Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tennis "teams" - the elephant in the room

Have you ever been on an ALTA (or USTA) team that was controlled by a player other than its captain? Or, have you ever been the captain of a team on which you had a "problem child" player that made your life miserable for much of the season? I've been in both situations, and (believe it or not) I much prefer the latter.

After week 2 of this men's season, our co-captain sent out a note admonishing one of the players on our team for abhorrent behavior: he's the nicest guy in the world until he loses, then he turns demonic, inevitably blaming the loss on whatever unfortunate soul he'd been partnered with for the match. One would think that this would cause said player to be out of the next week's lineup, especially if there were other 'better' players available to play. Nope. Going into week 7, our captain is afraid not to put him in the lineup. His record this season is just 3-3, and there are at least two comparable players available (combined record 8-0!) that are not in the lineup. Care to guess who one of them is?

When I inherited the captainship of the men's team that I was playing on years ago, there was one such 'bully' on the team. You'd go to practice and he'd tried to beat your brains out he was so competitive. This is actually not so bad, except that line calls were "life and death" for this guy ... in practice! So our practices weren't very peaceful unless he was unavailable that night; unfortunately, he lived behind the courts and was almost always there. I had a heck of a time finding someone that would play with him, and was fortunate to find a mild-mannered guy that could tune him out. Also unfortunate was the fact that I frequently struggled with having 10 guys available every Saturday, but I sat him out every chance I got because he would embarrass our team when he did play, which was more often than I would have liked. Still, I had some control over the situation (which is why I prefer it to the former), even though I couldn't stop him from coming to practice.

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