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Don’t Let Your Loyalty To Your Team Hold You Back

unhappy tennis player

League Tennis

Don’t Let Your Loyalty To Your Team Hold You Back

From the first moment I picked up a racket, I knew that tennis was the sport for me. I started taking lessons and drills, and soon, joined my first recreational team (B-5 level) so I could use the skills I was learning in actual match situations.

Though I loved my teammates like family, there came a time when I realized that my skill level was far beyond the league level. I was poaching, slamming overheads, and had (still have) a wicked serve. I was also accused by opponents that I was sandbagging. Pfffft! I had only been playing for about 1-1/2 years and had never even heard the word before!

So, I was torn. I loved my teammates…but I wanted to use my badass new skills and be challenged on the courts, which meant moving up to a higher level.

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I talked to my team about their aspirations to move up, but there were none. Not a single teammate was in it for the competition, just the fun. Out of guilt, I stayed for another year, playing on line 1 and winning every match. And I was miserable.

I found myself not using much of what I was paying hard-earned money to learn in drills and private lessons, just so I didn’t piss off any opponents and get accused of “sandbagging”. And I found out the hard way the true meaning of the phrase “If you don’t use it, you lose it.” In my lessons, my coach noticed I was less consistent with my shots and called me out, saying that staying behind because of my team was actually hurting my game. Her advice? Move up to a new level and new team…my teammates would understand and support my decision. And they did.

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Long story short (too late, I know, lol!) don’t be like me and waste your time AND money staying on a lower-level team just to be with your teammates. You’re working too hard and paying too much to be the best tennis player you can be. Sure, they will miss you but if they really are your friends, they will respect your move and be happy for you that you are achieving your tennis goals.

happy tennis player

4.5 USTA rated/open champion level tennis player, vegan, fitness freak, animal lover, and smart ass who firmly believes that champagne is anathema for all ills. Right now I'm either up to my eyeballs in paint swatches and fabric samples, or kicking some butt on a tennis court (hopefully the latter).

4 Comments

4 Comments

  1. Lori

    November 4, 2018 at 3:19 pm

    We have a unique situation at our club. We have two separate teams. Red and blue teams that play in the same league. Pros are allowed to play in this league. The blue team from our club has club pros playing on their team. The red team does not have pros from the club playing on their team. The red team feels it is a conflict of interest that we must play against our club pros.

    We don’t care that the blue teams has pros to play other clubs but we feel very strongly that we should not be forced to play against our own club pros.

    We feel it is a conflict of interest to be forced to
    Play against our home clubs pros.

    I would love to know your opinion.

    • Jen Campbell

      November 4, 2018 at 5:13 pm

      Hi Lori :-) With pros on any team, you know they coach between points. In my opinion, if both the red and blue teams represent the same club play at the same level, the pros should divide themselves so that one is not so stacked. It’s absolutely not fair to the red team. Shame on your pros!

      • Lori

        November 5, 2018 at 5:15 am

        Historically we have not had room on our team, or for that matter want the pros from our club on our team. We have a wonderful team and are very selective with who we ask to join us. As you know one bad apple. Plus, it will never be equal, all pros have different playing levels. Our team feels it is unethical, conflict of interest, what every you want to call it.

        • Jen Campbell

          November 5, 2018 at 7:28 am

          Ahhhh, I see now. Though the teaching pros may be at different levels, they should all only play at the levels which apply (usually the highest level)…in other words, no sandbagging at lower levels. Since you are also at that high level of play, you could look at that match as a challenge to beat your pros. For example, if a pro is paired with a “civilian”, play just to that player…pick on them mercilessly…and take the pro out of the game as much as possible. Maybe even lob the crap out of them to mess with them. No doubt that’s not your style of game, but it’s not theirs either – at least you’re controlling the points offensively. As for your concern…the right thing to do would be for the pros to sit out when competing against another home team. Though there are no rules against pros playing against their own students/home team, it really is a conflict of interest.

          And btw, thanks for bringing this up this subject matter. I am SO going to do a post on this!

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