Here are some rules and guidelines to help make your WTL experience fun, enjoyable, and fair for all!
If you have questions or concerns about any of the information below, please reach out
to the WTL officers or your ladder captain.  

Joining the Ladder:

  • 1. Ladder play is open to all members age 18 and older, as soon as your application and the $25 membership fee are received and processed. The preferred method of payment for the membership fee is PayPal; however, if you don’t have access to PayPal please email the WTL Treasurer to receive instructions on mailing in a check for your payment. You may join as many of the ladders as you’d like for the one yearly fee! You can join additional ladders at any time by contacting the WTL Secretary.

  • 2. You will be placed on the ladder by exercising one of the following options, as specified by your response on your ladder application:

            A) Holding your position from the conclusion of the previous ladder season. 
                 Returning members holding their positions must do so by JUNE 30th.

            B) Joining at the bottom of your NTRP/self-rating.
                 There is no deadline to join at the bottom of your rating.

             New members may join the ladder at any time during the season.

  • 3. Players who do not have an NTRP rating may self-rate on their application with the help of these USTA Guidelines.

  • 4. For doubles teams, BOTH/ALL 3 partners must fill out an application and pay their membership fees before the team will be registered and able to play any matches. If you wish to play on a doubles ladder, you must join with a partner/group of 3 as the WTL is not able to find a partner for you.

  • 5. Once you have been added to the ladder, you’ll receive a welcome email along with the ladder password and log-in instructions. After receiving this information, you can log into the ladder website and begin arranging your matches.

  • 6. Play begins on August 1st and concludes on January 15th.

Scheduling/Registering Ladder Matches:

  • 1. To get started with match play, first log-in to access your ladder on the WTL website. Next, find your name on the ladder to determine the range of 14* players/teams who you are eligible to challenge. This range consists of the 7 players/teams above you and the 7 players/teams below you on the ladder. (Injured players do not count toward your range.) If you are near the top or bottom of your ladder, your range of 14 may extend further in one direction (e.g., if you are fifth from the bottom on your ladder, your range would consist of 4 teams/players below you and 10 players/teams above you for a total of 14). Please contact your ladder captain if you have any questions about your range. (*For ladders with 20 or less players/teams, the challenge range is adjusted to 10 - 5 up and 5 down.)

  • 2. To schedule a match, call/text/email a player/team within your range of 14 no more than 2 weeks in advance.

  • 3. After you have arranged a match, you will then register the match with your ladder captain via email. This should be done by the player who initiated the challenge, and done prior to playing the match. When registering a match, please copy your opponent on the email, and include the following information:

                a. Your name (as well as your partner’s name for doubles)
                b. The name(s) of your opponent(s)
                c. The date of the match
                d. Whether the match is an UP, DOWN, or FREE CHALLENGE

  • 4. If you are challenging from the A1 to the A2 ladder, or vice versa, please email both ladder captains when registering the match.

  • 5. Results of the match should be reported to the captain as soon as possible, so that the captain can keep the online ladder up-to-date and accurate. The match winner assumes the position of the defeated player/team, and the defeated player/team drops one position on the ladder. If the player/team in the higher position wins, both players/teams maintain their previous positions. 

Monthly Match Play Requirements:

  • 1. Required match play is 2 matches per month, 1 of which must be a down match. You may play 2 down matches in a month to satisfy the 2-match minimum, but never 2 ups. The lowest 3 players/teams on each ladder (excluding the A1 ladder) are not required to play a down match unless challenged by a player/team from below.

  • 2. If you do not satisfy the 2-match minimum for the month, you will drop 7 positions on the ladder for the start of the following month.

  • 3. Players/teams joining the ladder after the 15th of the month are not required to play 2 matches for that month.

  • 4. If you only play 2 matches in a given month, those matches must be against two different players/teams.  

  • 5. The combined months of December and January will be considered one month, and therefore only 2 matches will be required during this time period.

  • 6. If a captain receives notice that a player/team is not responding to a match challenge, the player/team being challenged will not be allowed to register another match until they arrange a match with the challenging player/team. If such problems are occurring and making it difficult to schedule match play, please contact your ladder captain who may be able to extend your range of 14 in necessary situations.

Free Challenge:

  • 1. Players/teams have one “free challenge” per season per ladder, where they may challenge any player/team on the ladder regardless of their position.

  • 2. A free challenge match is considered an up match for the player/team exercising the challenge, and is considered a down match for the player/team being challenged. 

  • 3. Please make sure to inform your captain if a match is a “free challenge” when registering the match.  

  • 4. If the challenging player/team wins the free challenge match, they assume the position of the defeated player/team, and the defeated player/team drops one position on the ladder. If the player/team in the higher position wins, both players/teams maintain their previous positions. 

