If you had told me that moving to Florida would hamper my league play instead of opening all kinds of doors, I would have been like
and kept packing my bags.
But it's been true, for a couple of reasons. First, my rating is a problem. I'm a 4.0 and for the first year or so of living in Florida, I definitely did not play like one. In Pittsburgh, being a 4.0 woman meant a world of league-play activity -- a 4.0 team and the ability to play 7.0, 8.0 and 9.0 tennis. And I played it all! I've only lost one 9.0 mixed match. Did I ever tell you that? What? You said that's because I played with 5.0 men?
But here in central Florida, being a 4.0 woman of a certain (working) age means I can't play women's league matches at this level because they're all on weekdays at 9 a.m. And as far as mixed doubles, well, I'm not exactly an asset here. Why? Well, my results have been terrible. And now that I'm actually playing more tennis and playing better tennis, it still doesn't matter because there's no 9.0 league here. The 8.0 league had two teams this year. Two. The captain of one of the teams was like, oh yeah, I'll send you the team number and then never did. This leaves the 7.0 team, which really underscores, I think, my weaknesses. It's easy to win matches when you have a partner who can take over a match and reduce the pressure on you. It's difficult to win matches when you have to be that partner and you are nowhere near as aggressive as that requires.
I've been working on that, though. And instead of lopsided losses, my partner and I are now able to lose in a third-set tiebreaker, which is not what I want, but it's progress.
The only way to get better at league tennis is to play more league tennis. You know, get familiar with the pressure and learn to perform while the rest of your team is waiting for you to seal a group win. But if there aren't a lot of league options available to me, what am I supposed to do?
I actually know the answer. The problem is that I don't like it. I could appeal my rating. If I dropped back to 3.5, I would be able to play in a weekend or evening women's league and I'd be (maybe I think) a good pick for mixed doubles. My partners would be stronger so it wouldn't fall so much on me. There's no 9.0 teams out here, so I won't miss out on that.
But my pride.
When I started playing tennis, I was a 3.0 in North Carolina, trying to figure out how to keep the rules straight in doubles. I took my lumps as I advanced to 3.5 and my goal was 4.0. I knew I was good enough for that -- if I could get my backhand under control, could figure out how to volley, could stop getting impatient during rallies and make a high-percentage play. (Some things never change.) I had a 3.5 season where I lost one match and I was sure that was the year I'd get bumped. But I didn't. The next season, I won only half my matches, but when I checked the TennisLink site the day ratings were updated (otherwise known as the tennis player's Christmas Day), I was so proud I had gotten there.
I've never in my life worked hard for something, got it, and then tried to get rid of that thing. So this is perhaps harder than it should be. It's probably the correct and sensible thing to do if I want to play more league tennis. But I'm better than 3.5!
Am I though?
You can see I'm struggling here. My plan is to wait until the end of this current league (about two matches away) and then officially appeal my rating. This has quote been my plan unquote for about a year now. It seems like a good plan. I should do it.
I should set in motion the train that's going to take me to the land of waking up one morning and finding the number 3.5 next to my name when I check TennisLink. Do you know how long it took for me to get to 4.0?!!!???!?!!!
Do I appeal my USTA rating so I can play more tennis? Definitely ... not ...?
Someone send help.