Making Lifelong Friends as a Captain

April 28, 2021

Admit it, you LOVE playing in USTA Leagues with your team. But have you ever thought about what it takes to make your team and season possible? One special role helping make it all possible is your team captain. Your captain is the person who recruits the team, tracks the schedule, sets the line up  and in general, ensures that you have the best experience possible all while maintaining a life outside of tennis. Captains are the unsung heroes of USTA Mid-Atlantic Leagues.


USTA Mid-Atlantic is recognizing captains and all the work that they do behind the scenes. We are launching a new “Captain of the Month” appreciation and one captain will be selected from USTA Mid-Atlantic League captains nominated by YOU, our tennis family. As part of the celebration, the “Captain of the Month” will receive a $100 credit to use toward their USTA League fees and will be featured on usta.com and on USTA Mid-Atlantic’s social media channels.


The USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Captain of the Month for April is Donald Crawley. We caught up with him to get his take on tennis and being a captain.


USTA Mid-Atlantic: How did you get started playing tennis?  

Donald Crawley: I started playing recreational tennis at the local parks around 2014 with my Mom against her friends (70+). I would hit drop shots when I wanted to win important points which was not really fair because they had a difficult time returning the shot.  So, I decided to try USTA Leagues in 2016 so I could play competitively without feeling bad. 


What drew you to tennis?  

Tennis is a sport where you can play year-round and can continue at any age.  I love the competition, exercise, constantly trying to improve my game, and meeting new people who share the same passion for playing.  


Where are you a league captain and for which leagues?  

I captained various counties in Maryland including Howard County (Columbia Association), Baltimore County (Coppermine and Baltimore Tennis Patrons), and Anne Arundel County Tennis Association (AACTA). My teams include 2.5 Women, 5.0, 6.0, 8.0, 9.0 Mixed, 4.0 and 4.5 Men's, 7.5 Combo, and Men's singles league.


How long have you been a captain?  

I started in the fall of 2016 for the Combo league. There were about 16 players looking for a team and the league coordinator said that if someone wanted to captain, another team could be formed. I didn't know what was involved in being a captain, but I wanted to play so I volunteered. The rest is history.


Why did you become a captain?

Since it is hard to get on a team as a new player, sometimes the best way to play is to start your own team.  Also, once you get bumped up to a new rating level, you are on the bottom of the list to find a new team. Once again you are starting fresh with trying to play on a team.  


What's the best part of being a league captain?   

I think one of the best parts is meeting new people and developing friendships that carry off the courts as well as trying to win the league to take your teams to Regionals, Sectionals, and Nationals.  Also getting to name your team can be fun. Since I'm a fan of the old Karate Kid movies and the new Cobra Kai series, our team name and logo is Cobra Kai. 


What’s your best tip for new captains?

Start with organizing the schedule with your players' availability to ensure that everyone gets enough matches during the season. Constantly communicate with your team so they know when and where they are playing and you will not have to default a court. Finally, know the USTA rules as well as the local league rules regarding timed matches so there are no disputes during a match.  Also, find a core group of players, then you can recruit additional players to supplement your teams since plays will come and go each season.


What advice do you have for someone who is trying to decide if they want to be a league captain?  

My advice is to go for it. Don't be afraid to ask for advice or help since everyone wants to have fun and play.  My first time as a captain, I was able to connect with Jim Albert, another captain in my league. He gave me advice and tips for being a captain, which I really appreciated at the time.  Try not to sweat the small stuff and try to roll with any situation.  You will make lifelong friends and enjoy the victories while not losing sleep over the close losses. 


USTA Mid-Atlantic believes that tennis creates community. We would like to thank Donald for his service as a team captain and for being an active part of making the USTA Mid-Atlantic League so much fun. 


We want to recognize more captains just like Donald and show our appreciation. Nominate a league captain that you know by filling out THIS FORM. Each month we will review the nominees and if selected, winners will receive $100 credit to use toward their USTA League fees. Also don’t forget to follow us on  Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, and Twitter.


Interested in becoming a USTA Mid-Atlantic League captain for one of your teams? Let us know! Fill out this interest form and we can get you connected with your Local League Ambassador. 


USTA Mid-Atlantic is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that helps people and communities grow stronger, healthier, and more connected through tennis. Learn about our impact in the Section and how you can help bring tennis to more communities throughout the region.

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