Avery Shackelford wrote a great blog post only last year highlighting way to help your kids prepare for team tennis. Here are some reasons why joining team tennis is so important for a kids’ tennis development. Junior tennis teaches you a lot of great life skills: how to be independent, make decisions on your own, and deal with different pressure and stresses, all while learning the technical skills of a sport that you can play your entire life. Private lessons and one-on-one attention is imperative for your success as a tennis player, but it’s not all that the sport can offer. In a sport where singles is mostly the name of the game, teamwork skills and benefits are not highly emphasized. I can’t tell you the amount of times my own college team had to go back to the basics on what teamwork is and how to work with each other toward success. While tennis may seem like it, especially when you are out on the court alone against your opponent, it isn’t all about you. Playing high school team tennis will teach you this quickly. So, here are some of the main reasons why you should play high school tennis!
Thrive in a team atmosphere
When you are on a team, you sweat, work, win and lose all together. When someone plays the best match of their life, the entire team celebrates. When someone is late for practice, the entire team is reprimanded for it. You are there for each other through the good and the bad, through the success and the drama. For many tennis players, this idea of sharing all of these experiences is a bit alien. As a junior player, you are used to being alone. It’s really only up to you on how well you do when you show up for the first round of a tournament on a Saturday morning. Team tennis doesn’t work this way. You can’t win or lose without your team. Cheering, encouraging, and supporting your teammates and friends is just as important as how well you hit the ball. In a nutshell, your specific time on the court and your specific matches aren’t the whole kit and caboodle.There is something that is amazing, though frustrating at times, about this team atmosphere! We are social creatures, and learning how to navigate through the ups and downs of something like a sport with others is an imperative life skill
Don’t burn out!
Face it, junior tennis is a grind. You give up 3 out of 4 of your weekends (or more) for most of the year. You spend your Saturdays and Sundays either with your parents in the car or on tennis courts in the middle of nowhere rather than with your friends. High school tennis, while it usually isn’t of the same caliber of intensity and skill, is a great way to change up the routine. You get to spend time with your friends on the court, mix up your training, and play more doubles than you ever do the rest of the year, Take a little bit of a break from the intensity and sometimes loneliness of tournament play with high school tennis.
Learn the tricks of the trade before college tennis
In case you don’t know, college tennis is a team sport. A dual match consists of a combination of doubles and singles matches, and whoever wins more of the set number of matches defeats the other team. While it seems simple enough, this setup is a novel idea for many junior players who have never had to rely on others to win before. As someone who played team sports all throughout high school, I was shocked by the lack of team experience that many of my college tennis teammates exhibited. Either home-schooled or dissuaded by the lower level of competition on their high school team, some of the girls completely skipped out on what I believe to be an important part of their tennis training. As such, much of my job as captain my senior year consisted of teaching and building team chemistry and camaraderie among a team whose players were all over the map when it came to understanding these concepts. Learning these skills alongside your technical and strategic tennis skills before taking the college stage will help you become much more of a pivotal teammate on your college team.
Long story short, play high school tennis! Take advantage of everything that tennis has to offer!