9 November 2018

Can WhatsApp make match scheduling easier?

We all know that setting up and scheduling matches is one of the challenges of playing in the league, so any help received is greatly appreciated. What about WhatsApp then?

If you don’t know it already, WhatsApp – now owned by Facebook – is a basically free-to-use messaging service particularly suited to communicating easily with a groups of people. We had great fun with it recently, and found it very useful, on our ITF tournament  trip to the Rafa Nadal Academy in Mallorca. The twenty two of us from Local tennis leagues could exchange vital info – “when is the quiz night?”,  “Anyone care for a hit on Court 2” – and keep up with the gossip.

According to ATP player Alexander Zverev some of the top players have a WhatsApp group and that Roger Federer provides all the funniest jokes... but are they using it to set up matches?

Back home, we know that for some of you creating a WhatsApp group of the players in your round is the first thing you do when the round-start email arrives. The advantages are many:

  • Everyone’s details get collated in a handy place and you can quickly say hello to each other
  • You can easily share information on availability
  • Offer a chance to play in a spontaneous way that can be seen by everyone – “hey there’s a court free at 7pm – Who wants to play?”
  • Use it to message one of the members of the group individually
  • Easily see the archive of messages

Not only that, but at its best, WhatsApp creates a sense of community and can be a fun place to share your thoughts. But is there a downside?

One player contacted us recently to say he was uneasy about the idea. Fine, he thought for gossip among friends, but excluding if you are not a WhatsApp user (or even a smart phone user). Potentially, he thought it could be an intrusive and even cliquish system that shares your contact information in a way you have never intended (though all those who join a round of a league explicitly allow their email address and phone number to be shared with others in the group).

Of course, WhatsApp does incorporate safeguards. You can leave groups and delete groups. And you are under no obligation to download the app in the first place.

Perhaps even more tellingly for some, a series of WhatsApp messages from a variety of contacts is more rather than less likely to result in confusion. Practically too, one person in a group has to take a lead in administrating the group, and that can be burden.

For the moment, we remain neutral on the pros and cons but support the goal of helping get matches set up and played. As always, we ask players to be courteous in their dealings with other players and that applies to messaging services too! Respect that some players may not wish to WhatsApp – and that doesn’t mean they don’t want to play and won’t respond to an email or phone call (or direct SMS).

So what do you think? If you have a view on WhatsApp or suggestions for making setting up matches easier, add a comment here. We’ll publish a selection in the next few days (why not instantly? Who do you think we are, WhatsApp?).

Is there a better system? Do you think it is better to arrange matches individually using email, SMS and phone?