First time to usta districts this weekend... Any advice.

djkahn86

Rookie
I am the captain of my team and it's my first year playing and thus first time to districts. Looks like 3 matches to be played over the weekend. 1 Saturday and 2 Sunday.

Any advice from some seasoned veterans?

What to bring

How to play guys considering 3 matches in 2 days.

How much to practice/rest this week

Etc....

Anything to help would be greatly appreciated
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
First, some questions for you.

How many do you have rostered or making the trip? If you have a large roster, what expectation has been set with players regarding playing time? Is the goal to get everyone as equal time as possible? Or are you a play the best players or the best lineups to win regardless team? These two are not mutually exclusive of course, you can balance them both, but most teams slant one way or the other and you need to decide up front which way you will go and get on the same page with your players.

Depending on the answer to those questions, you need to figure out a line-up. If you are just going for fun and getting everyone playing time, the line-up doesn't matter that much, you want to make sure to rotate players through as needed. But if you are going with a focus on winning, getting the line-up right is important. Three matches in two days doesn't seem like a lot, but in playoffs the matches are closer and tend to go longer and may be played in the heat of the day, so you need to pay attention to who is/isn't playing twice in a day and if you are going to play someone just once in a day, getting them in the match they fit the best can be important. Knowing who the strongest/weakest teams are and how they tend to arrange their pairings and line-ups can be useful in figuring line-ups and <advertisement disclaimer>my team and flight reports can really help you scout the opponents and prepare a plan.</advertisement disclaimer>

Based on the line-ups you decide to go with, getting practice time with the doubles pairings is important, but hopefully you've been doing that already and aren't creating new pairings a week out.

Once at the event, you may want to have players that aren't playing watching future opponents to scout them and see if there are any surprises or differences from what you planned on and if you need to adjust your plan. Sometimes a singles player will get hidden in doubles during the regular season, or some play only a match or two so there is limited info to base a scouting report on.

Beyond that, all the standard tips apply about dealing with the elements, likely sunny and hot this time of year, and hydrating and staying in the shade.

Most of all, go have fun. Not everyone gets to go to Districts, particularly in their first year playing USTA. So enjoy it!
 

OrangePower

Legend
I am the captain of my team and it's my first year playing and thus first time to districts. Looks like 3 matches to be played over the weekend. 1 Saturday and 2 Sunday.

Any advice from some seasoned veterans?

What to bring

How to play guys considering 3 matches in 2 days.

How much to practice/rest this week

Etc....

Anything to help would be greatly appreciated
Norcal? Just guessing since our districts are this weekend.

Agree with @schmke about lineup decisions based on expectations - winning vs giving everyone a chance to play.
A good compromise is to play strong lineups for Saturday and 1st match Sunday, and then plan to put those who have yet to play into the lineup for 2nd Sunday match.
IF you are still in contention to make it to Sectionals at that point, you can make last minute changes to strengthen the lineup.
Be up front with your players and they will understand. Getting to Sectionals means more matches / playing opportunities for everyone.

Find nearby courts where you can warm up. You will not be able to get a good warmup at the districts venue. Have someone who is not playing at the venue to submit the lineup and monitor start time, while the players in the lineup warm up elsewhere.

Be aware that roving officials will call footfaults. This comes as a shock to many players who have never been to districts, and who have never been called out on their footfaulting before (and may not even be aware that they do it). I have seen this get into players' heads so badly that they can't serve at all afterwards!

Also be aware that any player can ask for an official to come be a linejudge. Let your players know that it's preferable to ask for an official rather than get into any kind of confrontation or unpleasantness with the opponent(s), or letting their calls get under your skin. There is something about districts that makes some normally fair players make questionable calls. (Still the great majority of players are fair - don't get me wrong.)
 

Angle Queen

Professional
Congrats on captaining a team to Districts!

Lotta good advice already dispensed here. I'll add a few. Ok, a lot:

As a newby captain, make sure you attend the captains meeting (usually the night before). They usually dispense a lot of good tips specific to their tournament and location. Make sure you understand the tournament format -- is it a win-your-flight to go into another Round-Robin or win-your-flight to enter a semis-/finals kinda thing. Either way, that's at least two more matches than the three you already anticipate.

Make sure you have all your teammates cell/mobile phone #s and/or emails. You've probably already done that but it never hurts to remind your crew to bring their phones and have them all charged up. Encourage them to bring an alternate/backup power source or charger as electrical outlets at a lot of venues are few and far between.

