You make the call...timed out match

leech

Semi-Pro
Scenario: In this league, matches time out at 90 minutes. Team A wins the first set 6-4 and is down 2-5 in the second set with Team A serving at 40-0. Time expires after the server hits her first serve out.

The local league rules state that a point in progress should be completed when time expires. Should the server be allowed to serve up a second serve? The argument being that the "point in progress" started with the first serve attempt.

If the second serve is allowed after time expired, and Team A wins the point, then the two teams would be tied in games (9-9), so a sudden death point would need to be played. If a second serve is not allowed, then Team B would win the match by virtue of being ahead in total games (9-8).

Is a second serve a continuation of a "point in progress"?
 
I'd say "yes" because one is allotted 2 serves. Same for if a serve was a let. Or a let was called because a ball came on to the court. The point is still in progress.

The only way I could see that Team A could not serve was if time ran out in between the previous point ending but before the server could line up to serve the next point.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
The point has been initiated since the first serve has already been struck. A point begins when the server starts their service motion. The point must be completed since it was initiated with a first service fault.

What if the first serve had been an ace? It would be a point, right?

There are methods to decide the winners when "time runs out" specifically for these circumstances. The methods are also designed to not take away points, but to encourage the play of more points to determine a winner.

This is what should've happened:

The 8th game of the second set should have been completed, even though the outcome is irrelevant.
The scores are now (6-4) and (3-5) or (2-6).
This means each team has won a set.
Play would continue even though time has run out in whatever tie breaking procedure your league has since teach team is tied 1 set a piece.

If, for example team A was ahead in the second set 5-2 when time ran out, the scores would be entered as (6-4) (5-2). They have won 2 sets, the second set being a (5-2) score.

"cumulative games" is not a good way of determining a winner. I set should count as a set no matter if it's 7-6 or 6-0. Your league should fix the tie breaker procedure. In all cases, the point and probably the game should be completed.
 

gmatheis

Hall of Fame
First I agree with people above ... play 2nd serve then final point if required.

Secondly ... this is so friggin dumb. second set isn't even finished and you already boil down the entire match to 2 points, where team A must win both and Team B only needs one.

So glad I don't live somewhere where they have to time the match.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Scenario: In this league, matches time out at 90 minutes. Team A wins the first set 6-4 and is down 2-5 in the second set with Team A serving at 40-0. Time expires after the server hits her first serve out.

The local league rules state that a point in progress should be completed when time expires. Should the server be allowed to serve up a second serve? The argument being that the "point in progress" started with the first serve attempt.

If the second serve is allowed after time expired, and Team A wins the point, then the two teams would be tied in games (9-9), so a sudden death point would need to be played. If a second serve is not allowed, then Team B would win the match by virtue of being ahead in total games (9-8).

Is a second serve a continuation of a "point in progress"?
This is a good question, and it has always been unclear in our rules.

My practice as a captain is to only stop play once I see a point has ended. So I would allow the players to play the second serve and then call time.

I have no idea what I would do if a ball rolled onto the court and a player called a let. I would err in favor of letting them replay the point, but I am not sure what my opposing captain would want. Usually, I stand with the opposing captain when a match is on the cusp of timing out so we can make sure we agree on when time is to be called.

Anyway, our tiebreak rules are clear. Team A won the first set. Team B won the second set (ahead by at least two games, so the set counts as completed). You add up games, and Team A won 8 games and Team B won 9.

Now, let's assume Team A takes the second serve and wins the point and thus the game. Second set is now 3-5 and so still counts as a win for Team B. You add up games, and each team has nine games.

This is where it gets fun: Sudden Death Point. Home team spins a racket; how players handle the spin is exactly like at beginning of match except that serving team must declare who will serve before receivers decide who will receive. You play one sudden death point for the match. In twelve years of USTA play, I have played exactly one sudden death point, in mixed. One guy served, the other received, they rallied while I guarded my alley, the other guy missed, so we won.

For those who say they are thankful they don't have to play 2-hour timed matches . . . : shrug : I don't mind 2-hour timed matches. I'm thankful I don't have to play outdoor matches and deal with rain delays, lightening delays, any other kind of delay, darkness, wind, sun, sunscreen, wet courts, heat, cold -- and I get to play in multiple leagues year-round. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
For those who say they are thankful they don't have to play 2-hour timed matches . . . : shrug : I don't mind 2-hour timed matches. I'm thankful I don't have to play outdoor matches and deal with rain delays, lightening delays, any other kind of delay, darkness, wind, sun, sunscreen, wet courts, heat, cold -- and I get to play in multiple leagues year-round. Seems like a fair trade-off to me.
A 2 hour timed match might be okay, but the described timed-match is 90 minutes. In a competitive match with evenly skilled/rated players getting that under 90 minutes would be difficult ... multiple deuce games, no ball kids, etc.

