Rules of Ladder Play

STL Season Opens Monday, May 1

I will be preparing the ladder for another year to begin on Monday, May 1. The closing ladder from last year will be the ladder to begin the year. Matches that were played earlier than last season will drop off your record and those that did not play a match at all last season will drop from the ladder  altogether (they are always welcome to rejoin). This is a procedure that we follow to start every new season. On that note, we have lost a lot of players to relocation and injuries and what once was a 35 player singles ladder is now a ladder in need of rebuilding. Please encourage your playing partners and those you encounter to join the STL.

New this year will be a rule requiring that you fulfill your 2 match per month minimum play requirement with matches against more than 1 player, and that you cannot play matches with the same player more than 2 times in a row. All of this to encourage more varied play among players on the ladder.


STL Season Begins Sunday, May 1

The STL season will commence on Sunday, May 1 and there going forward you’ll be on the hook to get 2 matches in each month.

Currently I am working on the beginning ladder standings, and will have them posted by the last week in April. Players who did not play any matches during the 2015 campaign are customarily dropped from the ladder and match records will only count performances from 2015. That may mean we will only have about 13 active singles players to begin the year. If you find yourself off the ladder, but intend to play 2 matches per month this coming year, please let me know and you will reenter the ladder on the bottom. Additionally, I am removing the Mens’ Doubles ladder at the beginning of the year because of a complete lack of play in 2015. If something should change and we could get at least 6 teams interested in playing, we’ll build that ladder back up again.

Finally, if you do not intend to play this year, please let me know now and you’ll be removed from the ladder saving me some recordkeeping.

Gary K.

Beginning with the 2013 season, we will no longer be using the and its complicated point system for player rankings. In its place will be a simple, standard, “leap frog” system where if the lower-ranked player wins he takes over the higher-ranked player’s position and the losing player and those between him and the challenger drop 1 rung down the ladder. If the higher-ranked player wins, there is no ladder movement. Additionally, all players will be required to play a minimum of 2 matches each month during the season.  These matches may be against any combination of higher or lower ranked opponents. Within the guidelines of the “5/7/9 Rule” higher ranked players are allowed to challenge down.  So, a challenge can come from below or above and it remains the player being challenged choice as to location of the match. 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. Going forward, please post your match scores no later than the following day by sending Email to This is especially important for matches played towards the end of the week, i.e., Friday or Saturday matches. Because the ladder gets recalculated every late Saturday night/Sunday morning, these late in the week matches must have their scores Emailed in immediately. 

These changes will simplify the ladder and hopefully make it more dynamic, encouraging more play.  We will all know each Sunday morning where we stand and who we can challenge during the coming week.

New Championship balls which meet USTA regulations are to be used. Both Wilson and Penn Championship balls are readily available and for match play, regular duty Championship balls are recommended. Both players should bring a new can with the unopened can going to the match winner.

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.

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/team 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. The player/team being challenged has the prerogative for choosing the location of the match. Please remember to schedule enough time for three full sets.

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, and are not covered by the exclusions below, or simply desire not to play, 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.

The 5-Rung Rule has been replaced by the 5-7-9 Rule, a tiered approach. This applies to both Men’s Singles and Men’s Doubles ladders. Players from #1 through #5 may only be challenged by players no more than five(5) rungs away. Next, players in the tier from the 6th rung through the #15th rung may only be challenged by players no more than seven(7) rungs away, while players on rungs #16 and below may be challenged by players no more than nine(9) rungs away. When challenging above your tier, it is the upper tier’s rung limit that applies. In practice, this means that the #1 player can be challenged by the #6 player as a limit, the #5 player can be challenged by the #10 player as a limit, the #6 player can be challenged by the #13 player as a limit, the #15 player can be challenged by the #22 player as a limit, the #16 player can be challenged by the #25 player as a limit and so on. Although a player in the #6 to #15 tier is allowed to challenge seven(7) rungs above, the #8 player would only be allowed to challenge up to the #3 player because he is crossing into a tier above. 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 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. 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 are not required to accept more than one challenge per 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.

Please follow the NTRP ratings program as detailed below to provide your initial or updated self-rating.

The National Tennis Rating Program, NTRP
Self Rating


This player is consistent when hitting medium-paced shots, but is not comfortable with all strokes and lacks control when trying for directional intent, depth, or power.


This player has achieved improved stroke dependability and direction on moderate shots, but still lacks depth and variety. This player exhibits more aggressive net play, has improved court coverage and is developing teamwork in doubles.


This player has dependable strokes, including directional control and depth on both forehand and backhand sides on moderate shots, plus the ability to hit lobs, overheads, approach shots and volleys with some success. This player occasionally forces errors when serving and teamwork in doubles is evident.


This player has begun to master the use of power and spins and is beginning to handle pace, has sound footwork, can control depth of shots, and is beginning to vary tactics according to opponents. This player can hit first serves with power and accuracy and place the second serve.  This player tends to over-hit on difficult shots. Aggressive net play is common in doubles.


This player has good shot anticipation and frequently has an outstanding shot or attribute around which a game may be structured. This player can regularly hit winners or force errors of short balls and can put away volleys, can successfully execute lobs, drop shots, half volleys and overhead smashes and has good depth and spin on most second serves.


This player has developed power and or consistency as a major weapon. This player can vary strategies and styles of play in a competitive situation and hits dependable shots in a stress situation.