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Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 05:27 AM

Moving From The Fun Team To The Competitive Team
 
I've been wondering just how often it works when a player decides to move from a "fun" team (where people try to improve and win but know they have little chance of making the playoffs) to a "competitive" team (where playoffs and beyond are the goal).

I've been watching the experiences of one of my former teammates, kind of as a test case.

This lady joined my team maybe two years ago. She and a few other players were leaving her old team because they had issues with the captain. She joined our little orbit (day, combo, adult) and seemed happy. She was a strong doubles player (with ambitions to make it to 4.0 this November), so I made sure she had her choice of partners and I tried to be accommodating of her schedule etc. Last December and again this March, she confirmed her intention of continuing with the team for our spring 3.5 season.

Then she played a fun, competitive doubles match against another captain. This captain -- who always tries to field a team strong enough to go to Nationals -- was impressed with her and offered her a spot on her team. My player called me and asked if it was OK if she backed out of her commitment and went instead to this playoff-bound team. She felt this could be her last chance to make a playoff run before she moves up to 4.0.

Well, what could I say? Of course I said it was fine if she backed out. It's a free country, last time I checked. All I can do to retain players is be the best captain I can be. If that isn't enough, or if a player has other priorities, then it probably is best if they change teams. Why try to guilt someone into staying with a team?

So. That left me shorthanded at the beginning of the season and left me lacking a strong Court One player. I later heard this teammate got some blowback from another captain she plays for in the winter, who was irked that this player would go to That Other Captain rather than go to her. Oy.

It will not surprise you to hear that I have kept one eye on how things are going on this new team. My former teammate is crazy fast around the court, so it seems her new captain has decided to use her in singles (this may also be because many of the players on that team have established partners). The new team played her once at No. 2 singles. My former teammate was beaten, something like 7-5, 4-4 (timed). This probably came as a shock given that her opponent was just a 3.0.

She got another shot yesterday, again at No. 2 singles. Again she drew a 3.0 opponent -- and this opponent is a former teammate of the captain so the captain knows how that player plays. Again my former teammate lost, 6-4, 6-3. Oh, man.

What could be causing her to play so poorly that she can't beat players a full level beneath her? It certainly isn't that she is a poor singles player -- I've seen her play singles and she knows what she is doing.

Me, I think it is the pressure to win, plain and simple.

I think the atmosphere on some hyper-competitive teams can be toxic to a person's tennis. I know from conversations with this other captain that her approach is that you don't play if you can't win. That is a big change from a less competitive philosophy where you know you will get your shot and no one will hold it against you if you lose.

I also have some personal experience with this. I joined a competitive team this season, and it is the first time I've been on such a team. The jury is still out -- I've only played one match, and I lost. Did I feel tight during that match because of the pressure? You betcha. Do I feel like I will walk the plank if I don't win next time? Ay yay, Captain.

Has anyone else had difficulty making the transition to a competitive team? Captains, have you seen it among your players?

sureshs 05-27-2009 05:52 AM

Serves her right for ditching you.

Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 05:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sureshs (Post 3469256)
Serves her right for ditching you.

But I *like* her. And I do think it is just the pressure.

Although . . . I haven't been able to bring myself to set up a foursome with her, like the good old days. It would be too awkward. Maybe later this summer. . . .

There was a lot of buzzing about it among the various teams. People would come up to me and express their horror, probably hoping I would put on a Big Show Of Disapproval and satisfy the insatiable need for Drama. Nah. I just said she decided to try something different, and I was OK with it. Which left them disappointed! ;)

raiden031 05-27-2009 05:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 3469226)
What could be causing her to play so poorly that she can't beat players a full level beneath her? It certainly isn't that she is a poor singles player -- I've seen her play singles and she knows what she is doing.

Me, I think it is the pressure to win, plain and simple.

I think the atmosphere on some hyper-competitive teams can be toxic to a person's tennis. I know from conversations with this other captain that her approach is that you don't play if you can't win. That is a big change from a less competitive philosophy where you know you will get your shot and no one will hold it against you if you lose.

I also have some personal experience with this. I joined a competitive team this season, and it is the first time I've been on such a team. The jury is still out -- I've only played one match, and I lost. Did I feel tight during that match because of the pressure? You betcha. Do I feel like I will walk the plank if I don't win next time? Ay yay, Captain.