Me, I am glad I play outdoors all year ... had my first rain out ever yesterday morning ... note EVER and never have to worry about altering play to fit a clock.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
First I agree with people above ... play 2nd serve then final point if required.

Secondly ... this is so friggin dumb. second set isn't even finished and you already boil down the entire match to 2 points, where team A must win both and Team B only needs one.

So glad I don't live somewhere where they have to time the match.
Yup, so many leagues around my area have 90-minute timed matches (I suppose b/c indoor courts are expensive?), and the varying timed-out rules make things so complicated. And contrary to the normal rules of tennis, where a set is a set, regardless of how many games were won/lost in the set.

I'm glad my home league allows for 2 hours, and also mandates that a full 10-point match tiebreak be played if there are split sets.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
I'm with the majority here. Once the first serve was struck the point began. Also in the majority who would rather deal with weather than a 90 minute timed match.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
A 2 hour timed match might be okay, but the described timed-match is 90 minutes. In a competitive match with evenly skilled/rated players getting that under 90 minutes would be difficult ... multiple deuce games, no ball kids, etc.

Me, I am glad I play outdoors all year ... had my first rain out ever yesterday morning ... note EVER and never have to worry about altering play to fit a clock.
Maybe someone from VA or DC can weigh in on 90-minute matches.

Me, I stick to leagues with 2 hour limits because that is almost always enough time to finish a match. My experience in the 90-minute leagues was that blatant stalling became a problem once the first set was decided.

Las Vegas has outdoor matches all year 'round? Lordie. I can't bear to walk down the street in the summer there.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Maybe someone from VA or DC can weigh in on 90-minute matches.

Me, I stick to leagues with 2 hour limits because that is almost always enough time to finish a match. My experience in the 90-minute leagues was that blatant stalling became a problem once the first set was decided.

Las Vegas has outdoor matches all year 'round? Lordie. I can't bear to walk down the street in the summer there.
In all of Vegas there are a total of 6 indoor courts. Total.

Yup, year round, but summer matches have start times not later than 9am in the morning or not earlier than 6pm in the evening.

I agree 2 hours is plenty for all but the closest of matches that may go longer ... 90 minutes, no good.
 

MathGeek

Hall of Fame
For those who say they are thankful they don't have to play 2-hour timed matches . . . : shrug : I don't mind 2-hour timed matches.
Agreed. No gripes about a 2 hour time limit. After that much time, I probably don't care who wins, I just want it to be over. That's a long match. I'd have nothing in the tank anyway and be risking injury to continue.

90 minutes though would not be enough time. If a match lasts 90 minutes, it is just getting interesting, and I hate to see it end other than by normal tennis rules.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
I've played matches that went longer than 2 hours. All I can say is that it's nice when they give you a fresh can for the 3rd set so points seem to end faster with the more lively balls.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
This is a good question, and it has always been unclear in our rules.

My practice as a captain is to only stop play once I see a point has ended. So I would allow the players to play the second serve and then call time.
Cindy -- in your home league's local rule F.2, the rule is worded awkwardly (but it's in bold, ha):

"A point in play at the end of the time limit will be completed even if it will affect the outcome of the match."
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Yes, but what is a point in play? That's the whole issue.

If I step up to the line to serve and catch my toss, is that a point in play?

If I serve quickly (because time is running out) and the receiver wasn't ready and then time lapses, is that a point in play?

If I hit a first serve and it is a let and time expires while the returner is giving me the ball for a first serve, is that a point in play?
 
Yes, but what is a point in play? That's the whole issue.

If I step up to the line to serve and catch my toss, is that a point in play?
Yes: because tossing constitutes the start of the service motion and therefore the point.

If I serve quickly (because time is running out) and the receiver wasn't ready and then time lapses, is that a point in play?
Tricky. Technically no. But then the returner could game the system by simply not being "ready" until the time expires.

If I hit a first serve and it is a let and time expires while the returner is giving me the ball for a first serve, is that a point in play?
Yes: because hitting a serve means you started the point.

I don't like timed matches because I'd rather decide the outcome based on score rather than time. But I long ago got used to the concept in my volleyball leagues which were timed.

Also, adding the variable of time gives cheaters and gamers one more tool to gum up the works.
 

penpal

Semi-Pro
I've never played a timed match. For those who have, are there any specific rules to deal with players who are causing delays (i.e., fetching balls that don't need to be fetched, returning serves that are well out, taking too long on changeovers, taking too long to serve, etc)? Seems like those kinds of actions could really cause some problems/arguments.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
^^^
Those things happen, even in 2-hr matches, it is recreational tennis after all, so you deal with it. It is best not to let it get to you.

90-min. matches certainly put far more emphasis on winning the first set decisively. If games are frquently going to duece and score is close, you better make sure to win the first set as if every point is final.