Make sure your team brings a photo ID. But, sadly, don't be surprised if the USTA officials don't check it. :(

Be aware that they can change the format of play, e.g. from Best-of-2 w/SuperTB...to an 8- or 10-game pro-set. They've pulled that on us here in the Mid-Atl because of heat or rain and/or backed up schedules.

Be nice to the officials, and they'll be nice to you. It's surprising how much information they will share...if you're nice. We've gotten tips on who/which team was playing well and even who potentially had someone playing, shall we say, out of level.

Along those lines, someone, somewhere will come to question a player's rating. @schmke could probably provide you a lot more info but, absent his terrific reports, you should probably at least look up your opponent teams in tennislink and figure out who their self-rates are. At least you'll know what you might be up against.

I've found stacking common, esp at Districts. But that's probably because I play(ed) in an area that typically plays things straight-up and have been on more than a few teams that had to learn the very painful lesson that other areas stack.

It might not sound like much, three matches in two days, but it can be a brutal process...esp if you need or want to count on a top player playing all three (plus any additionals for moving on). The need for rest and hydration cannot be over-emphasized.

If someone on the team has a pop-up tent, bring it. Shade is sometimes at a premium and, if for nothing else, it'll provide a central spot for your team to congregate.

Advise your team to bring some cash. Some of the vendors who come to provide things to sell (food, clothing, etc) either don't yet deal with forms of electronic payment or offer cash discounts and/or jumping to the front of the line if you pay in cash. Gotta luv the good ole American Dollar.

Resist the urge to drink alcohol, even if you know you're 'out of it'. That stuff will kill you on the hydration side of things. The time for celebrating or drowning your sorrows is after it's all said and done.

Encourage your players not playing...to go cheer on their teammates....but only if you know the one still playing would/will appreciate it. Maybe even ask them: do you want to KNOW if it comes down to THEIR match. Over the years, some of my teammates did want to know, but it put way too much pressure on others.

A 'great shot' or a clap in appreciation goes a long way -- and not just to your teammates. You'd be surprised at how good the tennis really is. Look, we all know we're not pros and they make it all look soooo easy, but everyone at Districts has gotten past a whole bunch of other 'rec' players. Count yourselves lucky and talented and enjoy the weekend.

In conclusion, it reminds me of something my mother would whisper to me when I left to go out with friends: Be good and have fun. And if you can't be good (at it...whatever IT is)....HAVE FUN!!!!
 

kylebarendrick

Professional
I'll second what OrangePower said about footfaults. Start watching each other in practice and make your team aware when they foot fault. It will get called at some point. I had a team mate get called for a FF by a roving official during a 10 point tiebreak in the deciding match at districts. He showed great mental strength by getting his 2nd serve in - many people fall apart in that situation.
 

MegacedU

Professional
Play to win! New England Districts are this weekend too, I'll be there! I usually play my best players and then fill in the gaps with rotating players. That way, everyone ends up playing, but you're still in it to win it.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
If it's "for fun" then the lineup needs to come out before you even play the first match. This is to ensure that a win on day 1 doesnt all of a sudden turn into a "going for it" scenario where players may end up getting benched when they have attended under the premise that "everyone plays".

If it's "for serious" then all your players will need to be ready to play at all times; and, players who are unlikely to play must be made aware before they commit to going. You do not want last arguments of "how come my husband/wife/kid isnt playing?". Yes, telling someone "if you come, you may not play and will be there just for support" is a hard thing to say, but it's easier than what you will have to say if an entire family is mad at you for not letting their husband/wife/kid play because they "wouldnt have come" if they knew that in advance.

Make sure everyone is well hydrated. If you want to take this to an extreme, avoid hotel food also. All of the food illnesses i've heard of were from hotel food, or restaurants located within hotels. Leave the hotel to eat, even if that means going to McDoanlds or ordering pizza. Cook in your room after shopping at Walmart too, if you have a stove. Avoid "really cheap eats" if you're extra paranoid. You do not want the whole team going down because of a "complimentary AYCE breakfast buffet" leaving you with only one team member who didnt eat the eggs.

Not everyone is equipped for travel. You may have to hand-hold some people through booking. Combine whatever you can, such as rooms for the singles/couples/genders, and rental cars. It makes it easier.

