Last year one of my players accused me of being part of a conspiracy that was designed to keep him from becoming a captain. For those of you who have never played league tennis, being a captain can be a crappy, stressful, ungrateful job that people have to bribe you to do with gifts, money, and parties. Most people would rather have root canal than captain a tennis team. No one would try to prevent someone from becoming a captain.
The conspiracy theories that people come up with in tennis are even more annoying than the head games people play to try to win. Earlier in the week I had to reschedule multiple matches because it rained for 3 days. Rain is a captain’s greatest enemy. Two out of the three matches were fairly easy to work out. But I spent 2 days arguing with the other captain about rescheduling the 3rd match, because every suggestion I made was perceived as some devious attempt to sabotage this captain’s opportunity to advance to districts on one of his other teams.
Let me tell you a little about districts. You do not get a million dollars for advancing. In fact, you have to pay a fee to play at districts. And since we do not have sponsors like professional tennis players do, you have to pay for hotels and travel expenses. And do you know what your prize is for winning your local division? A hand towel that you can only use one side of, because the other side says something like “Mixed Doubles Champion” in some scratchy iron-on that hurts your face.
I still try to win, of course, but I don’t care enough about winning to devise elaborate plans to sabotage the other team. As I mentioned in my post on loyalty, most of the time I don’t even have winning teams because it’s more important to me to play with my friends. Sometimes I care more about eating out afterwards than I do about the match itself. Sometimes I’m downright surprised when we win–which I admit is probably not a good thing.
Another conspiracy that people get all worked up about is coaching, which is illegal in tennis. Her boyfriend/husband is waving his hands. I think he’s coaching! So what if he’s coaching? He’s probably giving her some advice that she can’t do, anyway, because that’s what partners do. They tell you to do things like come to the net when you hate playing at the net. That’s why they fight on the court when they’re together. That’s probably why he’s in the stands and she’s playing with someone else. And even if he is coaching, she still has to execute.
People have accused me of being too trusting, and I admit it did not serve me well in some of my relationships. And perhaps it doesn’t serve me well in tennis, either. Perhaps I could have won more matches if I had followed my opponents into the bathroom to make sure they weren’t coaching. Or if I stacked my lineup and kept it top secret until right before the match and had extra players warm up and put them all on different courts to confuse the other captain. Perhaps I would be more competitive if I didn’t assume that most people are primarily out there to have fun like me.
But I choose not to live my life that way, even if it costs me a few wins. I’d like to think that if I live my life with integrity, it will pay off. And even if it doesn’t, at least I won’t be paranoid and miserable while I’m alive.