Best Rules for Public Courts

Discussion in 'Adult League & Tournament Talk' started by lcalamar, Jul 23, 2012.

  1. lcalamar

    lcalamar Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Messages:
    187
    Curious if this has been discussed before - if so - point me there, otherwise, here is my discussion starter.

    Many public courts have rules to limit play when players are waiting. Often the rules are 1 set for singles and 2 sets for doubles.

    I don't like that rule. Why should someone be forced to play a set if I want to just hit?

    What I'd propose is simple - any 1 player can play only 1 hour if the courts are full and people are waiting. This would go for doubles also. Yes - I understand that a doubles court holds 2x as many players. But in reality - it must means people playing doubles get 2x the playing time. Not sure why people who prefer doubles get that benefit? (I don't know of anyone who plays doubles to get 2x the playing time - they just play doubles because - they like to play doubles).

    Here is another issue - mostly with doubles. Often a public court will have people 'tag teaming'... a group will hold a court and then swap in new players. Often this means 1 set of players is on the court for several hours at a time - even when other players are waiting.

    This is why I like the simple rule - you get 1 continuous hour on the court. This includes socializing and group hugging. If you've played an hour - singles or doubles, games or hitting - and people are waiting - you have to get off the court. You can certainly get back in line to get back on.... but you have to give up the court.

    What has worked well for others?
     
    #1
  2. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,042
    Location:
    Northern California
    Nothing seems to work. People play as long as they want, they lie about how long they have been there, and they get mad at you if you try to enforce time limits.
     
    #2
  3. gmatheis

    gmatheis Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 2010
    Messages:
    1,581
    At the public courts I use they have 4 courts which are rarely all in use.

    The last time I was there and the courts were full I was already on a court just hitting singles with someone. I saw another group come out to play and I gave them my court since I had been there for a bit. Me and my hitting partner waited about 10-15 minutes until another court opened up and got back on.

    Another time visiting up north in upstate NY I went to a public court with lights for 2 courts ... people were already on the courts playing singles but they were together so they grouped up to play doubles and let me and my friend have a court.

    Why can't people just have common sense / common courtesy such as in the examples above?
     
    #3
  4. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    OP, we have something similar to what you describe. It does not work. Not even a little bit.

    The posted rule on our county public court is that courts must turn over on the hour when others are waiting. Say there is a solo court. My group arrives at 9:45 and starts warming up. Your group arrives at 9:59. At 10:00, you can kick us off the court. If someone is waiting at 11:00, they can then kick you off. If, however, someone arrives at 11:05, then they cannot kick you off until noon.

    Is this stupid? Totally. For so many reasons.

    If I am there at 9:45, what interest is served by my sitting on the bench leaving the court unused for 15 minutes? What if I spent ten minutes cleaning sticks and leaves and trash and debris off the court and then started playing at 9:55? Why should someone else kick me off and get the benefit of my clean-up work?

    What if there is more than one court (there usually is)? Which group has to vacate on the hour? The rules are silent about this. I have seen people arrive on the hour and demand a court, and each group already playing says the same thing: "We're not finished, go ask someone else." Then the party that just arrived actually calls the police to resolve it (!).

    I'm sorry, but I think "first come, first served" should mean exactly that.

    If you arrive at the courts and they are occupied, you may politely ask each group when they will finish. You may beg, bribe and cajole all you want. If no one wishes to stop, then you should conclude *the courts are not available.* Rather than confront people and try to evict them and call the police if they blow you off, how about you get in your car and try a different set of courts? Or if your time is so valuable, join a private club where you can have a reservation? Why is someone entitled to a public court if someone else is using that court to play tennis?

    Sheez.
     
    #4
  5. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    I can't see what rule could work past "first come first serve". Stay until your match is finished. This means that people can't be all pissy if someone comes up and asks them how long they intend to keep playing.

    To the OP- An hour for doubles? Whats the point of an hour of doubles? I guess we are just spoiled here in Atlanta where public courts are abundant but we would never bother getting together to play just 1 hour.

