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Dags
11-07-2010, 05:01 AM
It seems that the head coach at my club can't decide on the best format for playing singles internally, and keeps changing it. I'm curious how it's done at other clubs, and how well it works.

We started with a straight forward ladder, where you could challenge anyone up to 4 places ahead of you. If the lower placed player won, then the two swapped places on the ladder. This didn't work very well, as higher placed players didn't like the idea of dropping up to 4 places; when they were challenged, they effectively had nothing to gain and everything to lose. So a lot of challenges were rejected, hardly any matches were played, and the ladder stagnated.

In an attempt to fix this, it was converted into a box league. This was done with a standard linear structure, with 5 players in a box. Each player played everyone in their box in a 6 week period, after which the top 2 were promoted and the bottom 2 relegated. I thought this was working pretty well, but apparently not as it's been changed again...

We now have a pyramid structure, with a horribly convoluted system. At the top is box 1. Below that are boxes 2a and 2b. And below that are 3a, 3b and 3c. Box 1 is as before: the bottom 2 players will be relegated. They will be replaced by the winners of boxes 2a and 2b. Second place in 2a moves to 2b and vice-versa, third place stays where they are, and the bottom two are relegated. The winners of 3a, 3b and 3c are all promoted, along with the best placed runner up from all three. There is then some shuffling between the rest of the places as they switch boxes.

To me, this seems a mess. I believe the idea is to ensure a larger variety of matches, but it seems horribly over-engineered and I wouldn't be surprised if the complexity puts off some people. I also don't know how he plans to handle things if it were to become more or less popular - the structure relies on keeping the same number of boxes. I was wondering how others do it, and what success they've had.

athiker
11-07-2010, 06:13 AM
This is how our ladder works:

The points awarded for a match depend largely on the scores.

Winner Points:
If lower-ranked: 15 + ((Difference in games in sets won * Difference in rankings up to 10) / 2)
If tied or consecutively-ranked: 15 + Difference in games in sets won
If higher-ranked: 10 + Difference in games in sets won

Loser Points:
Games won, up to 10

The challenger receives an additional 2 points

----------------------------------------------------

Looks confusing at first but look at it a few times and its not that complicated. It is possible to an extent to lay in the weeds early and then challenge a few very high ranked players and gain ground rapidly without playing that many matches. By the same token it is possible to rack up considerable points by simply playing a bunch of matches with anyone even though your record may not be that good. Overall though it has good features and rewards playing.

OrangePower
11-07-2010, 10:22 AM
It seems that the head coach at my club can't decide on the best format for playing singles internally, and keeps changing it. I'm curious how it's done at other clubs, and how well it works.

We started with a straight forward ladder, where you could challenge anyone up to 4 places ahead of you. If the lower placed player won, then the two swapped places on the ladder. This didn't work very well, as higher placed players didn't like the idea of dropping up to 4 places; when they were challenged, they effectively had nothing to gain and everything to lose. So a lot of challenges were rejected, hardly any matches were played, and the ladder stagnated.

In an attempt to fix this, it was converted into a box league. This was done with a standard linear structure, with 5 players in a box. Each player played everyone in their box in a 6 week period, after which the top 2 were promoted and the bottom 2 relegated. I thought this was working pretty well, but apparently not as it's been changed again...

We now have a pyramid structure, with a horribly convoluted system. At the top is box 1. Below that are boxes 2a and 2b. And below that are 3a, 3b and 3c. Box 1 is as before: the bottom 2 players will be relegated. They will be replaced by the winners of boxes 2a and 2b. Second place in 2a moves to 2b and vice-versa, third place stays where they are, and the bottom two are relegated. The winners of 3a, 3b and 3c are all promoted, along with the best placed runner up from all three. There is then some shuffling between the rest of the places as they switch boxes.

To me, this seems a mess. I believe the idea is to ensure a larger variety of matches, but it seems horribly over-engineered and I wouldn't be surprised if the complexity puts off some people. I also don't know how he plans to handle things if it were to become more or less popular - the structure relies on keeping the same number of boxes. I was wondering how others do it, and what success they've had.

Years ago I played in both a linear box league, and a pyramid box like you describe. The pyramid box was much better. More variety in terms of who you play each cycle, and also it better reflects that there are more players of roughly equal ability at the 2nd tier and lower tiers vs at the top tier.

My personal case in point: In terms of strenghts I was somewhere in the middle of box 2. Under the linear structure, the 2 top players in box 2 and the two bottom players in box 1 would just be effectively switched around every cycle, because any of those 4 players could consistently beat up on the rest of the players in box 2, but would consistently lose to the 3 top players in box 1. When we moved to the pyramid structure, things stabilized a bit since some of the upward/downward movement was replaced by lateral movement with players of similar strength.

