It’s that time of year again when the private phone calls, text messages and emails begin swirling about discussing who is looking for a team to play on, who needs a player and who is brave enough to try and bring a new team together for the next ladies tennis league season. Sometimes I think they should have a draft complete with rounds, picks and a big chalkboard.
While NFL players consider their pay, climate and location of the team they’re going to play on, league tennis players have much more complicated issues to consider. Do you know and like the women on the team, is it the level you want to play, are you willing to pay the club dues, will you get to play as much as you would like, does the team clinic, do they stay and cheer their teammates on before going to lunch together, or do they play their match and leave? While some people say “life is short”, if you make the wrong decision about a team, an eight month long tennis season can seem very long and while there is no right or wrong answer to any of these questions, it’s really all about personal preference.
I find it refreshing when a team captain that’s trying to recruit a player, is very open and honest about her team’s habits and goals. Some teams get a bad rap for coming right out and saying “our objective is to win!” So many times I hear women say things like “we don’t win a car or get paid, we just want to have fun.” This philosophy too needs no apology. I find that what sets a lot of women apart is whether or not they played competitive sports during childhood or college. Magic Johnson was quoted as saying, “If you’re a competitive person that stays with you. You don’t stop. You always look over your shoulder.”
I have been accused by my 11 year old of getting a little too excited over wanting him to win at his hockey games. I tell him “if you’re going to do something, do it to the best of your ability” and we try and give him all the tools to do just that. I sometimes think about how much time I spend on the tennis court, the money I spend on lessons, clinics and equipment and think “why shouldn’t I expect something in return?” For me, the return is the Win and being on a team that has the true team spirit. I have competed in sports my entire life so having the competitive spirit has been imprinted on my brain. For others, the return may be something completely different. One thing I do know for sure is that any group of ladies that forms a team will have their own desires and wants from the experience. In most cases, a team captain’s main objective is to keep it as fun as possible and keep everyone happy, which is no easy task.
Rather than trying to fit a square peg in a round hole, take the time and be patient when trying to find the right fit. Remember that whether you’re a captain trying to recruit players or a player seeking out a team to play for, being honest from the onset will save you a lot of frustration down the road. Ladies team tennis can be a fun and rewarding experience and building lifelong friendships is a W for anyone.