Archive for November, 2013

My teams

I don’t know tennis much, I just play it. When the ball comes I hit it. I don’t spend time to think how I hit it. If I hit a top spin what would happen, and if I hit a backhand slice what would happen. It’s same way I handle my life – I do not analyze it but just to live it.
Wittingly or unwittingly, we get into a situation that beyond our control.
There was one captain that I remembered fondly. She was friendly, perhaps was the first captain I had length conversation on court with. She was a lot of fun, often came to work (ops, I meant play) with a glass of wine. I just adored her. But her team always stick to the bottom, season after season. When I actually played her as opponent I found her game was at my level. I supposed that I made playoff all the time only because I had awesome mates. Not to my drawing power but the credit goes to the group of friends who wanted to have fun together. The first few teams were all with friends we played together for more than a decades. They spoiled me. Some mates on the team worked the night often for extra income but would always come to our team’s rescue. I don’t like to drive. There was always someone offering me a ride. One night two mates came to pick me up after work. When I saw two boxed dinners in the car, I felt guilty. It should have been me picking them up.

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Why does anyone want to captain a USTA tennis team?

The captains meetings

The short answer is because we are all bums and nuts, so when it comes to tennis, our brains become fuzzier than the yellow-green balls – we are irrational.

I did not know what it would encompass to be a captain. In my worldly view back then in 2009, all I could imagine was
I get to play tennis ..
.. and, play a lot of tennis
Now looking back, the reality is not only adverse but I find out that being a captain, one needs to be, includes but not limited to, a

  1. leader
  2. cheerleader
  3. administrator
  4. secretary
  5. babysitter
  6. organizer
  7. debt collector
  8. counselor
  9. detective
  10. arbitrator — [the rain and played in door]
  11. lawyer
  12. beggar
  13. financier
  14. substitute

Of course I knew nothing about these subtleties when I was asked. Hobnobbing with my troops who are all so much better a player than I could ever be, it was not only flattering but an honor. How could I refuse a dream job? Tennis players would over come mountains and oceans to be part of this sport.

Plus I have my ulterior motive.

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THE United States Tennis Association (USTA), which hosts the glittering US Open every year in New York where Serena Williams and Roger Federer come to play, also manages a grass roots amateur league in which I belong and this book is about. It gets us out in the dead winter night or glorious summer evening. Over 770,000 bums and weekend hackers register to play on the League for a chance to compete with peers around the country in the Nationals every year. Our journey is no less arduous and filled with gut wrenching moments, and the reward is no less satisfying. (Sans the US$3.6 million dollar prize – Serena’s pay check for winning 2013 US Open – of course and $4m in 2014)

ustaUSTA is the governing body for the sport of tennis in the USA. Reportedly it is the largest in the world. The fifty states on the Stars and Stripes are being regrouped into seventeen geographical sections. Under the Sections are the regions. My local league, Metro is one of the five Regions in the Eastern Section.  Although I can play anywhere but choose Long Island and Metro is due to proximity. Really, the world is your oyster. Indeed, I have mates who traveled a great deal to be on my team. One shuttled from Chicago, anther commuted from Seattle on the west coast and one journeyed from Hong Kong.

Each region runs by a Local League Coordinator with program catering to varying ages groups and genders. The mixed doubles dominates the winter season and men and women are played out in the spring and summer. For Metro, the LLC sends out a Call for Captains email in September for the mixed season, which effectively announces that the advent of a new year has just begun.

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Where’s the common courtesy?

A normal day at the gym. Swimming pool was bit chaotic, with a woman so inconsiderate and the club manager seemed powerless to do anything about it.


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Graf and Evert at 1988 US Open

The 1988 US Open (August 29 to September 11) semifinals had two Americans: Chris Evert vs Steffi Graf, and Gabriela Sabatini vs Zina Garrison. Evert/Graf match did not happen: Evert was sick; Graf had walk over. She would go on beating Sabatini 6-3, 3-6 and 6-1 , collecting $275,000 in prize and  the Calendar Year Grand Slam.

Calendar Year Grand Slam means the play collected all four grand slam titles in the same year. Maureen Connolly Brinker did in xxxx and Margaret Court in 1970. Graf would go to win the Gold Medal at Seoul (Summer Olympics, 17 September to 2 October 1988 ), that made her the first and by far the only Calendar Year Golden Slam holder.

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Confirm the match

The league rule has it that we must enter the score within 24 hours and confirm within 48, otherwise

loses the right to dispute those scores. Repeated failure to enter match scores will result in captain sanctions


However, many teams do not really follow the time frame. This match was scheduled/played on Friday at 8pm.

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Tennis and its scoring system

Tennis is played with a racket to strike a ball over the net. The ball can bounce once or be returned while still in the air. There are singles and doubles matches when one player plays against each other or two players (same gender or different gender) against two opponents on the other side of the court. The size of each side of the court is 39ft long by 27ft wide for singles and 39ft by 36ft wide for doubles.

The scoring system starts with game, set then match. Each game has four points. Each point has different value:

  1. The first point in a game is called 15
  2. The second point is 30
  3. The third point is 40



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