Has anyone else had difficulty making the transition to a competitive team? Captains, have you seen it among your players?

I find it doubtful that she is losing to 3.0 players because of too much pressure. Pressure might have an effect at times, but not that great of an effect.

I think either 1) they are not truly 3.0, hinted by the fact that they are playing up in a 3.5 league and beating someone who is a strong 3.5 player, or 2) she is not a good singles player. You can be athletic and still lose in singles if you don't have consistent strokes or the right strategy and shot selections. I started improving in doubles faster than in singles initially, then it sorta reversed.

Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 05:58 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by raiden031 (Post 3469277)
I find it doubtful that she is losing to 3.0 players because of too much pressure. Pressure might have an effect at times, but not that great of an effect.

I think either 1) they are not truly 3.0, hinted by the fact that they are playing up in a 3.5 league and beating someone who is a strong 3.5 player, or 2) she is not a good singles player. You can be athletic and still lose in singles if you don't have consistent strokes or the right strategy and shot selections. I started improving in doubles faster than in singles initially, then it sorta reversed.

Raiden, on your 3.0 team that went to Nationals, was there a lot of pressure? Maybe not on you, but on some of the players who lost a bit more frequently? Did they get benched?

sureshs 05-27-2009 06:01 AM

This brings me back to the "bad day" thread. If your former teammate loses to a 3.0 in a competitive match, then she is a 3.0 or 2.5, by definition. She is not having a bad hair day because it is a competitive match. I understand all about the jitters of playing under pressure, but losing to someone a whole level below shows that her game has many cracks.

raiden031 05-27-2009 06:08 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 3469281)
Raiden, on your 3.0 team that went to Nationals, was there a lot of pressure? Maybe not on you, but on some of the players who lost a bit more frequently? Did they get benched?

There was some pressure, but honestly none of the players except maybe the captains took it all that seriously. I'd say all of the players performed to their best ability most of the time, and the only benching I saw was maybe at Nationals when a few players only got to play 2 matches, whereas me and a few others played like 4-6 matches.

sureshs 05-27-2009 06:14 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 3469276)
There was a lot of buzzing about it among the various teams. People would come up to me and express their horror, probably hoping I would put on a Big Show Of Disapproval and satisfy the insatiable need for Drama. Nah. I just said she decided to try something different, and I was OK with it. Which left them disappointed! ;)

She will come back crawling to you.

Some people are best in casual social play, and they should just take it as something they do for fun and exercise, and leave it at that.

Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 06:36 AM

Eh, I doubt it. She has lots of options. The awkwardness will be difficult to overcome, I'm afraid.

blakesq 05-27-2009 06:46 AM

in Connecticut there is an unwritten rule that captains of teams were not supposed to poach players from other teams. Not sure how or if it is enforced, but the captain of my team mentioned this rule to me just a week or so ago. I wonder if you guys don't have the same rule in your area Cindy?

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 3469226)
snip
Then she played a fun, competitive doubles match against another captain. This captain -- who always tries to field a team strong enough to go to Nationals -- was impressed with her and offered her a spot on her team. My player called me and asked if it was OK if she backed out of her commitment and went instead to this playoff-bound team. She felt this could be her last chance to make a playoff run before she moves up to 4.0.
snip


cak 05-27-2009 06:51 AM

Call her for a social game. Really. I'm betting the awkwardness will all fade away.

My partner from last season got bumped to 4.0, and I didn't. Our club doesn't have any other 4.0 ladies, but was thinking of building a 4.0 team with 3.5 players, and a few 4.0s from outside the club. She wanted a true 4.0 team, so she joined another club. We still play social tennis weekly. And my one stipulation is I will not play on my 4.0 team against her team in league play. And next year if she comes back to play for our club it will be with high fives all around.

Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 07:04 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by blakesq (Post 3469435)
in Connecticut there is an unwritten rule that captains of teams were not supposed to poach players from other teams. Not sure how or if it is enforced, but the captain of my team mentioned this rule to me just a week or so ago. I wonder if you guys don't have the same rule in your area Cindy?

Goodness no. There's no such rule here.

Some captains are big on "loyalty" -- read Guilt Trip -- but I'm not. If you do a crap job as captain, your players owe you nothing other than to do their best to perform well.