Last match we played in NoVa, we lost first set 2-6. I think our opponents relaxed a little too early and we went up 4-0 second set, I was serving Ad-in to make it 5-0 with 29 mins to go, and suddenly the sky opened up with a downpour, and we could not complete the match. If rain had come 3 mins later, we would have won the match, assuming we had won that last ad-in point of course.:confused:
 
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Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Regarding stalling . . .

There aren't really rules to deal with this beyond your normal rules about the pace of play. In the past, all you could do is ask your opponents to knock it off, but of course they won't.

I think what you could do is have a teammate start filming. This alone would discourage stalling, and if it were really blatant you could file a grievance and you would have the proof right there.

I have had a few partners suggest that we stall (they don't call it that -- they suggest that we "take our time because we're winning"). I just ignore it and play at a normal pace. For example, I do not sit or take much time on changeovers regardless of where we are in the set, how much time is left, what the score is. I continue doing that throughout. So if my partner suddenly decides to park herself on the bench for 90 seconds on a changeover, she will be sitting there alone.

The single worst episode of stalling I ever heard of was a 3.0 or 3.5 match with a particular singles player. Let's call her Becky. Although we play 2-hour timed matches, there was one year where we had to play 90-minute matches because one county facility was out of service for renovation.

Becky won the first set 7-6, but there was only about ten minutes left. Under the rules, if Becky's opponent got a 2-game lead in the second set, that set would count, and Becky's opponent would be the winner based on games won.

So Becky took a bathroom break. She ran out most of the remaining time on that bathroom break, so of course there wasn't time to play two games.

I say Becky is a cheater and a coward.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
^^^


Last match we played in NoVa, we lost first set 2-6. I think our opponents relaxed a little too early and we went up 4-0 second set, I was serving Ad-in to make it 5-0 with 29 mins to go, and suddenly the sky opened up with a downpour, and we could not complete the match. If rain had come 3 mins later, we would have won the match, assuming we had won that last ad-in point of course.:confused:
Huh? Doesn't that make you the winner, 7 games to 6 games?
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
Huh? Doesn't that make you the winner, 7 games to 6 games?
I really wish, if we had won that last ad-in point, rain came down just as I was getting to serve, so did not get to play that point. Right now the score is 2-6, 4-0, so 6 games each. We agreed to play the last 29 mins where we left off in three days.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I really wish, if we had won that last ad-in point, rain came down just as I was getting to serve, so did not get to play that point. Right now the score is 2-6, 4-0, so 6 games each. We agreed to play the last 29 mins where we left off in three days.
I see. I misread your post. My bad.

I thought there were rules about not resuming rained out games, but I can't remember them (because I play outside so infrequently). Something like you consider the match concluded if a full set has been played?
 
Regarding stalling . . .

There aren't really rules to deal with this beyond your normal rules about the pace of play. In the past, all you could do is ask your opponents to knock it off, but of course they won't.

I think what you could do is have a teammate start filming. This alone would discourage stalling, and if it were really blatant you could file a grievance and you would have the proof right there.

I have had a few partners suggest that we stall (they don't call it that -- they suggest that we "take our time because we're winning"). I just ignore it and play at a normal pace. For example, I do not sit or take much time on changeovers regardless of where we are in the set, how much time is left, what the score is. I continue doing that throughout. So if my partner suddenly decides to park herself on the bench for 90 seconds on a changeover, she will be sitting there alone.

The single worst episode of stalling I ever heard of was a 3.0 or 3.5 match with a particular singles player. Let's call her Becky. Although we play 2-hour timed matches, there was one year where we had to play 90-minute matches because one county facility was out of service for renovation.

Becky won the first set 7-6, but there was only about ten minutes left. Under the rules, if Becky's opponent got a 2-game lead in the second set, that set would count, and Becky's opponent would be the winner based on games won.

So Becky took a bathroom break. She ran out most of the remaining time on that bathroom break, so of course there wasn't time to play two games.

I say Becky is a cheater and a coward.
I notice that when you bring up these scenarios, they often involve someone hypothetically named Becky...:rolleyes:
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
I see. I misread your post. My bad.

I thought there were rules about not resuming rained out games, but I can't remember them (because I play outside so infrequently). Something like you consider the match concluded if a full set has been played?
Frankly, I would have come to the same conclusion as you, my writing was not very good :)

You are right actually, timed-out or rained-out rules are there and IMO continuing the last 29 minutes of the match is not in the provisions, but since all parties agreed to play it out, rather than a sudden-death point, the league coordinator accepted the situation. Per rules, if 4 games are played, the set counts and we tally up total sets and games won, in our case it is a complete tie :)
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
You know how I said you don't see much stalling around here in our 2-hour timed matches?

