Try, Try Again?

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by Cindysphinx, Oct 12, 2009.

  1. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    Despite being the undefeated (14-0 in team matches) and dominate (36-6 in individual matches) 6.5 team in our league, we lost at Districts. Last year we made the semi-finals; this year we didn't even get that far.

    Everyone is disappointed we didn't reach our goal, as we really thought we were a lock to make the semis again. Part of it was bad luck. We were riddled with injuries among the 3.0s and didn't have anything like our strongest pairings working for us.

    One player said something to me that was really interesting and thought-provoking, though. She is a 3.5 who had decided this would be her last season at 6.5, as she no longer found the matches especially challenging.

    She said, "I thought I didn't have any more to learn from playing 6.5. But losing in the first round at Districts made me think we do have more to learn and should keep trying until we get it right."

    I'm not sure what to make of that. If we weren't so dominant as to even make the semi-finals, maybe there is room for us make another run next season and try to win the whole enchilada.

    Then again, maybe that is a silly goal. As this year shows, being dominant in your league from January-March does not mean you will be the same team by October when Districts occur. Also, dominating our league does not mean we can dominate other teams that dominated their leagues. Is it worth it to slog through another 14-match season in January 2010 for the hope of winning the championship 10 months later?

    I think part of the melancholy I am seeing among my teammates is because each of us knows the cold, hard truth that we will never, ever be dominate at 7.5 combo. We will probably all live out our natural lives at 3.5, so 6.5 combo is the best place for women like us to win a championship, especially given how hard it is to amass enough 4.0s to dominate at 7.5 combo.

    Cindy -- who can live happily ever after without winning a USTA towel or hat or pen but who is starting to understand why everyone is so disappointed
  2. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

    Feb 21, 2007
    Um...'s a loss, and there's nothing wrong with being disappointed. Having said that:

    - I'd say just be a little careful with expectations. Tennis is not a 2 plus 2 equals 4 proposition. You can have everything lines up so that, on paper, it looks like you *should* win, but you don't play the actual matches on paper, you play them on the court. And you talked about having injuries and lacking strong pairings...not excuses, but good reasons why things did not go as you had hoped.

    - So what's next? Up to you and your teammates. My personal vote would be...give it another shot! I gave you a cautionary note above about expectations. One of my ex-coaches, however, looks for players with three qualities: honesty, the desire to always give the best effort, and belief in themselves. Do you believe you can win districts next year in 6.5 combo? I'll bet you and your teammates do, so go give it another shot. If you do, start thinking now...what are we going to do next year to be better prepared?

    - Lastly, you say "Each of us knows the cold, hard truth that we will never, ever be dominate at 7.5 combo". If that's what you believe, then it's probably true. I'll bet, however, that if you start picking it apart, it's probably a doable thing. You talk about "how hard it is to amass enough 4.0s to dominate at 7.5 combo". Probably true, if you're looking outside your present team. What would happen if y'all attempted to get to the 4.0 level, and what would that take? As I said in another post, you're really beginning to develop your eye for what works and doesn't work on a tennis court, and I think you're also finding out that upending what looks like a superior opponent or team can happen not just by hitting harder, or longer, but by playing in, the concept you got into with variety on the service return, and the service return improvement being maybe a low-hanging fruit area in the 3.5 level.

    So, I dunno, but if I were you, I'd being saying to my teammates, "Yeah, that was no fun...but guess what? Next year, we're gonna win the whole thing, and here's how we're going to do it. And after that, watch out 7.5 combo..."
  3. Fedace

    Fedace Banned

    Dec 10, 2006
    San Diego, CA
    What about 7.0, is that league any good ?
  4. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Jul 22, 2005
    I think that with the level of sandbagging in USTA in order to have a team that can go deep into the playoffs then you need to ridiculously stack the team to the point where the regular season is totally non-competitive. If you aren't willing to stack to that degree then I think you are better off playing up and knowing that the regular season is what matters to you and postseason is left up to the sandbaggers.
  5. OliverSimon

    OliverSimon Hall of Fame

    Mar 17, 2009
    Try harder next time :)

    JHBKLYN Rookie

    Jan 28, 2007
    I think it's great to just make the playoffs. That's the goal of all the teams I captain. Anything after that is gravy! But the reality is as spot said, if you want to go deep into the playoffs, you have to stack your team.

    In our NYC USTA league, both the male and female 3.5 teams, the 6.0 mix and I believe the 9.0 mix team are going to Nationals. I played against and with the players on those teams except the 9.0 mix, and the teams are stacked with top players at their level. Everybody can play so it doesn't matter what lineup you put out there, they'll win most of the time. Are they sandbaggers? Except for a few players, they're all computer rated but are at the top of their level.

