League Team Tips and Tricks

Nopsled

New User
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I use Mytennisgroup. I like how it sends out reminders for players to input their availability. Chasing people to find out when they can play is a drag.

For court assignments, I do a lot of different things, often based on psychology. When I have a new player, I want to start them off with a good experience and a good chance to win. I will try to play them on court three, where you will only rarely see the strongest opponents. Other players prefer court one, either because of ego or because they want to maximize their chance of moving up. Or they just like a challenge. Other players freak out if put on court one because they think they will lose. None of this should matter, but it does.

I don’t hold practices. It does little good unless partners practice together, which rarely happened. Most ladies play plenty on their own.

I would say be sure you know the local league rules cold. There is no excuse for a captain not to know the rules.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
Once a week or once every other week practice is a must. Pro run practice is even better but probably cost little more with drills mixed in that will improve tactics and Consistency.

Also if you want to be truly exceptional captain, watch some of the matches of your players if you arent' playing that week, and take Notes. Take notes on What is the opponents doing that are hurting your players ? or What is your players doing or not doing that is hurting their play ? Court postioning a problem in doubles ? or too many UE's problem ? and offer your players some analysis of the match and give them tips on how to beat the opponents next time. Of course, if your guys win all the time then you don't need to do this probably.

I only tell you this cause I always critically analyze my matches that I lost during 8 hours after I played the match. and I think back and ask myself those questions. It is extrememly helpful. Why ? Because I often beat my opponents next time I play them by making adjustements or improvements on tactics. It really does work.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
First of all .... God bless you .... captaining has its rewards but is mostly a thankless endeavor

In terms of technology, I use Tennispoint .... basically the same program as Mytennisgroup .... just the one I picked ... I really can't imagine captaining well without it ... I can see everyone's availability for the entire season and plan accordingly, it auto sends reminder emails, you can schedule not only your matches and lineups but also your practices ... and you can import scores from tennislink so that everything is current. Also has some cool stat functions for evaluating partnerships.

I also would not be without a group texting app. DO NOT try to do a regular group text from your phone. It will splinter and is annoying. I love WhatsApp for my teams ... much more convenient and easier for everyone to use and respond with.

In terms of practice .. I hold a formal practice with a pro for my team each week and most week's an additional session for practice sets. I don't think it is totally necessary if you have teammates that regularly play .... but if you have a team where some only pick up a racquet for a match then I think it is a good idea
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
I use Mytennisgroup. I like how it sends out reminders for players to input their availability. Chasing people to find out when they can play is a drag.

For court assignments, I do a lot of different things, often based on psychology. When I have a new player, I want to start them off with a good experience and a good chance to win. I will try to play them on court three, where you will only rarely see the strongest opponents. Other players prefer court one, either because of ego or because they want to maximize their chance of moving up. Or they just like a challenge. Other players freak out if put on court one because they think they will lose. None of this should matter, but it does.

I don’t hold practices. It does little good unless partners practice together, which rarely happened. Most ladies play plenty on their own.

I would say be sure you know the local league rules cold. There is no excuse for a captain not to know the rules.
Holding practice does matter. Ladies maybe practicing but how do you know they are practicing the right way ? Also practice session gives you the chance to talk some strategy if you are playing against teams that beat you last time and what you can do differently to beat them in coming match.
So many times I see guys on my team or other teams that just say "those guys were just better, they were just too good". Are you kidding me ? Only time you should say that is if they blew you away with 100 MPH serves and 80 mph passing shots, and 50 clean serve and volley winners. but how many times do you lose to opponents that can do that to you.
If you think back to matches you lost , you always know few strategic changes could have made big difference in the match
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
We use sportsYou to manage our teams, I like the calendar, and there is a chat and Facebook style posting.

J
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
  • Excel, e-mail and text. Trying to use anything else is pointless. Guys on my team aren't going to download an app. Heck 1/2 of them have to ask me for their USTA member number so that they can even register
  • Whatever position I can put individuals and the team in to give us the best chance to win. If you're a pain in the butt about scheduling I'm much less concerened about it.
  • No, most everyone on my team plays regularly. Tried to arrange clinics/practices and my teammates mostly don't make it a priority so I don't bother anymore.
  • As someone else said know the league rules. Don't be afraid to overcommunicate (E-mail day of match confirming lineup, e-mail day after match with proposed lineup for following week and e-mail 2-3 days prior to match confirming availability and changes.)

