We are constantly surprised to hear how tennis experiences are so different depending on where you live. For instance, playing tennis in the Raleigh, NC area is calm compared to playing in the northeast. This week, Kana joined us to talk about her experience of what she called “Sopranos-style tennis – playing in New Jersey”.

We have heard interesting comments from people that have played tennis in the northeast and how different it is. For instance, we have been told that you can’t “flip courts” in the northeast. You are required to play straight up (meaning you must play your strongest players on higher courts). In our area, captains have the choice of playing any player on any court. They are allowed to flip (or roll) courts to give their team the advantage of winning a match.

Raleigh Compared to New Jersey Tennis

Raleigh is filled with USTA leagues. Sometimes we have so many that we have issues with court availability. New Jersey, however, isn’t as focused on USTA matches and is less popular. When Kana lived in New Jersey, she played in “The Garden State Women’s League”. They were coached by a gentleman that could have starred in The Sopranos! It was required that players purchase $600-$800 worth of team uniforms (including matching shoes!!) from the Nike Spring line. We have had others on the show to talk about tennis fashion which you can listen to here.

Coach “Tony”

Kana told us more about Sopranos-style Tennis – Playing in New Jersey and said she enjoyed the league, but that it was obvious that it was a big money-maker. We’ll call her coach “Tony” to make our story make more sense. Tony would set all the lineups, picked the partners and strongly suggested that the women take clinics from him. To be on Tony’s team you had to go through try-outs. Once you were part of the league, getting a sub for a match was extremely frowned upon. Kana said each lady needed to be available for every match. What?! Are you understanding the Sopranos-style tennis now?

Let’s “Take it to the Parking Lot”

We hope you’ll listen to the entire episode! It was fun to hear about what it’s like to play tennis in New Jersey. Threats of fighting on court or “taking it to the parking lot” is a common occurrence. Kana also tells us about when she played on a USTA team, they got kicked out of their local area. They had to drive to Pennsylvania to play matches!

North Carolina tennis is TAME compared to her experience in New Jersey. We’ll have a second episode next week to hear about more crazy situations!

Here’s a complete transcript of our conversation with Kana:

Speaker 1: 0:04

Hi, this is Carolyn, and I’m here with Erin and we really appreciate Canna being here with us tonight. Canna is rated 4.0 and she played tennis in New Jersey and we’re really interested in what it’s like to play tennis in different parts of the country. But, canna, can you start us off and tell us why you started playing adult tennis?Speaker 2: 0:24

Sure, I think I just mentioned, my husband and I started playing when we were both. Our kids were probably, you know, three and seven or something like that. And you know, we just noticed that we were doing so many things separately, like because someone had to stay home with the kids, so he would go out with his friends and then I would go with my friends, and we just found we weren’t doing anything together and that was kind of one thing that we both enjoyed doing and we weren’t very good at it. But I happened to be reading Shape Magazine and they had a tennis camp in Amherst Nike Tennis Camp. So we went and I think there’s about 15 courts there. We were put on court 15, the most court, and we went there for about 12 years and by the time we left we were on number one court. So we were really excited.Speaker 3: 1:10

Oh, that’s awesome. Was that a yearly thing, or did you go pretty often?Speaker 2: 1:13

Yeah, no, they still have it. I think we might go this year.Speaker 1: 1:17

And this is an adults camp. It’s amazing.Speaker 2: 1:20

It’s an amazing camp. You know it’s like summer camp, but you play tennis from about nine to 1130. There’s lunch and then you play again from one to four and it’s all clinics. And then you break for dinner and you eat it. You stay at Amherst Storms and you also stay at, you eat in the cafeteria, and so then there’s some wine drinking and then there’s playing nighttime playing as well. So then there’s fun playing. It’s a lot of fun.Speaker 1: 1:47

That sounds so cool. It does. I’ve always talked about like.Speaker 3: 1:50

I’ve dropped my kids off at summer camp for years and I thought I need a summer camp and that’s exactly like summer camp, doing the funnest thing that you love to do yeah, oh, that’s so fun.Speaker 3: 2:02