NO ALCOHOL until the very end. Dont get me wrong; I love to drink. Just WAIT till the END. This isnt Sunday tennis and brews. People may have had to pay THOUSANDS to get there. You do not want a $5 liter of Karkov vodka, or Bud Light 40 ruining someones $2,000 family trip.
 

djkahn86

Rookie
First year captain at 4.0. Sounds like you got the ringer team :)
Team is filled up with mostly guys 40+. My buddy and I have never played USTA and really just started good lastt year. This is 2 years of 2-3 wk tennis year round. My hope is everyone is just as nervous as I am. I do appreciate all the comments. My plan is to HAVE FUN and see what happens saturday. Thanks everyone.
 

Jim A

Professional
Congrats & enjoy it. What are the expectations of the team, was this a hey "bonus tennis" or expected all along?
We had our 18+ District's a couple weeks ago, I picked up a Flight Report from Schmke to help with some of our opponents. We had District's as the starting point of our season for the most part so it was not fun but also easy to call and tell a player that we were going to change a lineup and keep him out for the time being as we needed to get another pairing moving in the right direction.

Be familiar with the rules - make sure your team has the address and all specific items needed on site. If you have multiple matches on the same day have everyone bring items. We assigned fruit/drinks/bars/etc to people for our first day and final day with multiple matches.

We were a little short but had the right players most of the weekend, lost in the semi's to the eventual champs.

Chances are the following will happen:
1. A team will stack, helps to take a look and see what their tendencies are before you play
2. You will play someone who is out of level -
3. There will be lots of match tiebreakers and it will decide everything. We play a lot of them in practice and also do drills where the goal is to never lose 3 points in a row (stop momentum swings) - the team that won our District won both match tie breaks vs us and then again in the Final.
4. Play to your strengths. We didn't stack etc as our doubles is by far our strongest. If a team stacks and plays our "3" they still are going to have a good match. We did stack our singles on occasion - It was funny to see a pair of 60+ year old singles guys get called for 1 Singles on Saturday morning!
5. You will have a great time regardless and play good tennis along the way.
6. Pull for each other, support before/after matches - esprit de corps goes a long way. We always have music going and were locked into deep debates over the best South Park episodes as they were calling our match to the court.
 
3. There will be lots of match tiebreakers and it will decide everything. We play a lot of them in practice and also do drills where the goal is to never lose 3 points in a row (stop momentum swings) - the team that won our District won both match tie breaks vs us and then again in the Final.

I like this idea. Few people practice this way even though the huge matches often boil down to a TB.

6. Pull for each other, support before/after matches - esprit de corps goes a long way. We always have music going and were locked into deep debates over the best South Park episodes as they were calling our match to the court.
+1 on this too. My 4.0 team last year at league matches almost always had more people cheering even when we were the away team. Not everyone likes a cheering section, however; you have to know your teammates.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Chances are the following will happen:
1. A team will stack, helps to take a look and see what their tendencies are before you play
2. You will play someone who is out of level -
3. There will be lots of match tiebreakers and it will decide everything. We play a lot of them in practice and also do drills where the goal is to never lose 3 points in a row (stop momentum swings) - the team that won our District won both match tie breaks vs us and then again in the Final.
4. Play to your strengths. We didn't stack etc as our doubles is by far our strongest. If a team stacks and plays our "3" they still are going to have a good match. We did stack our singles on occasion - It was funny to see a pair of 60+ year old singles guys get called for 1 Singles on Saturday morning!
5. You will have a great time regardless and play good tennis along the way.
6. Pull for each other, support before/after matches - esprit de corps goes a long way. We always have music going and were locked into deep debates over the best South Park episodes as they were calling our match to the court.
All those are true. It is almost certain you will run across multiple players who are "out of level" (aka "under rated"). This is almost a given, since any team that is advancing will be made up of good players who are improving over the course of the year. If you are at 3.5 sectionals, expect to play against players who are essentially 4.0s in every way except the number beside their name.

I would also add to expect there to be tense moments with close matches. My general recommendation would be to call fair but accurate lines. You should expect the other teams at sectionals to be calling the lines out. Getting bent out of shape about this will only work against you. Stay true to your integrity on line calls and you will at least like yourself later.
 

djkahn86

Rookie
It was a blast... Didn't move on.. But team we beat that day just won sectionals and is headed to nationals... Make me feel a little better.. Kinda like it could have been us.. Lol.. We were the only team to beat them
 

Jim A

Professional
Very thin lines. We get a crack this weekend in 40+ at the team that knocked us out in 18+ in them semis and just finished 2nd at sectionals. Congrats on a great season.


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