Wednesday, December 28, 2011

TLN to Test Team Tennis Format in 2012

In 1974, Billie Jean King co-founded World Team Tennis, the groundbreaking co-ed professional tennis league. She followed up with the World Team Tennis Recreational League, one of the most popular recreational tennis formats in the U.S. 

In the spring of 2012, Tennis League Network (TLN) will also launch team tennis programs of its own--on a pilot basis--in Boston and Washington, DC. This is essentially “a beta test to see if see if we can create a format that we can take nationwide by the fall,” says Steve Chagnon, League Administrator.

What is Team Tennis? In professional tennis, it is a coed professional league played in the United States with a unique team format. Each match consists of five sets. Each set features a different configuration (men's singles, men's doubles, women's singles, women's doubles, and mixed doubles). Before the match, coaches decide the order in which the sets will be played. Each player on a team usually plays in at least one of the five sets.

Here’s how TLN’s Team Tennis will work:
Overview: We'll place you on a team of 3-5 players who on Saturday mornings meet up with another team to play. Over a 6 week season 4 singles and 2 doubles matches will be played + playoffs. The mini-matches will be 8 game pro-sets, so that the commitment is limited to about 2 hours.

Spring Season Start: Sat. April 29th, 10AM start time* and will run for 6 weeks, with an extra week for rain out. Playoff lengths will depend upon the number of teams that qualify. No more than 8 teams and 3 weeks.

How will teams be formed?: League administrator will create teams from the roster of the players who are enrolled, as in a draft. Each team will have players from various levels on it (for example, A-level, B-level, C, etc.). Each team will have at least 1 female player (preferably two). Each team will have 5 players on it to ensure that 4 players will be available for each match. We anticipate having an extensive sub list to help when more than one teammate can't make a certain week. We will attempt to honor requests for a particular teammate, but will not accept a full team for this first season.

Format: 4 singles matches start the day. The captains will order their singles players from A to D and match them up with their opponent’s A thru D players. For the singles match, at least 1 player per team must be female.** These matches will be 8 game pro sets, where a tie-breaker is played for the match at 7-7. Upon completion of these matches, two doubles matches (A & B) will be played where once again at least one of the players needs to be a female player.

Team Scoring: The winner of each match will be assigned a team point. 6 points are up for grabs. If the two teams are tied at 3 points then the tie-breaker will be the team with the best game score. If they are still tied then the match will be called a tie.

Player's Expectation: To be part of this program, you should want to be part of the fun of the tennis team format and meet new people who love tennis. 'Winner take all type” players need not apply. You also need to be flexible and be comfortable with meeting up at any of the courts suggested. The league will try it's best to have a North and South Division, which will greatly reduce the travel times for players.

Captain's Expectation: You are the heart-beat of the team. Your job will be to be in contact with your team and maybe even set up a time to meet up before the first match. On Thursday you should be in contact with the other captain and have the location picked out. You should also know who won't be able to make it, and fill any team needs you have by using the sub list. Captains will also be expected to bring 4 NEW cans ($15) of balls to each match and will have 'collect ball' dues from their team. Winning team takes home the 4 unopened can of balls. Doubles matches will use the singles matches balls.

Big Note: We are NOT going to rely on the tennis clubs to play these matches, so we are going to avoid a significant cost. But, we're also going to be at the whim of the weather. There's a strong chance that several matches won't be able to be played at the Saturday morning time set aside. The captains should be in contact with each other to try to schedule an alternative time or maybe play indoors. By April, the indoor court costs do come down a bit. If this option is chosen, then the players will be expected to cover the court costs.

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