You can see why I've gone from captaining 4/5 teams a year to 1.
 

J011yroger

Talk Tennis Guru
  • Excel, e-mail and text. Trying to use anything else is pointless. Guys on my team aren't going to download an app. Heck 1/2 of them have to ask me for their USTA member number so that they can even register
  • Whatever position I can put individuals and the team in to give us the best chance to win. If you're a pain in the butt about scheduling I'm much less concerened about it.
  • No, most everyone on my team plays regularly. Tried to arrange clinics/practices and my teammates mostly don't make it a priority so I don't bother anymore.
  • As someone else said know the league rules. Don't be afraid to overcommunicate (E-mail day of match confirming lineup, e-mail day after match with proposed lineup for following week and e-mail 2-3 days prior to match confirming availability and changes.)

You can see why I've gone from captaining 4/5 teams a year to 1.
You bring up a good point. I'm starting a thread.

J
 

brettatk

Semi-Pro
I use email and text. As someone mentioned most of the guys on my team aren't going to download an app or go to a website to update their availability. I've seen it tried in the past and it failed miserably. I typically play my lineups straight up but I might change that depending on who we play. Mostly it depends on their availability though. As for practice we have a designated night each week where people can come out and play if they want. We might have enough for one court of doubles. When it's warmer outside we have more attendance. It's just hard getting people out there with their schedules. We mostly have guys that play multiple days a week and guys who only play the day they are in the lineup. The best advice I can give you is to be patient. You'll be surprised how much you might have to baby some of your players. And if you don't then be prepared for them to show up at the wrong time or wrong place. This past season was disastrous in some instances. Before I captain again in the Summer, I plan to send out an email addressing this exact thing. No reason for people not to read more closely and pay attention to their emails/texts. Good luck and thanks for being a captain!
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Holding practice does matter. Ladies maybe practicing but how do you know they are practicing the right way ? Also practice session gives you the chance to talk some strategy if you are playing against teams that beat you last time and what you can do differently to beat them in coming match.
So many times I see guys on my team or other teams that just say "those guys were just better, they were just too good". Are you kidding me ? Only time you should say that is if they blew you away with 100 MPH serves and 80 mph passing shots, and 50 clean serve and volley winners. but how many times do you lose to opponents that can do that to you.
If you think back to matches you lost , you always know few strategic changes could have made big difference in the match
Don't get me wrong: Practice is important. What I am suggesting is that *team* practice can be tricky, and in my case, is totally not worth it.

I used to put together team practices, and I ran into a number of problems. First, some ladies already do their own clinics or lessons, and they do not wish to spend additional time/money on a team practice, especially with a pro they do not know and may not like. Second, some ladies cannot afford a team practice with a pro, but are good players. Third, some ladies travel or have other obligations such that we never found a time for a team practice that worked for enough people. Fourth, there was no way to force people to come to team practice -- what was I going to do, bench them?

So that leaves you with the uncoached practice. I tried this for a while. It either wound up being people just playing, which they already do on their own. Or it wound up with my suggesting a "theme" for us to work on (e.g. "Today we'll all work on finishing points at the net and getting off the baseline"), only to find people refusing to get out of their comfort zone or lacking the skill to execute.

The peer-led practice is also problematic because players are less likely to accept a peer as a coach. This is because the peer/coach often doesn't know what she is talking about. I have been in peer/coached team practice where the peer/coach spouted all manner of BS:

Hit your BH volley with two hands so you can hit it harder.

FH takes the middle.

Baseline player calls the switch.

Baseline player should run behind her partner who is hitting an OH in case she bails out.

Players should always position as though connected by a 10-foot rope.

Hit to the BH whenever you can.

In doubles, serve wide most of the time.

There are reasons why these things are wrong, and in some cases the very purpose of a team practice ought to be so players learn to work together so as to avoid being out of position.