  • 5. A free challenge is a great way to try to climb higher up the ladder, or to catch back up if you’ve dropped 7 spaces from not meeting the 2-match minimum the previous month!  

Match Cancellation, Rescheduling, and Forfeiture:

  • 1. There are only 2 legitimate reasons to cancel or reschedule a registered match:

                a. Rain
                b. Temperature or wind chill below 32 degrees (player/team choice)

  • 2. Any match interrupted by rain, darkness, or being bumped off the court must be played from the point of interruption within 10 days.

  • 3. A forfeit may be in order if:

                a. A player/team is more than 15 minutes late for a registered match.  
                b. A player/team is no longer available to play at the scheduled date/time of a registered match.

            In either situation above, the inconvenienced player/team is entitled to a forfeit if they so choose; however, if both             players/teams agree, the match may be played or rescheduled without a forfeit occurring.  

  • 4. The player giving the forfeit receives no credit for the match (e.g., it does not count toward their 2-match monthly minimum). The player receiving the forfeit is considered to have won the match, receiving credit for the match and assuming the ladder position of the forfeiting player if they were positioned higher on the ladder.  

  • 5. A free challenge cannot be won by forfeiture. The inconvenienced team/player will receive credit for the forfeited match, but they will not move up in position on the ladder.

  • 6. Ladder captains reserve the right to review and override forfeitures on a case-by-case (e.g., a ladder captain may decide not to allow a forfeiture to be taken if it would allow a player/team to enter the top 4 and qualify for the tournament right at the end of the ladder season.) 

Court Rules:

  • 1. Any dispute not covered by WTL rules will be settled by USTA rules and/or at the discretion of the WTL officers.

  • 2. The player/team with the higher ladder position has choice of court as well as the responsibility of court reservations and fees for all players if reserved at a private club. The fee for reservations made on public courts will be split equally amongst all of the players.  

  • 3. All matches will be played in New Hanover County, unless all players mutually agree to play elsewhere.  

  • 4. Both players/teams are to bring an unopened can of new balls to the match. Balls must be USTA approved. One can is opened to use for match play. Following the match, the loser takes home the used balls and the winner takes home the remaining new/unopened can. If both players/teams agree to play with used balls, no new balls are exchanged. 

  • 5. Unsportsmanlike conduct will not be tolerated. Members who have multiple complaints may be removed from the ladder by the WTL officers. 

Match Play:

  • 1. Ladder matches are played as best-of-3-set matches. A player/team needs to win two sets to claim victory, with a third set used as the deciding set if needed.  

  • 2. A set tiebreak (first to 7 points, win by 2) should be used at 6-6 in any set to determine the winner of the set.

  • 3. If players/teams split sets in the first two sets, a third set is used as the deciding set. However, if all players mutually agree prior to the start of the match, a match tiebreak (first to 10 points, win by 2) may be played in lieu of the third set. 

  • 4. If all players/teams mutually agree, an 8-game pro set (first to 8 games, win by 2 games) may be played for the match, in place of the best-of-3-set format. A set tiebreak (first to 7 points, win by 2) should be used at 8-8 to determine the winner of the match. 

End-of-Season Playoff Tournament/Awards Social/Prize Drawing:

  • 1. The end-of-the-season tournament and awards social will be held at the Althea Gibson Tennis Center (if available) following the completion of the ladder season.  A tournament date and a rain makeup date will be scheduled. All WTL members are welcome to attend the social, eat some provided snacks, and watch the playoff tournament.  

  • 2. The top 4 players/teams on each ladder (including both A-1 and A-2) will qualify for the playoff tournament.

  • 3. The tournament match format will be a short set format.  This format is composed of two sets played to 4 games each (instead of 6) with Ad, with a 10-point tiebreak deciding the match at one short set all.

  • 4. First round (semi-final) matches will consist of player/team #1 vs player/team #4, and player/team #2 vs player/team #3. Winners will advance to the finals to compete for the title of ladder champion. 

  • 5. Players/teams unavailable for the playoff tournament must notify the president as soon as possible, and the #5 player/team will be moved into the #4 playoff position. The unavailable player/team from the top 4 will be moved down to the 5th position.

  • 6. Players/teams must have played a minimum of 10 matches during the current ladder season in order to be eligible for the playoffs.  

  • Awards will be given out at the end-of-season tournament to:
  •     The top 4 finalists on each ladder,
  •     The player/teams who have played the most matches on each individual ladder, and
  •     The male and female with the most overall matches played on all combined ladders (AKA the Tennis Bums!)

  • A drawing for gift certificates and other prices will also be held at the end-of-season tournament.  Your name will be entered into the drawing once for each match played throughout the season - the more you play, the better your chances at winning a prize!!

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