    If there is going to be a rule- then 1 set for singles, 2 sets for doubles, or an hour for just hitting makes sense. Doubles should give extra time. Lets say there are 2 people hitting singles and 2 extra people come up and are waiting. If they just decide to play doubles instead that doesn't tie up the court any longer than it would have if the 2 groups went back to back. If they are fine sharing then they should get the courts longer.

    Personally I think that in the world of cell phones, all public courts at this point should have a website where you can reserve court time if you want to for a fee. If people want to jump on free courts when they are unavailable then fine, but if someone else has paid then they get the courts.
     
    #5
  6. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 5, 2010
    Messages:
    3,600
    Location:
    Baseline
    "Personally I think that in the world of cell phones, all public courts at this point should have a website where you can reserve court time if you want to for a fee. If people want to jump on free courts when they are unavailable then fine, but if someone else has paid then they get the courts."

    Good idea but even in private clubs like ours people don't respect that system. We have a wonderful online system. It's a club so there's no cost to book a court (outside of initial and annual fees!). The problem arises when people book courts and then don't show up. Thus people who need to play (eg flex leagues) can't get a court since, according to the online system, the courts appear fully booked. We have six courts but when ALTA and USTA practices and matches are in season prime time gets crowded.

    On the other side of the coin are people who poach reserved courts. Even with the online reservation system people get hissy when asked to surrender a reserved court. Teaching pros are the worst in that regard. Even if there's a visibly "open" court it may have been reserved so it's not always a good idea to just pick a different court if yours is poached since you may get bounced yourself during crowded prime time (the courts are usually empty out-of-season on summer afternoons...I love the heat but few people want to play on hardcourt when it's 100 degrees).
     
    #6
  7. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    But in my idea the people have to pay for the courts up front to avoid this problem. If people paid for the court and just didn't cancel within a reasonable time then they would lose the money even if they didn't show up. If other people showed up to play on the courts hoping to play for free then they would be fine because no one would be there to cut them off.

    I agree there is no easy solution to what happens if someone is on the court and refuses to get off of them even if someone has it reserved. Lets say the rules are posted but there is some group of people who thinks that they are unfair and simply refuses to use the online system. No easy solution to that... But I suppose that applies to any other sort of rules as well.
     
    #7
  8. CaldwellYSR

    CaldwellYSR Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 3, 2012
    Messages:
    179
    Location:
    Shelbyville, TN
    I don't really think there's any way to enforce these rules. The public courts in my town allow for 1 set when someone is waiting or 1hr whichever comes first. That said there are 6 courts so if they are full (rare unless high school is practicing) then everyone just plays til they are done and you wait.

    I personally love Spot's idea about having an online thing to see when times are reserved. Even have it to where you just check in when you're there and out when you leave so other people could see if there were open courts before they left the house. Problem there is that there are ALOT of people who aren't tech savvy (read old probably) that would refuse to abide by it.
     
    #8
  9. TeflonTom

    TeflonTom Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    920
    join a club

    but seriously, sets make the most sense. if i arrive n u have been there for an hr, u just have 2 tell me u only just arrived n then u get another hr

    if u are callin out scores then we all know when ur set is gunna be finished

    The best rule is either/or. if someone is waitin, u finish ur set. if u arent playin a set, u have to vacate after half an hr
     
    #9
  10. floridatennisdude

    floridatennisdude Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Feb 9, 2012
    Messages:
    1,975
    Best public court rule I have come across: under 18 must have an adult with them after 5:00

    In a nutshell, the kids have all day to use the courts. After work, it's the adults time to play. They can play with their kid if they want, but 2 14 y/o kids would surrender their court
     
    #10
  11. TeflonTom

    TeflonTom Banned

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2012
    Messages:
    920
    i think that rule prolly has less 2 do with lettin adults use the courts, n more bout ppl bein worried that unaccompanied kids after dark might come across a sketchy guy in too tight tennis shorts askin them if they wanna play with his woodie
     
