Why is being the captain of an adult recreation team so difficult? If you are a new USTA captain this episode is for you!

Both Erin and Aileen have captained multiple teams for more than a decade! Erin made a list of why being the captain is so hard or why it sucks and Aileen discusses her experiences as captain. Erin and Aileen give great advice and Carolyn listens and laughs and feels very appreciative of people willing to step up and captain!

Captaining Sucks!

Here are some other episodes we’ve recorded about captaining a tennis team:

Here’s a complete transcript of our episode with Aileen:

Carolyn: 0:09
Hi, this is Carolyn, and I’m here with Erin, and we really appreciate Aileen being here. This was Erin’s idea, because she made a list of why being the captain is hard or we were actually laughing before the episode as why captaining sucks. Both Erin and Aileen have captained multiple teams each year for over a decade. So, Erin, do you want to start with your list?

Erin: 0:32
So I wrote some notes down and I’m just going to ask you a couple questions what you think. So I think one of the worst parts of captaining is picking the team. Do you agree with that?

Aileen: 0:43
Yeah, for me personally we’re out of a country club setting and the first part of the team is pretty easy because we don’t even have 15 people at our club that are at that level and our roster limitations are at 15. So everybody at that rating gets a spot. I think it really gets complicated when you have 25 people that want to play on one team and then you have to divide up and how do you go and how all that works, which you’ve had to deal with that before but as far as that goes for me personally, I look at it then and see what I need. For instance, at the 4-0 level, we don’t have singles players or people that want to play singles more than a couple times during the season, and so when I look to fill again, I don’t have a huge poll of 4-0s to go after I go to the 3-5s and I have to look for singles players.

Erin: 1:40
So that’s actually one of the things that I was thinking of. So I now play at the same club as Aileen and Carolyn for ever and ever. It’s my soft spot, it will always be my home. But I’m at another club now where we have a bigger pool of people to choose from. But sometimes it seems unfair to put a 3-5 on a 4-0 team when a 4-0 might need a spot. But it is sort of one of those things Like I might have a 3-5 that’s a better singles player or wants to play singles every week or is dedicated, and I think generally, the reason why I wanted to do this episode was just to let people know like there are a lot of people that just pick their friends or pick who they like or whatever. But it is very strategic and I think some people that have never captained before don’t realize that there is a lot of thought that goes into it and it’s not just like I’m just a jerk of a captain because I put a 3-5 on a team and I just didn’t want that 4-0. That might not necessarily be the case.

Aileen: 2:36
Not at all, especially because you also don’t want to take the 4-0s, who obviously can’t play 3-5 and put them on singles courts when they really don’t want to be there. I mean, this is for fun. That’s what it all amounts to. I mean this is recreational. Yeah, so you don’t like. Would you even sign up if you had to play singles when you didn’t want anything to do with singles, or your body wouldn’t take singles anymore? Or whatever the reason, then, yeah. Yeah.

Erin: 3:03
And that’s a good point. Like captaining sucks, because you also are you have to remember exactly what you said, which is it is for fun, and so you don’t want to make it not fun for you don’t want to make a someone else’s experience not fun. When they’re paying to be there, they’re paying to be part of a club or even part of their city courts or whatever. So, yeah, it’s just not an easy job.

Aileen: 3:23
That’s why yeah, no, I stopped captaining for, I think, just a year or two, at 40 plus, when I had two singles courts because I didn’t have the singles players and I had to put somebody who didn’t want to be there all the time and it’s like then they were miserable and made me miserable. And it’s just, you hated to send out those lineups, knowing someone’s going to be upset, and you try to pass it around. But some people I mean they had double knee replacement Okay, now you can’t put them on a singles court. I’m sorry.

Erin: 3:53

Aileen: 3:55
You love to pass it around, but yeah.

Erin: 3:57
So we’re just getting into spring, coming up into spring, and I’m I am going to captain a team reluctantly Normally I only captain summer singles because I only need three people each week. But this week, this year, I’m going to do a spring team. But so I’m starting to pull my players to find out who they like to play with, who they feel comfortable on a court with, who they feel like they could win with, because you know you want to win. I mean, the whole point is to have fun, but also winning is fun, it makes for fun. So I’m trying to pull my players to ask them who they play well with and who they feel like they don’t play well with. And I was at a practice the other day and I walked out with these two women and I said, hey, have you emailed us yet your preferences? And they said, well, I feel bad saying who like you, just put me wherever. And I said, no, if we’re going to go for wins, we need to know from you and we won’t necessarily share that information. But that’s another part that just kind of sucks about being a captain, because you need to have people be honest with you about who they feel comfortable with and who they might be the best of friends, but they might not play well together.

Aileen: 5:04
And I think people yes, and I think people say, oh, you can put me with anybody and they genuinely want to just be a team player and are happy with that and that’s great. But for all those out there, when you do that, it actually kind of makes it harder, and usually the people that are so easy going and easy to captain are those people, and yet you don’t want to put them, maybe with a weaker player or somebody that’s more difficult to pair or things like that, because you really need them to say I would love to play with these people. These will be my top three choices, not just one. I’ll only play with this person. We have those people too, don’t get me wrong. Yeah, but I would love to play with, like in name, three or four names, right, but I’m happy to play with anybody. Don’t hesitate to put me with anybody on the team and I’m good that’s a better way to say it. That at least gives us some guidance on where you’re thinking.

