It’s safe to say most USTA League Tennis team captains love tennis. Most are hard-working, energetic and spirited, and can always be found hunting down that extra practice time or giving a motivational speech before a big match.
Captains like Jacquie Mitchell take it to a whole new level.
Mitchell, who captains two 3.5-level teams in West Chester, is constantly looking for that extra spurt of team motivation, and after a few seasons of giving end-of-year gifts, she may have found it.
Prior to this season, Mitchell spent hours in her home developing a “Tennis Survival Kit,” which she passed out to her teammates as the season began, hoping it would help each lady on the team push through each match a bit easier.
The kit included suntan lotion, Advil, Band Aids, Propel, lucky socks, music and more.
“I tried to think of things that everyone always seems to need,” Mitchell said. “Those little things, that people always ask for and say ‘Oh, I wish I brought that!’”
Some of the basics were obvious to Mitchell, but the lucky socks were different.
Mitchell began giving away lucky socks several years ago when she first captained a team – not long after moving to Pa. from England. After a few seasons of the socks being a hit, she continued the tradition in her Survival Kit.
“With the socks, I realized you don’t need them at the end of the season, you need them at the beginning of the season,” she said. “Trust me, they help!”
Last season, Mitchell also came up with a new idea for the team, putting together a motivational CD for the team to listen to on its way to matches. She asked her daughter for help last year, and then took over song-selection for this season.
“Most people that play have certain songs that pump them up for the match, and I thought it would be fun to put one together for the whole team, “she said. “This year, I found a lot of songs with the words ‘win’ and ‘fight’ in them. It was fun.”
Mitchell never played tennis until 2007, just after moving to the U.S. for her husband’s job. She immediately caught the tennis bug, and when asked to captain a team, took the responsibility. Since then she hasn’t looked back, saying that USTA League Tennis is an experience like no other she’s had.
Now, with the season close to hitting its peak, Mitchell is excited for the potential of her teams, and is looking forward to seeing how the year progresses.
“Every year, the goal is the same: get to Section Championships,” she said. “I’ve been there as a team member before, but not as a captain. We’ve been close, and I want them to experience that.”
“I have a great group of women on the teams,” she added. “I want to keep that group and enjoy their time. That’s why I do the things that I do.”
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