Men are from Venus too

Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus is John Gray’s book on the differences between men and women, as vast as if they might have come from different planets.

An example of the theories it offers is that women complain about problems because they want their problems to be acknowledged, while men complain about problems because they are asking for solutions.

In my limited experience that isn’t scientifically proven women like to talk and gossip (that’s how they bond .. remember I’m the third sex) while men tend to be problem solvers who bond through actions. When I see males that act like sissies I jab at them for being from Venus too.
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USTA section mapThis map shows there are 17 sectional teams competing for the national amateur tennis title.

The USTA’s separation of the 52 states is determined by the concentration of registered players as well as geographic constraints (Alaska and Puerto Rico have their on section) The Mid-west and Mountain States have large areas because of the fewer number of players, unfortunately this results in plenty of multi-state travelling for district and regional playoffs.

Geographically speaking, few eastern states like New York covers smaller area than the southern states like the Carolinas with few tennis Meccas like Hilton Head. I would think the road to win that section has to be tough.

The very close knit Long Island mens’ 4.0 team has just won at Las Vegas this past weekend – congratulations!! Andre Agassi showed up unannounced as the minor leaguers were battling one another.

Since winning the Mens 3.5 USTA League’s Eastern Section Championship in Syracuse this past August, the CatsNY 纽约华网 New York Chinese tennis team has been busily preparing their up coming battle, The Adult National Championship on October 16 -18, 2009 at the Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson, Arizona – the ultimate holy grail for weekend hackers. The brutal fact that many teams/captains played for 20+ years have never once reached this far, has made this 3.5 mens team who’s on their virgin quest more exciting and inspiring, although many players have been long time friends.

The team was initially patched up by Charlie Zhang whose tennis career is shorter than many players on his team. As the season progressed his captaining style was being questioned (scouting out opposing teams and pairing your own players, etc.) and many troopers found him to be aloof hence new captain (or captains) was/were added .. that eventually resulted in a 5-person leader group, in lieu of lone captain. The leader group would confer and decide who pair whom and who’s to play. I attended their Metro win at National Tennis Center, and went to Syracuse to cheer them on as a groupy. So I was privy to the preparation leading up to the sectional win and the beginning of the up coming trip to Tucson.

Unlike many other teams they courted media coverage and sought sponsors, and they complained and bickered which I considered its women specialty. Many wanted a piece of the pie, it feels like 无头蝇 headless flies heading all directions. Immediately after the Syracuse win, few committees were born to handle fund raising (which I was assigned to but did nothing b/c the chairperson never initiated or reached out .. to me at least), logistic, media coverage, coaching, etc. Each committee has a chairperson with few helpers. Granted they are all newbies in term of making it to the Nationals. But it shouldn’t be. It’s just a game, should be fun foremost. Secondly, making a trip shouldn’t be that difficult – with a committed team. I suggested a forum for communications and to sign up for the trip. The up side of it I saw’s to reduce the jam in the income eamil box, and let everyone know where others stand – go or no go, when to go, etc. The down side of it, of course is losing the control (of what?). In the beginning when I asked the person in charge
“Who are going?” (I wanted to see if I could get a baifen card game going .. no one can change Irene, a born addict to the game), I was told

Andy said not to talk about the trip

Mrs. Captain called me asking if I had purchased ticket [to go]. There are few scheduled flights from New York to Tucson/Phoenix, with the cocktail party (on Thursday) and match schedules are in place (Fri – Sun). I thought it was a straightforward planning: mapping out couple of departure dates/times/car rentals (not everyone could arrive early) in the forum and let players find their own travel buddies at their conveniences. Simple enough? It shouldn’t be an all out operation like sending a platoon to Iraq, unless the lucky few have too much time on their hands – 英雄无用武之地 no scope to exercise one’s abilities.

To practice for the tourney in Tucson, the team enlists Barry the coach on weekends. However, Xue HU (Steve), the first singles player suggested that the teammates should participate in as many tourneys as possible during this period. It was him who played/won at the Tatang’s Memorial Cup 2009 the weekend prior that got me to play the following weekend. None of them showed up at this but few did participate the Labor Day tourney. Steve won that one too.

At the beginning of September Emily called me to say that they weren’t sure if they would go to Tucson and Andy knew about their indecision. The reason was more on the fact Steve did not feel the teammates were doing the right preparation, etc. That’s the draft I got from her.

Failing to see/predict the 2008 stock market crash, Steve came out of two-year long retirement, working as an IT consultant now. He claimed that he had a slow summer in term of finding work assignment; since March 09, he entered 4 tournaments at 4.0 or 4.5 level and won all of them – each with nice trophy, US Open tickets or Prize Money. (His 4.0 USTA league record is 2-2.) He apparently got more personal satisfaction out those. In one of his e-mails to his teammates

I was happy to see my effort to make you all so happy and excited. 3.5 matches are not that challenging for me technically, .. .. I got the joy out of 3.5 plays from seeing my teammates/friends happy.