I want to change my answer.

We played a 9 p.m. ladies 3.5 match tonight (indoors). There was a mix-up with our line-up, so my partner was 14 minutes late. Lateness rules are strict in our league, so that means my partner got only a 5-minute warm-up, and opponents were awarded the toss and three games. Opponents elected to serve, so they would serve up 3-0.

We all warmed up, and at 9:21 it was time to start. And that is when the bizarre stalling began: Our opponents walked to their bench *after the warm up* and plopped down like they were sitting under an umbrella at the beach. My partner and I were gobsmacked -- what were they doing?

After they lounged a bit (while we stood in our receiving positions staring at them), they sauntered out and took "slow play" to heights I had never seen before. They lounged on every changeover. They huddled after every point as though it were match point down at Wimbledon -- *sometimes having a conference between their own first and second serve.* They returned balls to us 40 feet in the air. They cleared balls that did not need to be cleared, often taking time to re-positioned the side netting the entire length of their court.

By around 9:35, we were down 0-5, and my partner said we would just have to collect ourselves and win the second set and tiebreak. I said no, let's win as many games as possible this set. If the opponents were successful at running out the clock and it came down to games, we wanted to get as many as we could in the first set.

At around 10:10, we had leveled the match at 6-6. We started the seven-point tiebreak, and sure enough, the opponents went to their bench to towel off and drink water on a changeover. So I yelled at them: "Come on ladies, you're not allowed to take a break during a tiebreak!" The time-wasting play continued, and we won the tiebreak. During the set tiebreak, my partner and I decided we would not give them any games because we despised them so much. Second set: 6-1. We finished with about 15 minutes to spare.

I give my partner and myself high marks for not losing our focus. It was *so* maddening to have all this dilly dallying when we just wanted to play some tennis on a Saturday night. So during the loooong periods as we stood on the court in our positions waiting for these two sloths to get their butts off their bench, I started playing imaginary practice points. I would shadow-play a whole point: pretend to receive, come in for the approach and split, hit another volley and split, back up for the overhead. I'm sure I looked like a lunatic, but it actually helped me stay loose, and it was cracking my partner up so she didn't get mad.

I hope never to see these women again in life.
 

Topaz

Legend
*furiously checking Tennislink to see who Cindy was posting about* EDIT: BAHAHAHAH, oh I'm so not surprised by your story now.

As far as NOVA leagues, *back in the day* (can someone hand me my cane?), we had indoor and outdoor leagues. Outdoor matches were cheap and 2 hours long. Still timed, but hard to time out (though it can be done, and I've done it, even indoor with 2 hours time limit).

NOVA indoor matches are 90 minutes times because of availability of courts. This has now gotten considerably worse as we just saw the closure of arguably our largest indoor facility of 11 indoor courts, plus 8 outdoor courts (and the best clay courts I've played on in NOVA).

For DC, I would surmise it is because we are all playing on the same day, so to get everyone in, its gotta be 90 minutes.
 
You know how I said you don't see much stalling around here in our 2-hour timed matches?

I want to change my answer.

We played a 9 p.m. ladies 3.5 match tonight (indoors). There was a mix-up with our line-up, so my partner was 14 minutes late. Lateness rules are strict in our league, so that means my partner got only a 5-minute warm-up, and opponents were awarded the toss and three games. Opponents elected to serve, so they would serve up 3-0.

We all warmed up, and at 9:21 it was time to start. And that is when the bizarre stalling began: Our opponents walked to their bench *after the warm up* and plopped down like they were sitting under an umbrella at the beach. My partner and I were gobsmacked -- what were they doing?

After they lounged a bit (while we stood in our receiving positions staring at them), they sauntered out and took "slow play" to heights I had never seen before. They lounged on every changeover. They huddled after every point as though it were match point down at Wimbledon -- *sometimes having a conference between their own first and second serve.* They returned balls to us 40 feet in the air. They cleared balls that did not need to be cleared, often taking time to re-positioned the side netting the entire length of their court.

By around 9:35, we were down 0-5, and my partner said we would just have to collect ourselves and win the second set and tiebreak. I said no, let's win as many games as possible this set. If the opponents were successful at running out the clock and it came down to games, we wanted to get as many as we could in the first set.

At around 10:10, we had leveled the match at 6-6. We started the seven-point tiebreak, and sure enough, the opponents went to their bench to towel off and drink water on a changeover. So I yelled at them: "Come on ladies, you're not allowed to take a break during a tiebreak!" The time-wasting play continued, and we won the tiebreak. During the set tiebreak, my partner and I decided we would not give them any games because we despised them so much. Second set: 6-1. We finished with about 15 minutes to spare.

