CTA or USTA team tennis offers distinct challenges each season, and picking the ‘right’ captain or captains is crucial to the success of the tennis operation. Moreover, when club teams win each week, there is a special buzz at the club.
In my practices, I have enjoyed exceptional team captain, as well as the co-captain set up. There are many factors in determining which direction to move. For example, if the club head pro is “hands on”- sets up each roster, designs team practices and has weekly meetings with each team. In this particular case, the captains do not have to work overtime.
However, if the head pro wishes to have the captains run the team, it requires a completely different dynamic. In this state of play, it might be prudent to have co-captains.
First, the team must send in their roster and this procedure takes time. Next up, the captains must have a team clinic day with the pros, and quite possibly, an extra day for additional play. Finally, the captains must have extra time for determining line-ups for match play.
Another outstanding reason to have co-captains is that it allows better communication for the entire team. For instance, due to personality conflicts, team members have the opportunity to connect with at least one of the leaders. Additionally, when we have two different perspectives, it is more likely to see the entire scope of the team. When the co-captains meet with the head pro for weekly line-ups, we have three fully involved people doing their best to be fair and balanced.
However, the co-captain experiment can also fail!
Often, one of the captains is more passionate and fully engaged, and tends to take the lead and make most decisions. It would be wise for the other co-captain to resign, but there are usually too many hurt feelings. When this occurs, there can be dissention throughout the team.
The best solution to this unique problem is to have a meeting with the co-captains and the head professional. The head pro must take the lead and attempt to open the conversation to get to the issues. In many instances, the less involved captain will happily give up his/her role. The only way to have a great solution is through open interaction.
Indisputably, leadership is the key to running happy teams. Throughout my career, strong enthusiastic captains do the best work. Now, the only way to demonstrate top-of-the-line management is to have an open meeting before the season begins. The person running the meeting must foster an atmosphere that allows team members to voice their complaints. If done properly, the team captain will address each concern with consideration. The key is not to be too emotional and “fly off the handle” and start attacking.
Even the best professional staff (including captains) cannot solve every issue. Every USTA/CTA team has unhappy participants. The most thriving league teams follow their well-thought out plan and don’t divert because of one or two constant whiners. Don’t be dissuaded; run open meetings, vibrant team practices and look forward to a great season of tennis.
Since 2000, Doug Browne was the Collier County Pro of the Year three times, and has been a USPTA pro in the area for 28 years. Doug was also honored in the International Hall of Fame (Newport, Rhode Island) as Tennis Director during the 2010 summer season. Doug has been writing about tennis for the last 19 years.