That's a long way, OP, of saying that I think captains need to be careful about blurring the line between captain and coach. Some players do not want an unschooled peer telling them how to play. My personal practice is that I say nothing to my players about their shots, tactics, etc. no matter how obvious the problem is. If they want my opinion, they will ask for it and I will give it.
 
A lot of the captains in my area use GroupMe. I use it because I did absolutely no research to find something else as GroupMe seemed good enough, it was free, and most people on my teams already had the app on their phone. Some will use text/email for the reason mentioned above; some people don't want to be bothered with learning or using another app. However, I am going to look into the apps mentioned on here.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
I just finished my first season as a captain (mixed).

Tech: Tennispoint is the software I use and it's great. I highly recommend it.

Lines: Match lines for us were pretty straightforward - I just tried to pair the best men and women at line 1, the next best at line 2, etc. Our league format was doubles only - so it was pretty easy - though I did have to manage "sandbagging" rules which define the way playing pairs and individuals can be moved within the lineup - Tennispoint was savvy to these rules though and kept track of it for me and gave me warnings when I was creating lineups if I was violating any of those rules.

Practice: We held weekly practices - which were voluntary and it was just head to head mini-sets - line 1 vs. line 2 - play 4 games so each person served once, then rotate - repeat.* The team is based out of my subdivision and we have two tennis courts - so I reserved them for practices and matches and we just used that.

Tips:

My team is somewhat low level - between 3.0 and 3.5 (leaned more heavily to the 3.0 side of that this season with a lot of new members) so I am having custom beer can/water bottle coozies printed with our team name and the tiebreaker rules printed on them for next season :D

I don't know if the league you're playing in has the host team providing any sort of refreshment/food for home matches, but ours (ALTA) does. We split up the food/drink responsibilities by the player lines - lines 1 and 2 brought sports drinks, water, ice, and bananas - this is important so that these are available as early as possible, especially in hot weather. Remind them to bring coolers as well unless you can provide coolers. Lines 3, 4, and 5 would show up later than lnies 1 and 2 since we could only play 2 lines at a time, so they would bring the lesss essential things - beer, sandwiches, snacks, etc.

*My mixed team has been playing together for ages, so they are pretty set in their ways with respect to practice and very few of them take any sort of lessons/instruction. I would prefer if they were willing to engage a teaching pro even for 1 hour a week to do group lessons on doubles strategies and so forth, but they aren't, so... it is what it is.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
a word on "apps"
Tennispoint can be an app on the phone ... but most just log in on their computer ... it's free for the team and something like $20 annually for the captain no matter how many teams you have .... they get an email, they log in and they set their availability ... you set the lineup, they get an email with a link to confirm, it also sends out reminders for matches and includes a link for directions to the courts. If they haven't confirmed they keep getting emails until they do confirm ... same if they have not put in their availability .... it does the nagging for you. My rule is that I am not going to chase you down, if you don't tell me you are available I am not chasing you or worrying if you get "enough" or a "fair" number of matches

WhatsApp .... the reason that group texting apps are better than actual group texts on your phone is that it keeps it all in one place. A group text on a phone can fragment into different threads particularly across phone types (iphone vs android) and carriers .... also free also easy to have a different group for each team

I have also used GroupMe but prefer WhatsApp as it seems a more stable platform
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
a word on "apps"
Tennispoint can be an app on the phone ... but most just log in on their computer ... it's free for the team and something like $20 annually for the captain no matter how many teams you have .... they get an email, they log in and they set their availability ... you set the lineup, they get an email with a link to confirm, it also sends out reminders for matches and includes a link for directions to the courts. If they haven't confirmed they keep getting emails until they do confirm ... same if they have not put in their availability .... it does the nagging for you. My rule is that I am not going to chase you down, if you don't tell me you are available I am not chasing you or worrying if you get "enough" or a "fair" number of matches

WhatsApp .... the reason that group texting apps are better than actual group texts on your phone is that it keeps it all in one place. A group text on a phone can fragment into different threads particularly across phone types (iphone vs android) and carriers .... also free also easy to have a different group for each team

I have also used GroupMe but prefer WhatsApp as it seems a more stable platform
I am going to try WhatsApp for sure! Great tip! Thanks.
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Don't get me wrong: Practice is important. What I am suggesting is that *team* practice can be tricky, and in my case, is totally not worth it.

