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-   -   Successful Tennis Ladders in your area? (http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=458248)

spot 03-20-2013 07:02 AM

Successful Tennis Ladders in your area?
 
I run a big Round Robin and as part of that we have generated a pretty huge email list of around 800 tennis players. When people play flex leagues often they play every single match at our home facility so people have been asking me to set up a Tennis Ladder (or something similar) to facilitate people picking up some extra tennis. The level of play for the Round Robin is mostly Intermediate to Advanced players. (3.5 to 5.0 USTA)

I'm open to putting something up and as there is already a new website going up for the Round Robin then it wouldn't be particularly difficult to add a ladder piece to it. We have a fun and enthusiastic group of players that would likely give it a shot if I were to put something up. But as someone who hasn't ever participated in a Tennis Ladder before I was just looking for the formats that have been successful in other areas and that people enjoy participating in.

So what formats are in your area that you enjoy playing in? What would you change about them if you could?

mikeler 03-20-2013 07:22 AM

I played in a good ladder many years ago. It had about 12 to 15 players during the regular season. When somebody joined, you were immediately placed at the bottom. You could challenge people up to 3 spots above you. If you win, then you would take that person's spot on the ladder and everyone below your opponent and your opponent would drop 1 rung. At the end of the season, the top 8 competed in a tournament style playoff to determine the league winner.

Fusker 03-20-2013 09:03 AM

I love the ladder format. I play in a pretty active one that has four seasons a year. Being in Colorado, the winter ladder is pretty dead, but Spring/Summer/Fall are all busy.

If you're interested in their structure, here is their flyer for the spring: http://www.gatestenniscenter.info/pd...spring2013.pdf

In three or four years of playing, I can say honestly that I've never had a direct challenge. Basically, everybody's email is public and people send out emails to the group that says, "Anybody looking to play tomorrow, etc.?" I think the summer 4.5 group had about 50 guys on it, so I almost never had a difficult time finding matches on short notice. The end of each ladder season is concluded with a sanctioned tournament, which is pretty fun.

The pick up times have not been very successful at the 4.5 level. There is usually one or two 3.5/4.0 players there, but I think that's hit or miss too.

I have met some nice people that are good sports playing the ladder. My experiences have been very different than a lot of the stories people post here related to leagues. So I'm not sure if a ladder is more laid back or not. It certainly feels pretty darn competitive out their on the court, but pretty drama free.

The only change I might make would be to do something to ensure that people play a certain amount below them as well as above them. I haven't really noticed it much at 4.5, but my first year back from a long hiatus I started at 4.0, and it seemed like there was a little group in the top 5 that only played each other (sometimes multiple times). That was annoying because they were only top 5 due to the luck of the draw at the start of the season. So they were gaming it a bit to stay there and as soon as the end of season tournament came around, those high seeds got smoked right out of the gate.

All in all, I really like the ladder and will be playing again this spring.

alegare 03-20-2013 09:08 AM

I participate in the Delcastle tennis ladder in new castle county, delaware. It's a competitive ladder, but all the players are all really cool and just want to play. It's drawn around 120 people so far and it's growing like crazy. And the best thing: IT'S FREE. It's a 3.0-4.5 league, and at the end of the season we have a tournament. It's a lot of fun, and I feel that the players are much better than the locals that play USTA.

spot 03-20-2013 01:10 PM

Fusker- I keep getting caught up in the rating system and what is fair and that is where I get stuck. Should higher rated players be given incentive to challenge a lower player. Is it fair that people fall down the rankings if they haven't played in a few weeks.... that sort of stuff.

Your league sort of sidesteps that and just basically lets people move themselves up the ladder by challenging and sets it so that people have no penalty for losing. You challenge a guy higher than you and you lose then that doesn't matter. You accept a challenge from a guy lower than you and then you only move down one spot. It definitely would be the way to encourage the most matches and in the end that really is the point of a ladder.

It is pretty interesting that the delcastle ladder that alegare plays in uses the same method where there isn't really a downside to losing any match.

It seems like in one the players are self-selected by level and in the other it is one big ladder. I guess in the beginning one ladder would have to make due just to give people players to play against. Thanks for the input.

floridatennisdude 03-20-2013 02:08 PM

Best one I played in was one where the director pulled names and assigned matches per week. Players were responsible for scheduling the matches on their own within the week. The result was very few forfeits (you felt compelled to play once per week) and an end result of an accurate ladder. He was good about picking good matchups.

Ones that aren't so good are the ones where you sign up and play as much or little as you want. Those end up with some players playing a ton, some playing a few, and others that don't play at all. Result is a lopsided ladder with mixed reviews. I was one that played a ton, but the I played multiple times against...others that wanted to play a ton.

