Year of the Captain: Spotlight on Donna Slaughter
At USTA Mid-Atlantic, 2016 is the “Year of The Captain.” We asked our USTA League players to send us nominations to spotlight notable and deserving captains, and we’ve received quite a few which were outstanding! This is the final call for nominations! Get your suggestion in and maybe your captain will be chosen Captain of the Year!
Here, we spotlight Donna Slaughter from Baltimore, MD. This is Donna’s fourth year as a USTA League captain.
When did you first pick up a racquet?
I started playing recreational tennis in college. My first date with my husband, Jim, was on the tennis courts in college. I joined USTA in 2005 to improve my game.
What do you enjoy about captaining a USTA League team?
I love my players. I have a very loyal group of men and women who play on several of my teams. It’s more than just tennis, we are like a family.
How long have you been captaining USTA League teams?
I captained my first mixed team in 2013. I brought together mostly couples so we could play and socialize. And if the spouse didn’t play, they still came along to cheer and socialize. After that successful season, I started captaining both mixed and adult teams year-round at various levels and age groups. Tennis keeps me very busy.
What’s been your favorite or most unique “captain” moment so far?
I often get questioned about our team name, Team Slaughter. Players from outside Baltimore don’t realize it’s my last name. At Regionals a few years back, we had shirts made up with our team name and a tennis ball. We looked great and sent an interesting message to our opponents.
What do you think your players or other players should know about what it’s like to captain?
Good question! My players know how I operate. They kid me about arriving early for matches, confirming availability, the role of alternates and good body language on and off the court. But seriously, it’s my players’ consideration and loyalty that makes my captain’s duties so easy. And it’s why I can organize so many teams. As long as I am having fun, I will continue to captain.
What is your strategy on recruiting new players? How do you find and fill your team with new players each year?
I am constantly on the lookout for new players. I typically recruit from my tennis club, Roland Run, where we practice during the summer months. I usually find players that are new USTA members or those who haven’t played USTA in years. My players also provide me with recommendations, which is very helpful. When building a team, it’s all about the chemistry.
Why do you like to give back to the sport of tennis so much?
I support the Green Spring Tennis and Education Foundation (GSTEF). I have captained teams in each of their fundraisers. We love the team tennis round robin format. And it’s for a great cause.
I also coach girls JV tennis. My goal is to share my love of the game. As a tennis advocate, I want them to learn the rules of the game and stress the importance of proper tennis etiquette. Plus, it’s a sport they can play forever.
If you could have any professional player (current or retired) on your League team, who would it be? Why?
I am a big Rafael Nadal fan. I respect the effort he puts into every point. He never gives up. He has a positive attitude, good body language and never makes excuses. That’s something we can all emulate.
USTA Mid-Atlantic thanks all of our outstanding USTA League captains for their service to the program. From scheduling lineups to making calls to players at the eleventh hour, we know and definitely appreciate all that captains do to keep the USTA League program fun for everyone!
If you know of a great USTA League captain worthy of being named Captain of the Year, please nominate them.
Cassie Nocera is the USTA Mid-Atlantic adult programs coordinator. She is also Mom to our favorite resident kid reporters seen here!
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