Monday, August 22, 2011

Atlanta's Flexible Tennis Leagues

Atlanta is such a tennis crazy town that, in addition to USTA League Tennis (which the rest of the country enjoys) and ALTA (which boasts some 80,000 members), there are several different (competing) flexible tennis leagues as well. So, as an Atlanta area tennis player, not only can you join a team that plays for (e.g.) seven consecutive weeks on the same day or night of the week in each of the four seasons which, if you do well, leads to several rounds of playoffs that lead to a championship of some sort, but you can choose a partner (or play singles) in one of several other leagues which let you (and your partner) schedule matches against opponents “at your same level” at a time that’s mutually convenient which similarly leads to playoffs and championships during every season of the year. In fact, if you don’t watch out, tennis can become your life.

Ultimate Tennis, formerly known as K-Swiss, was the first of the Atlanta flexible leagues that I joined. At that time, it was just for singles but it has subsequently added doubles and mixed doubles leagues. The largest (oldest) doubles league is T2Tennis, which expanded by adding singles recently, and will experiment with leagues for seniors this fall. The conventional wisdom is that T2, because its doubles league is more mature, has more players at each level and is so deep that one should level themselves, at least initially, a half a level below their typical rating to be competitive, hence there are half (or minus) levels available (e.g. 3.5-, 4.0- etc.). Ultimate Tennis, perhaps responding to T2’s entry into singles, has been aggressively promoting their doubles leagues by offering PGA Superstore gift certificates with values that exceed the cost of entering these leagues.

Because of the Ultimate Tennis promotion, it was a no brainer for my men’s ALTA doubles partner and I to join their league this summer, to keep our partnership fresh in preparation for this fall’s ALTA season. Although scheduling matches with our opponents has been – at times – challenging, and the level of our opponents has been less than we’d hoped, we’ve had fun and everyone we’ve played has been pleasant even amiable. With one match to go, we lead our division and may even finish too high to qualify for the league’s playoffs, which run through the early weeks of September, interfering with the start of the ALTA & USTA fall seasons.

Because of the number of tennis players in Atlanta, more per capita than any other U.S. city according to ESPN’s lead-in promo during the 2011 Atlanta Tennis Championships, there is a plethora of ways for playing the sport competitively in the metropolitan area. Whether one has just moved here (e.g.) into a swim-tennis community or is just starting to play the game, there is a tennis league for you.


  1. It seems to me that if the levels of your opponents are "less than you had hoped" and "may even finish too high to qualify for the league’s playoffs", that you have probably under-ranked yourself. I have found that in flex (more T2 than UT), people are under ranked by 1 level. I can guarantee if you are winning that greatly that your opponents are not having a good time either.

  2. You are right, of course. We joined at the level we play USTA, but evidently it wasn't high enough. I guess we'll be moved up appropriately at the end of the season ... or who knows, maybe we'll get our butts whipped in the playoffs;-)