    #11
  12. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    613
    Occasionally, I play at a public tennis park in Raleigh, NC. They have a system that works out pretty good. They have a court that is reserved for drop ins, you challenge either for singles or doubles. If two are playing singles, they winner plays anyone waiting to challenge. If a doubles team is waiting to challenge, the two playing singles have to play doubles when the challenge is made, not after they finish the set. The winner takes on any challengers. It works out great. I like it because it's similar to pickup basketball, a little jocularity going on, a little trash-talkin all good natured, sometimes it gets serious, but everyone shakes hands at the end. The level of play varies, I would say 3.0 to 4.0, mostly. If you keep winning you keep playing.
    If you want to just hit that's all fine and good, unless someone challenges which is a fair way to do it.
     
    #12
  13. corbind

    corbind Professional

    Joined:
    Oct 18, 2010
    Messages:
    1,308
    Location:
    Chicago, IL
    You snooze you lose for outdoor public courts. First Come, first served without a time limit is the only way to have zero disputes.
     
    #13
  14. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    Even that can have disputes. The one I most often see is when one person gets there early to make sure to get the court while another group has 4 people there waiting. (Note... this is why its a good idea to bring the hopper of balls if you are trying to save a court!)
     
    #14
  15. Herdsman76

    Herdsman76 Rookie

    Joined:
    Dec 20, 2010
    Messages:
    308
    Gosh, I must live in a town where tennis doesn't exist because I've almost never had to wait to play on any of the available public courts in my town. Of course I realize there are several factors that both benefit and hinder my "claim". During the rare occassions where we had to wait for a court, it usually wasn't a wait of more than 20-30 minutes. Most of that time was spent jaw-jacking with my hitting partner/opponent. And yes, although it isn't written anywhere, our system is first come first served.

    Not much input I know but I'm glad I live in an area where there are enough courts to go around...

    H76
     
    #15
  16. Avles

    Avles Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2009
    Messages:
    1,505
    Location:
    The Peak of Good Living
    Which park is that? I'm in the area and would be interested in checking this out...
     
    #16
  17. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    Spot, I like your idea. Here's how I envision it would work.

    Say you want to play from 8 am to 11 am on a weekend at Cabin John Regional Park (nine outdoor free public courts). You could go on-line and reserve the courts for a fee. The fee should be nominal but enough to discourage people from booking courts they don't plan to use. You could not reserve any later than 24 hours ahead of time, no refunds if you change your mind or it rains. You could book as many consecutive hours as you want.

    Say I had reserved Court Three and people are playing on it when I arrive. I would be required to show them my receipt, and they would have to clear out immediately. If you fail to bring the receipt, too bad.

    I think that system would pay for itself very quickly. I would love it. As it stands, I deal with the high demand at certain times (after business hours, weekends, holidays, beautiful weather) by not playing. I would far prefer to know I have a court waiting for me.
     
    #17
  18. goober

    goober Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,491
    Nobody really enforces the rules on public courts. People just play until they want to get off.

    What works for our group is that we are willing to get to courts early on weekends when they are likely to be busy before the crowd hits. If 8 am is not early enough we will keep adjusting until we are one of the first ones- 7 AM or earlier not a problem. IF you really want to play at a certain time and be certain you play- courts with reservations (either public or private) are the way to go.
     
    #18
  19. Fuji

    Fuji Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 30, 2010
    Messages:
    6,597
    It really depends on your locations of courts. The way mine work are: My home courts have 4 courts, they are the closest and usually the most busy during the evening from 5pm-12pm. The next closest are 15 minutes away, and they have 8 courts, which are usually busy from 10am-5pm for the "afternoon socials" but are dead in the evening.

    I'm lucky that within a half an hour drive from my home courts there are at least 5 other places to play. I normally don't ask people to leave the courts. If there is a single person practising I will always ask them if they want to practice together however!