I used to put together team practices, and I ran into a number of problems. First, some ladies already do their own clinics or lessons, and they do not wish to spend additional time/money on a team practice, especially with a pro they do not know and may not like. Second, some ladies cannot afford a team practice with a pro, but are good players. Third, some ladies travel or have other obligations such that we never found a time for a team practice that worked for enough people. Fourth, there was no way to force people to come to team practice -- what was I going to do, bench them?

So that leaves you with the uncoached practice. I tried this for a while. It either wound up being people just playing, which they already do on their own. Or it wound up with my suggesting a "theme" for us to work on (e.g. "Today we'll all work on finishing points at the net and getting off the baseline"), only to find people refusing to get out of their comfort zone or lacking the skill to execute.

The peer-led practice is also problematic because players are less likely to accept a peer as a coach. This is because the peer/coach often doesn't know what she is talking about. I have been in peer/coached team practice where the peer/coach spouted all manner of BS:

Hit your BH volley with two hands so you can hit it harder.

FH takes the middle.

Baseline player calls the switch.

Baseline player should run behind her partner who is hitting an OH in case she bails out.

Players should always position as though connected by a 10-foot rope.

Hit to the BH whenever you can.

In doubles, serve wide most of the time.

There are reasons why these things are wrong, and in some cases the very purpose of a team practice ought to be so players learn to work together so as to avoid being out of position.

That's a long way, OP, of saying that I think captains need to be careful about blurring the line between captain and coach. Some players do not want an unschooled peer telling them how to play. My personal practice is that I say nothing to my players about their shots, tactics, etc. no matter how obvious the problem is. If they want my opinion, they will ask for it and I will give it.
Obviously if you are running the practice, you would not be acting as a coach. If professional was running it, he/she would be coaching after being paid additional fees.

But here is What you can do as captain. If you are at matches and if you aren't playing, take notes. Take notes on what the opponents are doing that is hurting your players. and take notes on what your players are doing that is effective and that is ineffective. Take notes if there is same pattern occurring over and over again that is losing points for your players.
and think about what was winning points and what can be done differently to WIN when next time they play same opponents.

I think example would be best to explain what I am saying. I play pretty high level doubles, USTA 4.5. and on my previous match, I lost in pretty routine fashion. I was playing with a weakest link partner but that is not a excuse. Instead I thought about the match and I already came up with winning formula for the next time I play these guys.
How do I know my new strategy will work ?? Well, I have done this many times in the past, and more often than not, I turned the match around in the following match and beat them next time. I have past records to gain confidence from.

Some ideas that I will employ next time.
1. I am going to take the return of serve earlier like around the baseline. My opponents were killing us with serve and volley and they were hitting Rafter like 1st volleys on the baseline or sideline. I was thinking to myself how were they able to do this ?? Are these guys Pat Rafter gone bald ?? NO. They were able to do this cause they were able to get pretty close to net on 1st volley cause we were hitting returns from too far back.
2. I needed to use more heavy slice serve in the angle to the forehand on deuce court where stronger player was. He had a great forehand but I noticed for some reason when he was pulled out wide, the return wasn't as strong.
3. I will be more aggressive when I am at net and my partner is returning. I will cross aggressively as soon as my partner's return cross the net and try to cut off the 1st volley from my opponent. This does 2 things, it disturbs the rhythm of our opponents and well executed move like this can turn the momentum.
4. Whenever I play with Weak link baseliner as partner and he isn't winning many points because his serve is being attacked over and over by net rushers, I have to cross and cross early to disturb and break the rhythm of my opponents as they are attacking the net. This is something I must do even if my opponents pass behind me into my alley 50 % of the time.

I have few more stretegies but I think you get the point
 

ShaunS

Semi-Pro
What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?
One thing to keep in mind is that not everyone on your team could have the same objectives. I see a lot of good advice here for very competitive teams, but it's quite possible you'll have a much more "social" lineup.

