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 2009 Summer Season

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 Rules of Play»



         Rules of Play
Rules of Play

The following rules have been adopted and will govern all play on the ladders. Any feedback on the rules should be sent by email to support@competitionmanager.com.


The purpose of the Organization is to:
1. Provide more local opportunities for competitive tennis and game improvement for residents of the Greater Columbia Maryland area.
2. Promote the sport of tennis in a fair and friendly environment.
3. Be a resource for finding and developing players for USTA team tennis.
4. Create opportunities for players to meet new people and socialize with other ladder members.

1. General
1.1 The Organization will maintain and administer 5 distinct Ladders as follows:

     Men‚??s Singles (all levels).
     Men‚??s Doubles (all levels).
     Women‚??s Singles (all levels).
     Women‚??s Doubles (all levels).
     Mixed Doubles (all levels).

1.2 The ladders will run from May 1 through September 30 each year. Online sign-up will begin around the end of March or beginning of April.

1.3 The ladder is intended to be primarily self-administered through this website and email. Players must have internet access, an active email address that you check at least every day or so, and a phone number with voice mail in order to join the ladder. Players should be aware that personal contact information (email address, phone number, and city/state where you live) will be made available on the Ladder web site to the other ladder members.

2. Eligibility and Fees
2.1 The ladders are open to anyone willing to play matches in the Greater Columbia area according to the ladder rules. Players DO NOT need to be a Columbia Association Member or a Howard County resident to join a ladder.

2.2 The 2007 fee to join is $5 per player per ladder.

3. Location of Matches
3.1 Players and teams are free to play matches on any public or private court that meets the criteria stated in this Section 3.

3.2 Any court at a school, public park, private club, community facility or backyard, that is in good repair, is a legitimate match location. Matches can, but DO NOT have to be played on Columbia Association courts.

3.3 All matches must be played within Howard County, Maryland, AND on a court that is no further away than 6 miles from the Columbia Mall. The only exception to this is if both players mutually agree to play outside of this designated playing area. In no case, however, can a player be forced to play outside of the designated playing area and players are free to refuse, without discussion or coercion, any proposals to do so.

3.4 Matches may be played on courts that require a fee for use but BOTH players/teams must mutually agree, in advance, on the fees that will be charged. When agreed, all fees charged for court time, guest players, lights, etc. will be totaled and shared equally by the players/teams. Fee reimbursements must be settled by the end of the match (no IOU‚??s). If a player is not made aware in advance of applicable fees, his/her opponent is responsible for all fees for that particular match.

4. Ladder Organization
4.1 Each Ladder will be organized as a "pyramid." Accordingly, the ladder list will be grouped into tiers with each tier having the same number of players in it as the tier number. To illustrate, the top tier, Tier 1, will have only one player in it who will be the current ladder leader. Tier 2 will have the two players in positions 2 & 3 on the ladder, Tier 3 will have the players in positions 4, 5 & 6 on the ladder, Tier 4 will have the players in positions 7, 8, 9, & 10, and so on. Tiering is incorporated so that gross mismatches in skills can be avoided for matches. These tiers are used as part of the challenge restrictions described in Section 4.2 below.

4.2 Players/teams may challenge any player/team within their own tier, and the two tiers above them. There are two exceptions to these challenge restrictions. First, players/teams in position 10 or higher on the ladder (the top 4 tiers) may challenge any person/team all the way to the top of the ladder, regardless of tier. Second, one "Free Challenge" per season is offered to all players on the ladder (see Free Challenge Rule below).

4.3 While the ladders are all "Open" ladders, meaning players of all levels are welcome, each player will be required to designate his/her level of play at the time of registration. The rating categories will be as follows and will carry the hierarchy as shown:

     1. USTA 5.0 & Above
     2. USTA 4.5
     3. USTA 4.0
     4. Self Rated 4.0
     5. USTA 3.5
     6. Self Rated 3.5
     7. USTA 3.0
     8. Self Rated 3.0
     9. USTA 2.5
     10. Self Rated 2.5
     11. USTA 2.0
     12. Self Rated 2.0
     13. Undetermined

In order to designate yourself as one of the USTA levels, you must have a current, active USTA rating. If you carry a current, active USTA rating you MUST select that rating when signing up. If you do not have a current USTA rating but have had one in the past, or you have a good idea what level you are, or a tennis pro has provided you with an assessment of your level, you MUST indicate your level as "Self Rated." When a player is in doubt about his/her self rating level, please select the lower of the two levels you think you are between. If you do not know your level of play, you MUST designate "Undetermined" for your level.

4.4 Initial Placement on the Ladder. In the first year of the ladder only, the initial placement on the ladder for those that join prior to the May 1 start date will occur as follows. First, all players that have an active USTA rating will be positioned within their USTA rating in the order in which they signed up. Next, all self-rated players will be placed below the active USTA players for their respective level in the order in which they signed up. All players with ‚??Undetermined‚?Ě as their level will be placed below all other players in the order in which they signed up.