    -Fuji
     
    #19
  20. kylebarendrick

    kylebarendrick Professional

    Joined:
    Nov 16, 2006
    Messages:
    1,042
    Location:
    Northern California
    4 people show up and play three sets of doubles. During the second set someone starts waiting for the court. During the third set, two friends of the people on the court show up. The friends swap into the doubles (so they start their first set with 2 guys now playing their 4th). The people that started waiting in the second set have been passed over, are still waiting, and starting to get pissed off. Another two friends of the players show up and swap into the still going marathon.

    At this point the people that have waited the longest are still waiting and 4 fresh players jumped in front of them and are on the court. I've seen this scenario play out a bunch of times. It isn't first come first served and there can be plenty of disputes.
     
    #20
  21. r2473

    r2473 Legend

    Joined:
    Aug 14, 2006
    Messages:
    7,113
    this is a man that understands public courts
     
    #21
  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    That is still first come first served.

    You don't have to have all four of your players present to hold a court. If one person is there and pays doubles with three others, the new buddy who joins in later is just competing a foursome of whichever guy stayed on.

    The lesson? If a court is taken, it is taken. Unless te payers lie and tell you they are leaving when they are not, you do not have a complaint.
     
    #22
  23. volleygirl

    volleygirl Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Apr 4, 2011
    Messages:
    404

    I agree with you Cindy. If youre the first one there, you play til youre finished and those waiting just have to wait.
     
    #23
  24. TennisDawg

    TennisDawg Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Dec 3, 2007
    Messages:
    613
    I believe it's called Millbrook Tennis Center, adjacent to a public school. The most challenge activity starts around 3:30. I'm not from there but I visit there occasionally or else I would meet you there. The Center has a fee of like 5 bucks for a court, normally, but the nice thing is the Challenge court is free. Can't beat that. Check it out
     
    #24
  25. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    We also have a rule concerning age. On weeknights and weekends, Those 16 and under must yield once they have completed a set.

    I disagree with this and would never enforce it.

    Adults can get in their cars and drive around and find a court. Kids cannot.

    I also disagree that kids can pay at other times. Many after school activities can make evenings and weekends the best times for kids, especially if they need a parent to drop them off.

    Maybe the rule should be that players 65 and older have to yield to the young. They are often retired and can play at off peak times. They can drive, too.

    Or we can stop making value judgments and assumptions and go with first come first served.
     
    #25
  26. lcalamar

    lcalamar Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Messages:
    187
    This is exactly the issue we have at our public courts. There is a group of 'regular's who take 2 -3 (out of 4) courts starting at 1pm on a weekend. Over the next 4 hours - there will be another 4-5 doubles groups showing up to 'join' the play. IF you are waiting but are not part of that group - those courts never free up. This is where the concept of an individual time limit comes to play.

    For most of the responders - this is only applicable for public courts - that are typically very busy. Any 'rules' only apply when all courts are in use and people are waiting.

    As far as reserving public courts - who is going to pay and manage that? These are public- owned by the city - and available to all - even people without cell phones. As another responder mentioned - reservation systems have issues even in private clubs - no way that works in public where the general public can't abide by even basic rules of civility.

    IN response to the 'top of the hour' limits - yeah - that is really lame. I'd work to get that changed in a hurry.

    In response to first come first served - that is how all public courts should work. The issue is once you are on a court - how long can you keep the court once people are waiting? It can not be you play until you are done - where I live you would NEVER get a court...

    Using set completion doesn't work well for several reasons; if you are in the last game of a set - and someone shows up- it shouldn't mean you should have to immediately give up your court, and mostly - just don't call out your game score - or lie about it - or do whatever you want to keep the court.

    Fully agree that none of this works unless people are considerate of others. What I am looking for is a nice concise set of rules - that have no gray area... that can be posted outside the court - so at least if people don't follow the rules they know it.
     
