Monday, June 27, 2011

Challenges of the Summer ALTA Season

I’ve written previously about playing winter tennis, something that presents its own unique challenges outdoors in Atlanta, but the summer tennis season can be just as difficult, and for reasons more than the weather.

Yes, they don’t call it “Hotlanta” for nothing: playing in 90+ degree heat with 90+ degree humidity can be brutal … just ask Mardy Fish, John Isner and any other pro that played in the 2010 Atlanta Tennis Championships. I’m thankful that our home facility has more than two courts so that we can start at least 3 lines at 9 in the morning on Saturdays, and have our line 5s finish their match shortly after 12 noon most of the time.

But the biggest challenge of the summer ALTA season is being captain of a team and trying to field a competitive lineup every week given vacations and the many other popular activities that lure teammates away from playing in the heat every Saturday from the beginning of June through the end of July. All one has to do is look at the results: in almost any division, one can find a team that’s cruising in first place that suddenly, inexplicably, loses 3 or 4 lines to one of the bottom dwellers in week 5 – which is typically July 4th weekend. Having (e.g.) one’s regular line 1 unavailable to play on a given weekend can have a big impact, with everyone else having to play up a line. For example, this is the first week (week 4!) that I’ve had my best pairing available all season, and we took all 5 lines, losing just one set. This is the kind of thing that only happens during the summer season, usually during the middle, Holiday weekend, but sometimes more.

Unfortunately spotty player availability during the summer ALTA season is unavoidable, but there is one possible positive outcome from this inevitability: it's possible that one or more of your tennis players will improve their game by having to play at a higher line than their comfort level as a result.

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