What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
I'd second the concern with only using text/email. I've been amazed how hard it can be to get people to respond/read a text. That's assuming your phone carriers don't mess up the delivery, which isn't uncommon when you have "large" group chats across providers and devices (iPhone & Android). If you do go this route I would encourage you to individually message people when you expect them to show up and always request a confirmation back.

How do you go about assigning match lanes?
I'm going to assume you don't know everyone well. I would recommend you try out different doubles pairings early to try and figure out who works well together and against their opponents. It'll also give them a chance to gain a feel for each other's games. For both singles & doubles, you'll want to figure out, as Cindy says, if people have difficulty on different positions (whether it's mental or physical).

Don't be fooled by flashy hitters in practice. Lots of "big hitters" at 4.0 shrink under pressure in a match, and you might be better off with that steady, smart player who can control their shots (especially in singles).

Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices?
Unless this is a team you assembled with a particular goal in mind and everyone bought into that, I certainly wouldn't try to have "mandatory" practices. I suggest that you try to facilitate opportunities for voluntary practices*. It's unlikely you will get everyone together for the same day twice a week, so it might be that you guys have two nights for different groups.

*By practice I don't exclusively mean "drilling". Sure, it's the best way to improve, but a lot of people just aren't going to make showing up for that a priority. You can still get good value out of playing situational tennis outside of "league play" where many people are consumed with winning versus improving. Then if someone is struggling with something (ex. overheads) you and them can go to another court and work on that technique specifically.

As far as "pro" lead practices, it wouldn't be my preference. I've always been somewhat skeptical of group practices led by pros anyway, at least in the sense that I'd prefer a small session (1-3 people). I'm not trying to change my whole game, so if I want extra help it's on very specific things, and that's best accomplished in the smaller group.

One other thing that can work well, if you've got the connections, is to bring in "better" players to hit with your guys. Sometimes the extra pace and talent can help expose mistakes that people are simply getting away with against inferior competition.

Some players do not want an unschooled peer telling them how to play.
This is very true. I don't offer much outside of support to teammates unless I'm sure they want it. Fortunately it's not usually hard to figure out who wants advice.

Finally, you're going to have to sacrifice playing time (both at practice and in matches) to try and observe people for much of this advice. Just looking at score results won't tell you enough about a player to understand why they won. That can be especially true in doubles where two good players just don't get along sometimes.

Good luck with your team in 2019!
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
About telling your players what they are doing well/wrong . . .

Take an example I see often. My player hits a great lob over the opposing net player, touching of a scramble on the other side. My player stands at the baseline, watching the show. Opponent reaches the ball and throws up a desperation lob. My player should have been at the service line, understanding that you almost always want to follow a successful lob in. Nope, she's not programmed to do that. Would she start doing it if I told her? Nope. I know this because when I am playing a match and I hit a successful lob like that and follow it in, my partner often stays at the baseline (if we were two back) or backpedals from the net to the baseline if she had been up. It takes an explanation from someone she respects coupled with ample opportunity to get used to the idea before it will be baked into her tennis.

Hearing it from me would not go over well. So I don't say anything.
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
I captain a non-USTA league team. I keep a Google Sheet with the schedules on them and on which people can list conflicts. I email on Monday give the previous week's results, announce that week's lineup, and give those scheduled a chance to tell me they can't play. Then I send a text on Friday to those scheduled reminding them about the match and again giving them a chance to tell me if they can't play.
This may seem like overkill but in three seasons we've only defaulted one line (due to a no call no show; we kicked him off the team for this).

I used to hold a team practice every Wednesday but the bums on this team never want to practice so I quit doing it. My USTA team has two per week, one being a clinic led by a 5.0 and one match play; first come first serve each week via email signup. Both are always full. I really appreciate my captain organizing these.

I try to make the strongest lineup possible while also still getting everyone playing time (this league is much more casual than USTA) but every lineup I make goes to **** with people flaking so it's really a futile effort as I end up with 1-3 subs every week anyway.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Honestly the USTA App tracks league dates and locations just fine. The big thing is sending players REMINDERS and keeping up the confirmatinos they will a) show up at the correct facility, and b)be available to play without cancelling. Always bring your tennnis kit in case you have to step in.
 

ohplease

Professional
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
Fun or competitive? Pick one.

