That's It. I'm Going on Strike.

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Last year, I captained tri-level (4.5/4.0/3.5). This year, I'm done. Out. Finished. Had it.

A bit of background. Our leagues are run by the county, which secures court time at county facilities and private facilities. The county then puts out a schedule for all teams for the season. The schedule comes out about two weeks before the season starts, but of course captains have to recruit/register players long before then. Match times and locations are whatever the county is able to procure, so these are slots that are unpopular. Usually 9-11 p.m. That's no fun, but it is what it is.

Teams do not have a designated day for their matches (e.g. men's 3.5 always plays on Tuesday). This means availability can be a challenge, and captains carry larger rosters as a result. For my spring and 40+ teams, for example, it is quite common to have half of the 20-person roster unavailable for a given match.

The roster limit for tri-level is 22. I carried a full roster, so seven players at 4.0 and 4.5 and eight at 3.5. I struggled constantly that season to avoid defaulting courts. It sounds like with seven players you ought to be able to find two who are available, but it didn't work that way. Players play on multiple teams. Players work/travel/vacation. Players get injured. And if I am short at 4.5 for a match and have to use a 4.0, that can leave me short a 4.0 for the 4.0 line, which means I have to use a 3.5 on the 4.0 line . . . It was no fun for me, constantly begging people to play, especially given that as a 3.5 I don't have relationships with the 4.0s and 4.5s. Also, players like to play with their designated partners, but I found I was frequently throwing two strangers out there because that's all I could do.

When the season ended, I wrote to our league coordinator with a suggestion. I said the league should help tri-level captains out by giving them a designated night for their matches. There were only three team, and it would make it easier for players to plan to be available. The league coordinator wrote back saying this could never work (because there are also tri-level leagues for combo and mixed) and captains like the current system. She also said players should look at the schedule before committing to the team. I replied and asked whether the league had ever actually polled tri-level captains to learn their preference, and I received no reply.

OK. Fine then. If the league is going to be inflexible about scheduling and not even try to make things easier for captains, then tri-level can die. Without our team, there will be two teams -- assuming both of the other captains keep doing it.

And USTA wonders why participation is down . . .
 

darkhorse

Semi-Pro
If there's only three teams in the league, that means only one match per week, with one team getting a bye, correct? It seems like having a set day for matches would be easy to do. My tri-level is low on the totem pole?
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
I hear ya cindy. The tone deafness of the LLC is a big reason why I don't captain anymore. For years I captained and brought a lot of people into USTA. No more. It's sad that they won't listen to the folks that could help them grow.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
Cindy, I do agree with you on the difficulties of captaining, has been frustrating at times. However, a set day for matches may not solve the problem you have. If, for example, all matches were on Saturday for your league, I’d get to play in none. Finding another league is not an option, so I’d sit on the sidelines for that season for tri-level.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I get that, I do. But the league coordinator said there are several tri-level options (ladies and men's 4.5/4.0/3.5 and 4.0/3.5/3.0). Plus mixed tri. And in the fall, we have mixed combo and combo. And that is just in my home league -- there are other options in DC, NOVA, and MD. Plenty of tennis for everyone.

So I guess I am saying that the challenges for fielding a tri-level team are unique, as evidenced by the fact that there are only three teams. If the league coordinator declared that ladies tri would play on Tuesdays and men on Wednesdays, we might lose a few people, sure. But for those who actually signed up, knowing what day to hold available could help captains a lot.

And if the league surveyed captains and decided to keep the current system, that's fine. To blow off the idea without trying to learn what captains think or find another solution is annoying.
 

Cawlin

Semi-Pro
Last year, I captained tri-level (4.5/4.0/3.5). This year, I'm done. Out. Finished. Had it.

A bit of background. Our leagues are run by the county, which secures court time at county facilities and private facilities. The county then puts out a schedule for all teams for the season. The schedule comes out about two weeks before the season starts, but of course captains have to recruit/register players long before then. Match times and locations are whatever the county is able to procure, so these are slots that are unpopular. Usually 9-11 p.m. That's no fun, but it is what it is.

Teams do not have a designated day for their matches (e.g. men's 3.5 always plays on Tuesday). This means availability can be a challenge, and captains carry larger rosters as a result. For my spring and 40+ teams, for example, it is quite common to have half of the 20-person roster unavailable for a given match.

