Maybe tennis isn’t such an individual sport after all.
After meeting with different tennis personalities over the busy summer tennis season, one thing became clear - the tennis community at NSWC is hell-bent on pushing each other.
Everyone plays at a different level of competition and a different level of ability, but for most players, the best way to achieve a higher level is with constant support at their back.
Without that support, if players are left to their own devices, it can be a lot more difficult to stay committed.
Most players played with teams last season. They practiced hard and they prepared for games at other clubs.
“It’s a big reason we did so well,” says Fabio Walker, the tennis director at NSWC.
Focusing on individual teams helps pull players along with a crowd as opposed to scraping along to keep up with their skill development on their own. Because no one wants to let their teammates down.
According to Karen Bertini, the club’s captains worked tirelessly to keep everyone organized.
“They’re on the phone 4 or 5 times each day talking lineups. It’s a huge amount of work and it’s appreciated by the teammates. You just show up for your match and in the meantime the captains have been strategizing behind the scenes organizing and getting us ready to play.”
Karen’s captains were Lorna Simms and Robin Huston. The DIV 2 night team captains were Lorraine MacDonald and Patti Karran. The DIV 2 days’ team’s captains were Laura Smith and Karin Schjelderup.
Stand here, do this, go here, go there.
This past season saw great improvements made in regards to tactics because teams worked on these elements together. People were motivated to get drills down properly and execute the intended skills. There was extra practicing, strategizing and stronger bonds created through the increased team focus.
“The teams close to the top last year made goals to win their divisions,” says Karen. “And the hard work pushed them over the edge.”
Karen’s team had 2 to 3 practices per week and extra drills with instructor Joe Wood.
In addition to reading the game and reacting accordingly, the focus on team play contributed to better skills, better shot selection and an increased desire to strengthen the team.
Team needs were satisfied because individuals put in extra work in order to be part of something bigger and better than themselves.
So, with improved technique came improved tactics, more wins and a greater overall experience.
Kaizen is the traditional Japanese act of pushing yourself to improve in specific areas in small increments. With the team and league focus of tennis at NSWC, kaizen was more than just a goal, it was a lifestyle by which to operate.
Karen Bertini again: “In the club, since I’ve been here, tennis has come a long way. People are more focused on their tennis, they’re more excited and it’s a good vibe in the tennis community. People even come out and watch other divisions and cheer each other on when our league team are playing.”
It all comes back to support. Playing a sport for exercise and enjoyment is one thing, but when you can achieve the sensation of being a cog in a great machine capable of so much more than you’d be able to do on your own, well, that’s the true reward.