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Challenge Ladder Guide
by Channing Brown
© 1998 Greencourt Software, Inc.

A challenge ladder is a mechanism for ranking tennis players according to their skill levels. As members of the ladder play each other, their relative positions are adjusted to reflect the results of their play.

The purpose of a tennis challenge ladder is to allow all tennis players, from the beginning novice to the serious, experienced player, to meet and play other tennis enthusiasts at their own skill levels. Whether you play only occasionally, "just for fun," or prefer to compete several times a week, you can meet others at your level. You will also have the opportunity to improve your play by challenging others who are slightly more advanced.

Operation of the ladder

Approximately every week or two, you will receive an updated list of the members on your challenge ladder. The list will show the current ranking of players and the results of recent matches between ladder members.

The following section describes the rules that apply to challenge ladder play. The primary purpose behind the rules is to allow the ladder to operate properly, contributing to the enjoyment of all players on the ladder. The most important rule of the challenge ladder is that common sense and sportsmanlike courtesy should be applied in every situation.

Challenge Ladder Rules

  1. The initial ranking of players on a ladder is based on their positions at the end of the previous season. New players are added to the bottom of the ladder.
  2. In general, a player may challenge any other player above his or her position who is within the legal challenge range. The legal challenge range will contain about 25% of the ladder members; the precise number appears on each copy of the ladder listing that you receive. Invalid challenges are not accepted for use in the adjustment of relative position on the ladder. The challenger is responsible for verifying the validity of the challenge.
  3. The top four members of a ladder may challenge members below them within the legal range, if so desired.
  4. Members are not required to accept more than one challenge per week. Otherwise, however, members must accept valid challenges from other members, or accept a loss by default. Players are not required to accept a challenge from another player they have defeated within the past two weeks.
  5. Players may issue or accept more than one challenge at a time. A ladder match is only valid, however, if the players are within legal challenge range at the time of the match. Of course, members are free to play matches that are not valid; the results will simply be ignored.
  6. The challenged player may select the time and location of the match; however, the time and location should be mutually agreeable to both players. Court fees, if any, are to be shared, and must be agreeable to both players.
  7. A match should be completed within ten days of the challenge, unless extenuating circumstances prevent it. A withdrawn or canceled challenge is a default loss for the challenger.
  8. The challenger is responsible for providing tennis balls, in good condition, for the match. It is generally best to have a new can available in case it is needed.
  9. The standard rules of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) apply to ladder matches. The usual method of scoring is based on winning two of three sets, with a tie-break at the end of any set that reaches a score of six games each. In the tie-break, the first to win seven points wins the set, but must win by at least two points. Alternatively, players may use any mutually agreeable method of scoring.
  10. The winner of the match is responsible for reporting the results within 24 hours, by contacting the ladder coordinator, and providing the following information:
    • date of the match,
    • winner's name,
    • loser's name,
    • and the match score.
  11. The ladder listing is reissued approximately once every week or two, with updated results and rankings. A player who is inactive for four periods is moved down in the ranking at that time, with additional penalties each succeeding period of inactivity.
  12. The rules will be interpreted and disputes between members will be settled at the sole discretion of the ladder coordinator.
  13. As is prudent in any recreational activity, and especially when involved with others, members should exercise due care in their involvement in a challenge ladder. The operators of the ladder cannot be responsible for injury to members or others, damage to property, or other liability arising out of membership in and use of the challenge ladder. By participating in a challenge ladder, each member accepts and agrees to abide by its rules.

Tips for Greater Enjoyment

A new member on a challenge ladder may find that the first one or two matches played on the ladder appear to be mismatches (in terms of skill levels). Don't be discouraged -- as the season progresses, the ladder sorts itself into order. You will soon discover other members with whom you can play comfortably. In addition to the relative rankings, you may find it useful to look at the results of specific matches. This can give you a further clue to the levels of other players, and gives some indication of players that you may want to challenge.

So don't just sit there -- make a phone call! Like you, the other members of your challenge ladder are eager to play. And, regardless of your frequency or level of play, there are tennis matches waiting for you!

This guide is available on the Web at Software for running a challenge ladder as described here is available at Permission to modify and/or reprint this challenge ladder guide is granted; credit to Greencourt Software, Inc., is appreciated. (Edition 1.0 -- January 1998)