The roster limit for tri-level is 22. I carried a full roster, so seven players at 4.0 and 4.5 and eight at 3.5. I struggled constantly that season to avoid defaulting courts. It sounds like with seven players you ought to be able to find two who are available, but it didn't work that way. Players play on multiple teams. Players work/travel/vacation. Players get injured. And if I am short at 4.5 for a match and have to use a 4.0, that can leave me short a 4.0 for the 4.0 line, which means I have to use a 3.5 on the 4.0 line . . . It was no fun for me, constantly begging people to play, especially given that as a 3.5 I don't have relationships with the 4.0s and 4.5s. Also, players like to play with their designated partners, but I found I was frequently throwing two strangers out there because that's all I could do.

When the season ended, I wrote to our league coordinator with a suggestion. I said the league should help tri-level captains out by giving them a designated night for their matches. There were only three team, and it would make it easier for players to plan to be available. The league coordinator wrote back saying this could never work (because there are also tri-level leagues for combo and mixed) and captains like the current system. She also said players should look at the schedule before committing to the team. I replied and asked whether the league had ever actually polled tri-level captains to learn their preference, and I received no reply.

OK. Fine then. If the league is going to be inflexible about scheduling and not even try to make things easier for captains, then tri-level can die. Without our team, there will be two teams -- assuming both of the other captains keep doing it.

And USTA wonders why participation is down . . .
Heh, speaking as the captain of a mixed dubs only team, I feel your pain...

The ALTA mixed format is not technically like USTA combo mixed, but it often works out very much like that, and they do have restrictions from week to week how far up or down the lineup you can move people based on last week's play and their overall success at whatever line.

This mixed season I'm carrying a roster of 29 people, 17 females and 11 males with which I have to field 5 lines of dubs in each of 7 weeks. So I'm carrying almost 3 times as many people as is technically necessary... the minimum roster size is 12 people, and there is no maximum. The thing about mixed is that when one person is unavailable, the actual impact is more like two people being out. In Tri-level and/or combo mixed, I can see this being even worse.

In addition, we do have regular play times - for Summer it's Saturday mornings, for Winter it's Sunday afternoons, however when we have a rained out dual meet and are given 8 calendar days to get the matches played, that's when the real headaches begin as we try to get 4 people (most of whom are playing on at least one other team - whether it's senior women's or men's or a USTA team, or playing T2/League) to find a day that is other than their normal prescheduled playing time to make up their line's match - then do that 5 times... ugh! I've had 4 rainouts in the two seasons I've captained, and I was NEVER able to field the same lineup I intended to for the rained out day.

I can't even begin to imagine the headache and near impossibility of trying to field a tri-level team without even a set day for the meet/matches each week. Honestly, I wouldn't be involved in this league at all - not even as a player, let alone a team captain. You're either insane, or a saint, in my opinion for having done it this long.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Well, there are advantages to not having a set day/time for matches. If the set day doesn't work for you, you are completely shut out. For the regular leagues (combo, ladies/men's, ladies day), the day/time that is awful for one player will be perfect for another. So it all works out, so long as the season is long enough and there are enough matches that everyone gets to ply. Given the need to play everything indoors, I can see why it would be impossible to give every flight a designated day -- there are only seven days in a week!

It is dumb that in a league so large we cannot find a way to have robust tri-level. Tri is awesome. It is where you get to really play tough, difficult matches. In two seasons of captaining tri, I have never won a match. Not once.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
If the league coordinator declared that ladies tri would play on Tuesdays and men on Wednesdays, we might lose a few people, sure. But for those who actually signed up, knowing what day to hold available could help captains a lot.

And if the league surveyed captains and decided to keep the current system, that's fine. To blow off the idea without trying to learn what captains think or find another solution is annoying.
I understand you want to be heard and have a forum for discussions on these topics with MCTA, and I think that is possible, you know the people to make your case to.
However, I cannot imagine the difficulties for a coordinator to book specific court dates/times before they even know how many teams will sign up. That is a risky bet for MCTA and a promise they may not be able to deliver since they don’t control court allocations.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I hear you and am sympathetic.

But we do know how many ladies teams will sign up for 4.5/4.0/3.5 Tri Answer: very few. I mean, we do have some historical information that helps us know we won't be swamped with Tri teams.