I have so many questions because I have heard like I don’t want to say rumors, but we have enough people so we play in North Carolina, carolina, all three of us now I know you moved down here from New Jersey and I have heard over the years several people that have come to this area that have played in the Northeast, that have said things like oh, you have to play straight up, you can’t flip courts up there, or you know, just like different things. So I want to. I have lots of questions for you. So I did a little research and it sounds like New Jersey is part of the middle state, the USDA middle states district, I guess, or area. So tell me, I want to know. I know from talking to you before we started recording you didn’t play a ton of USDA, but tell me, like, what your experience was with. Did you play a little to USDA there, or what other kind of social leagues or competitive leagues did you play in New Jersey?Speaker 2: 2:56

on teams. Well, I should mention USDA is not as popular as it is here. You know it’s not as popular as it is here. Certainly, and I ended up right before I left. I put together a team and I want to say that everyone who was on that team had never been on a team before, and these were all three, five and four O’s. So you know it’s. It’s something that is some people do it, but a lot of people don’t do it. And what people do, who play tennis in the daytime, is the Garden State Women’s League, and that’s a league of about 1300 people, 1400 people. So it’s a big league and there’s four courts on each team. You have to run four teams an A team, a B team, aa and double B. So it’s a lot of people that you need, and our club was so big that we ran two teams out of.Speaker 3: 3:46

You know out of the eight courts.Speaker 2: 3:49

We had. No, we had eight teams of four courts each. Oh wow.Speaker 3: 3:53

Yeah, that’s a lot of. It’s a lot of juggling.Speaker 2: 3:57

It’s a lot of juggling, and the setup was was different in that it was really individualistic. So it your team, you know, since every, everyone was in every flight, you couldn’t move, your team couldn’t move up or down, only you could move up or down. So if you were on court for on the lowest, if you’re rating went above 80 percent or 70 percent win rating, you got to move up to court three and then, if it, you know, and then eventually, if you did well enough, you could get up to a team court one. That was the best that you could do so a b a, a, yeah la double B so that.Speaker 3: 4:36

So how do they like, how does that start out? Like, how do they field people or rank them? Try out, oh my goodness, to try out.Speaker 2: 4:48

It’s hilarious, or your team you try out for the team try out the lead team and, as I recall, it’s about $1,500 to join the team. So for the you have to try out, for the privilege, you know maybe it wasn’t quite that much, it was 1200 but it was. You know was a chunky amount of money to join. And our team in particular had a pro at the time who has since passed away, but he was like straight out of the soprano, it’s like. When I first came he’s wearing like a velour sweatsuit, you know it’s like unzipped and and he’s yell. You know he calls you use, use girls. You know, yeah, but he kind of determined the lineup and you kind of had to take clinics with him as well. It was kind of an unwritten rule.Speaker 3: 5:40

So, yeah, so, once you’re in the family, yeah, so once you’re playing that, 11 hundred bucks, you know.Speaker 2: 5:47

And then you have the uniform. I think you and I spoke a little bit about that you had to buy every season. You know, you had to buy the Nike uniform and you had to buy two shirts, two skirts, a home and away and Shoes, and you know by the time, you use. Oh yeah, Every season you had to buy the uniform. Who? Didn’t necessarily have to buy the shoes, I guess. But you know, one year it was like neon green and Like dark brown you know like what are you gonna do?Speaker 2: 6:19

You got to buy the shoes right, Like what do? You don’t have anything to match that.Speaker 3: 6:23

So who chooses the uniform? This is hilarious. I love this.Speaker 2: 6:27

He chose the uniform and it was usually from the Nike spring line.Speaker 3: 6:32

And did you have to pay him directly? And then he bought it for everyone and wow, so this, this is crazy. It was crazy, yeah, okay, and those uniforms were like you said like one time. I mean they were like oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah I will say from here, you know, one would.Speaker 2: 6:51