I give my partner and myself high marks for not losing our focus. It was *so* maddening to have all this dilly dallying when we just wanted to play some tennis on a Saturday night. So during the loooong periods as we stood on the court in our positions waiting for these two sloths to get their butts off their bench, I started playing imaginary practice points. I would shadow-play a whole point: pretend to receive, come in for the approach and split, hit another volley and split, back up for the overhead. I'm sure I looked like a lunatic, but it actually helped me stay loose, and it was cracking my partner up so she didn't get mad.

I hope never to see these women again in life.
Way to stay the course! Those goobers must feel terrible because not only did they get whomped after being up 3-0 but they're also poor stallers.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
*furiously checking Tennislink to see who Cindy was posting about* EDIT: BAHAHAHAH, oh I'm so not surprised by your story now.

As far as NOVA leagues, *back in the day* (can someone hand me my cane?), we had indoor and outdoor leagues. Outdoor matches were cheap and 2 hours long. Still timed, but hard to time out (though it can be done, and I've done it, even indoor with 2 hours time limit).

NOVA indoor matches are 90 minutes times because of availability of courts. This has now gotten considerably worse as we just saw the closure of arguably our largest indoor facility of 11 indoor courts, plus 8 outdoor courts (and the best clay courts I've played on in NOVA).

For DC, I would surmise it is because we are all playing on the same day, so to get everyone in, its gotta be 90 minutes.
You too, huh?

We just saw the closure of a wonderful indoor club. Eight indoor clay courts, a bunch of outdoor courts.

The result is I cannot get lessons with my pro on weekends in the winter.

If this keeps up, we’ll be at 90 minute matches also.
 

schmke

Hall of Fame
@Topaz and @Cindysphinx , from afar, it appears there is a healthy demand for tennis in the greater DC Beltway area. Given that, why are facilities closing?

Other recent posts have pointed out that in some districts/areas in Mid-Atlantic, the USTA procures courts and a given match could be played anywhere, e.g. for some teams at least, there is no home club. And with ample USTA playing opportunities in each county and DC/NOVA, players can play several times a week and never be a member of a club. Does this actually hurt the clubs by creating little incentive for these active USTA League players to join one?
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
@Topaz and @Cindysphinx , from afar, it appears there is a healthy demand for tennis in the greater DC Beltway area. Given that, why are facilities closing?

Other recent posts have pointed out that in some districts/areas in Mid-Atlantic, the USTA procures courts and a given match could be played anywhere, e.g. for some teams at least, there is no home club. And with ample USTA playing opportunities in each county and DC/NOVA, players can play several times a week and never be a member of a club. Does this actually hurt the clubs by creating little incentive for these active USTA League players to join one?
The one that I know closed, Four Seasons, was a great place for sure, but it was so much more profitable for them to sell it than operate, it made sense. "Location! Location! Location!" as they say.

In my case what you assume is 100% correct. USTA offers so much playing opportunity cost-effectively that joining a club is actually limiting to my tennis IMO. On the other hand, I haven't see a single club try to recruit adult players, do anything to adapt their programs to other than juniors, and the maintenance of their facilities is certainly not any better than publicly owned facilities.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
@Topaz and @Cindysphinx , from afar, it appears there is a healthy demand for tennis in the greater DC Beltway area. Given that, why are facilities closing?

Other recent posts have pointed out that in some districts/areas in Mid-Atlantic, the USTA procures courts and a given match could be played anywhere, e.g. for some teams at least, there is no home club. And with ample USTA playing opportunities in each county and DC/NOVA, players can play several times a week and never be a member of a club. Does this actually hurt the clubs by creating little incentive for these active USTA League players to join one?
The club that closed in MD was Potomac Tennis and Fitness. As I understand it, the owner could get way more in a private sale than she could make running it because the land was so valuable. I believe the adjacent nursing home bought it. A group of members tried to figure out a way to buy it and keep it open, but the math did not work at all because the nursing home could pay millions more.

I think private tennis clubs are really in a bind. On the one hand, they have to compete with country clubs, which can offer golf and lavish dining/entertainment facilities in addition to tennis. On the other hand, they have to compete with the county facilities, which presumably are subsidized with public funds.

I have never joined a tennis facility like Potomac. It just did not make financial sense. You paid $200 plus a monthly fee. For that, you got a modest discount on lesson costs and can book seasonal time. You would have to play quite a lot just to break even. If you play USTA (at those same facilities) and get seasonal and spot time at the county facilities, you can play plenty without joining a club.
 

leech

Semi-Pro
The one that I know closed, Four Seasons, was a great place for sure, but it was so much more profitable for them to sell it than operate, it made sense. "Location! Location! Location!" as they say.