In terms of complexity, as a player, I didn't really care. It's the pro's job to sort it all out; as a player, all you need to track is who are the others in your box and scheduling your matches, which is the same in either scheme.

Angle Queen
11-07-2010, 03:40 PM
Most successful version I've seen was a pyramid scheme...but it didn't involve "boxes." There was the top dog #1, two guys at #2, three guys at #3 and so on. You could challenge one level up...or on the same level (to move over, then challenge someone different at the next level up). It was on a simple (homemade, I think) board with hooks and little tags that had phone numbers...before cells and texting, I suppose. I imagine there's some sort of electronic version these days.

Worked like a charm. Lots of matches at or about the same level and newbies could work themselves in rather quickly.

Good luck getting something going. I'd like our pro to establish a ladder of some kind, any kind next year. :-)

Cindysphinx
11-08-2010, 05:24 AM
Mmmm, I'm not sure if this is the same animal or not, but I am on my first singles ladder, and here's how it works.

Registration was limited to the first 12 people to sign up, I believe. The coordinator puts out a weekly schedule that tells you your opponent for that week. You and your opponent agree on a time to play and reserve a court. Each player plays every other player once.

At the end, there is a playoff, and a winner is crowned. I don't know the playoff structure, but I know everyone gets three (or is it four?) playoff matches.

The rules say something about allowing a sub (max 2 per season). This doesn't make sense to me. I mean, this week I play the strongest lady who will probably win the event. Could I send a teaching pro in my stead? Hardly seems fair . . . .

SweetH2O
11-08-2010, 07:20 AM
Cindy, that sounds like a round robin, not a ladder.

kevoT
11-08-2010, 08:57 AM
At my old club, we did the box method and used a points system to determine who payed who.

Darkhors
11-08-2010, 11:12 AM
We do a round robin setup. There are 10 people and the pro schedules the matches for us. We play every other week because most of us also play in an up and down the river doubles league every week. The thing with our league is that everyone that plays is a 4.5 with the exception of one player that is a strong 4.0. I'm sure we could do it different, but most of us know each other and enjoy playing against one another so we're not worried about points. At the end of the season, the people with the best records (I think 2 people) get seeded and we have a double elimination tournamen where each man puts in $20. We pay out the top 2 players from the tournament and the consi-winnner.

DH

Dags
11-08-2010, 11:32 AM
Thanks for the feedback. It is encouraging to read that those of you who have played in a pyramid structure have enjoyed it, and OrangePower's observation about the volume of players at each level is a good one. I'll go in with an open mind and see how things play out for a couple of rounds before I voice any opinions to the coach. ;-)

athiker - your structure looks sound. I'm assuming the ladder must be reset at some point, otherwise new players will be a long way behind. How often does that happen?

Cindy - I would agree that what you play in wouldn't be classified as a ladder in the UK. I've noticed a number of differences between our countries, and the way things are organised in the US wouldn't work under our structure. The key difference is that in the UK, very few players will have a rating - it's really only those who play tournaments. This means that hardly anyone can accurately describe what standard they play at. At my club there is a board where members can put their phone number to say they are looking for hitting partners. There are currently about 20 names on that list, and 19 of those classify themselves as 'intermediate'. At one end of the spectrum, that covers folk who picked up a racquet 6 weeks ago, had a series of lessons, and so no longer considers themselves a 'beginner'. At the other end, you will find a few people who do well in tournaments but don't win them, and so don't like to claim they are 'advanced'.

So that's difference number 1 - we can't advertise a '4.0 ladder' and expect the people signing up to be of a similar standard. The second major difference is that we have very few public courts, and so almost anything that is organised will be done through a club. This means that the catchment is smaller than a public event, and so numbers will be restricted. There is also the complexity that clubs don't like to exclude players: if you pay your membership, you should be able to expect the same treatment as everyone else. So whilst competition needs to cater for all standards, it's quite clear that it would be fruitless for the best player in the club to be matched up against beginners. Hence the ladder or box league structure, where the best players should naturally rise to the top and vice versa, and everyone should find their natural level.

athiker
11-08-2010, 01:54 PM
athiker - your structure looks sound. I'm assuming the ladder must be reset at some point, otherwise new players will be a long way behind. How often does that happen?



Yes, there are several seasons...about 2 1/2 months each. It is not USTA or a tennis club but run by a private group of tennis enthusiasts. We do use USTA levels as guidelines however so there is a 3.0, 3.5, 4.0 and 4.5 ladder. Some 4.0s will play down in 3.5 though if they consider themselves better doubles players than singles. The group also runs a Tennis Compass Draw which I've done a few times. The fee is $15/person via PayPal and enrollment is not limited that I know of. We have 17 in the current 3.5 ladder.