I think I’ve never seen a uniform and Whenever I brought it up, I think you know people have said, oh, we don’t want a uniform. But there is kind of like an easy thing of like, oh, I don’t have to think about what, or you know, yeah, yeah, where you’re home or you’re away or whatever you know.Speaker 1: 7:09

That’s not funny part of a team, but again, I wouldn’t want to spend. What did you say? It was like $700.Speaker 2: 7:14

Well, you could be, yeah, like the first year, I think, you know, because I had to buy like the pants and like the jacket, and you know it was hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of dollars.Speaker 3: 7:25

I love this. You try out for a team. You have to buy a, you know, like your adult rec players.Speaker 2: 7:30

You’re not like.Speaker 3: 7:31

Oh, yeah, yeah, and you’re it’s. That is so, and it was such a money maker.Speaker 2: 7:36

And the funny thing, yes, telling my husband is you know, I know more than one person who was kicked off of a team, and for them to kick you off and have to give you your money back Like it’s pretty bad.Speaker 3: 7:48

Yeah, what do you have to do? I wonder, what kind of situations would you have to get yourself into to get kicked off Like getting a fight on a board.Speaker 2: 7:57

I don’t think we mentioned it, just talking. But you know Fights on courts Not that it happened every time, I don’t want to say, but it was certainly not an unusual thing. I’ve been in many situations where you know someone would threaten someone physically or you know, go out in the parking lot. A lot of cursing, a lot of you know that was not an unusual thing that would happen.Speaker 3: 8:23

So nothing phases you in Raleigh tennis, I’m assuming. Oh everyone’s so nice, oh, nice, yes, yeah, this whole area is nice. Yes, oh, that is crazy, I love it.Speaker 2: 8:36

Yeah, I never had anyone threaten me, so yeah, I know, and so now I feel like Okay, like I feel ready for anything.Speaker 3: 8:46

Yeah, this is tame. I mean we’ve joked about thinking that people have been like putting us in a situation where we’re in a tryout situation. Carolyn definitely feels like when she was a 2-5, like it was a single-steam, I’m pretty sure I got cut.Speaker 1: 9:02

Yeah, she got cut from the team.Speaker 2: 9:04

I’m sure you get invited to like a fun play and right.Speaker 3: 9:08

And then you’re like, why are they all watching me so intently? Yeah, yeah, exactly, but yours was a true tryout. That’s so funny. Okay, so I’ve heard a rumor that in the Northeast and maybe it’s USTA, but I think you said you heard it as well, but that you’re supposed to play straight up. So, like I know, you said you had like your league. That makes sense because there were tryouts and so they could kind of assess people. But how would they, how would someone know? I guess based on in that league it was based on wins and losses. But I’ve heard people say, like you can’t flip courts around, you can’t like for strategy to win a match, thinking if I throw my best players on three, three, maybe we can win two out of three courts or three out of five or whatever. So that sounds like it’s true, you can’t flip.Speaker 2: 9:55

Well, I know that at USTA it was expected that one, two and three were in order of strength. I played on a team that had gotten kicked out of middle states before because they did flip and he continued to flip. I can’t remember what region it is, but it’s wherever Pennsylvania is. Okay. So you know, I guess on the Eastern side of New Jersey, but this person was notorious for flipping and he flipped and he sandbagged like crazy, like he would bring people since so many people had not played USTA, he would bring them in as a two, five, right yeah.Speaker 1: 10:32

Wow Wait yeah. How did you get caught, though? Like how did someone get caught flipping?Speaker 3: 10:39

He won all the time, yeah.Speaker 2: 10:41

I mean, what do you want to rematch? Is that so many people knew him? They would always flip on him. So court one was really court three. So it wasn’t as successful as you would think it was.Speaker 3: 10:53