4.5 Players can join a ladder at any time during the season. New players will always start at the bottom of the ladder but can make their first challenge anywhere on the ladder. See free challenge rule.

4.6 Free Challenge Rule. At the start of the season each player/team will have one Free Challenge in which they may challenge anyone in any position on the ladder. The Free Challenge exists to offer players one chance to move up quickly if they feel they are misplaced initially on the ladder. Players using their Free Challenge are strongly encouraged not to challenge so high that a gross mismatch in playing level will occur. All free challenge matches must be made and played by May 31. Challengers may not move to a new position as a result of a default on a Free Challenge. However, the defaulting challenged player/team will drop down one position. New players/teams joining the ladder after it starts on May 1 will have one month from joining to use their Free Challenge. In no case however can a Free Challenge be played after July 15. A player/team‚??s Free Challenge is automatically voided if not used within the time windows indicated above.

5. Making Challenges
5.1 At registration, each player will be required to provide an active email address and a phone number where they can be reached for setting up matches. Email is designated the preferred method of communication for making and accepting challenges, as well as scheduling matches. Telephone should only be used in situations where no response is received from emails sent, or when time-sensitive scheduling or last minute schedule conflicts arise.

5.2 To make a challenge, a player/team must go to the Ladder web site. On the web site players can view the names, rankings, play histories and contact information of other ladder players. Players/teams can challenge any player/team within their own tier, and the two tiers above them. Players/teams in position 10 or higher on the ladder, however, may challenge any person/team all the way to the top of the ladder, regardless of tier. One Free Challenge is allowed per the Free Challenge Rule (Section 4.6). Once an opponent is selected, the challenger will email the opponent to declare the challenge. If no response is received from the email in a reasonable amount of time, send a second email or phone your opponent to make the challenge.

5.3 If a player/team makes a challenge and loses the match (by play or by default), they must play an intervening match with another player/team before re-challenging that same player/team.

6. Scheduling Matches
6.1 As soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours but not more than 48 hours) after being challenged, a challenged player/team must respond and offer two reasonable days, times and locations for the match to be played that are within ten days of the date the challenge was made.

6.2 Any challenge made in accordance with the rules of the ladder must be accepted by the player/team being challenged. Legitimate challenges that are not responded to or that are rejected (with the exception of a rejection under rule 6.7) should be entered on the ladder web site as a forfeit. Players/teams that do not respond to challenges or refuse to accept legitimate challenges may be dropped to the bottom of the ladder or removed from the ladder altogether. It is common courtesy to respond in some way to all challenges that are made to you.

6.3 The player/team being challenged will always have the right to designate the match location. The date and time of the match however is to be coordinated and worked out on a mutually agreeable basis. Please remember to schedule enough time for three full sets. Scheduled matches DO NOT get reported on the ladder website. Only the results of completed matches MUST be reported.

6.4 All matches must be played within Howard County, Maryland, AND on a court that is no further away than 6 miles from the Columbia Mall. The only exception to this is if both players mutually agree to play outside of this designated playing area. In no case, however, can a player be forced to play outside of the designated playing area and players are free to refuse, without discussion or coercion, any proposals to do so.

6.5 A player/team may make only one challenge at a time. A second challenge may be made only after the match for the first challenge you made has been played. However, if someone challenges you, you must accept the challenge even if you have a challenge match scheduled. In all cases, matches must be scheduled in such a way that they are played in the order in which they were accepted.

6.6 A player/team may accept more than one challenge at a time, however, matches must be played in the order in which they were accepted. You should tell the challengers that you are already under challenge and, as a courtesy, you should give the challenger the name(s) of the callenger and the date of your existing scheduled match.

6.7 In order to address the possibility that a player/team may be excessively challenged, intentionally or unintentionally, there are two conditions where a player may, in his/her discretion, refuse a legitimate challenge. First, in a case where a player/team has two (2) or more matches already scheduled. Second, anytime the requirements for playing the match would result in a player playing more than one match in a week or four (4) in a month. In refusing a challenge, players/teams should respectfully decline the challenge by citing this Rule 6.7. While this rule is self enforced, players/teams should not use it to avoid playing a match. If you do not wish to play, please change your Player Status to Unavailable. Players suspected of abusing this rule may be dropped to the bottom of the ladder.

6.8 Because standings change quickly, if a player/team makes and plays a challenge match without first checking the ladder standings, and the challenged player/team is out of the challenger's range, the match will be declared null and void.

7. Playing Matches
7.1 All matches will be best two out of three sets, regular match play with ad scoring. A 7 point tie-breaker (first to 7, win by 2) is played at six all in a set. If all players agree, but only if all players agree, players may opt to play a 12 point tie-breaker (first to 12, win by 2) in place of a third set. A third set tie-break shall be scored as a set of 1 - 0 for the winning player/team.

7.2 Bothplayers/teams must bring a new, unopened can of USTA approved tennis balls for the match (don‚??t forget!). The challenging player/teams balls will be opened and used to play the match. If the challenger wins the match, the challenged player/team will give their unopened can of balls to the challenger. If the challenger loses, no balls are exchanged.

