higher level.

    Of course likely what they really want is to play with someone who can carry them a little at the 7.5 level but thats just not a luxury that they currently have so they'll have to become that player.

    You can't make everyone happy so I am a pretty strong believer in just giving people more options.
     
    Last edited: Oct 21, 2009
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  7. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Yeah, those are good points, Nancy and Spot.

    I guess I have a hard time putting myself in their shoes, in a way. I mean, I feel like I worked my way up the old fashioned way, without trying to skip any steps.

    I played 2.5 before I played 3.0.

    I played as the stronger player and on the higher court and against the tougher teams at 6.5 before I tried my hand at 7.5.

    I will continue to play 7.0 mixed until I can be competitive on the higher court against the tougher team. Only then will I play 8.0.

    I just feel like these ladies *do* in fact have challenges at 6.5 but simply don't see it.

    I think maybe the next time it comes up I might screw up my nerve to suggest a kind version of "Why don't you form a new team at 7.5?"
     
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  8. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    Firstly, seems like you should have a fairly easy time saying "Sorry, but no..." to any 3.0 that wants to play on a 7.5 combo team, unless you happen to have some 4.5 players on that team needing a partner. The tougher part is saying "No, because ... " to a 3.5 player you think just isn't good enough for your team. That's just one of the many downsides of being the captain. If you've got a good team that wants to win, they're not going to be happy with you bringing on not-so-good players who don't have a good understanding of their own shortcomings. Don't you have a Captains Excuse Book with one-liners that you can tell people you don't want on your team? Seems like I've heard them all...
    * Sorry, my team is full.
    * Sorry, I've got just enough players to play everyone that wants to play, and one more person would mess up my rotation.
    * Sorry, you have to be a member here to be on this team.
    * Sorry, I've seen you play and your backhand sucks.
    * Sorry, it's too late to add any new members to the team.
    * Sorry, but I asked the team and they think you stink.
    (That last one hurt the most.)
     
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  9. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    ^^^Ouch!!! :shock:
     
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  10. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Ouch is right.

    I mean, what's difficult are the Close Calls: The 3.5 player who does OK at 6.5 and who could maybe handle 7.5 with a top 3.5 or 4.0 partner. Trouble is, there aren't enough strong partners to go around for those Close Call players. The captain then has a choice: Put together a losing 7.5 team that takes all of the old gang, or put together a strong-ish 7.5 squad that leaves some of the old gang behind at 6.5 to make room for stronger players.

    I had a conversation with another captain about this some years ago. When she had a 6.5 team and wanted to go to 7.5, she just invited everyone along. Everyone came. What happened was that their first year they lost all of their matches. The next season, they still finished at the bottom. And so on. Every single season, they were struggling to win any team matches.

    The reason, of course, was that once you fill your roster with people who aren't really ready for the next level of competition (for 7.5, that would be 3.0s and low 3.5s), you won't have room for high 3.5s and 4.0s that might become available. All you can hope is that these existing players will develop and improve, but they might not. Of course better players will avoid a bottom-feeding team like the plague.

    Then you are stuck. You either have to just keep right on losing, or you have to kick people to the curb when better players come along. Perhaps it is better to avoid inviting someone onto the team in the first place unless you have some reason to think they have the skills to be competitive?
     
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  11. rainman007

    rainman007 Rookie

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    have your good 3.0's play with a 4.5

    i think its better for the weaker 3.5's to play 7.5 if they are pounding people at 6.5

    its better to play better players and lose than to play weaker players and never improve.. If you are captaining a team to win sectionals just have the weaker 3.5's play on a team thats not concerned about winning sectionals..

    if you are all friends and just want to keep it social then just play 7.5 and dont worry about going to sectionals..

    thats just my opinion..
     
    #11
  12. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You'd have a very hard time finding a 4.5 woman who wants to play 7.5 combo with a 3.0. It would be such a lopsided pairing.

    Besides, 4.5 women are the spotted owls of tennis around here. I have played league tennis for 5 years, and I only know one 4.5 woman.
     
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  13. mtommer

    mtommer Hall of Fame

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    Why not just gather those who want to move up and tell them tryouts will be in a month and then let them fail or succeed on their own merits?
     
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  14. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I know what I would say if my current captain told me I would have to do a try-out to stay with the group.

    Hint: It would include the F-bomb.
     
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  15. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I don't believe this is allowed under USTA rules as you can't have more than 1.0 ratings difference between players, so a 4.5 wouldn't be able to play on a 7.5 team. I played 7.5 as a 3.0 and didn't have any issues - of course I was sandbagging at the time... :)
     
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  16. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    Combo Doubles allows a 1.5 rating difference. At least that's the case in our Section. Since there are no Combo National regs, I guess that the combo rating difference is decided by each section.

    However, from personal experience, doubles teams with a 1.5 rating difference don't always fare so well. The lower level player will get picked on and the higher level player will be isolated out of the match.
     
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  17. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    For what it's worth, it wouldn't bother me. In a way, I'd like it if I thought our team was made up of only the best people that that wanted to be on the team, as opposed to being made up of the captains buddies no matter what skill level they were. Each players ability to make (or not make) the team would be based on their own abilities - something they could control - verses the whims of the a-hole captain. Actually, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if that's how the best teams in our league were formed.
     
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  18. goober

    goober Legend

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    Wow I can't believe some of the captains in your area. That is really bad manners. They have zero tact.

    I got "I am sorry our team is full line" once. Two weeks later I noticed they added 3 more people- lol. It's ok though, what is the point on being on a team where you are not wanted. Plenty of other teams around.


    .
     
