Coordinators, the backbone of local league tennis
by Rich Neher
over 1,100 USTA Adult League Coordinators working in all 17 Sections
of the United States Tennis Association. How do I know that?
As a former member of the USTA Tennislink Team I supported Coordinators
all across the country via e-mail, telephone, and webinars. In
addition, in my capacity as Team Lead for USTA Adult Leagues
and NTRP Ratings, I traveled quite a bit and trained many of
those Coordinators on both subjects.
Over the years
I have come across quite a few organizations loaded with great
volunteers and employees, both here in the US and in Europe (mostly
in Germany and the UK). What makes the Coordinators of the USTA
such an outstanding group of people is their complete dedication
to the sport of tennis, despite the fact that their parent organization
is large and entrenched in traditions, slow to react compared
to smaller organizations, conservative rather than progressive.
The latter is not surprising, of course. I compare this to another
typical example in the work life, IBM, which happened to be my
first employer in Germany many years ago. IBM, too, used to be
one of the first in their business, was and still is one of the
largest companies in its field, and is still constantly lagging
behind the competition. It takes them years longer than any of
their competition to bring out a new product just because of
their sheer size, and that's why smaller businesses are often
so successful in launching new, progressive ideas.
Back to the USTA,
though. I was asking myself, what makes many USTA League Tennis
Coordinators so outstanding? Here is the list of exemplary attributes
I came up with.
Dedication to the Sport
Many USTA League
Coordinators are avid tennis players themselves. That doesn't
necessarily mean ex-High School, ex-College, or ex-Tour players
(although they have those people, too!). I mean the medium to
advanced players that make up the majority of the tennis playing
community across the country. That demographic is directly reflected
in those Coordinators. They love to play competitive tennis,
mostly level 3.5 - 4.0, they live it, breathe it, watch it, and
play it. They spend their own money for USTA memberships, or
to go to the US Open and many other large and small tennis events.
They work with small budgets but BIG enthusiasm about the sport,
and that sport means everything to them.
Love for the People
Boy, and they
deal with all sorts of people playing tennis in USTA Leagues.
For the most part they are really nice, which is one of the things
I found out playing tennis in the United States. Reflecting the
attitude of the majority of the US population, the overwhelming
majority of tennis players are real nice, non-confrontational,
loving the sport, loving competition, playing fair and nice with
their opponents. USTA Coordinators love their players and their
Captains. They live in the same communities, they know what those
players do and think, what concerns them, and what they all want
to get out of playing league tennis: Fun, competition, meeting
new people, staying in shape.
Inclination for Organizing
Yes, they are
planners, those USTA Coordinators, having to deal with multiple
types of leagues, dozens of flight, hundreds of teams, and thousands
of players each year. In order to make that well oiled machinery
called USTA Adult Leagues work flawlessly, they have to not only
plan and schedule all their leagues, but get them done in time
for progression to the local Championships, then to Section Championships,
and finally to the prestigious Nationals. Coordinators have tools
at their disposal to get there and to make their life easier.
Sophisticated tools, such as the online functionalities of Tennislink
League pages, guiding and supporting them from the first planning
of a league to creating teams, automatic registration of players
and Captains, to scheduling, score entry, Stats & Standings,
disqualifications, Championship planning, and much more. The
other types of planning tools are the League Reports, which tell
them everything from ratings histories to players playing on
multiple teams, from facility usage to disputed matches, and
from registrations to member participation and player retention.
Section League Coordinators
I have met some
wonderful SLC's in the various USTA Sections I've visited over
time. From Kentucky to New York, from South Carolina to Kansas,
from Hawaii to Southern California, and from Northern California
to Georgia. And at the USTA HQ's in New York, where League and
Ratings Leadership discuss and organize the annual NTRP Ratings
Calculations for hundreds of thousands of players. Only the most
experienced and knowledgeable Sectional and National Coordinators
participate in that process. The league players in my tennis
network, the California Social Tennis Network, feel very good
realizing that playing on their league team as well as the resulting
ratings for their team members are in good hands. Knowledgeable
people with dedication and integrity are running the show at
the USTA and its Sections, headed by Section League Coordinators
whose work is shaped by an unwavering commitment to upholding
standards of integrity and conduct.
To find a Local
League Coordinator within th USTA web site go to http://tennislink.usta.com/LEAGUES/
and click on the link Local League Coordinators on the right
hand side. To find your Section League Coordinators see the link
in the middle of that page that reads "A
list of USTA League section coordinators may be found by clicking
Tennis life is