My 2 cents/conclusion...the more effort the organizer does in getting people to play, the more people will like it.

Fusker 03-20-2013 02:41 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spot (Post 7291406)
Fusker- I keep getting caught up in the rating system and what is fair and that is where I get stuck. Should higher rated players be given incentive to challenge a lower player. Is it fair that people fall down the rankings if they haven't played in a few weeks.... that sort of stuff.

Your league sort of sidesteps that and just basically lets people move themselves up the ladder by challenging and sets it so that people have no penalty for losing. You challenge a guy higher than you and you lose then that doesn't matter. You accept a challenge from a guy lower than you and then you only move down one spot. It definitely would be the way to encourage the most matches and in the end that really is the point of a ladder.

It is pretty interesting that the delcastle ladder that alegare plays in uses the same method where there isn't really a downside to losing any match.

It seems like in one the players are self-selected by level and in the other it is one big ladder. I guess in the beginning one ladder would have to make due just to give people players to play against. Thanks for the input.

You're required to play at least one match every two weeks or you fall to the bottom behind the players that did play a match. So no matter where you're seeded, you don't play, you don't stay. That is that whole point of the ladder in my opinion, so I think you have got to have that in there.

So if you're highly ranked, you'll likely be taking a lower ranked challenger. The guys that are annoying to me - and it's tough to know exactly who they are - are the ones that don't respond to an email if you're the guy who joined late or are sitting at #35 just because of the initial drawing for position. But I can honestly say that I've never been unable to find another match with somebody.

The other setup I like with the one I cited is that the window for challenges ratchets down as the year goes on. During the first four weeks, anybody can challenge anybody and move up an unlimited number of spots. Towards the end of the season, it's a 10 spot move max. So while #45 could play #1 the last day of the season, if #45 wins, he only moves to #35.

Also, in regards to your comment about no penalty for losing, I think there actually is. If you're higher ranked and you lose, you fall one spot. If you're lower ranked an lose, you're not penalized, but other people who did win their match could jump ahead of you.

Lastly, if you have enough people to do it, I would definitely keep the ladders dedicated to NTRP ratings. I don't think it's much fun for either player to have to play a guy that's a solid 0.5-1.0 lower than the opponent. My guess is that it takes time to build a solid ladder, and it will be less successful if players aren't having fun. So getting similar ability players together (which is what NTRP ratings should do) is the best way to do it.

Orange 03-20-2013 03:28 PM

I disagree with Floridatennisdude's statement that ladders that let players play as much or as little as they want are inferior. The relative merits of various approaches depend on what the goal of the ladder is.

If the goal of the ladder is to encourage people to play tennis and offer them opportunities to do so, allowing them the chance to choose how often to play lets people with time constraints or business travel or the need for a babysitter to participate.

If your goal is to prove once and for all which player is the best 4.0 player in your area, he might be right.

A ladder can account for varying amounts of playing time by giving more points for beating a player high above you.

spot 03-21-2013 04:22 AM

My thought would be that scheduling a match every week by hand would be like a less organized flex league (though with a bit of added flexiblity as you can move people up or down within the season). I don't think thats really what I am going for here. If I was going to do that my ideal would be where people could set their availability for hte week and the computer would schedule a match for them against a comparable opponent. But the problem I keep coming around to with this is that I don't know that I could get people in the habit of updating their availability all the time. Maybe this is something that I could grow towards since this would be particularly nice for scheduling doubles.

On splitting by USTA level that is a tricky one because it limits the playing opportunities for players who end up at the top of their level. Ideally they should be able to play against people at the bottom of the next level but that gets completely away from the point of separating the levels out.


I do think that women are more likely to be on board with the system where you don't move down with a loss and the only way you move down is by getting passed up. It wouldn't seem as "hostile" to be challenged if you basically would barely move down if you lost.

chollyred 03-21-2013 04:27 AM

Hey Spot,

Check with ALTA and see how they handle the Junior Ladders. According to their magazine, their ladder format is highly successful for the kids. Adopt someting similar for the "big" kids.

(still hoping to get back out with you guys soon...nagging injuries)

Cindysphinx 03-21-2013 04:49 AM

Spot, is this ladder for men or women? I'm just curious.

I have never done a proper ladder. There is a round robin singles thing run by one of the clubs, and I participated one year.

It was limited to the first 16 people who signed up. The organizer then published a schedule. The schedule designated who each player was supposed to play each week (A v. B, C v. D and so forth). It was up to the players to email each other, set up a time to play, and report their results to the front desk after the match.

If players could not find a mutually convenient time to play during their week, they would try to find time during another week. Players with poor availability would often become so backed up that they couldn't squeeze in all their matches. If one player was dragging her feet (as evidenced by the email exchange), the coordinator could award the win to the other player. Not sure if this ever happened.

