For Those of You Who Are Thinking About Captaining.......
Let me describe a typical pre-season for me. This is my fifth year, so I know what I am talking about, at least in my neck of the woods.
24 prospects total.
Twelve players from last year’s team
Four players I met last summer who expressed an absolute interest in playing
Four players I have not met yet referred to me by friends
Two players bumped up from the 3.0 team
Two players who are still 3.0s but want to play as 3.5s
I check ratings on the USTA website and find that two of my players from last year are now 4.0s. Down to 22. I send out an e-mail to all of my prospects.
14 prospects have replied back. Two of my players from last year are not returning: One is moving and one is coaching soccer/baseball/Lacrosse, and won’t have time to play. Down to 20. An additional e-mail gets four more replies, and two of the players who showed an interest decide not to play. Down to eighteen total with two still MIA.
I have gotten another e-mail back, and that means eighteen total with one still MIA. Then, I hear my last MIA player is under some sort of indictment, and has left the state quickly (yes, that happened one year!). Seventeen remaining.
Three of my six remaining prospects already have 3.5 rating. As the weather warms, I take the other three out separately to help them self-rate. The first is a low 3.0, so I refer him to the 3.0 captain. The second is a 4.0, and I am forced to give him up as well. The third is just right. Fifteen remaining.
Two players who have confirmed that they were definitely playing decide not to, leaving me with Thirteen one week before I have to declare a team. One player calls me to tell me that he ruptured his Achilles. Down to Twelve. One player e-mails me to tell me his wife said he could not play. Eleven. Another has gotten a new job that requires weekends. Ten. Two days left to declare a team. I go to the “players looking for teams” section of the local website, and find four 3.5 players to call. Two get back to me, and want to play. Back to Twelve. I declare the team to the local USTA.
Inexplicably, one player never signs up (he must have been sucked into the same rip in the space/time continuum as missing vibration dampers), leaving me with a roster of Eleven. Four players are not available on week 1, making our team default one line.
After acquiring three more players through word of mouth, I lose two more to injury. Twelve it is.
And that, boys and girls, is USTA Roster Math.
IF USTA had to pay me for this, they could definitely not afford what I would charge. Despite all this, though, and despite the fact that none of my teams have ever attained a .500 winning percentage, I keep coming back.
Getting a roster together can be bad. The worst is the first year starting a team from scratch when you literally have to take anybody to fill out a team so you have enough players. After that it wasn't too bad. I think the in-season stuff is worse. Players being unvailable all the time, saying they are going to play and then dropping out on match day, trying to collect court fees. That kind of stuff is much worse for me.
I got *very* lucky this year. I've co-captained a lot, but this year my 3.0 captain got bumped to 3.5 so I reluctantly stepped up. After a lot of hand wringing to get people we came up with exactly 8. We need 8 for each week (yikes!). I tried to get at least one extra, but no such luck.
So far we've only had to default a singles court once and that was on a player's planned vacation. Every other planned absence has been on our Bye weeks. What are the odds that all 8 people can actually play every week? And I got checks for court fees from everyone the first night I requested them.
Even with that luck and ease - captaining is still a PITA. I think next season I'm not stepping up. I want to just show up when & where I'm told to, told where & with whom I'm playing, and how much money to give someone.
Michael, let me review one of my seasons. This was for Spring 2011, when I was putting together a playoff-bound team. The names have been changed to protect the litigious.
Monday after Thanksgiving, 2010
Pay close attention to ratings of players on my team. After the dust settles, I see I have 11 returning players. Immediately confirm with them that they want to play on the spring team.
Diligently pursue any and all strong 3.5s in the DC Metro area with particular emphasis on singles players because we have zero. Am able to sign up 4 singles players. Get firm commitments from 16 doubles players and 4 singles players. Pat self on back for successful and very time-consuming recruiting.
Send out email confirming that the spring team will happen and that no one's plans have changed. Receive enthusiastic replies.
Send out email confirming that the spring team will happen and that no one's plans have changed. Receive enthusiastic replies.
Send out email confirming that the team will happen and giving details about registration. Hear back from one player that she got a job and now cannot play. Hear back from another player that she decided to play on a competing team instead.
Hear nothing from one of the singles players and start pursuing her via text, phone and email. Radio silence. Consider filing a Missing Person's Report with the local authorities. Singles player finally gets tired of being stalked and replies that she is rusty and wants to play doubles. I say there may be a chance to play some doubles (while secretly thinking the very last thing I need is some rusty singles player jacking up our doubles), but invite her to hit singles with me and find her mojo.
Weeks pass. Finally, she emails that she doesn't want to play.
Star doubles player blows her Achilles.
Now down to three singles players, who get hammered in their opening matches. Start begging doubles players to play singles. Manage to limp along on the strength of doubles with a roster of 18.
Doubles player who promised she would be at Districts says she has a family vacation instead and will be out of town. Let's call her Becky. File player deletion form for Becky and add another star singles player.
Use last two roster spots to add two singles beasts. Qualify for Districts.
Star singles player plans vacation and can only play one match at Districts.
Strong doubles player wins her first match and gets squirrely, claiming a bogus injury to avoid the stress of playing more matches.
