Monday, March 23, 2015

When USTA League matches don't finish

In many areas of the country, USTA League matches are played indoors or at facilities that have fixed court times.  Where I play, these are usually 90 minutes, but at a few clubs, court times are just 75 minutes.  Even with the USTA League format of 3rd set match tie-breaks, this is oftentimes not enough to finish a match, especially long drawn out singles matches.

What to do when this occurs varies by section.  Some sections have adopted "timed matches" where the match is considered complete as a timed-match with the final score being what it is when time expires, and there are rules about how to determine who won the match based on the score and when one additional point may be played to determine the winner if those rules say it is required.

My section (PNW) has not adopted those rules though and we are expected to complete the match.  The problem is, we often have USTA League matches scheduled back to back, or the court is booked by someone else after our match. which makes completing the match tricky.  Some facilities have guidelines stating that a match that is nearly complete (in or starting a match tie-break for example) should be allowed to complete.  Others will have one overflow court available to be used, but at some we are expected to schedule another time to finish.

In my experience, there usually isn't a problem finishing if the court times are 90 minutes, although sometimes the next players on the court have to be a little lenient to let the last few points be played.  But in my team's three league matches so far this year, we've run into this three times!

Our first match was fine, all the courts completed in time, although the singles courts got close to using the full 90 minutes.

In our second match, one singles court hadn't finished and had just started a match tie-break when time expired, and due to a miscommunication they weren't allowed to finish.  We have now tried to schedule a time to finish a few times but still haven't.  What a pain!

Going into our third match, I was now worried about this and asked before our match if there was an overflow court.  We were told no, but that it was USTA League matches back to back after us and so we'd work something out if needed.  As luck would have it, both singles courts hadn't finished, one at 4-5 in the second set and the other about to start a match tie-break.  We asked what we could do and were told there were no courts but we could play outside (at least it was a decent day).  The players agreed they'd do that, but then someone leads us across the parking lot into another building and we wind our way around and come upon another indoor court none of my team knew existed.

At  least the conditions would be the same or similar, but there had now been a delay and with just one court, one match would have to wait for the other to complete.  We did get both completed, so the nightmare of trying to schedule another match to finish was avoided.

The lesson learned for all you captains is to be aware of not just your rule regarding timed matches or not, but also be aware of the rule or policy of the facility you are playing at regarding finishing matches near completion and the availability of over flow courts.