At the end the top 4 will have a playoff...1 vs 4 and 2 vs 3 and then the final. Gift cards are given at least to the winner and maybe a couple more...but I see FAQs says just the winner. I know in the Compass Draw 1st, 2nd and consolation bracket winner all get cards...but that's typically 32 players total.

It is all run by computer with a listing of names, emails and phone numbers. You may challenge a specific player or simply click "proposals" and put in a time and place to play and an email is sent to all players and you play whoever responds to you. The last option is nice for busy schedules. The ranking list with each player's points to date and a listing of all matches played with scores is also online. Scores are entered by players from their home computers. The ranking list is updated about 1/week so that must be manual.

Here is some more info from the website:

The tennis ladder is designed to provide players of all ability levels an opportunity to participate in organized competitive tennis. Scores are based on a system where players get points for making challenges and for playing matches.

When does the ladder start?
The ladder is broken up into four 11 week seasons.
Spring Season: Complete
Summer Season: June 14th - August 29th
Fall Season: September 6th - November 21st
Winter Season: December 6th - February 20th

How much does it cost?
Each season costs $15, and a gift certificate will be given for each seasonís ladder winner

What skill levels are available?
Skill levels are based on player self rating. The following divisions are currently available, divisions may be added or removed depending on interest. If you are unsure of your rating, please click here for more information. (Takes you to USTA guidelines)
Singles
Men's 3.0, 3.5, 4.0,4.5
Women's 2.5, 3.0, 3.5, 4.0
Doubles
Women's 3.0, 3.5

General Rules:
-Players can challenge up or down from their current ranking.
-The matches are set up at a mutually agreed upon time and location. The matches may be played anywhere as long as all players agree. The challenger provides the balls for the match.
-Challenges should be completed within a week of the initial challenge of an opponent. The winner of the match should report the score online but opponents should always check to verify scores.
-Players are not limited to a certain amount of challenges per week and can play the same opponent more than once.

Weather Rule: Matches may be postponed due to the weather. Players may postpone if it is mutually agreed upon or if the chill factor is below 40 degrees or it is rained out.

Dags
11-09-2010, 11:39 AM
^^ Thanks for taking the time to post that. Appreciate it.

GPB
11-09-2010, 12:16 PM
Our local league uses an online site to manage our ladders. It's not perfect, but it gets the job done. There are three types of ladders: switching (the winner and loser switch spots), sliding (if the lower-ranked challenger wins, he is inserted in front of the loser, and everybody between them slides down one notch), and points (details to follow).

Previously, we used the sliding ladder, and it was decent. We had a rule that you could challenge anybody above you. To stop people from denying challenges we made it against the rules to cancel a challenge if the challenger is within X spots (2 or 3, I forget). That ladder was fun, but we have a wide range of skills, and there wasn't much movement in the rankings.

Now we use the points system. Basically, there are a total of 39 points available for each match (7-6 6-7 7-6 is the closest match possible). The points the match loser gets is the number of games he won. If the winner was ranked lower than the loser, the winner assumes their points, and then gets the rest of the credit from the match added onto the top.

For example, assume Andy has 50 points and challenges Bob, who has 70. If Bob wins 60 61, then Andy gets a point to end with 51 and Bob ends with 108. However, if Andy wins 60 61, then Bob ends with 71 (70 + 1) and Andy ends with 108 (70 + 38).

Using this method, the players are rewarded for having close matches. Aside from that, it works like the sliding ladder.

athiker
11-09-2010, 02:00 PM
^^ Thanks for taking the time to post that. Appreciate it.

No problem...I can copy/paste with the best of them. :)

To give you an idea of the good and bad here is how the top dozen shake out...we are basically 4 weeks into a 6 week ladder and have 17 guys total. W-L doesn't tell the whole story as seen by the formula posted previously the scoreline and rank differential at the time of play factor in as well.

1. 9-8.....236 pts
2. 9-1.....193
3. 5-12...185
4. 7-1.....149
5. 5-0.....135
6. 3-5.....118
7. 2-0......98
8. 3-3......91
9. 0-3......31
10. 1-1.....24
11. 0-7.....22
12. 0-2.....18

So you can do well if you play well but you can also do well if you are active. You typically have to play at least a decent amount to crack the top 4 though.

GPB
11-09-2010, 02:18 PM
3. 5-12...185
4. 7-1.....149

Yeah, looking at W/L alone, I'd assume your #4 player is better than your #3 player, but #3 plays as much as humanly possible so he racks up those points.

I like that format; it really rewards the active players just looking for a match, win or lose.

dizzlmcwizzl
11-09-2010, 05:46 PM
Our ladder is designed for one thing only ... to fill the courts at our indoor facility at $15.00 per player per match.