Sandbagging 3.0 strong singles player is unavailable to play more than one match because of her commitment to her 3.0 team.
Strong singles player cannot get the Friday off work to play at Districts.
Post line-up for first match and receive an email from a doubles player who is in the line-up. She says she just booked a beach house for that weekend because she figured she probably wouldn't play, so sorry she didn't check with me first.
Down to three singles players. Team gets smoked in singles because the three are just too exhausted to play their best.
Becky turns up playing for another of her 3.5 teams at Districts. I guess the whole fib about going out of town was a fib.
No trip to Sectionals, after all of that.
I swear, it is just not worth it to try to put a competitive team together. Too much work, and people are just too flaky and unreliable.
Wow... those are 2 amazing, but not surprising chain of events.
I appreciate what captains do because I use to organize all sorts of teams/matches for basketball and ultimate frisbee. PITA and some people have no clue about being responsible in the slightest way. I'll pat myself on the back as I make sure I hold up my end of the bargain with my captain... I like and want to be known as a strong and more importantly DEPENDABLE player. Hats off to the captains! Thank you for taking this on!
Captains who wish to someday not be captains should not post these kinds of stories.
That being said, and since I'm no longer a captain, yep, I believe the above stories to be typical.
Jeez Cindy, for at least 3 of those players, I had no problem figuring them out! LOL
To keep the International flavour of the boards going I'll add the perspective of an antipodean.
In South Australia I play in a competition on grass, on Saturday mornings. We play two doubles and four singles rubbers on two courts (or more it there are spares), starting at 8.30 in the morning and finishing about 12.30
So four players are needed each week, as most people like to play both (best of three sets rubbers) Or as players get older, maybe they play only singles or doubles.
A team will generally have five players, maybe six if like mine people travel for work and are injury prone.
It's very easy to organise a team!
I'm disappointed in you, Topaz.
I captained 1 week while our captain and co-captain were away at nationals.
That's all I ever want to do.
For me, I dont see how people cant simply do what they say they will do, how easily they back out of things, and how lightly they take things even at the expense of others.
It's a good thing when im in charge of something I dont have these typical "rec tennis personalities" at the helm while im asleep.
I've never been a manager at McDonalds but I feel like being a league rep or captain is similar to dealing with a bunch adults with teenager lifestyles.
They cant play because:
-They have "other things" to do
-They didnt get up in time
-They dont like the line/person/team
-They just dont show up
-They just dont "want" to
Not to mention:
-They may not always pay their way/share
-"Drama" 24/7 about anything imaginable
-Lying/stealing/cheating happen way more often than they should
-Habitually late, no cause for concern
I dont think these adults are like that in their normal lives. Somehow when it comes to league tennis everyone becomes a teenager again. What is it about league tennis that seems to bring out the worse in people?
The thing that always annoys me is how when the season ends maybe 20% of the guys even bother to say thanks to me for captaining. It would be nice if more people realized that it's a good deal of work to schedule and confirm matches every week.
There's always a bunch of flakes out there. The hardest thing to do is get people who have never played before to play. I would just take for granted that anyone new that you ask to play is going to say no. Last year I had a guy who had played with me the previous year give me three names of guys who "seriously" wanted to play. Two of the three didn't have the class to respond to my emails and the other declined to play.
The guy who have me the three contacts of interested players no showed for the first match of the season and fall off the face of the earth for the rest of the season. I saw on Facebook that he was alive and well so I guess he was embarrassed about no showing and couldn't deal with apologizing.
My guys this season have done a very good job of responding to my emails. Of course they have all played USTA before and two of them have captained before. Being a captain is generally fun but it would be nice if more people would thank you for putting the team together.
This just makes me appreciate my 3.5 captain that much more. He's extremely prompt, checks everyone's schedule availability early and often, posts the match schedule, line ups and results on Google docs so all the players know at least 4-5 days in advance if they're playing a given match. Great guy all around. In return we have a solid team that gets along great. Most teammates will come out to watch and support the team in a match if they're not in the lineup.
At the end of the season these last two years with this captain we take him out for lunch and give him a $100 gift certificate in recognition for all he does.
It works well!
I've only played comp. for maybe 7 years or so, but I've captained for probably five of those, and found it easy, fun and rewarding. I appreciated that it's not USTA, (as in my post above) and probably easier, but captaining is a privilege really. I mean, we're talking about taking time out from our comfortable lives to play sport, and help others to play sport - we're not picking children's bodies from the ruins of war-torn Beirut for goodness' sake. For a couple of years I was also Club Captain at my club, which means I organised about 20 teams, liaised with the captains, helped them fill their teams, made sure the grounds-people prepared the courts, talked to the different associations, did court allocations etc. Again, it was a fair bit of work, but rewarding. My favourite job was opening the club on Saturdays; at 8.00 it was empty, then by 9.00 there were 12 courts with 48 guys playing matches all enjoying themselves. It's nice to be able to do that. After a couple of years I figured I'd done my bit so I stopped.
I'd like to add a bit of balance to the OP's quite long thread about how captaining can be frustrating - my point is that my experience is that Captaining is fun, easy and rewarding. As long as you have demi-decent organisational skills and remember people are people and you'll have to work with that, you'll be fine.
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