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Tennis is definitely one of the most popular individual sports, but people often forget the team opportunities it offers.

In traditional tournament formats—particularly for singles competition—it can get lonely out on court. A big reason some people get turned off by tennis is for that very reason.

For those who like the mental challenge of competing individually, that’s all fine. However, for those who don’t enjoy the individuality, team tennis is their perfect window for salvation.

Through the USTA, as well as through the many individual clubs around the country, there are leagues for men, women and children of all ages and skill levels to compete in.

So, what makes tennis ‘leagues’ and ‘teams’ so different from tennis ‘tournaments’? Well, a lot.

Firstly, there’s camaraderie in team tennis. If you get down on yourself or aren’t playing well, you have teammates there for support. It sounds like a basic aspect of any sport, but it’s an important difference between team tennis and tournaments.

Secondly, there’s added incentive for winning for a team. Other people rely on you, and you rely on them, so everyone (at least in theory) wants to give their best effort.

Team tennis is also arguably the best way to get kids to enjoy their tennis best. By having kids interact with each other and support each other, they have more fun than they do in tournaments. They learn to compete and develop important interpersonal skills—all naturally.

With all of that, team tennis makes for a selfless environment, something you don’t find a lot of in tournament tennis. In having other people they want to succeed around them, kids can nurture their own talents and feel less alone on the court.

I’ve played team tennis at the club, high school, and college levels, and plan on continuing that trend as my adult life continues. The atmosphere it creates is just unmatched by tournaments, in my opinion (that’s unless we’re talking about the US Open or something—that’s a pretty awesome tournament atmosphere).

If you need a way to see if your child really likes tennis, I suggest team tennis for them. Even kids who don’t fall in love with the sport might come to appreciate it through this avenue. And it takes a lot of pressure off of parents and kids alike. What’s there to lose? A match? No biggie. There’s probably a pizza party after.

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