I think it is fine to make offers to players on other teams, but my feeling is that players often act like idiots when this happens. All you have to say is, "Thanks for thinking of me, but I'll stick with Suzy's team for now." But nooooo. Folks have to make a big fat deal out of it.

Me, I do make offers to people if I know them from some other tennis forum. That would be people I meet in clinics, people on my other teams, people I meet socially. I have had people leave their teams and join mine from these invitations. Sometimes there are players on strong teams who are unhappy because they don't get enough playing time or enough of a challenge or don't like their partners or captain, but they are trapped. If they want out, I'm happy to take them.

CAK, I think I will try to set something up now rather than waiting for the season to end. Why not? The worst that can happen is she'll decline.

CrocodileRock 05-27-2009 07:14 AM

Deja vu Cindy. In our case, we've had three guys join other teams they thought were more competitive than us after committing to us, and exchanging emails, phone calls, team strategies, etc. In all three cases, they left a competitive team for a "more competitive" team (even though our team has won five straight years) that they thought was going to nationals. And in all three cases, the teams they joined ended up in last place. It hasn't been that awkward seeing them around though. Maybe that's a woman thing?

RoddickAce 05-27-2009 07:33 AM

Actually I think you're right. Pressure can do that to people. You tense up during matches and then when that happens you hit more errors and you mess up your timing because your feet are tensed up. And in the 3.0 stage, a lot of successful players are pushers, so that might spell a loss for your former teammate.

Cindysphinx 05-27-2009 07:38 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CrocodileRock (Post 3469495)
Deja vu Cindy. In our case, we've had three guys join other teams they thought were more competitive than us after committing to us, and exchanging emails, phone calls, team strategies, etc. In all three cases, they left a competitive team for a "more competitive" team (even though our team has won five straight years) that they thought was going to nationals. And in all three cases, the teams they joined ended up in last place. It hasn't been that awkward seeing them around though. Maybe that's a woman thing?

What's up with the committing repeatedly and then backing out stuff?

I can't imagine telling a player she has a spot and then waiting until the season is about to start and teams have been formed and then tossing her out on her butt because someone stronger comes along. Yet players do that to captains.

Man. I turned down a bunch of players because my roster was full, and then this happened. I wasn't able to find anyone to fill the spot, and certainly not anyone capable of playing Court One. Urrrrgg.

drakulie 05-27-2009 08:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Cindysphinx (Post 3469226)
What could be causing her to play so poorly that she can't beat players a full level beneath her?


an inflated NTRP.

jgn1013 05-27-2009 08:26 AM

I think playing singles is totally different from doubles. I feel less pressure,and sometimes lack concentration playing doubles then when I play singles. Maybe she's not a good singles player ?

subaru3169 05-27-2009 09:27 AM

i say if she can be happier joining a higher level team, then let her have it given it's not last minute so that you can find a replacement to fill her spot

so you already know how she plays and what her results were.. ok, so her results against those other ppl from that other team isn't really your business.. for her to commit to that other team is for her to decide whether it's worth it or not.. but since you seem pretty inviting, let her on back if she decides it's not right for her, and be happy if it is

slick 05-27-2009 09:46 AM

She clearly is not as good as she thinks she is. Even if nervous a low 4.0 should beat a high 3.0 every time.

Second, she showed poor character committing to play for your team and then ditching you for greener pastures.

Admit it, deep down you have to be happy she is getting her *** handed to her.

Topaz 05-27-2009 10:06 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by sureshs (Post 3469292)
This brings me back to the "bad day" thread. If your former teammate loses to a 3.0 in a competitive match, then she is a 3.0 or 2.5, by definition. She is not having a bad hair day because it is a competitive match. I understand all about the jitters of playing under pressure, but losing to someone a whole level below shows that her game has many cracks.

Unless...that 3.0 is not really a 3.0.

In my little corner of the world, ladies will self-rate 3.0 for the mixed season, meaning they can pair up wit ha 4.0 guy. Then, come ladies league, they don't even bother to play 3.0...they just play 3.5. We have a few of them running around in singles, and if they beat a well established, strong 3.5, it doesn't necessarily hurt the 3.5...it gets the 3.0 bumped up to where they belong.


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