And I'm not looking for an ironclad promise here. I would even be willing to beta test this. For ladies tri 2019, the league coordinator could decide that whatever night normally has the most availability (say, Sundays at 9 p.m.) will be the designated night. "Designated night" does not mean a match could not be scheduled for another night if that were necessary for any reason. But if there were nine total matches and seven could be Sunday nights, that would help with availability a lot.

I just feel like this is one of those situations where someone is saying "No" just because they can.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Geez, last year was so bad.

One of the first matches fell on the weekend of Sectionals. So most of my 4.5s were unavailable, so I had to play a 4.0 at the 4.5 line. And I had to play myself at the 4.0 line and take a complete beating. I felt bad for my 4.0 partner, who signed up for challenging 4.0 tennis and had to carry my sad behind around during that match.

I know what you're thinking: If sectionals were happening, surely I could request that the match be rescheduled if my 4.5 contingent were all on the same 4.5 team at sectionals, right? Nope. I believe the rule was that I had to show that some large percentage of my 4.5s were unavailable due to being at Sectionals. It didn't matter if the rest were unavailable due to Life.

Again, I just think that if the league wants Tri, the league needs to support it.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
I’ve never played tri-level. But if they are going to allow different levels on the same team, then maybe they should be more flexible with how you construct line-ups.

How about a rule that says, for example, the sum total of your 3 doubles courts cannot exceed more than 24.0? Mix and match however you want?
 

Matthew ATX

Semi-Pro
Tri-level here gets played over the course of a single weekend. I don't think I'd sign up if they spread the four matches over the course of a month.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I’ve never played tri-level. But if they are going to allow different levels on the same team, then maybe they should be more flexible with how you construct line-ups.

How about a rule that says, for example, the sum total of your 3 doubles courts cannot exceed more than 24.0? Mix and match however you want?
Tri is an interesting idea.

I understand that it was developed as a way to allow smaller towns/cities to play league tennis. If you are a 4.5 in a small city, it can be hard to have enough players to have a league at all. With Tri, you only need to field one court of doubles at each level for each match.

I believe one of the rules of Tri is that you cannot have anyone play up more than one level. So if I am short-handed at 4.5, I cannot have a 3.5 fill that slot. I must default that line if I cannot get a 4.0. That seems fair: After all, if these higher-level players wind up playing significantly weaker players, Tri will be a failure.
 

J_R_B

Hall of Fame
Tri-level is an interesting concept and I've had fun playing some matches, but there is no way in hell I would captain a tri-level team. Most teams are stacked at the captain's level and thin at the levels where he doesn't have regular connections. The most successful team really have 3 captains - a 3.5 captain, a 4.0 captain, and a 4.5 captain, each in charge of his own court, but that's probably more than I could organize.
 

travlerajm

G.O.A.T.
Tri-level is an interesting concept and I've had fun playing some matches, but there is no way in hell I would captain a tri-level team. Most teams are stacked at the captain's level and thin at the levels where he doesn't have regular connections. The most successful team really have 3 captains - a 3.5 captain, a 4.0 captain, and a 4.5 captain, each in charge of his own court, but that's probably more than I could organize.
That’s a little like how my 8.0 mixed team worked. My entire team was usually 4.5 guys and 3.5 gals. It helped to have both a 4.5 guy and a 3.5 gal working together on the recruiting aspect of captaining.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
After 3 years of eschewing Tri-level since it was introduced in our area I think i may try and put together a team from our club next summer probably of the 3.0/3.5/4.0 variety since our club doesn't have many 4.5s. However I think I'm going to have a 3.0 and 4.0 co-captains. Tell them I'll handle the 3.5 court and they handle their level. We'll see how it goes.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
Tri-level is an interesting concept and I've had fun playing some matches, but there is no way in hell I would captain a tri-level team. Most teams are stacked at the captain's level and thin at the levels where he doesn't have regular connections. The most successful team really have 3 captains - a 3.5 captain, a 4.0 captain, and a 4.5 captain, each in charge of his own court, but that's probably more than I could organize.
Just read your post. Glad to see you've seen that be successful.
 
Cindy, you seem to be serious about your tennis development.
Don't waste your time with TriLevel and chasing people to play.
Focus on your tennis. Leagues will hamper your development.

Tri is winter based, and most players don't even play Tri.
They focus on their indoor winter leagues and networks.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Tri-level is an interesting concept and I've had fun playing some matches, but there is no way in hell I would captain a tri-level team. Most teams are stacked at the captain's level and thin at the levels where he doesn't have regular connections. The most successful team really have 3 captains - a 3.5 captain, a 4.0 captain, and a 4.5 captain, each in charge of his own court, but that's probably more than I could organize.
That is actually pretty brilliant.