7.3 A 10 minute grace period from the scheduled start time will be strictly observed. If a player/team has not shown up for the match within 10 minutes of the scheduled start time, that player/team will automatically forfeit the match.

7.4 A 10 minute warm-up will be allocated which includes serves. All match play must begin promptly after the warm up or any delayed warm up due to player lateness.

7.5 Line Calls, Let Calls and Foot Faults are called exclusively by the player/team receiving the ball. All calls made are final and not disputable. Any player/team unable to make a call must cede the call to their opponent. In all cases, fairness and good sportsmanship should always be applied and common courtesy should always prevail.

7.6 If, prior to playing the first point of the match, the players agree that weather or court conditions are such that the match is not playable, the match will be rescheduled. The challenged player/team must provide two additional days and times within the next seven days for the match. If the challenged player/team cannot offer two additional days and times, they must give a default.

7.7 Matches started but interrupted because of weather, darkness, court conditions, or court time limitations should be continued from the point of interruption within the next seven days. If the challenged player/team cannot offer two additional days and times for play to continue, they must give a default.

7.8 A maximum break of 3 minutes may be taken between change of sides and 5 minutes in between sets. Play may resume sooner or without any break if both players/teams agree.

7.9 An injury timeout of up to 10 minutes per injury may be used only two times by a player/team during a match. If a third injury occurs, or any other situation occurs where a player can not continue, such as illness or equipment failure, the match is forfeited.

7.10 Doubles teams may not play with substitute players, only the person you originally signed up with as your teammate. If one of a team‚??s players can no longer play or drops out, the remaining player may select a new partner but the pair will constitute and start as a completely new doubles team. 7.11 It is highly recommended that all players keep copy of the rules in their tennis bag so you have the rules to refer to at a match if needed.

8. Reporting Match Results & Forfeitures
8.1 The Winner of the match is responsible for posting scores on the ladder web site as soon possible (but not more than 24 hours) after a match is played or after a default occurs. Results must be reported EVEN if there is no change in ladder position as a result of the match.

8.2 If a challenger wins the match, the challenger assumes the position that the challenged player/team is in after the match is played, not the position that player/team was in when the challenge was made. The challenged player/team that lost will drop one position below the position they just lost. Everyone between the new position of the challenged player (the loser) and the old position of challenger (the Winner) will adjust down one position accordingly.

8.3 If the challenger losses the match, no change in ladder position is made for either player/team.

8.4 A forfeit will be declared and posted whenever a player/team:

      1. Does not show up within ten minutes of the scheduled start time.
      2. Does not respond or reply to a legitimate challenge made to them.
      2. Cannot offer at least two playing times that are within ten days of the date the challenge was made.
      3. Cancels a scheduled match and can not immediately rescheduled it for within 5 days of the cancellation date.
      4. A player is forced to retire from a match that started.

8.5 When a challenged player/team forfeits, the challenging player/team moves into the position of the defaulting player/team and the defaulting player/team drops one ladder position, just as in a win. If the challenger forfeits, they are droped two positions from their current position. A "Forfeit" is not a disgrace. If you can't play or reschedule, offer a forfeit, not an excuse. And always give your oppenent as much notice as possible if you can not play a match. No-Call/No-Shows are highly frowned upon and can result in a player/team being moved to the bottom of the ladder or removed from the ladder altogether.

8.6 Ladder changes will be applied in the order in which they are posted to the web site or otherwise received by the Ladder Chairperson.

9. Dispute Resolution
9.1. There is no dispute committee that will arbitrate or rule on disputes resulting from play. Players must resolve all disputes on their own to some fair and agreeable outcome.

10. Unavailability for Play
10.1 If a player/team will be unavailable for play (due to illness, injury, vacation, business travel, etc.) they must place themselves in an "Inactive" status on the ladder web site. Players/teams in an Inactive status are not required to accept or respond to challenges during the time period indicated. If a player/team fails to update the web site of their unavailability for play and they are challenged by another player/team, they must accept the challenge in accordance with these rules, or if they can not, they must take a forfeit.

10.2 A player/team may be unavailable for a maximum of four weeks during the season without losing ladder position. The four weeks may be used at one time or be divided up as the player/team desires.

10.3 If more than four weeks of unavailability is required, the player/team will lose their position and be dropped to the bottom of the ladder. When the player/team is ready to play again, they may, on a one time basis, challenge back for their old position number (or any place below it). If they lose, they get the position ten places below their old position.

11. Activity Required to Maintain Ladder Position
11.1 Each player/team must play one match in each of the following play periods:

      1. Ladder Start - May 30
      2. June 1 - June 30
      3. July 1 - July 31
      4. August 1 - August 31
      5. September 1 - October 31

If no match is played in a period, the player/team will be droped down five positions on the ladder as a penalty.

11.2 Playing the required match does not exempt a player/team from accepting other challenges they may receive in accordance with the rules.



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