In my case what you assume is 100% correct. USTA offers so much playing opportunity cost-effectively that joining a club is actually limiting to my tennis IMO. On the other hand, I haven't see a single club try to recruit adult players, do anything to adapt their programs to other than juniors, and the maintenance of their facilities is certainly not any better than publicly owned facilities.
GreenSpring also closed this year, in Baltimore County. That facility was very player-friendly...2 hour matches for $16, and players were given a beverage and snack to enjoy after the match! This seemed to be another instance where the club owner found it more profitable to sell the land than to operate a club.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
GreenSpring also closed this year, in Baltimore County. That facility was very player-friendly...2 hour matches for $16, and players were given a beverage and snack to enjoy after the match! This seemed to be another instance where the club owner found it more profitable to sell the land than to operate a club.
In some ways, it is a shame of course, but clearly there is a serious flaw between the business models of the clubs and the strength of USTA in our metro area, and I am very surprised that the business owners of these clubs haven't been able to figure out how to make it work for the growth of tennis for all level and club revenue.

For one thing, the clubs seem to operate with a the assumption of an addressable market that is limited by geography, whereas the adult players do not mind traveling even 40-mi. to play good tennis in our area; I am not going to even mention your tennis mileage in any given season :D
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
In some ways, it is a shame of course, but clearly there is a serious flaw between the business models of the clubs and the strength of USTA in our metro area, and I am very surprised that the business owners of these clubs haven't been able to figure out how to make it work for the growth of tennis for all level and club revenue.

For one thing, the clubs seem to operate with a the assumption of an addressable market that is limited by geography, whereas the adult players do not mind traveling even 40-mi. to play good tennis in our area; I am not going to even mention your tennis mileage in any given season :D
I think it is unrealistic to expect any tennis-only club to stay in business. To be accessible to players, the clubs have to be a reasonable drive away -- we're not talking about riding horses where there a lot of land is required. But if clubs are close to populated areas, the land is expensive.

The answer is to stop treating tennis facilities as private enterprises. Around here, swimming pools, parks, trails, and many other rec activities are provided by the county (there are private swim facilities, but the county ones are pretty great). We tennis players need to band together and encourage the building of more tennis facilities. Our county recently built a nice new facility way the heck out in Germantown. With that facility plus the other two, that is 24 indoor courts. If we had one additional facility, that would be reasonable.

What's not reasonable is expecting a private owner to compete with those three county facilities. The economics are nuts. If an indoor court is rented at $43/hour from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. (so 17 hours a day), that court can bring in $731/day. Six courts means $4386/day for the facility is your absolute max revenue. But no one pays for indoor courts in the summer and the facilities sit empty, so you can only be near full capacity from December to March. So winter revenue, best case, is $526,320. But of course seasonal rates are lower, there are dead time mid-day. One county facility offers spot time at $15/hour in non-peak daytime hours to try to people to take those slots.

Given the taxes, upkeep, insurance, salaries, it is amazing that our last remaining two private clubs (both owned by the same family) stay in business.
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
@Cindysphinx you are right on many points, but my frustration is that those facilities which are way off their potential court revenue, still refuse to work with various leagues or USTA to support existing or new programs, which would increase indoor court usage, number of junior AND adult tennis player participation, yet they continue to keep courts empty. It just does not make any sense to me.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I don't know why that is, Ft.S. I would think tennis courts are like any other perishable product that has no value once the time for consumption has passed (e.g. airplane tix, concert tix). At some point, a tennis facility is better off having people playing for a nominal rate than have court sit empty.

One thing that worries me about a public-only model is what happens to tennis pros.

My pro teaches at a private club in the winter, but he will no longer teach with the county. One reason is they force him to teach some beginner/little kid clinics, which he hates because they are beginners and also the clinics are at night and he prefers early mornings. The other problem is that the lesson rates are set by the county and are affordable for students and inflexible. It is straight up not worth his time to teach for so little. The pros who teach at the county for that rate are not very good at all -- some are objectively terrible -- so if the county will dictate a low rate than no good pros will sign on.

So long as the student knows the price up front, the pro ought to be able to charge whatever she wants for private clinics/lessons above the county rate.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
In terms of clubs "making it" financially, I think it starts from the management of the club. If they are doing nothing other than renting out court time and selling private lessons, I don't think that will work long term.

Most of the centers/clubs around me don't require a membership for use of the facilities (members do get discounted courts/clinics/etc.)

A club that has a very active clinic program for both kids and adults can eke out more profits. A clinic on one court with 10 people on it at $15 per person is now getting $150 for a 90 minute slot. Remove the cut for the pro at let's call it $80, they are now taking $70 for a court that just rents out for $10 regularly
Multiply that by 4X a day 7 days a week (2 junior and 2 adult clinics per day) and that $60 difference becomes just shy of $1700 per week

The active clubs in my area are using this model, on top of very aggressively forming USTA teams for adults (league $$$ and the courts are filled), team tennis for kids (non-elite) and a strong junior development program for the more elite kids.