    You as a captain have to make a choice. If you want a team that can go all the way, you need to recruit players that can play. Since your team made it to the playoffs but not the districts, you're only a couple of players short of making it one more step. But that means some of your players that are playing now will need to sit and watch as better players go through the playoffs. The other option is to get everyone on your team to play better but as you said, there is the cold, hard truth that players top out and will not get better. So will it be the USTA Towel or another season of getting knocked out in the second round, the choice is in your hands ...
  7. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

    Jul 19, 2007
    Don't worry about it. Remember, getting there isn't half the fun, it's ALL the fun. Even if you won it all, the buzz from that wears off pretty fast. It's the trying, and growing, and improving that's fun. That's really what tennis is all about.
  8. raiden031

    raiden031 Legend

    Aug 31, 2006
    There's always something you can learn, even when you could be the strongest player on the court in a given match. The question is whether playing at that level is still fun for you. I know for me playing in the post-season is a lot of fun because of the traveling, more pressure, and more team spirit. Nobody cares about the regular season matches except those who are scheduled the play. At post-season we have support from teammates and their families who aren't even playing. Of course the only way to really advance far into the post season is to be too strong for your level. When I decided to continue playing 3.0 last year, it wasn't because I enjoyed beating inferior players, no that was boring and miserable at times. I only did it because I knew it was my only shot of experiencing post-season competition and traveling for tennis. So you need to make the same choice with 6.5. The bright side is that you can still play 7.5 so its not like you have to sacrifice much, except maybe by playing a few less exciting matches and paying additional league fees. Can't hurt though.
  9. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Aug 31, 2006
    You know, I've thought what you all have said, and maybe I've come up with something that I can live with.

    Given that one only has so much time to devote to tennis, a person has to decide what she wants to get out of her tennis. If the thing that brings me the most pleasure in tennis is improving, then it makes no sense to "play down" at 6.5. That won't help me improve at all. It will simply take time away from learning to play tougher opponents.

    It's hard to justify doing that when the only reward is to be able to say "I was on the best 6.5 combo team in Maryland!" I mean, even if I play matches at Districts at 6.5 combo, they won't be tougher than an ordinary 7.5 combo match, so I can't say I'd gain anything from playing at Districts. After all, I played in Districts last year.

    Besides, I am 100% certain I don't want to captain another team to Districts. If it happens again, that's OK and I will do it. But seek it out? Nah.

    Captaining a playoff-bound team is 1000 x more difficult and time-consuming than captaining a regular team. For this single day of competition, I had to drive to Frederick the night before and attend a captain's meeting (total time 3.5 hours). I had to start reminding my players to save the date months ago (and some of them didn't!). I had to arrange and attend practices, research our opponents, correspond endlessly with players about availability and who doesn't like to play in the morning. Then on the day of competition, I left home at 5:30 am and did not return until about 6:30 pm. Had we advanced to semi-finals, I would have had yet another drive to Frederick on Sunday. And now I have to find a way to get 10 T-shirts and towels to the players who didn't attend the tournament and who live all over the county without doing an expensive mass mailing.

    I think I should just keep captaining my humble little .500 teams and leave post-season play to others. If a top 6.5 combo team wants to invite me to join, I'll consider it. Otherwise, I think I should just call it a day.

    Cindy -- who still hasn't cleaned out the back of her van of all the crap she hauled to Districts
  10. Casey10s

    Casey10s Rookie

    Nov 11, 2007
    Another thing to consider is that if your goal is to go to Nationals, you have a 2 or maybe 3 year window to do it with a particular team. If that doesn't happen in that time span, you have to start over. What happens is that your best players are bumped up, some of your middle level players move on to other teams or activities, players leave the area, and so on. Then you are back to square one again.

    It sounds like you could make a run again next year but you will have to recruit a few more top notch players to try to get you over the top while maybe telling some of your lesser players that they won't be playing much next year and maybe consider other options. If you don't make it next year, you may not have a third year with this team. Then it's starting over again.
  11. RichieD3

    RichieD3 New User

    Oct 28, 2009
    try not sandbagging your neighbors so much and move up a level.
  12. OrangePower

    OrangePower Legend

    Sep 7, 2007
    NorCal Bay Area
    Two things come to mind:

    About doing well in districts after having a great regular season: Once you get to playoffs, one bad day is all it takes to end your season. And it can happen to any team, even a dominant one. So there is always an element of luck involved. It kinda like March Madness - it's not always the clear-cut best team that wins in the end, because matchups, luck, and a bad day are all it takes to send you home. So be proud of your regular season, and don't let the loss get you and your team down.

    About making it your primary goal to make it to Nationals: Bad idea. If you can't enjoy and take pleasure from your regular season, regardless of how well you might do in the playoffs, then you should not be playing that particular league. If you're already dreading your regular season as a "slog through another 14-match season in January 2010 for the hope of winning the championship 10 months later", then don't do it. Life's too short.
  13. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

    Jun 2, 2006
    The Great NW
    Smartest post in the thread. It's really up to you: are you more interested in a competitive postseason with the possibility of going all the way at the expense of a boring regular season? Or the other way round?

    That is what will help you decide what to do.

    The only way around this would be to play two teams, one for regular season and play a different set of players postseason, with the understanding that the regular season folks won't play postseason. This might rub a lot of players the wrong way.

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