Thursday, March 1, 2012

An ALTA coordinator’s job isn’t an easy one

Firstly, I want to thank all the ALTA volunteers; without you, this Atlanta tennis league – which boasts some 80,000 members – wouldn’t be possible. This includes you team captains, which is perhaps the most thankless job in ALTA. Unless you’ve been a tennis captain, you can’t appreciate what goes into it. The best players to have on one’s team are those who’ve previously been a captain: while they may offer an opinion if asked, they’re generally happy just to be put in the lineup … and they won’t complain when they’re not. But I’ve digressed …

This week I had the pleasure of talking to the coordinator of our particular league and, while I had a sense of ‘her’ duties, I gained a greater appreciation for the demands and responsibilities of the ‘job’. For example, there are more than 23,000 players in the mixed doubles league and some 1,200 captains. However, there are only 40 coordinators, meaning that each one is the first line of defense – a firewall, if you will – for 30 or so captains. Now, this might not sound like a lot but at crunch time – when there are rain-outs, playoffs, or rained out playoffs – that’s a lot of phone calls to return and/or e-mails to respond to in order that the VP doesn’t have to get involved (the fear of all coordinators).

While handling week-to-week conflicts may be manageable (I assume these are fewer and far between), once the playoffs are underway a coordinator has to check and approve lineups for each first, second and (in some cases) third place team that qualified. This of course can be exacerbated if week 7’s play is rain delayed. I don’t know if ALTA’s website software makes checking playoff team’s lineup easier, but I doubt it given the site’s publicly available capabilities, or should I say lack thereof. So, whereas each captain has to make the calculation – found in the handbook –to ensure that their lineup doesn’t violate the league’s somewhat overly complex “sandbag” rules (which change once the playoffs begin!), the coordinator has to verify them for 8 (or more) teams, and the deadline during the first week of playoffs is very challenging, even without weather related issues. For weekend leagues, the matches on Saturday have to finish, and the lineups of the teams that advanced to play on Sunday have to be submitted and then approved by the coordinator in a fairly tight window that night. Again, even without a rainy situation, competitive matches played at 2-court facilities might not finish until after 6 PM, and the winning captain could be delayed for any number of reasons including post match celebrations, players that were injured that afternoon, or players that are now potentially available for Sunday (if ‘his’ team made it that far) that ‘he’ needs to contact before making the calculations & submitting a lineup.

Factoring in the fact that there are new captains every season, those that are more likely to need a rules clarification, and captains whose teams make the playoffs for the very first time each season – in other words, inexperienced captains – an ALTA coordinator’s job is a challenge, not one for the faint of heart.


  1. I am sure being a coordinator can be crazy! I can't imagine all the phone calls they must get. I have always said every player should be a captain at least once, it would cut down on all the complaining about line up, etc. from the team. Until you have been a captain, you really have no idea how hard it can be...

  2. Karen, thanks for the input. Yeah, we used to have a rotation system which "forced" everyone to be a captain at least once so that they'd understand the task and, hopefully, have more patience and/or compassion for their captain. However, as I've written, I was talked out of it by two ladies on my team who were afraid the team wouldn't do as well - or would leave the team - if the task was given to someone else.