The active clinic program at the adult level tends to generate a lot of socializing and creation of teams, hitting partners and therefore greater ties to the tennis center so the effect of that clinic snowballs for the tennis club.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Maybe somebody with more business experience could opine, but around here land values are just way too high to justify tennis facilities.

My pro told me that the land alone for our recently-closed tennis facility was valued at $8 million. I'm not sure about that -- it sounds a little low. I suppose when this club opened it was effectively in the middle of nowhere, but development has enveloped it.

Even if you can get multiple people on a court -- which you can't around here because I have never seen a successful clinic with 10 people, one court, one pro -- you are in trouble trying to service $8 million on the cost of the land. Plus buildings/maintenance. Plus salaries. Plus utilities. Plus salaries. Plus, plus, plus.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
I agree with Cindy about the land there just being to valuable for privately owned facilities. There's another one just closed in Northern Virginia. Their real estate tax bill based on what I can find had to be ~$70k/annually. Tough to make those numbers work IMO.

Now I will say I'm not sure why Northern Virginia and Maryland are so dependent on indoor courts. I think the shift needs to be made there to outdoor courts in order to get cities and counties to provide places to play.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
There are no private tennis only clubs in Vancouver. They are all private clubs with amenities, food, entrance fees, etc. You have to go to the suburbs to find a few private tennis facilities. People in Vancouver either join a private club or they play public park tennis. Unfortunately that's only feasible May-October. The indoor courts in town are all in private clubs.

Our club costs $39,000 initiation for a couple/family, has a 1.5 year waiting list for playing privileges, and $260 a month dues. Tennis year round in Vancouver is not for those with empty wallets.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I agree with Cindy about the land there just being to valuable for privately owned facilities. There's another one just closed in Northern Virginia. Their real estate tax bill based on what I can find had to be ~$70k/annually. Tough to make those numbers work IMO.

Now I will say I'm not sure why Northern Virginia and Maryland are so dependent on indoor courts. I think the shift needs to be made there to outdoor courts in order to get cities and counties to provide places to play.
I cannot speak for Virginia -- they do have some outdoor leagues. I used to play ladies day league in NOVA, and matches were 2 hours timed outdoors on public park courts. They had to be timed because they had to be reserved.

It was a very rudimentary reservation system. The league coordinator reserved all of the courts at a particular park from 10-noon. Unfortunately, members of the public had no way of knowing this. So we sometimes had to walk up and eject people from the courts, explaining that some unnamed, phantom league coordinator had reserved them, and they had to get off right now. Some people were something less than understanding. Very unsatisfactory. If it rained the previous night, we had to spend time drying the courts, which cut into our two hours. And when it rained, matches were cancelled and the league coordinator would reserve courts for another day/time. This was doubly frustrating for the public because they would have no way of knowing that the leagues that normally played on Mondays would also kick them off on Friday one particular week.

In my county in MD, there is no reservation system for county outdoor courts. That doesn't mean we couldn't have one -- the courts at one such outdoor set of courts is often reserved for tournaments on weekends, and the way you learn about this is when you show up hoping to play and aren't permitted to do so.

The main problem is that we get rain/thunderstorms on spring/summer evenings. It is very unpredictable. The decision was made long ago that outdoor matches for hundreds of players/matches was unworkable.

I think if we start having capacity issues, I would prefer that the league simply limit participation rather than go to 90-minute matches. Just decide that there will be no more than X number of teams -- so only X number at ladies 3.0, Y number at men's 3.0, and so forth. You could also decide that no player can register for more than three teams per season. ANYTHING to avoid going to 90 minute matches.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
The main problem is that we get rain/thunderstorms on spring/summer evenings. It is very unpredictable.
Your spring/summer weather isn't any different than it is in NC. We deal with the same.

I'm just saying that it would be much easier to get municipalities to build outdoor courts than it would to get them to build indoor facilities.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
Maybe somebody with more business experience could opine, but around here land values are just way too high to justify tennis facilities.

My pro told me that the land alone for our recently-closed tennis facility was valued at $8 million. I'm not sure about that -- it sounds a little low. I suppose when this club opened it was effectively in the middle of nowhere, but development has enveloped it.

Even if you can get multiple people on a court -- which you can't around here because I have never seen a successful clinic with 10 people, one court, one pro -- you are in trouble trying to service $8 million on the cost of the land. Plus buildings/maintenance. Plus salaries. Plus utilities. Plus salaries. Plus, plus, plus.
The land value doesnt have much to do with it if you already own the land which has a facility on it. This is because any type of real estate investment is expected to mature over time. What you do on the property as long as it is not running in debt is almost irrelevant. This is why they have parking garages in town worth many millions of dollars. The land is (hopefully) always going to be worth millions, and the parking fees they collect every day cover the taxes, the maintenance, and the rent-a-cops who check for parking stubs. Then, when the owner can no longer make a profit on the land or wishes to move on, they sell the parking garage land to someone who demolishes the building and puts a high rise on it. The land owners have then collected the "matured value" of their initial investment.