    #26
  27. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    If a group is hogging the court for hours, the solution is simple:

    Get there first. Geez, if you know they start at 1, get there at 12:30.

    I understand that having one group hog the courts is frustrating. Consider, however, how it feels to wake up early or whatever, only to have people who slept in declare they want the court.
     
    #27
  28. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    At least in Atlanta there are many city owned courts that are managed by other people. Some charge for court time and some do not. But an online reservation system would pay for itself no problem. I mean I could set up a website for an online registration for a public court for around $100 a year (with no limit on the number of courts). Lets say you did a very low cost of $5 an hour per court and the worst cases scenario of only having 1 court for the website. I honestly think the system would pay for itself in about a week and the rest of the money could go to court improvements.

    To me this is just a clean and easy solution. Let people mail in advance payments and give them credit on the website if you are worried about them needing a credit card. The cellphone is just there so people can prove that they have the court reserved if they forgot to bring a receipt.

    I just think that public courts are more useful when you can reserve a time and I am willing to pay for the right to do so. People who would prefer to play for free can look for times that are not blocked out on the website and then its just first come first serve.

    I've definitely been a violator of free courts where I have a huge group of friends so when there were 6 courts available we would get there early with 16 people and just do a little Round Robin for several hours rotating around partners. I would have been happy to have paid for the courts if they gave me a way to do so.
     
    #28
  29. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    Spot, you have to include the cost of making and installing big signs at every public court covered by the system.

    If the county hired me as the contractor to implement such a system, I would be delighted. I think I could make money.
     
    #29
  30. samarai

    samarai Rookie

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2011
    Messages:
    251
    you want to play on public courts, you have to get in with the regulars. Ours have a couple of gentleman who are retired and they get there from 5 until the lights shut off. They usually take 2 courts so if you are in with there style, you will always have a spot. Dont ask them to leave even though there's a 1 hour rule cause they have enough sitting on the side to argue against it.
     
    #30
  31. lcalamar

    lcalamar Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Messages:
    187
    Public courts - mean they should be 100% free. Besides - why would reservation rules be any more enforceable than general use of court rules? I always want the option of deciding at the spur of the moment to go hit a bit... I don't want to be tied to having to make a reservation in those cases. Fully understand that under those circumstances a court may not be available, that is my risk. However, if I feel like waiting (up to an hour?) a court SHOULD free up.

    For public courts it HAS to be first come first served. The rules need to address how long any particular person (group?) can keep the court when the courts are full and someone is waiting. Isn't much more complicated than that.

    When I posted the discussion - I thought there might be some universally accepted 'standards' for this. I find it interesting that this doesn't exist.

    Would be great to come up with a set of rules (perhaps a couple of variations to choose from) that are mutually agreeable and can be presented to those who manage public courts...
     
    #31
  32. lcalamar

    lcalamar Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Messages:
    187
    One more thought/question?

    Courts are really busy, people are waiting. There is a parent with 1-2 very young children on a court who aren't capable of getting the ball over the net or keeping the ball in their court.

    Thoughts?
     
    #32
  33. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    The funny thing is that you don't seem to realize that these are mutually exclusive things. If you want to be able to go out at the spur of the moment and hit then you need to be able to make a reservation for court time to ensure you can actually play. To me a reservation system would make it FAR easier to go out and play any time you want to. Even for people who would like to try and play for free it means you can go online to see when people already have courts reserved and when they do not.

    I feel pretty confident that an online registration system where there is a small fee per court will end up being far more fair than anything people can otherwise come up with. There are huge problems with any other system that doesn't have someone unbiased there to decide what would be the appropriate way of dealing with a limited resource.

    I don't get why you think public courts meann that the courts should be 100% free. Many public courts in Atlanta charge for court time. There are costs associated with court upkeep- I don't think its unreasonable to charge a nominal fee to use the court and to make sure that many people can use the courts.
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
    #33
  34. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    Under a reservation system like Spot describes, they would be free. Don't want to pay? Wait.

