It’s a new tennis season and N has a tennis team again. Just about. Last year, we didn’t have enough players for a mini orange team, but this year we’ve managed to scrabble around and find enough players for a full team, plus 1 extra. I’m excited because I was asked to be team captain again.
I loved being captain for mini reds, and I suppose I’ve always been involved since school in being sports captain. For squash and tennis at 6th form, squash club president and team captain at uni, then involved with the squash team after starting work. I just like being involved. Maybe that’s why I’ve ended up being a project manager because I like getting everyone organised.
As a tennis captain my role is pretty simple:
- Organise the team
- Agree match times at home and with opposing team captain
- Book courts for home matches
- Collect in the team names and tennis numbers
- Ensure we’ve got people to support the players in scoring
- Set up the courts on the day
- (usually make sure drinks and refreshments are available).
- Currently – make sure everyone’s used hand sanitiser before going on court, cleaning equipment afterwards
- Taking down scores
- Submitting results online if we win.
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The most frantic and worrying part beforehand is getting enough players to be available. For us it’s easy because N only plays one sport. If tennis clashes with anything else, mostly he’ll choose tennis. But most other children do other sports on weekends, so it’s coordinating whether they can play or not and trying to find replacements. We can play with fewer people but it gets confusing over who’s playing and not, trying to arrange players who’ll play again as a friendly to make up numbers etc.
Once the teams and matches are confirmed, the worst part is being on rain watch. You have to make a call on whether the rain will stop in time, allowing for visitors to have up to an hour drive to get to you. And then thinking when you can play rained off matches. It’s definitely a nervy time having to make the call. Luckily I’ve only had to do it once, and I made the right choice holding out for the match to play.
The new season and a new team
Since we played in mini reds, some people left tennis. Others decided they don’t want to play matches. And the club has done more to get juniors playing. It means we’ve now got a very different team. N and his friend are still in the team but the others are all new. One’s trained a while but not been in a team before. And after years of trying to find girls to play, we now have 2 who are keen to play for the team. Both have never played matches before.
Our division also strangely has A teams playing from other clubs. Rather than the B or C teams we would usually have played. So we’re expecting this to be about experience before many of the team have to move up to mini green age group next year.
The first match
In the week before the match, N had been moaning about a painful knee. We pulled him out of PE at school to rest it. But then while his knee got better he ended up with tonsillitis. The other boy with match experience couldn’t make the first match, so we had to put the team of 3 in playing in positions 2 higher than they would usually.
Credit to the team, for a first time playing matches they did well. Everyone was on the score board, there were some good rallies, lots of serves went in. And noone panicked or got overwhelmed. They really enjoyed it and were good tempered throughout. No stroppy behaviour.
There’s plenty for the team to work on – no bouncing before serving underarm, learning to score for themselves, learning strategy, and backhand improvements. But they seemed to grasp doubles play faster than the opponents who had more experience.
Being team captain
I’ve not started back playing properly myself yet (really need to make the most of my club membership!), but I love being involved with the club and being team captain.
The reason for pushing to have the team in the first place was to get N more experience. It’s great being part of a team, and with tennis being an individual sport, it’s nice to be able to be with friends to play. I’m invested in N’s tennis, and I want him to do the best he can and experience a fully rounded experience of it. He’s not that competitive, so match play does give him a bit of encouragement to be a bit more competitive.
I love to encourage other children. Ok, my reasoning might be partly selfish – if there’s no team, then N missed out playing. But it’s important for children to learn to enjoy it, play as a team, and to be able to measure their improvement, meeting other players.
As a parent captain, you get to increase involvement with the club and coaches. I have more chance to chat and socialise with other tennis parents. And you might get to experience additional coaching for your child. And if you want to try new skills, you can use them on your cv as additional volunteering and other soft personnel skills.
It’s mostly out in the open air, it takes me back to my youth playing team sports, and get to do something different to my day job.
But mostly, I love it because it’s tennis.
Roll on the next match.
Are you involved with any of your child’s sports or hobbies?
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