Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dealing with favoritism on a team

Katelyn Caniford | Towpath Tennis Pro
Being a part of any team is great. Making friends with your teammates and sharing countless memories of hard fought matches is something truly unforgettable. However, good memories aside, not everything on your team can be picture perfect all the time. In many cases, whether its high school, college, or a USTA team, favoritism is very common. Sometimes so much so that it can be extremely detrimental to not only the players themselves, but the overall success of the team. Here are some different scenarios involving favoritism and how to deal with them.

Playing Friends

This is a very common problem especially on USTA teams. In many cases, if the captain is making their lineup, it isn’t unheard of for the captain to play their friends (regardless of what their playing level is) instead of other players who may in fact actually be better than the “friends” of the captain. Not only is this an incredibly frustrating situation, but it makes the team dynamic both awkward and uncomfortable. The best way to deal with this? Begin with talking to the captain yourself. Sometimes it even helps to get your teammates opinions as well and maybe approach the captain as a group (if your situation allows). Another option if talking to your captain isn’t working is to get an un-biased pro involved to hopefully help sort out the situation. Try to emphasize that the current situation you’re in is very detrimental to the team’s success especially with not having the best possible players in the lineup. Hopefully the pro will then be able to step in and help to resolve the situation.


In most cases coaches and pros are completely unbiased towards the players that they coach, however, sometimes you can find yourself caught in a situation of pay-to-play and I’m not referring to paying to play on your high school team. This version of pay-to-play is where coaches favor certain players over others because of how much money they are paying towards their program at the specific club they play at. What this means is that players who are willing to spend the most money on the tennis clinics, programs, etc., will be favored to play higher in the lineup over players who might not be paying as much.

This can be incredibly difficult because it doesn’t leave much option for players who might not be financially able to pay as much as others, or because they work and cannot attend as many drills. And if these players are incredibly talented, is it really fair to downgrade them if they don’t play as often? Solution—if you are willing to pay and have the time commitment available then great! Otherwise, deal with the position you will be placed in even if it’s not where you think you should be playing. But the best and most logical option would be to find another club. Do your research ahead of time before making the commitment to go somewhere else and make sure you talk to whoever is in charge of the programs there to get a good grasp on how the club handles things and what their staff is like. Then make a judgment call from there and go with whatever will work best for you.

Tennis Pro’s and Coaches Picking Favorites

Unfortunately, it is easy to get caught in a situation of your coach or pro picking favorites. This is very common especially on high school and college teams. So what do you do when you know someone is playing higher then you because the coach likes them better? Well there aren’t a whole lot of options but the best way to approach the situation is to try talking to the pro/coach about your position on the team first. You can even try to gauge how some of your teammates feel and see what they think and then try to approach the coach as a group discussing how all of you feel about where you are being placed on the team. If this doesn’t work, your best bet is to talk to either the athletic director or person in charge of the overall program and have them handle it. After all it is their job to deal with those situations and hopefully fix them.

Overall the best way to deal with a situation of favoritism is to begin with talking to the person in charge of your program and go from there. Try to approach the individual or head person in charge with the best attitude possible and emphasize how your biggest concern is the success of your team. 

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