As a 3.5 it is pretty difficult to get on a tri-level team. Really we are a dime a dozen lots of mid and top level 3.5 players out there. We are going to know some of the good 4.0 players but really rarely rub shoulders with many 4.5 players.

@Cindysphinx I just don't understand league in your neck of the woods. Everything that you write about it (and a few other TTW members) seems like it is such a hassle.

Our matches for all leagues are on a set day. The times may vary but you at least know the day.

For tri-level entire league is on one dedicated weekend .... it is only the 2nd year it has existed here, so we shall see if it changes.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
@Cindysphinx I just don't understand league in your neck of the woods. Everything that you write about it (and a few other TTW members) seems like it is such a hassle.
Our league makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. In many ways, it is straight up awesome.

We are in an area where matches need to be indoors, for many reasons (there are some outdoor leagues, but rescheduling matches for weather problems is a bother so I don't bother). We are blessed with four county-run indoor tennis facilities plus the Junior Training Center at Univ of Maryland. We also play at posh clubs I could never afford to join. The two main county facilities are air conditioned. Can you imagine? No sun, wind, sunscreen, sunglasses, or sweat -- that is high living.

Most players are not affiliated with a private club, and the county USTA league has to find/reserve all courts for all league matches at all levels and put out a master schedule. For that reason, it is not possible to guarantee, say, that ladies 3.0 will always play on Tuesdays. The available courts may not match up with the number of teams/matches that need to be scheduled, and we have way more flights than there are days in the week. If is important to you that every match be scheduled on the same day of the week, you are straight out of luck in my league. As a captain, however, I usually had players who couldn't ever play certain days of the week, and I just put them in the line-up on other days.

No worries, though. You will have a bazillion options for league play, so you could join teams that can accommodate your preference for your preferred play day or that have designated play days. If I wanted, I could play my home league, DC, Northern Virginia, and several other counties in Maryland. Not only that, we have no restrictions on playing up, on how many people on a team can be playing up, or how many teams you can join at once. I cannot even imagine how many 3.5/combo/mixed/singles/tri teams I could join in our year-round tennis environment out here -- 40?

The biggest disadvantage of our league is that we play two-hour matches. That stinks if you are the type of player who grinds rather than taking the net. But the counter-argument is that we know exactly when our matches start and end. We are never at the mercy of the slow-pokes who took the court before we did, and we never are interrupted by darkness or weather. Matches aren't rescheduled unless all of the facilities close due to weather, and if that happens, the league reschedules -- no stress trying to work with the opposing captain to reschedule.

And of course, we all get to live in the D.C. Metro area, which is a lovely, educated, tolerant, lively, stable, diverse place to be.

That's my long way of saying many areas of the country have thriving tennis environments, and each of them has advantages and disadvantages. I don't think playing here is any more of a hassle than any other place. It's just a different set of hassles.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
We are in an area where matches need to be indoors, for many reasons (there are some outdoor leagues, but rescheduling matches for weather problems is a bother so I don't bother).
Does this mean you play all your matches on hardcourt and carpet?

I think I'd give up tennis if I had to play indoors all the time. Tennis outdoors, on a natural surface like grass or clay, is the best that the sport gets.
 
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Cashman

Hall of Fame
I’d say my matches are 80% hardcourt.

You can play outside all you want. But league matches are indoors.
Isn't that a big disadvantage to people who grow up playing clay or grasscourt tennis, having to play all competition matches on samey indoor courts?

The fact we get to host our home matches on grass is a big advantage in our local league. Likewise for opponents who host us on slower surfaces like en tout cas, antbed or clay.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Isn't that a big disadvantage to people who grow up playing clay or grasscourt tennis, having to play all competition matches on samey indoor courts?

The fact we get to host our home matches on grass is a big advantage in our local league. Likewise for opponents who host us on slower surfaces like en tout cas, antbed or clay.
It certainly would be a disadvantage, if those people existed in the US.

Aide from some areas in the south, there are very few clay courts in most metro areas in the country. Grass courts? I would have to travel likely 1500 miles to get the the nearest one that is open to the public.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Our league makes a lot of sense, if you think about it. In many ways, it is straight up awesome.