    Because if you are waving a paper receipt showing you have paid for the right to a court and someone will not vacate, you can call the police. I assure you that if you are at an indoor court and someone paid $41 to reserve that court for an hour and you refuse to vacate, the police will promptly provide an escort.

    If you wait long enough, I guarantee a court will free up. You may wish to bring food, water and a tent. 'Cause there is no guarantee as to how long it might take, and your suggestion of an hour is kind of arbitrary.

    An hour doesn't even make sense. A typical rec tennis match takes 2 hours + to finish. Why one hour?

    I will tell you how another system around here used to work. Let me describe it.

    These were a set of nine unattended outdoor courts, separated into three groups of three. There was a large covered seating area kind of in the middle of things. The problem, of course, was that the usual one-hour limit was difficult to enforce because players would tell newcomers that some other group should be asked to leave first. And sometimes more than one set of newcomers arrived at the same time.

    Some Parks and Rec person got the idea of putting a notebook in the covered seating area and posting a sign. The sign said that when the courts were full, people should put their names in the book. When a court freed up, the players next up in the book could take that court.

    Oh, what a hot mess it was. Some people would write their names in the book a day ahead of time and then show up and declare they were next. Some people misunderstood it to be a reservation system and would write which court they wanted and then evict whoever was on it on the hour.

    Best of all, some people failed to notice the sign and the book at all. They would wait for a court and then go play. Then someone would come up and tell them to get off because they had failed to sign the book. Then someone would call the police -- saw it with my own eyes.


    With no enforcement mechanism, I do not think any rules will give you anything other than the law of the jungle.
     
    #34
  35. jonestim

    jonestim Professional

    Joined:
    May 30, 2011
    Messages:
    894
    Location:
    Bend, OR
    This discussion makes me quite happy to live where I do. There are four sets of courts within 5 minutes of my house with a total of 12 courts. I have never had to visit more than three to get a court, and 85% of the time I get to play at the one I like the best. I will sometimes drive to a second court to play with nobody next to me.
     
    #35
  36. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

    Joined:
    Aug 31, 2006
    Messages:
    15,092
    BTW, I will tell you why I dislike all these ways of making people vacate courts before they are ready: Golf.

    Geez, golf drives me nuts. You must hurry up all the time. You are not entitled to play at a leisurely pace or take all the time it takes to finish. At the end of the day, I feel like I haven't played golf so much as scrambled about trying not to get in anyone's way. If you are too slow, the marshal will come along and scold you. This is no fun at all.

    Can't we just put down our stop watches and let people play tennis until they are finished, 'fer cryin' out loud?

    Yeah, if someone is waiting, be reasonable, courteous, thoughtful and all of that. Golden Rule and so forth. But people who get there when the courts are full need to understand that they have zero rights and check their attitudes.
     
    #36
  37. goober

    goober Legend

    Joined:
    Jun 9, 2004
    Messages:
    8,491
    I am not sure why you have the idea that public courts should be 100% free. We have public swimming pools you have to pay to swim in and public nature preserves that you have to pay to hike in. Public golf courses are not free.

    There are public tennis centers scattered throughout my city with 13-25 courts. There is a pro shop usually and a locker/bathroom. You make reservations and pay $2-4. You can show up without a reservation but you will be only let on if there are open courts.

    You want completely free play at the community courts? Well you are not going to have anybody onsite managing the courts and it is going to be a free for all. Some people will follow rules and some won't. Many won't know the rules and many won't care. Having some sign up posting the rules usually is worthless. Unless you enjoy confronting people and trying to force them off verbally or physically you have to figure out what is the best way to play on them within in current situation. Samarai's suggestion of getting in with the regulars could work. When I play public community courts we are willing to get there earlier than anybody else so whoever comes is going to be waiting for us, not the other way around. Yes if you feel like waiting up to an hour for a court a court SHOULD free up, but if it doesn't what are you going to do about it? poke, prod, plea, threaten bodliy harm...
     
