It’s that time of year again. Captains and teammates are not so casually stalking the social tennis scene, hoping to find the rare and elusive unaffiliated tennis player. Over the past several years as the economy has changed and the expat landscape in Singapore has shrunk, these players have become even more scarce, almost endangered. The once dependable summer migration of new families/players has since become unreliable, forcing existing teams to poach from each other to make up their numbers. What was once a thriving team could be decimated by poaching. It’s brutal.…but these are the current conditions.
I almost feel sorry for those new players that actually do arrive before roster deadlines. While I’m kidding -not really- it is like teams are scavengers roaming in packs. I’ve wondered if the new players are aware of the hunt going on. Do they see the calculated way that they are watched when they show up to socials? Can they hear the side conversations of long-term residents asking who the new person is? “Has anyone met them yet? Do they play team tennis?” Do they see the jockeying for position going on to get on court, trying to get the first crack at them? Do they recognize the casual conversation about their desire to play in the leagues for the desperate interest that it is? Do they feel the eyes on them when they hit as teams suss out whether they’d be rated at the right level for their division? Do they feel the urgency as they are pounced upon as soon as they appear to be a positive prospect?
I hope not but lately, I think it might be becoming more obvious. Just a week or two ago I was at a ladies social and there was a new player. She had just moved in from the States, was absolutely lovely, and everyone who was a league player immediately took notice. And we all watched her play, some casually and some not so much, to see if she would be a good fit for our teams. It became immediately evident that she was a really strong player and would rank out of all but the top divisions. Numbers were passed along and attempts to get her connected with the right people were made….and I’m sure a little wave of disappointment that she was, in fact, too strong for many was felt among the group of ladies that day. So everyone waits for another day, fingers and racquets crossed, hoping that the next new player doesn’t rank out of their division.
That roster deadline is coming…