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2009
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  19. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    Interesting. I know that it WAS the rule here (NC), but not sure if it still is for that matter or if it is a state, sectional, or other rule. I'll see if I can find where I read it.
     
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  20. fe6250

    fe6250 Semi-Pro

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    I looked it up and I believe I was confusing the MIXED doubles rules with the COMBO rules. My mistake - Apologies.
     
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  21. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    I did the same exact thing earlier this year...saw a 4.0/2.5 combo on a women's 6.5 team and got realllly suspicious. But yeah, turns out combo allows 1.5 but in mixed it can't be more than 1.0.
     
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  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    The team might in fact have been full, even if they added players after you were turned away. In my case, I make commitments to my players in advance. Some are procrastinators and register at the last moment, before play begins. I imagine some people I turn away because the roster is full believe I am lying to them.

    That said, the roster-is-full lie is the one I use to avoid saying "I'm sorry, I have room on the roster and could take you if I were so inclined, but I'm holding out hoping I can find someone better." I guess it's not really a lie, though. The roster is full in that we don't have room for any additional weak players. :)

    Regarding holding tryouts, if I am already on the team the captain ought to know how well or poorly I play. No need for a tryout.

    Early on in my days as a captain, I did ask that prospective teammates play some doubles with me before I would invite them. Most accepted, provided I phrased it properly. I would say something like, "Let's get together for some doubles and make sure you think we are the right level for you." One lady replied, "So, this is a tryout?" I gave some sort of diplomatic reply, and she said she was no longer interested.

    No F-bomb, though.
     
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  23. goober

    goober Legend

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    The problem is this captain specifically said he was full at "X" number of players (which was his current roster size) and then he went on about how with "X" number of players everybody would have equal chances to play and it would not be fair if he started added extra players. Then a couple weeks later he had X+3 players on his team. These players were added after the season started by at least 2 weeks. His line of being a fair and committed captain was just all BS.
     
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  24. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    If your mixed league is a combined rating Adult Mixed league (6.0, 7.0, 8.0, etc.), then a one point rating difference is allowed. See below.

    5.01E Levels of Play.
    5.01E(1) For league play, individual sections have the right to conduct the program using straight NTRP levels (2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0, 4.5, and 5.0) or combined NTRP levels (6.0, 7.0, 8.0, 9.0, and 10.0). If combined levels are used the Section may also use the straight 2.5 level. Each individual
    mixed doubles team’s combined NTRP ratings may not exceed the level entered.
    5.01E(2) The NTRP difference between members of an individual doubles pair may notexceed 1.0.

    But Combo Mixed Doubles, like Combo Doubles (single gender) allows a 1.5 rating difference. Once Combo Doubles Division gets big enough to have it's own set of National Regs, the rating difference will probably be addresses there and not be left up to the Sections.

    The rules can get quite confusing at times, but there is a link to National Regs and National Reg Interpretations on the TennisLink home page.
     
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  25. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    ^^^The mixed I was referring to was 'regular' mixed, not combo mixed. Sorry if I caused any confusion.

    I have actually never played combo mixed...gotta draw the line somewhere!
     
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  26. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I knew you meant adult mixed, but I was putting the combo mixed info out there as an FYI. Combo mixed doubles is a lot of fun, and I hope it keeps growing. Most doubles teams are .5 point rating difference. So a typical 7.5 team is a 4.0 and a 3.5, and a typical 8.5 team is a 4.0 and a 4.5. You really don't have too many 1.5 rating difference teams.
     
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  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Oh.

    :awkward silence:

    I think he blew you off, man.
     
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  28. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Combo mixed, eh?

    I've never tried that either. Honestly, I don't think I'm ready. When I face a 4.0 guy now (in 7.0 mixed), he has a 3.0 partner. Even though my partner is only 3.5, we are balanced and we can try to pick on the 3.0.

    One of my favorite tactics is to lob every one of her serves back to her and crash the net. It usually draws an error or a short lob. Most 3.5 women won't have trouble winding up to hit a groundstroke off of my feeble lob, so I wouldn't know what to do against a 4.0 guy/3.5 woman.

    Maybe next decade . . .
     
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  29. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, but if you play 7.5 combo mixed with a 4.0 man, it all balances out. The 3.5 on the other team will also have to deal with your 4.0 partner. Combo is great for your tennis game because of those .5 differences. And it gives you more people to play on teams with in addition to your straight level teams.
     
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  30. Geezer Guy

    Geezer Guy Hall of Fame

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    Oh - sorry. I haven't REALLY heard all those things (out loud, to my face anyway). I was just trying to show there are plenty of excuses to use on someone you don't want on your team.

    I DID have an experience like yours once. I was bumped from 3.5 to 4.0 in the middle of our winter season. Obviously I couldn't play on my 3.5 team anymore. I asked one of the 4.0 captains at our club if he had any openings. I gave him the whole schtick about me realizing he had an existing team, and I'd only expect to play when he was short of his regulars, and having me was better than a forfeit - right? He said he was sorry, he'd like to but his roster was actually full and he couldn't add any more players. I checked - he had the 3rd largest team in the league (which I thought strange). Couple weeks later I'm playing against a new guy at the club (and got beat). That captain watched our match, and afterward asked me who it was I played against. About a week later I noticed the new guy was on the team. (And yeah, I'm still kinda pissed about that.) Anyway, that team won the district and went to Sectionals, and came in 2nd there. And the "new guy" probably (well, almost certainly) did better in 4.0 league play than I would have. So what's the moral of the story? Winning captains lie sometimes? If you've got a good team you've got to keep the riff-raff out? Something like that.

    Most captains are pretty decent though (though they may not go to Sectionals very often).
     
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