    #37
  38. spot

    spot Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jul 22, 2005
    Messages:
    2,439
    Location:
    Atlanta
    But anyway. If you want a system then lets look at a pretty typical layout of a court with 4 courts and lights. The team does have USTA teams that play on Weekends but we will go ahead and say that they are not entitled to any practice time.

    I think that the most fair way to do it that would cause the least arguments is that if you show up to play, you can put your racquet into the fence and start the clock on waiting for that particular court. (Of course you can ask people how long they intend to keep playing... their answer would be sort of interesting from an economics point of view)

    Basically every person on the court entitles them to 30 minutes on the court. So a person out there hitting serves could be kicked off in 30 minutes from the time the racquet was placed up there. A court of singles could be kicked off in an hour. A court of doubles could be kicked off in 2 hours. To me doubling up the time for doubles compared to singles probably needs to be there. If there are 4 people then I think they should have the choice of 1 hours of singles or combining all 4 people for 2 hours of doubles.

    This system would have a few different consequences. First of all you would always stand in line for the court with singles unless you knew that one of hte doubles courts was about to finish. This would actually be good from an overall economics perspective because more people would get use out of the limited resource. Of course singles players or people who just want to hit would hate it. Though if 2 people come up to play and you are the only singles court- you do have some incentive to ask them to play doubles if you want to play for more than an hour.

    If someone is by themselves waiting for a partner to show up- their clock is already running. Lets say their partner is 15 minutes late then that would give them only 45 minutes to play singles including the warmup. They would probably be better off giving up the court to the people in line and then waiting for the next court to open up so they could utilize the entire time. THis is also probably a good thing for the system.

    The first thing new people would do is go ask all 4 courts how long they intended to play. The funny thing about this is that the shorter amount of time you tell people the more likely they are to choose to wait for your courts. So pretty much everyone would have incentive to tell people that they were goign to be playing for hours so that the person would choose to "start the clock" on a different court.

    Anyway- I still think that a reservation system would be better but this is the best I could come up with. For any other timelimit how do you decide which court gets kicked off?
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
    #38
  39. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,071
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Our local public courts all work on a first-come basis. There are no formal rules and no time limits, although many people are somewhat considerate when they see a lot of others are waiting for courts.

    I think trying to implement any system short of a reservation system is bound to fail miserably. There are just too many cases and variations to consider, people are not going to see eye to eye, are not going to understand the rules, or are just not going to care, and there is going to be no way to have enforcement.

    I like the idea of online reservations with a fee. I would do it as follows:

    * Allow for reserving a court in 30 min increments, at say $5 per half hour. That's enough to discourage frivolous reservations, but still reasonable to pay ($5 per person for a foursome playing for 2hrs).

    * Players with a reservation can only claim a court at the top or bottom of the hour, and need to be able to show the reservation receipt if asked. If you are late for your reservation and the court is occupied, you need to wait until the start of the next 30 mins in order to get the court.

    * Allow reservations for half the courts, and leave the rest on a first-come basis, so that those who can't / won't look online to reserve / see what's been reserved can still have courts where they can play free of the threat of getting kicked off, as long as they are prepared to come early / wait for these courts.

    In order for this to work, there would need to be prominent signs on those courts that are subject to reservation, to alert players and detail the above rules. But I think the cost of signs and the online system would be recouped very quickly. Subsequent profits could be used towards court maintenance.
     
    #39
  40. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    803
    Pretty much across the board at South Florida courts: one hour for singles if others are waiting, 90 minutes for doubles, same deal. If nobody's waiting, you play until the cows come home.

    Usually after getting "bumped", the players will be offered another court after 15 minutes waiting. So if I play from 8:30 to 10am and we're not finished with the match, we can move to another court to complete after a cold drink and bathroom break. I think that's pretty fair. If the wait is longer than 15, which it rarely is, we will play some ping pong, cards, or sometimes just go home.
     
