Uh, oh, it is that dicey time of year where anxious tennis players find out if they are going to stay put or will stay on their current teams. If you are a CTA league participant, coordinator Vivian Welsh publishes her new list; a small percentage of players must adjust as they may either move up a level or in a few cases, move down to a lower level!
Now, If you are the select few who must move down, pause a moment and understand it is just a game. Heck, it is quite possible that the league or well-intentioned pro, had you try or experiment at a new, higher level and it was too bold of a move. Believe me, no one wants to be displaced; the threat of leaving your friends and the security of winning at that particular level could cause a little panic.
To me, the only time to be upset about the new ratings is when you are at a smaller club and you do not have a team to play on at your favorite facility. If you are in this category, this can be a tricky proposition. This has never been truer for the players who play at the 4.0 level and higher. In other words, the better one gets in the game of tennis, the lonelier it becomes. Yes, one feels isolated; the majority of tennis players are rated from 2.5 to 3.5 and as one rises in the ratings, it can become slim pickings.
Now, when it is time to assess the players who move up from either 2.5 or 3.0, please take a moment and celebrate! Any time the league coordinator or resident tennis professional has told you that you deserve to graduate to a higher level, appreciate the compliments and rejoice. Folks, this is a good thing as it validates your growth in the game of tennis and it should invigorate your desire to keep improving.
Strangely enough, it is the security of winning that gets in the way of improvement. What? If your only goal is to win, trying new strokes or new strategies might threaten your current win streak. If you are a player who falls in this category, watch out for the old Peter Principle. In other words, one may tap o u t at a certain level because you are literally ‘stuck in quicksand.’
For example, many players who compete at the 2.5 level may win with condensed ground strokes. These players actually jab or poke at the ball because they fear that their long follow through will send the ball well past the baseline. So, the ground stroke ‘poker’ is able to be more consistent than his counterpart but has a limited lifespan. Whereas, the 2.5 player who is learning how to hit the ball like the pros is on the path to improvement and then the ‘sky is the limit.’ So, as I stated earlier, the goal of winning can be detrimental to your overall development.
My overall advice to those select players who have been bumped up to a 3.0 or 3.5 rating, need to embrace the change. If you make the mistake of complaining or even fretting, you are clearly missing the boat. As a current southwest Florida club professional, I personally have had at least one hundred players rise up to new levels and flourish. Ironically, most tennis players desire to play with better competition because they usually enjoy better points. Don’t live in the past, embrace your new tennis life and run with it. Good luck.
Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.