Thursday, May 19, 2011

ALTA playoffs on different days than regular season

One minor pet peeve about ALTA’s playoff scheduling is that teams are asked to play at least one playoff match on a day different than that of their regular season matches:  Thursday women’s teams must play their first playoff match on a Tuesday and men, whose first playoff is scheduled on the first Saturday (their regular match day) after the season, have to play on that subsequent Sunday if they win.  This can cost the best team their chance at a plate.

Last fall, my men’s B-6 team finished second in our division, so the following Saturday we had to travel to play an away match against another division’s winner.  No problem there; seems fair enough to me.  However, after winning that day, we had to turn around and play the next day – a Sunday – to continue in the tournament.  There are two issues with this:  the first is that men are asked to be available every Saturday for seven (ten, if successful) straight weeks then suddenly have to be available on a Sunday to move ahead in the season ending tournament.  If, as we did, you happen to have churchgoers and/or NASCAR fans on your team, you may find yourself in a quandary:  you may not be able to put your best lineup on the court on a Sunday.  Although we came very close to winning anyway, the result may have been very different if we’d have had two of our best eight players available that day.  I’m sure that ALTA Thursday women’s teams have been similarly challenged when they’ve qualified for the playoffs only to find out that their very first playoff match is scheduled on a Tuesday!  The second issue is that, as one ages, it’s not as easy to turn around and play one’s best tennis on consecutive days.  There’s definitely an advantage to having a deep (and young) men’s ALTA team if one expects to compete for the city title.

Of course, the solution to the problem may not serve everyone any better; extending each season by one week would mean that the spring season’s finals may have to be played the first weekend in June (affecting vacations) and fall’s regular season would end in early November with playoff matches and the finals after Thanksgiving or even in December.  Rainouts could be even more of a problem; ALTA would truly be a year-round league.  But the USTA manages to do it, by playing winter’s first couple of matches in December, so it can be done.

What do you think?  Should ALTA adopt a year round schedule so that teams never have to play playoffs on days other than those on which they play their regular season matches?

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