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League News: Leveling The Senior Playing Field

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ALTA Senior Day league
Photo: Laura Barnard

By Joan Marcinko, Senior Day Leagues Vice President

As you read this, your season of spring Senior Day tennis may be finished! But as I am writing this article, our season is just about to begin. I’d like to make you all aware, again, that a lot of work goes into scheduling a season for an ALTA tennis league. First, captains submit rosters, and every captain also has a chance to write an RFR (Request for Review) with their roster. After all rosters are submitted, our system analyzes and organizes the teams with values from low to high, based on a team’s past record of success and on the addition/deletion of players to their roster. Our software also accounts for other factors such as a team’s past winning percentage and if a team was a City Champion or City Finalist. Then, the fun begins.

The league vice president and the overall coordinators carefully review this information and make level adjustments where needed. This initial process, called leveling, takes many hours to research. If a captain writes in an RFR, “I’ve lost the top line of my team,” it is our job to look up all the team’s history to make sure that this is indeed an accurate situation and a possible problem for that team staying at their assigned level. It is easy for us to find all the historical information/data to support a captain’s request to move their team down a level. However, if a captain says, “Half of my team will be out with injuries this season,” but submits the roster with the same player names, we have no idea if the team has truly been weakened, or who’s injured and who’s healthy.

If players have been added to an existing team, the top eight senior players on the team will give the team its mathematical value. Again, we look carefully at the values of the newly added players. Every new player used in the calculation is researched to see if that player’s value used is totally valid. So, if you add a new AA player to your team, we look to see if that player has a solid winning record at AA. If the player does not, (i.e., did not actually play on that AA team, lost at all line positions, losing record overall, etc.), then we don’t allow that AA player to bump up the team. This process also is done when a new team that has not played Senior Day is added to our league. The top eight players on a new team are looked at to make sure they are placed at the right level. Teams also are grouped into manageable numbers, so there are no more than six divisions in any level. We may choose to move a team up or down just to make these numbers work.

The second and last part of this scheduling process is called mapping. This is basically the reason why I wanted to write this article to our Senior Day League players. In mapping, the computer initially puts teams together in divisions of eight, seven, or four based on geography. Again, hours are spent on making the most appropriate grouping of divisions. This past spring season, we intentionally created many four-team divisions to spare teams from driving great distances. Some teams in their RFR asked not to be put into a four-team division, and those requests were honored. Again, a lot of thought and time went into this process, and I am hopeful that it was a good experience for our teams!

So, moving forward to the fall season, please let us know how we did. I look forward to hearing your feedback, and I thank you in advance for your thoughts. Email me at seniordayvp@altatennis.org.

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