    #40
  41. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,071
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    These are public courts that have ping pong tables adjacent?!? And are there staff present - who does the timing and enforces it?
     
    #41
  42. JRstriker12

    JRstriker12 Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Mar 31, 2006
    Messages:
    3,372
    Cindy,

    I live near a place in VA that has those rules and a very active tennis community.

    FWIW- while the 15 minute thing can be a pain in the rear, since the courts turn over on the hour, it stops people who have been on the courts for 3 hours claiming "Oh, we just got here 10 minutes ago."

    While the rules are a bit strict, it usually means that the courts turn over more often and makes everyone abide by the same rules. If I know the place that you are talking about, it can be hard enough to get a court even with the rules in place.
     
    #42
  43. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    My home court(s), which are 4 lighted hard courts (free, public courts) right down the street from me often fill up on nice evenings. I'm there a lot, so am acquainted with dozens of the players who frequent those courts.

    The defacto standard when people are waiting is that you get an hour (from the time you took the court). Then give the court to the next in line. It's an honor system which I'm sure isn't always adhered to. :)

    Anyway, we've never had a problem ... that I'm aware of.

    The city used to pay a teaching pro to manage the courts during peak hours. But they don't do that any more.

    The only incident that I've experienced (and it wasn't much of an incident) was when I was playing a league match. Some players who I didn't know asked when we would be done. So, I told them the truth that we had been playing for about 50 minutes, that our match would likely be done within the next 30 minutes, that this WOULD exceed the defacto standard time limit, but it was a league match and they would still be able to get probably an hour and a half on the court when we were done -- so, could they give us a break and let us finish. They agreed, and I gave them a new can of balls for being nice about it. As it turned out, we finished in less than 15 minutes and everybody was happy.

    I must say that my experiences on the free public courts near me have been nothing but pleasant. Very nice people. All tennis nuts of course. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 24, 2012
    #43
  44. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    You're in Fort Lauderdale? Me too. Hardy Park is just down the street from my house. Where do you play?
     
    #44
  45. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    803
    We have a ping pong table inside the clubhouse, usually no waiting although I presume you're just kidding...

    we also have some gym equipment and backboard in case you want to stay serious - but most people just sit at tables and talk/mess with their phones!
     
    #45
  46. jc4.0

    jc4.0 Professional

    Joined:
    May 20, 2009
    Messages:
    803
    actually, hollywood. But we travel around for the league...
     
    #46
  47. OrangePower

    OrangePower Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Sep 7, 2007
    Messages:
    4,071
    Location:
    NorCal Bay Area
    Wait, let me ask again, these are public courts?!? Clubhouse, gym equipment, ...

    I think we must have a different understanding of what public courts are. You seem to be describing a club, or a rec center. I guess technically that's public... but most people, when they say public courts, are thinking of those courts that have no other facilities or organization other than the courts themselves.
     
    #47
  48. TomT

    TomT Hall of Fame

    Joined:
    Jun 20, 2012
    Messages:
    1,954
    Location:
    Fort Lauderdale, FL
    What league is it? I'm playing in the Tennis League Network ... tennisftlauderdale.com.
     
    #48
  49. lcalamar

    lcalamar Rookie

    Joined:
    Nov 1, 2011
    Messages:
    187
    Spot - I like this idea in general. The downside I see is if there are four courts busy - and court 1 has been playing for 2 hours, court 2 has been playing for 1 hour, court 3 for 30 minutes and court 4 just started... If I show up and put my racket on the court 4 - why is that fair to them?

    IN a first come first served basis - if I'm the last ones to take a court - you can bet I'm not going to be the first ones off!
     
    #49
  50. user92626

    user92626 Legend

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2008
    Messages:
    6,265
    In the age of electronics and computers, this problem can easily be solved by installing a device that calculates and hands out tickets with time and court availability. So, if you have a ticket that says court x from y time, the current players on it have 5 minutes to vacate.
     
    #50

Share This Page