End of Season Tips for Captains & Players
As we near the end of the USTA 18+ season, there are things both captains and players can do to reach their team’s goals. This 18+ season tends to be the most popular and therefore the longest season of the year, especially if you are in the 3.0-4.0 ranks. Likely, many players are tired or injured while others are raring to go to post-season.
As a captain, you should be making sure all of your players are getting their 2-3 matches in (especially if you have a big team). You should also be ensuring that there are partnerships that have worked well, and that if called upon in post season, can give it their all at crunch time. The same goes for your singles players. This, of course, is not always the best players on the team. These players are usually the more mentally tough one who can handle the pressure.
It’ s also a good idea to set up a clinic or two for players who want to fine-tune their skills. Doing pro-lead clinics as a team can be both fun and rewarding. Another good strategy is to find strong outside players who are willing to practice with your core teams and singles players to make them battle ready.
Whether your team makes to and/or through postseason, you should definitely plan an end of season party so your players have something to look forward to. A potluck at a park or someone’s house is a nice casual way for everyone to celebrate another season where we are able to play the great game of tennis!
For players, the end of season is the time for you to put your big girl panties on and be patient in waiting for your name to be called. Captains often have tough decisions to make about who plays in post season and who doesn’t. Just because you aren’t called to play the first playoff doesn’t mean they won’t need you if there is a second one, or districts/sectionals/nationals. It’s easy to second guess the judgment of the captain so if you don’t like the decisions made then you should consider captaining yourself.
Most importantly, be supportive of your team and go and cheer them on. No one likes a sore loser or a complaining teammate. Swallow your pride and be excited for the players who are out there in the pressure cooker. It always looks easier than it actually is.
And for everyone playing club tennis, remember that tennis is just a game and your livelihood does NOT depend upon winning or losing. As we like to say, focus on the biggest “F” word in tennis: FUN!!