| By Kathy Miller
Teams are being decided for playoffs, and in some cases, bad sportsmanship rears its ugly head

So, it’s that point in the season when we are winding down. Teams are being decided for playoffs, and in some cases, bad sportsmanship rears its ugly head.

This has been the season of forfeiting courts, and now, full matches. When players join a team, it’s a commitment—a commitment to your captain, your team, the league and to yourself. Win or lose, whether your team is in the playoffs or in last place, a commitment was made that all matches would be played. When a full match is forfeited to a team in playoff contention and it helps their standing, the team that forfeited has all of their points for the season backed out as a team. They cannot benefit in their playoff spot after being handed 22 points.

What sometimes happens is an innocent team that did well against the forfeiting team loses say 20 points. Another team that earned only eight points when playing the team that forfeited loses those eight points and moves ahead of the team that had their 20 points taken away. An innocent team is knocked out of playoffs due to the word “commitment” not having the meaning it should to a team and that team’s players. I beg teams to please get three courts (for five-court matches, two for three-court matches) played to make it a legitimate match so this will not happen. I am not saying there are never true circumstances that may cause a full forfeit, but more times than not, it’s a total lack of caring.

There were a couple of instances of this happening this year where it was the same team that may have done this last season as well, or a club that runs their teams and has this problem year after year. I have no choice but to let those teams and that club know they may not have teams next season. I must protect the majority of the league and do my best to make sure things are as fair as possible and innocent teams are not put in the position of seeing all of their hard work go down the drain.

The other main complaint this season has been just basic nastiness. Why? Every year, I ask, “How lucky are we all?” Playing tennis is how we get to spend our spare time. We get to meet new people and we get to play tennis for a couple of hours. Again, sometimes we win and sometimes we lose, but either way, why would it bring out some of the plain and simple nastiness I’ve heard about this season? If a team is simply trying to follow the rules (yes, these rules are needed) and its working against you, isn’t the normal response to apologize for doing something outside the rules instead of name calling? Amazingly, you may see that the nice approach may get you what you want, where the nasty approach doesn’t stand a chance! To the person getting mad at the opposing team who follows the rules, you need to take responsibility for yourself or the actions of your teammates. It doesn’t make the other player wrong and they do not deserve the wrath that some have received.

The league is a great program, but it only remains a great program when people are pleasant, play within the rules and respect the rules. I have heard too many times this season from players just looking to play good tennis that they have had enough. They didn’t sign up to be treated so poorly and they are done. That’s not the type of player we want to see leaving the league!

I Googled some quotes regarding good sportsmanship, and found the quote below that I think sums it up pretty well:

“True sportsmanship is …

Knowing that you need your opponent because without him or her, there is no game.

Acknowledging that your opponent holds the same deep-rooted aspirations and expectations as you.

Knowing that, win or lose, you will walk off the court with pride.

Always taking the high road.

And always, always, always being a good sport.”—Lorii Myers

So, with this said, the playoffs are just beginning at the time of this article is due. I wish all the teams who qualified the best of luck and I hope they have great matches. I look forward to seeing some of you at the Regional Championships and wish the best of luck and fun to the teams that advance to the Sectional Championships in Albany, N.Y. The next edition of Long Island Tennis Magazine will have all the winning teams going to sectionals and how they all did.

Next up will be the Tri Level league.  I will be getting information to last seasons captains through e-mail, the end of August/beginning of September.  If you were not a captain last season and you are interested in playing this year, please e-mail me at miller@eastern.usta.com. The Tri Level league is three courts of doubles, one at the 3.5 level, one at the 4.0 level and the third at the 4.5 level.  The winning Long Island teams advances to a sectional championship in January.

I hope everyone enjoys the rest of the summer and you all enjoy great tennis both on the court and during the US Open!

Kathy Miller is the manager at Carefree Racquet Club and is also the Adult League Coordinator for USTA/Long Island. She may be reached at kathym65@aol.com.