What were we thinking?
USTA League scheduling is a complicated process. We know you want a lot of matches, we know you don’t want to drive too far, and we know you have large rosters. Each season, we do our absolute best to make League team tennis the most fun and satisfying recreational experience it can be. We really appreciate your feedback, and hope this helps explain the so-called mystery of NorCal scheduling.
With only 13 weeks available for the local combo doubles season (excluding the holiday weeks of Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years), the maximum number of teams in a flight is 13. Unfortunately, not every area has this perfectly optimal number of teams. Some areas are small with 6 or fewer teams. Small flights are assigned double (or even triple) round robins, with teams playing each other twice (or more times) to fill out the season with a total of 8-10 matches.
The Perfect Scenario: Large & Medium Flights
Large areas sometimes have over 20 teams and can be split in half, making ideal flights of 10-12 teams. In medium sized areas with 15-18 teams, players are often surprised to find their flight split into uneven groups of 10/5 or 12/6. Why does NorCal do this instead of making even groups of 7/8, 8/8, or 9/8? In a 13 week season there cannot be more than 13 matches, so there is not enough time for a group of 8 to play a double round robin with 14 matches. Flights of 8 would only get a single round robin of 7 matches (and that’s a pretty short season!) We know that players and captains want as many matches as possible, so we prefer to break groups of 16, for example, into 2 uneven flights of 10 and 6. The flight of 10 will have a single round robin with a total of 9 matches, and the group of 6 will have a double round robin with a total of 10 matches. More tennis for everyone!
The Dreaded Scenario . . .
The most difficult scheduling scenario is trying to provide the longest season possible when there are only 7 or 8 teams in an area. As explained above, there is only time for a single round robin with groups of 7 or 8, and a single round robin only provides 6 or 7 matches in flights of this size. To try to avoid this situation, we ask captains if one or two teams would volunteer to play in a different area so that the original flight is changed to 6, providing a double round robin. As an alternative option, we also ask captains if they would prefer to be split into even smaller flights of 4/4 or 3/4 so that each small flight would get a triple (or quadruple) round robin with 8 or 9 matches.
NorCal league scheduling can be like solving a giant puzzle, and we hope this helps explain why your season looks the way it does. Please contact Lynn Losande
with further questions, and in the meantime – enjoy your tennis!