After everyone had played once, the top half played each other again, and the bottom half played each other. An overall winner was declared at the end.

There were a lot of benefits to doing it this way. Players were motivated to stay on schedule because there was a schedule. Everyone had to pay to play (indoor court time in winter), which was another incentive to sign up only if you really planned to play.

The other nice thing about this format is that you start small (just 16 players), so it is easy to administer. You avoid having some massive new ladder that swallows you whole.

It might make sense, Spot, to have a fee of some sort so that people have some skin in the game and don't blow off all of their matches.

spot 03-21-2013 05:28 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by chollyred (Post 7292642)
Hey Spot,

Check with ALTA and see how they handle the Junior Ladders. According to their magazine, their ladder format is highly successful for the kids. Adopt someting similar for the "big" kids.

(still hoping to get back out with you guys soon...nagging injuries)

That is a good idea. If they have something that works and people in the area are used to it that coudl be a good way to start.

Hope you do make it back out sometime. The weather for the first 2 we had this year were great.

spot 03-21-2013 05:41 AM

Cindy- this is just in the discussion phases at this point. Some people have wanted a co-ed ladder where everyone just ends up on the same scale but I think that may be a little aggressive to start out. I think that inherently the men like the idea of a "challenge" ladder more than women do so it will likely be easier to get that off the ground. My current thought is to just start out with a men's ladder but if any women want to sign up then I wouldn't have a problem with that at all and people will find their own level. (there are a lot of strong women who play in the Round Robin) Eventually after we get the format and issues worked out with the guys then push to get the women's ladder off the ground. But if enough women are interested I'd be more than happy to do both.

I agree that people do need to pay something in order to make them less likely to blow it off. We do have a lot of regulars where I wouldn't be worried at all who will be good for the critical mass but for pushing it out to more people some sort of fee is important.

cll30 03-21-2013 08:06 PM

Here's a link to a very successful tennis ladder in Austin Texas. The current singles round has almost 100 rungs with 3 to 4 players per rung. Each round lasts about 2.5 to 3 weeks. Players can drop in or out for each round. Not sure how much you will be able to see without being a member but here's the link: http://www.austin*********.org/index.php

Not sure why I can post a valid link, but just google Austin Tennis Net.

tennis tom 03-22-2013 06:18 AM

Doubles in the Desert: The Shootout @ Cathedral Canyon

SpitFire 03-22-2013 10:19 AM

Do you guys know of any ladders in the Dallas area?
Google failed me.

spot 03-28-2013 10:57 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by cll30 (Post 7294318)
Here's a link to a very successful tennis ladder in Austin Texas. The current singles round has almost 100 rungs with 3 to 4 players per rung. Each round lasts about 2.5 to 3 weeks. Players can drop in or out for each round. Not sure how much you will be able to see without being a member but here's the link: http://www.austin*********.org/index.php

Not sure why I can post a valid link, but just google Austin Tennis Net.

Thanks for the link to that. I really like the idea of that kind of ladder. I really love the promotion/relegation method of moving people up and down and the short time frame would seem to work well. I like it because there isn't any order of the matches. You just have 2 people and need to find some time in the next 3 weeks to get the matches in which is pretty reasonable. As it got bigger I think I'd make it more of a pyramid rather than how your league does it with 100 different rungs but I'd have to see how best to make that work.

Do I see it correctly that it is just one ladder for both men and women who play against each other?

dizzlmcwizzl 03-28-2013 11:16 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by alegare (Post 7290736)
I participate in the Delcastle tennis ladder in new castle county, delaware. It's a competitive ladder, but all the players are all really cool and just want to play. It's drawn around 120 people so far and it's growing like crazy. And the best thing: IT'S FREE. It's a 3.0-4.5 league, and at the end of the season we have a tournament. It's a lot of fun, and I feel that the players are much better than the locals that play USTA.

welcome to the site .... you are playing in my back yard.

Do I know you? I am a 4.5 and play a lot at the Rodney Street courts. If you think we could be competitive I would like to get together and play a little.

cll30 03-28-2013 03:01 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by spot (Post 7310077)
Thanks for the link to that. I really like the idea of that kind of ladder. I really love the promotion/relegation method of moving people up and down and the short time frame would seem to work well. I like it because there isn't any order of the matches. You just have 2 people and need to find some time in the next 3 weeks to get the matches in which is pretty reasonable. As it got bigger I think I'd make it more of a pyramid rather than how your league does it with 100 different rungs but I'd have to see how best to make that work.

Do I see it correctly that it is just one ladder for both men and women who play against each other?

Yes, it's just one unisex ladder. It's based on ability, not gender.


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