Scoring is simple ... 1 point to play, 1 extra point if you win. You can play anyone on the ladder at any time.

Top 4 players make the playoffs at the end. Essentially you always end up with 2 jokers that play a lot of matches and qualify based on effort. And you end up with two guys that play half as many matches but win most of them and qualify on performance.

It is great for me since you can play any one on the ladder at any time for cheap. Last year I played each of the top 6-7 players and I won every match I played. However I did not play enough to qualify to the playoffs. It did not matter to me because I played as much as I could ... and I got good, cheap tennis out of the deal.

athiker
11-09-2010, 07:30 PM
Yeah, looking at W/L alone, I'd assume your #4 player is better than your #3 player, but #3 plays as much as humanly possible so he racks up those points.

I like that format; it really rewards the active players just looking for a match, win or lose.

Yes #4 did beat #3 in their only head-to-head meeting however when looking at #3's 5-12 record he is 2-4 vs #1 and 0-4 vs #2 so that accounts for 8 of his losses. Throw in a loss vs the 7-1 #4, a loss vs the 5-0 #5 and a loss vs the 2-0 #7 (a USTA 4.0) and you have 11 losses against quality opponents. So he's not running up the points vs the weaker portion of the ladder...and no #3 is not me...but I have played him. :)

Being active will definitely get you in the hunt though. The final check however is that the winner is determined by playoff so the current #3 is unlikely to win the ladder no matter how much he plays. Activity will only get you so far. It does look like he has improved of late though...his 2 wins vs #1 came in their 2 most recent meetings.

By the same token being undefeated will only get you so far if you don't get out and play. #5 is on the cusp but won't get a chance to make the playoff unless he gets out and plays some more.

#7 rose up the point tally very quickly on the back of only 2 victories vs high ranked players. He's actually within playoff striking distance if he can get in a few more matches vs the top ranked players. That seems a little off. Something that could be cured by having a minimum number of matches required to make the playoffs perhaps. He's one of the top players no doubt but should probably have to play more than say 4 or 5 matches to make the playoffs.

Another reality with this format is some players will never get started at all since no matches are pre-scheduled. We have 4 that haven't played a single match. Their money goes in the pot though!

Dags
01-08-2011, 09:09 AM
The first set of boxes was completed before Christmas, so I thought I'd update this. So far, I think the pyramid structure has been a success. Almost all matches were played, for the first time since the league started.

New boxes are out now, and more people have signed up. We've now got the most players since it started over a year ago, which has to be a good thing. To cater for the extra people, the boxes have been increased to 6 players per box, with the time period increased from 6 weeks to 2 months to allow for the extra games.

The top box is brutal - 4 out of the 6 get relegated! Initially I thought this was very harsh, but the more I think about it, the more I like it - it means that top box will be far more varied. Boxes 2a and 2b have 2 going up, one staying, one switching, and 2 going down. So easier to get promoted now with 2 instead of 1, but they're going to be fiercely competitive. The 3 boxes in the third tier allow 4 promotion slots (winner of each, plus the best placed runner up). Tough to get out of, but the standard in these is quite varied and it means the place in box 2 must be earned.

I'm in 2a, and line up against:

2 unknowns, who have both previously played in box 1
Player A, against whom I have a 0-2 record.
Player B, against whom I have a 1-4 record.
Player C, against whom I have a 1-0 record.

On paper, I would expect to finish 5th and be relegated. This is the sort of box I signed up for: bring it on!

athiker
01-09-2011, 10:01 PM
Glad yours is working out. I just read through it again and it actually sounds like a pretty interesting system.

Ours finished up, at least I think it did, our coordinator went MIA at the end and we started the playoffs on our own. We had a simple playoff with #1 playing #4 and #2 playing #3. As #3 I played #2, the only guy I had lost to in the ladder, and he got me again. I thought I had a chance as I broke him in the last game of the second set to force a tiebreak, but he rolled over me in the tiebreak to win in straight sets.

#1 beat #4, which was a mild surprise as #4, despite his lackluster overall record, had really stepped up his game of late. I'm assuming #1 and #2 have played by now but don't know the result; I would be shocked if #2 didn't win though...but anything is possible. I don't have access anymore to the final w/l or point standings so can't post them.

mikeler
01-10-2011, 06:59 AM
The best 2 leagues I played in were a sliding ladder and a weekly type round robin format. Our ladder had about 12 players and the top 8 qualified for a season ending playoff. Your position at the end of the league determined seeds. The weekly round robin format was very good too. When the league was really big, there would be two groups of 8 people and you would play the other 7 people over 7 weeks. The top player from each group would then play to determine the winner.