In my experience, people mostly want to be part of fun teams until the team starts getting blown out. Then they want to be competitive enough to not be at the bottom.

Not being at the bottom can be achieved in lots of different ways. Most do this by playing down a level. If you're playing up or at level, people need to put in some work. I don't captain anymore, but when I did, practices informed lineups - people who came to practice and won their sets/tiebreakers got to pick their partners. In general, those teams tended to over-perform. I loved playing with those guys, but when I moved, those same guys went much more free-form - optional practices, fun lineups, more casual all around. End result was they had trouble winning matches and some weeks even individual lines.

Playoff bound 4.0 teams know how to play, and rarely suffer freak losses. If you want to keep morale up, you don't need to beat playoff bound teams, but you do need to be competitive. For the rest of the teams, at a minimum you need to get your fair share of wins, and stomp the weak teams. Unless your 4.0 fun team is made up of pretty strong players, you're probably going to get stomped more often than not if you don't put in the work to learn who plays well together and have those pairings practice together at least occasionally. No practice and partners meeting for the first time at the team match mean you're going to get much less than the sum of your parts, and that results in an under-performing team and frustrated players.

Captaining is really rewarding when it goes well, and a giant pain when it goes badly. Preparing helps it goes well. Not preparing helps it go badly. Good luck!
 

WhiteOut

Semi-Pro
Hey All,

This will be my first year captaining a tennis league team (4.0 men's league). What are some of your tips and tricks for running a fun/competitive team?

Some questions I have, but not limited to these:
  • What technology are you using to help manage your team? (Chat, rosters, social stuff, etc)
  • How do you go about assigning match lanes?
  • Do you hold weekly (optional or not) practices? If so, how do you go about those? Are you renting multiple courts and playing out points or running drills?
  • Any other best practices or things that have worked for you would be greatly appreciated
Cheers!
Before you even start, I'd say it's important to have a team conversation: are we mainly a social gang trying to be competitive/fun, and whatever happens happens? Or are we trying to win the flight at all costs...the answer will dictate behavior. If it's mainly social/fun competition, then my job as captain is to, first and foremost, get each player an equivalent number of matches as best I can (since we all spent the same amount of money). I still try to set competitive lineups, but it may not always work out that way based on people's availability, etc...

However, if we're trying to win the flight at all costs, then that means some players may not play as many matches...literally only the 2 min matches to qualify for advancement...and it also means the guy who thinks he's great at singles but isn't, is not likely going to play any singles matches, unless the other top singles guys are not available...if expectations are set well on the front end, then it makes for a smooth operation later on.

I use spreadsheet, email text -- i'd be happy to send my spreadsheet if you want. Spreadsheet is easier for me b/c sometimes i'm not online, but I can pull it up fast and still see who has confirmed, plus it's visually easier to deal with as far as noodling around with different pairings, etc.

--schedule goes out at the beginning of the session. let me know the dates you know for sure you are OUT
--each week, the day after the match we just played, I send an email with a Proposed Lineup to the team -- showing IN, OUT, ALT. I've trained my people to email me within 24 hrs to confirm. most do. if i get within a couple days i text the one who hasn't yet confirmed, and wrap it up that way. takes about 30 secs.

**NOTE**: If a guy is proposed starter and cannot play, they know to email me back *individually*. A) this cuts down on the email traffic and confusion (we don't get 7 other responses back and forth... 'I can play!'...then no one actually knows who's subbing in for whom). B) This way I control working down the list of ALT players who are next in line, based on various factors (mainly # matches played). So then I send a simple text to the next one in line -- can you play 8pm wednesday at xyz club? Done.

--the day of the match, i text an match reminder with time/location to the starters (not the whole group -- again, cutting down on clutter). After the match rinse/repeat.

I don't run practices -- most of our folks are all playing regularly throughout the week, and scheduling these matches is plenty for me. occasionally i'll setup a couple courts before the session starts but that's about it.

hope this helps.
 
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