Erin: 6:00
Yeah, yeah, that’s the best team player right there, yeah, okay. So another point is as a captain. I think you should not be the keeper of all people’s tennis, and what I mean by that is as a captain. You’re then the one in charge of lineups and communication with other teams, and so you kind of have this busy role throughout your season. But then sometimes you want to set up like a team clinic or a team practice, and then people sort of you know it might be like, oh, I’m going to captain in the spring, so let’s set up a clinic and just kind of see who good partnerships are in the set and the other, and then people rely on you to do that week after week. So I don’t know. Then I then that’s when I’m like I’m not your personal secretary, your tennis secretary.

Aileen: 6:43
You get that a lot and that gets, it gets old. And then people don’t come. It’s like do you want this, do you not want this? I don’t know. I tend to organize, like we’ve done some trips and so for the team and things like that, and I do kind of a kickoff event, yeah, and I’m going to do that again this year. We did that last year just for team bonding. We had a lot of new people last year and so it was like get to know you type stuff, yeah. But as far as the clinic, somebody else was doing clinics and that was all fun. But as far as inviting people to play, they do look to you to organize practices and you know. Then it’s like if you play on your own, then they get offended If they weren’t invited to play on there with you. And it’s like this is what I have to say. They have a phone and they can reserve a court too. Right, they can ask me to play.

Erin: 7:37
They don’t organize anything.

Aileen: 7:39
Is that my fault? I mean, everybody can organize fun tennis Right, and some people just don’t want to. They want to be asked all the time.

Erin: 7:47
Yeah, all the time. I’m sure you’ve gotten someone that said you never asked me to practice and you’re like you could ask me to practice.

Aileen: 7:53
Right, exactly. Well, that’s just it. I’m happy if I’m available. Phone goes both ways.

Erin: 7:58
Yeah, yeah, exactly. I’m giggling because as soon as you said that, I was thinking, you know when this doesn’t happen. Is men’s tennis? No, which too bad. Mike’s not on? Yeah, have you guys captained Ben. Oh, I like to mix doubles. Well, I know that’s drama. Can you talk about that, Carolyn?

Carolyn: 8:18
From Mike’s perspective. I think the only thing that Mike said and I’d like to hear your pet peeves from captaining just real quick, some of the ones that you guys have is that men don’t respond.

Aileen: 8:27

Carolyn: 8:27
Yeah, not at all. So you don’t know if they’re going to show up. They, you know, it’s not that they, they’re not going to get mad at you for what court they’re on. It’s that you don’t know if they’re actually going to show up to play on the court, right?

Aileen: 8:38
Yeah, oh yeah, I have for my mixed teams. I have to call one guy and then he asks another guy on the team because he’s going to run into. He’ll respond to him, but he won’t respond to me Exactly. Because they kind of work together. Right and so it’s like, okay, you won’t pick up for me, but you’ll pick up for them. You let me know and I’m like hit the end, but we should do a whole another podcast on the differences between men’s captain, captain men’s teams and women’s teams.

Erin: 9:04
I think we should do that for sure. And just to reiterate all those other points that I said and this is why it’s hard to captain is at some point someone, at least one person, will hate you at some point for being the captain, even though you’ve thought about the lineups and you’ve thought about their feelings and you’ve thought about what courts you should put them on and you thought about how to get best, get them a win and how to get them to practice, and they will. Eventually, at least one person will absolutely think that you’re the worst, completely. All the time.

Aileen: 9:36
And it’s like those people you mentioned it before it’s the I don’t want to play one. I don’t want to play one because, okay, they’re mental about one, no problem. And then so I keep them on three. They’re getting wins. They’re not killing people, right, they might lose a couple, but they’re getting some wins, so they’re successful. We’re good there. That’s kind of how I think about it. Okay, that’s you always try to get people to have a successful season. Yes, that’s what you want, yeah. And then I had somebody come up to me and was like you know, we can play a higher core, right, we can play one. Like, why aren’t you putting me on one? Because you specifically said not to and you’re barely pulling out three. But you know that kind of thing. Yep, it’s why captain means you do the best you can and you don’t get paid.

Erin: 10:17
Yeah, like Exactly yeah. There’s no glory in it, unless you take a team to to play offs and then you take them to states and then. But even in that there’s going to be someone’s you know, someone’s going to be upset at some point.

Aileen: 10:31
Honestly, my two cents on that is. Third place is a beautiful place to be where you don’t have to go to states, you don’t have to go to playoffs, but you had a winning season.

Carolyn: 10:40
But you had a winning season.

Aileen: 10:42
Everybody’s successful because people change when they go to.

Erin: 10:47
When it gets competitive, more and more competitive.

Aileen: 10:49
Agreed yes.

Erin: 10:50

Carolyn: 10:52
There’s one more episode where Aaron and Aileen discuss why captain is hard or why it sucks, and they also tell us their number one pet peeve as a captain. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the courts soon.