Rules of Ladder Play

  1. Matches are 2 out of 3 sets with 12-point tiebreakers (first to 7 points with a margin of 2 points) in effect for all sets tied at 6 – 6. If the players are in agreement, the third set “may” be replaced by a 12-point tiebreaker. Please record this score as points equaling games, i.e., a 8 – 6 point tiebreaker win should be recorded as a 8 to 6 game score for the final set.
  2. New Championship balls which meet USTA regulations are to be used. Wilson and Penn Championship balls are readily available. Both players should bring a new can with the unopened can going to the match winner.
  3. By definition, a challenge match means that you will receive a call or email from your challenger. As soon as possible (preferably within 24 hours, but not more than 48 hours) after being challenged, a challenged player must respond and agree to play the match at the suggested time or, if unavailable to play, offer two (2) alternative dates. The alternatives are to be within seven (7) days of the original challenge and one alternative must be a weeknight on or after 5pm, while the other must be a weekend day. The higher ranked player has the choice of the location of the match. Please remember to schedule enough time for three full sets.
  4. Challenge matches are regulated by the 5-7-9 Rule, a tiered approach. Players from #1 through #5 may only be challenged by players no more than five (5) rungs below. Next, players in the tier from the 6thrung through the #15thrung may only be challenged by players no more than seven (7) rungs below, while players on rungs #16 and below may be challenged by players no more than nine (9) rungs below. Higher ranked players can challenge down, subject to the sliding scale, i.e., the #9 player can offer to play down to the #16 player. Remember that those yet without match records sit on rungs shared by others, also without match records. Inactive players do not count as ladder rungs. A player may make only one outstanding challenge, and may only be obligated to only one outstanding challenge at any one time.
  5. While it is completely reasonable to plan a match during one week and then have the match be played the following week, ladder standings are uniformly recalculated and published every Saturday evening and players need to double-check with the ladder standings to ensure that the match remains valid when accounting for the “5/7/9 Rule”. As an example, if the player on Rung #6 challenges the player on Rung #1, say on a Wednesday, then schedules the match for the following Tuesday, both players should check the ladder standings that are published on the intervening Saturday evening. If they remain within 5 rungs, the match remains valid, if not, they should cancel the match and wait for a future date when the players are within range of each other. Bottom-line, if you are scheduling a ladder match between weeks, please check the current standings on the website to be certain that the match will still comply with the “5/7/9 Rule”. The ladder standings are diligently updated every Saturday night as our playing week runs Sunday through Saturday.
  6. You may decline a challenge, without penalty, if (a) you are already obligated to a challenge, (b) you are physically unable to play tennis, (c) you will be away on leave for more than five out of the next ten days, (d) you have recently played the challenger within the previous two weeks, (e) you have already played your 2 match monthly minimum, (f) you have already accepted a challenge that week. Challenges may also be declined without penalty between the months of October through April as this is considered the ladder’s dormant period. However, matches that are played within this period will have their results recorded, if players are so inclined.
  7. The ladder uses a “leap frog” system where if the lower-ranked player wins he takes over the higher-ranked player’s position. All players will be required to play a minimum of 2 matches each month during the season.  Players are required to fulfill their 2 match per month minimum play requirement with matches against more than 1 player, and cannot play matches with the same player more than 2 times in a row. This is to encourage more varied play among players on the ladder. A player who fails to play the minimum 2 matches will automatically drop 2 ladder rungs at the end of the month. Inactive players are included in this requirement, i.e., it is expected that they will move down the ladder the longer they remain inactive. Ladder standings will be posted once a week on Saturday evenings/Sunday morning and will impact the coming week’s play, Sunday through Saturday. In other words, there will not be an “instantaneous” reflection of matches played or of players who have failed to play the minimum 2 matches each month. Please post your match scores no later than the following day by sending an Email to This is especially important for matches played towards the end of the week. Because the ladder gets recalculated every late Saturday night/Sunday morning, these late in the week matches must have their scores Emailed promptly.
  8. Failure to schedule/play a match will result in a default for either the player refusing the challenge or for the original challenger if he/she refuses to accept either of the two (2) alternative dates offered. A default will also result if a player is over 20 minutes late for a match or if a player cancels a match less than 24 hours prior to their match time. If the match is rescheduled, it must be played within seven (7) days. Defaulted matches will be scored as 7-6; 6-7; 7-6. If you cannot play or cannot reasonably accept the challenge, just accept the default. This is the best means of keeping the ladder moving. Please note that this procedure is not in effect when using the blog, or email lists to contact multiple prospective opponents. These means of communication for arranging matches have their own merits but they are not subject to the defaulted match rules above. Weather-related cancellations of challenge matches that are scheduled effectively remove the match obligation to the challenged player.  This means that requests for challenge matches need to be renewed.