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Player to Player: Selecting League Teams

August 20, 2012 01:07 PM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love  
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.
Player to Player:
This week's question from Willie:
I was playing mixed doubles with a guy in a national tournament, and he told me he is a teaching pro. I was playing the deuce court. Whenever I was pulled wide off the court to return a forehand, he said I was supposed to hustle back to the court to return the next shot, which really was a put away for our opponent. I disagreed with him because I take drills with a different pro, and he says it is your partner's responsibility to move to the middle when one is pulled wide off the court. Who is correct?
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@usta.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!
Last week's question from Amy:
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
I would like to know the different methods for dividing/selecting team members for adult recreational leagues. Currently, our club has a committee of five people who decide on the rosters and levels for approximately 80-90 players, all levels 2.5 to 5.5. This is always followed by a disagreement and disgruntled players and captains. There has to be a fair, unbiased, easy way to do this. I would love suggestions (detailed please) or information on how your club makes these decisions and what works/doesn't work.
Player Responses:
Kenny S., Chicago

Putting together teams you should have captains who probably have the most experience of all the players. If the teams are all men, women or all ages, make sure the different teams have a good balance of talent levels, then age and sex. Then the different captains can put singles, mixed doubles and doubles teams together with thoughts on who can play well together and who can win. And make sure everyone has fun and gets a lot of playing.

Jack M.

At my club, the team captains basically make their pitch to the club members, and the players simply sign up for the team they wish to play on. If that does not work for your membership, my suggestion would be to have a player draft like the pros do in football, baseball and basketball. 

The order of the draft would be determined by the results from last year, the team with the worst record going first. Each team would take turns "drafting" players until all the players are committed to teams. This would ensure the best players are distributed among the available teams.  Personal conflicts can be avoided, as captains can avoid drafting a player they don’t get along with.

Joe G., San Antonio, Texas

One method to possibly avoid disagreement & disgruntled players in recreational league play:
1. Have a sign-up roster with levels from 2.5 to 5.5.
2. Have each player decide what level they would like to play in.
3. When you have the roster completed, assign the players the courts and have them play "Progressive Tennis." I signed up for "Progressive Doubles." I play one set and rotate for a total of three sets. Whoever has the most games won moves up to the next court, and whoever has the fewest games won moves down.

You didn't mention what was the reason for the players being disgruntled. If it's because they feel they are better players and should be playing at a higher level or just the opposite, this system will determine what level they should be playing, based on their scores. This way, there's no reason to complain to anybody. It is up to the players.

This method works fine at my club. Good luck!


We actually have a local club that does the same thing your club does, and it gets the same results with players not liking the teams and captains pulling certain players to have stacked teams and then the "rest" of their members. I have been a captain since I started playing, and I have always selected my players (usually friends) because we get along, stay to watch remaining matches, have a few drinks after and talk about wins, losses, etc. I have noticed that the club that puts teams together doesn't really do this. They play their matches and leave, sometimes meeting their partners that night! 

So I say dump the whole club mentality and pick teams according to people you know, people that play well together, and friends on and off the courts!!

Coach Leonard, Concord, Calif.

When doing a recreational league, "just for fun" in some minds is not an option. I find this especially true to players who don't play competitive leagues or tournaments. The November Club Turkey Tournament will feel like Wimbledon to them.

Doing team drafts works best for me. Make a list of each level gender. Bunch each group on paper. I like to get captains all the same level. Have them draft their teams in private. This way the last few won't have their feelings hurt. Each draft round must be similar level. After the teams are formed, trades can be done.

I like the combo format for play. Have the 5.5 play with a 2.5 to form an 8.0 team. This way two 4.0s can play them -- fewer one-sided matches and the lower players won't feel unwanted. You can even add fun by doing World TeamTennis style switches. Replace players mid-match. You can handicap the 5.5s to only one serve. 2.5s get three serves. In order to make it less pressure, make sure that there are awards for everyone. Keeping it fun and fresh won't spoil anyone's weekend.
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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