He’s type of guy who would diligently do his homework and works hard at what he does – it pays off: in his first year playing at USTA, he claimed that he jumped from 3.5 to 4.5 and said he won 80% in tournament matches against 4.5 players. He’s the only player who would do conditioning after playing among us when I hardly do warm up (shouldn’t be whining about my injury).

Few players on the team were passionate that even bewildered their wives (who are decent tennis devotees too) who believed this 3.5 National Championship is “once in a life time opportunity” when Steve considered it only “for a 55 year-old player after playing 10+ years”.

“I couldn’t understand their urgency and devotion .. .. ” one wife shocked her head in disbelieve.
“It’s like they’re having mid age crisis .. has to be this year .. has to be this year .. .. And having him [her hubby’s 4.0] to play .. just not right .. ” Although it’s not good sportsmanship (4.0 plays for a 3.5 team) but nevertheless, she said few teams do it too, until they get caught.

There are probably two motivations for a player when s/he decided on a team: to get on a strong winning team aiming at the National or just to have fun and meet other players. One seasoned captain commented that quite often the two do not go hand in hand. If looking for a strong team you have to realize that unless you’re one of the starters, you could get very limited playing time because captains place a priority on winning.

Another wife was upset because during the press conference after the Syracuse they cited the wins and loses stats.

“They shouldn’t have counted the loss that they asked my husband to lose [to avoid being disqualified].”

Ok, we all play to win and few on the team wanted to win badly but the question is, does it feel good and proud to take home the trophy with the hired guns – the 4.0+ players?

Steve said he agreed to join the team was out of his friendship with one of the captains. Now as his work assignment mounting, and the fact 3.5 grade isn’t really providing him competition hence he was iffy on committing himself to the National while the team pressed hard for a Yes or No pronto.

Many teammates who contribute a lot to the team felt being jerked around, for too long.

Was Steve the only one to blame? Hmmmm .. If the captains didn’t give him the tacit permission, told him early on that you have to commit, there shouldn’t be any heartburn later on. 委曲求全 stoop to compromise is not an effective way in managing a team – there are other players to consider as well. Steve is who he is, he was given the latitude and he acted on it fully.

A heated e-mail exchange ensured. After being reminded that in spite he had played for Manhattan 4.0 team this year and beaten everyone that came in his way. However, they, the 4.0 team did not make it out of Manhattan. In essence, each match (2 singles and 3 doubles) will enhance the chance of winning by 1/5 percentage – you still need your teammates to pull through other 4/5, for you. At this pungent moment Steve pointblankly demanded to know

What do you think if I did not play? Do you honestly think you will have this opportunity to play National Championship?

I actually had this debate with one of the players. Statistically the 3.5 team didn’t need Steve’s win: they were 5:0 at Metro and 4:1 at Section when all they needed was 3 wins out of 5 played matches. But mentally, without him being on the team that guarantees a win, no one knows how much that assurance had motivated everyone on the team. I knew I play far better with a stronger partner.

Steve quickly made his decision afterward that he’ll skip the National, citing Ken Zhang, whose name the team is under, has improved his singles game dramatically,

he [Ken] can play singles, and others will have more opportunities to play doubles, less fighting. Perfect!

Can the real captain stand up, please?

I never wanted to get close to the power base, b/c tennis to me is just a game, at end of the day, I have a family to be with. I don’t have time for nonsense or trivial tasks. No one has the right to judge how others live, singleton or divorced .. .. but it seems to me those people might have more time on hand to stir up a lot of trivia strife.

One of the consiglieres had invited me in May to be its secretary, unsolicited. I accepted – we just came back together from a trip to Nicaragua. Upon close inspection, CatsNY Chinese American tennis society of New York is ran bit like a private club veering away from their own mission statement.

In any case, the team is in unity and ready to roll.

Thanks to Jonathan’s effort, our uniform been produced amid China 10days national holiday.

My shanghai office couriered the package to my HK office last night for Friday delivery in HK. .. will airfreight uniform to NY on Sunday. If all goes as planned, I can have uniform ready for you Monday night.

Just in time for their trip, never mind the mileage the T-shirts have clocked in. It just got me thinking that perhaps most of my cloths have traveled longer than I do in a year 🙂 They’re resourceful and committed: One of my buddies who made to the Nationals too, Senior / 3.5 / F at Indian Wells in CA this October. But her team could not field enough people and thyey had to give it up to the second place team which is LI. What a bummer!!!!! So .. .. .. the 3.5 men, good luck and bring home the trophies!

Mr. Gray did say that his “Martians” and “Venusians” are only stereotypes and cannot be applied blindly to individuals.
Which is, thank lord, true.

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