It can be challenging to find the right team in USTA League Tennis. Some players want a team that will make it to the post-season; others want playing time, results be damned; some are simply looking for a bunch of guys to drink with.
My priority is playing time. In my first season, I joined a team that was focused exclusively on winning. When I took the court for my first match–second singles against a weak player–my teammates’ dreams were riding on my forehand. I tightened up and lost. I didn’t get another chance to play.
The next year, I sought out the team that had finished the previous season at the bottom of the standings. Plenty of opportunity, no pressure. I worked out some of the kinks in my game. I put together a winning record. A year later, our squad of losers was throwing down in the post-season. A few of us got bumped up to 4.0.
Now we’re starting over, looking for a spot where we’ll feel comfortable and play our best. I’ve agreed to join a 4.0 team at the Upper Main Line Y, the same club (with some of the same people) that made my first season a bust. But times and circumstances have changed. I don’t think the team expects to be a legitimate contender. And I’ve toughened up mentally.
I’ve got another month or so indoors. I’m having some success with the kick serve (not much of a kick, but a pretty reliable second serve wide in the ad court) and taking my forehand on the rise. When I move outdoors, I hope these strokes will be strong enough to help me battle for one of the two singles slots on my new squad.