By Tami Adachi
I haven’t worked in a year. I’m at the age where people ask me if I’m retired. I always answer “no” because I consider myself a Rebooter and someone who will never retire. Playing tennis has filled in the work gap and I’ve taken on a bigger role as a USTA team captain.
I recently started thinking that I am working, in my relatively new job as a tennis captain of about 15-20 women (and sometimes men). The only difference is I’m not getting paid. I started making comparisons of my newfound employment and why money was the only difference.
When I had a handful of comparisons, I tested them on my husband Lee, who is one of my biggest tennis fans. Here’s what I found:
- Teammates are like employees, except they don’t get paid.
- As a captain, I am leading a team of teammates (employees) that changes every three months. I have to recruit the team, set lineups, schedule practices, and see that we play in compliance with all the rules of our tennis club and the USTA.
- As the “boss,” I have to figure out ways to motivate, lead and support my team. This is a true test, mainly because no one is getting paid to do this job. My teammates play tennis because they love the game. If I don’t do a decent job, they can tell me to take this job and shove it! In the real world, this is harder to do!
- It’s very rare that you have to fire someone from their job. When I was a paid boss, I was fortunate that I never had to fire anyone. It’s human nature that everyone wants to do a good job. Telling someone they are fired is not easy. I’ve only had to do this once as a tennis captain, when the team chemistry required it.
- Before every tennis season begins, I always set the tone, explaining what my philosophy and expectations are. My philosophy is the same every season: we are a competitive (and fun) team as opposed to recreational. My expectations are the same every season: keep your availability up to date, try to come to practice and be a good ambassador of our tennis club. Availability is a tennis captain’s biggest challenge in putting match line ups together. When a player who is scheduled to play becomes unavailable, it changes the entire lineup.
Lee thought I was on the right track. That’s when I suggested I write about it and perhaps he would post it on his website! So here we are.
Is my tennis job fulfilling? The answer is an overwhelming “yes!” I’m in the best physical shape I’ve ever been in and tennis is a lifelong sport. I enjoy the women and men I play (work) with. A lot of them return every season. We have a great track record of making our goals of playing well, having fun and even going to the playoffs. I have a healthy respect for my teammates, many of whom juggle careers, families and tennis. And from what they tell me, they think I’m doing a good job. I can certainly say they have done a good job.