Right, would you? Have to travel, Like if you’re in New Jersey?Speaker 2: 10:57

I mean, I know New Jersey is next to Pennsylvania, but were you traveling far away from matches or when we played in that USTA that was out of not middle states, but you know the other area region. Yes, we have to drive quite far. Wow, but he was someone you know, he, that team went to nationals. It was a good team, but it was kind of a little bit of mixture of sandbagging and you know right.Speaker 1: 11:22

But it was dated to you guys that you’re not supposed to flip, because we had someone on the podcast recently, amanda from Florida, and she said they don’t even think about it as one, two and three, they just think about it as three courts. Yeah, that’s interesting that you guys are told hey, don’t flip. Yeah.Speaker 2: 11:37

I. We had a league that awarded I can’t remember what league it was, but they gave three points for court one, two points for court two and you know, somehow they had done her like a five, three and one, so you couldn’t win without court one.Speaker 3: 11:52

Yeah, yeah, someone. That’s funny. You mentioned that because someone on our team a couple years ago we had lost I think we had lost more courts than we had won. But she kept saying, well, how did we do on court one? And we’re like it doesn’t matter, like the math is, we lost. Let’s say, you know, we won two courts and lost three in the spring. And she’s like, yeah, but how did we? And we kept explained to her we didn’t understand why. She didn’t understand that we lost the match. But that was exactly it. She was from the Northeast and it was. The courts were weighted differently, weighted yeah.Speaker 2: 12:24

Because that kind of takes care of that flip, you know you start putting your strongest players on court. One.Speaker 3: 12:29

They do that now for a 40 over league, because if you split, because we we are doing what national does, where we’re only playing four courts or playing three doubles and one court of singles, and if you split two and two it’s not a straight win and then it goes down to I guess it’s maybe sets. Yeah.Speaker 2: 12:47

One game.Speaker 3: 12:48

Yeah, then games, and then, if that’s all tied up, which to tell you the truth, sometimes that actually happens it’s all tied up and then it comes down to who?Speaker 2: 12:56

won. It happens so much more than you know. It would be so interesting, Like you would expect. Yeah, yeah.Speaker 3: 13:03

So so no playoffs in that league of 1300 people, or whatever right you just end up. There’s no playoffs.Speaker 2: 13:09

You, just so. That’s why it’s so individualistic. Like you know, you’re really just trying to get up to court one on the 18. Gotcha, you know. So you know there’s a lot of bickering of who do I, why am I playing with this one? What you know? It becomes really important because it affects your personal win loss record. Do you get?Speaker 3: 13:29

to pick your partner. Yeah, do you get to pick your own partner. They pick it for you.Speaker 1: 13:33

They pick it for you. Wow, now that is interesting. I think that is really interesting to have someone pick the partner for you. Did you like that, kanna, or did you not and was?Speaker 3: 13:42

it consistent.Speaker 2: 13:43

I didn’t, yeah, I. I found that I was consistently kind of playing with the same people Based on availability. There is no you. You’re available every it would not be it would not be. It would be frowned upon if you were not available.Speaker 3: 14:00

Wow, Captains listen up yeah.Speaker 2: 14:04

Very frowned upon.Speaker 3: 14:05

This is what we’re going to do.Speaker 2: 14:06

Yeah.Speaker 3: 14:07

If you’re going to join our team and you’re going to be available for every single match.Speaker 2: 14:11

Yes, Like, of course, every once in a while. If you weren’t available, that would be okay, but it would really be frowned upon, and most people were paying a lot of money, so you know they wanted to play.Speaker 1: 14:24

Thanks very much to Kanna for talking about her experience playing tennis in New Jersey. It sounds a little more intense than what we play in North Carolina, but I kind of like the idea of waiting court one more than the other courts to prevent flipping. There’s a part two where Kanna will talk about her crazy situations that happened on the court and they are pretty funny. If you’d like to see a picture of Kanna or listen to any of our previous episodes, please check out our website, which is SecondServePodcastcom. Thanks so much for listening and hope to see you on the court soon.