We are in an area where matches need to be indoors, for many reasons (there are some outdoor leagues, but rescheduling matches for weather problems is a bother so I don't bother). We are blessed with four county-run indoor tennis facilities plus the Junior Training Center at Univ of Maryland. We also play at posh clubs I could never afford to join. The two main county facilities are air conditioned. Can you imagine? No sun, wind, sunscreen, sunglasses, or sweat -- that is high living.

Most players are not affiliated with a private club, and the county USTA league has to find/reserve all courts for all league matches at all levels and put out a master schedule. For that reason, it is not possible to guarantee, say, that ladies 3.0 will always play on Tuesdays. The available courts may not match up with the number of teams/matches that need to be scheduled, and we have way more flights than there are days in the week. If is important to you that every match be scheduled on the same day of the week, you are straight out of luck in my league. As a captain, however, I usually had players who couldn't ever play certain days of the week, and I just put them in the line-up on other days.

No worries, though. You will have a bazillion options for league play, so you could join teams that can accommodate your preference for your preferred play day or that have designated play days. If I wanted, I could play my home league, DC, Northern Virginia, and several other counties in Maryland. Not only that, we have no restrictions on playing up, on how many people on a team can be playing up, or how many teams you can join at once. I cannot even imagine how many 3.5/combo/mixed/singles/tri teams I could join in our year-round tennis environment out here -- 40?

The biggest disadvantage of our league is that we play two-hour matches. That stinks if you are the type of player who grinds rather than taking the net. But the counter-argument is that we know exactly when our matches start and end. We are never at the mercy of the slow-pokes who took the court before we did, and we never are interrupted by darkness or weather. Matches aren't rescheduled unless all of the facilities close due to weather, and if that happens, the league reschedules -- no stress trying to work with the opposing captain to reschedule.

And of course, we all get to live in the D.C. Metro area, which is a lovely, educated, tolerant, lively, stable, diverse place to be.

That's my long way of saying many areas of the country have thriving tennis environments, and each of them has advantages and disadvantages. I don't think playing here is any more of a hassle than any other place. It's just a different set of hassles.
Thanks for the detailed read ..... I wold enjoy the variety of teams that I could be on .... but the convenience of set days (and set days and times for some leagues) is so nice.

It is funny sometimes for me to think that one could be on multiple teams in different districts. To get to the next nearest district I think that is about a 250 mile drive to get to the boundary and then another 60 miles to get to a tennis court in that district!
 

Doan

Rookie
Thanks for the detailed read ..... I wold enjoy the variety of teams that I could be on .... but the convenience of set days (and set days and times for some leagues) is so nice.
There's options for that as well. If you play USTA DC league you know it will always be on a Sat or Sun. There's also a non USTA league that does have a set day+time.

It is funny sometimes for me to think that one could be on multiple teams in different districts. To get to the next nearest district I think that is about a 250 mile drive to get to the boundary and then another 60 miles to get to a tennis court in that district!
If you live centrally in the DMV for instance Arlington - I would guess that just for 18+, you could probably play on 3 teams in VA. 3 in MD, 1 in DC that are approx 1 hour drive. So 7 chances to get to Nationals.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Yeah, I forgot about the leagues that do play a set day each week. An example is NOVA ladies day. The 3.5 league was Wednesday, and the 4.0 league was a different day. I had a standing obligation that prevented me from playing on the 4.0 day, so that ended my participation in that league entirely.

Doan, you reminded me that Frederick is also a set day. And Dc seniors is always Tuesday.

And yes, playing at the same level on multiple teams is quite possible, and plenty of people do it. You have to declare which team you’ll play for at Districts, though.

Having people playing for multiple teams can create a problem, though. Theoretically, an entire team of powerhouse 3.5 ladies could play together in my league, and Northern Virginia, and Frederick County, and on and on. Then when it came to districts, they could wind up playing against themselves.

We have something called the three-player rule to prevent this. No more than three players can be on the same two teams. It’s a headache for captains to track this, but it’s necessary. I lost a couple of players due to three-player violations this season.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I don't know: when I walk around outside, I don't encounter large patches of clay.
By 'natural surface' I mean one that has natural variation, and evolves naturally during the course of a match in accordance with the environmental conditions. A court with variable bounce, that plays differently in the first and third sets, adds a whole new dimension to the game.

It's one of those nuances of the sport that you miss out on if you always play on hardcourts or indoors, which have an almost sterile consistency.
 
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