Thursday, February 16, 2012

A tennis captain's #1 frustration

While I've written quite a bit about the roles and responsibilities of a tennis captain on these pages, and I certainly haven't sugar-coated it, I probably haven't shared enough of the anguish one feels when - after putting together a championship team - one's players aren't available for the big match.

Do you think captain Mary Joe Fernandez has been frustrated by the fact that the Williams sisters haven't been available to play Fed Cup? What about the various Davis Cup captains over the years, whose country's star players weren't available to play in certain ties because of their singles careers?

On a smaller scale as an ALTA or USTA captain, it can seem just as frustrating when one's team is about to play one of the better teams in one's division, and a key player (or three!) aren't available for one of a variety of reasons: an injury or other plans. But the most disappointing circumstance is at season's end, when the last match is the determining factor for a bag tag (or playoff berth). I once captained a team that dominated its division, winning every week (not every line, but every weekend), only to have three of my best players unavailable for the first round of playoffs. Hence, while I've captained (or been on) teams that have won bag tags and/or made the playoffs with a good shot to going all the way, I've never gotten to an ALTA City Championship, as a captain or a player.

This season, our senior mixed doubles team won its division and will play its first playoff match on Saturday. However, if it rains, we'll be without one of our best players for the makeup match and, even if we advance, we'll have to do without him and other key persons for the next round(s). Think Tom Brady was frustrated when his favorite receiver (Pro Bowl tight end Rob Gronkowski) was injured and unable to play his best in the Super Bowl?

There have been a number of weeks during this season's regular mixed doubles season in which one or more of my best players haven't been for a key divisional match-up, and this last ALTA Sunday - with destiny in our own hands - will be yet another. With us luck!

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