This is the case for tennis facilities that seem to be on "prime" land. You also have to consider what the land is zoned for. If you have a tennis facility on prime commercially zoned land, that's when prices skyrocket. That's how a piece of land that was bought for $5,000 in 1920 in the middle of nowhere, no roads, can be worth like 10 million dollars because it's now in the center of the cities business district, today.

In a lot of cases, it's more cost effective to simply just keep the tennis facility going, and only once the facility is in debt, or the owners want to sell and get out of the business is when the land is sold. If they wanted to build houses there to sell or rent, you need a lot of investment cap to develop, build, then market those houses. This also creates a void in which there is no profit on the land, only losses. This is why it's better for most people to just sell the land than try to develop it themselves and presumably make more money.

There are also a lot of ways to generate income other than membership fees and court rentals. Getting "programs" to run such as tournaments, USTA clinics, and pros giving lessons are all ways to generate income and create activity at your facility. Also, things like snack bars, club houses, ect. can all generate income too.

In your case, it sounds like the place just went out of business. No one wants to admit that, so it's easy to say "well, the land is too valuable, so we sold it." when it makes more sense to keep the club running for as long as possible, letting the land mature even more, and then selling it later.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Kevrol, I think we get more snow here -- courts can be unplayable for months in the winter -- but I agree we may have to figure out how to play more league matches outdoors.

Sure, NTRP Police, I suppose we could speculate that the owners were failures and the place "just went out of business." That rather begs the question. The highest and best use for that land in that location was something else, not a tennis facility.

My pro told me that the owner was a lady who inherited it and ran it for many years. It made a profit of some sort. She no longer wished to run it anymore and sold it. Although tennis players wanted it to remain a tennis facility (including trying to get the county to buy it), the tennis players were outbid by a nursing facility.

You can make way more money building a nursing facility and charging people $500/day/room for care than you can renting courts at $43/hour six months out of the year.

Game, set, match.
 

NTRPolice

Hall of Fame
Sure, NTRP Police, I suppose we could speculate that the owners were failures and the place "just went out of business." That rather begs the question. The highest and best use for that land in that location was something else, not a tennis facility.

My pro told me that the owner was a lady who inherited it and ran it for many years. It made a profit of some sort. She no longer wished to run it anymore and sold it. Although tennis players wanted it to remain a tennis facility (including trying to get the county to buy it), the tennis players were outbid by a nursing facility.

You can make way more money building a nursing facility and charging people $500/day/room for care than you can renting courts at $43/hour six months out of the year.

Game, set, match.
Sometimes there isnt anything you can do to save business. It doesnt mean there was an error. This is why it's important that people dont "chase" too hard. Imagine if she had mortgaged out the land to survive a bit longer when it's clear there was no market interest or what have you, now she has to sell the land to cover the losses after posting millions of debt over 5 years. This would be bad.

It does make sense that she inherited the land and was just maintaining it all this time. That's a pretty standard strategy for the wealthy.

Interesting that the county had made an offer. No matter what the circumstance, they usually only offer face value. Because the nursing home knows it will run at a profit, it can offer much more than face value. There are a lot of nursing homes organizations here that are buying up residences to convert.

The danger here is that unless you know what you are doing, you can end up on the short end if your deal goes south as a private developer. You can run out of money and probably equity very fast. Next thing you know, you have a partially developed piece of land with no residents, unpaid employees, and no cash flow. Then someone comes by, knows you're in a bind, then offers you "salvation" at only part of the lands true value, but just enough to put a little cash in your pocket and clear your debt. Gotta watch out for those short selling circumstances too.

However, a professional nursing home company can usually drop cash to buy and build the facility, then tap on their employee and customer base to immediately populate the facility. That's how they lower their risk. And that's why these facilities are popping up all over the US.

My family land was sold for 10 million, only 3 of which we actually got to keep because there were a mound of legal issues and taxes. We needed lawyers to do everything. In the end, the 3 million net was enough to take care of my grandparents as long term care is extremely expensive which you probably know. I feel very lucky since without that land they may have not gotten the care that they needed. Some of my uncles/aunts were upset at how much they inherited, since it was only like 60k a piece, as per my dad. I could care less since I never planed on getting any sort of inheritance, LOL.
 

Topaz

Legend
GreenSpring also closed this year, in Baltimore County. That facility was very player-friendly...2 hour matches for $16, and players were given a beverage and snack to enjoy after the match! This seemed to be another instance where the club owner found it more profitable to sell the land than to operate a club.
No way!!! That was an awesome club! :(
 
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