The GTC Ladder Rules

revised: 19 May 2007 (tournament matches are challenges, tournament participants are promoted just for playing)
revised: 12 July 2013 (added quick summary and e-mail options, removed court reservation requirement)



The Goddard Tennis Club's (GTC) ladder was formed to provide the opportunity to play frequently with members of comparable skill, to improve by challenging better players, and to rank the active members.


In order to play on the ladder, you must be a dues-paying member of the GTC for the current year. Members must provide a daytime phone number and/or e-mail address where challenges can be arranged.


Ladder competition is from April 15 until October 31. Former members who fail to renew by April 15 are re-instated upon payment of dues, with the penalty of being positioned five places below their previous year's standing.


A ladder match consists of the best two out of three sets, governed by USTA rules. A "12 point" tie-breaker (won by the first player to get at least 7 points and lead by at least 2 points) is normally used to decide a set when games are 6-6. Any other tie-breaking scheme may be used which is mutually agreeable. Challenge matches are normally played on the GTC clay courts, but the GTC asphalt courts or non-GTC courts may be used if mutually agreeable. Challenge matches can be umpired by the ladder chairman if either player requires it.


Challenges are normally restricted to opponents who are no more than ten positions away at the time the challenge is issued. Players may be separated by more than ten rungs by the time the match is completed if the additional separation is due to ladder activity between the time of challenge and the time of completion. A player may make only one outstanding challenge, and may only be obligated to two outstanding challenges at any one time. You may decline a challenge if: (a) you are already obligated to two challenges, (b) you are physically unable to play tennis, (c) you will be away on leave for more than five out of the next ten days, (d) you have defeated the challenger within the previous seven days.


From April 15 to May 15, challenges are unrestricted by relative ladder positions, but advancements by more than ten rungs must be completed by May 15. A match between two ladder members which occurs as the result of GTC tournament play is treated as an unrestricted challenge, unless this implicit "challenge" is refused by either player before the match begins. At the discression of the ladder chairman and tournament director, ladder members playing in and completing the GTC singles tournaments are promoted to the top of the ladder, in the order that they finish in the tournament. Members must complete all rounds of the tournament to qualify. Ladder members who receive this promotion are subject to unrestricted challenges for the next 4 weeks.


New members are placed at the bottom of the existing ladder, and are allowed two unrestricted challenges (in addition to the unrestricted play during the first month and in GTC tournaments) which may be used anytime during the season in which they join. A player who loses both of his unrestriced challenges while still positioned within the group of new players at the bottom of the ladder is moved to the top of that group as "consolation".


After a challenge match, write the date, scores, players' names and ladder positions at the start of the match on one of the match-record cards in the box at courtside, or by e-mail to the ladder chairman. Explain any match between players separated by more than ten rungs. Leave the card in the box for the ladder chairman to pick up. If the match results in an advancement, the winner moves his own name into the loser's rung, and slides the loser and all the intervening names down one rung.


The challenger supplies the balls. New balls should be used for challenges in positions 1 to 10. Balls which have been used for no more than one previous match and are in good condition may be used for challenges in positions 11 to 30. Balls which are in good condition may be used in challenges for positions 31 to 100. The challengee decides the acceptability of used balls. New balls which meet USTA regulations are always acceptable.


Play is continuous unless interrupted by weather, darkness, or the expiration of courttime. If the interruption occurs before one set is completed, the partial scores are void, and the match may be restarted at another time. If the interruption occurs after one set is completed, the match must be resumed at the point of interruption within the next ten days, or be voided. A match unilaterally interrupted by one player (due to illness, injury, broken equipment, temper tantrum, etc.) is a win, by default, for the other player.


A forfeit is a rare penalty for willful non-participation. A player forfeits a match if: (a) he illegitimately refuses a challenge, (b) he fails to give his opponent a 60 hour notice that he cannot appear for a scheduled match, (c) he is more than 15 minutes late for the scheduled match. Recent injury, sudden illness or family crisis are not a cause for forfeit if the match is promptly rescheduled. A forfeiter is penalized five ladder positions. A forfeit is not a win for the forfeitee. The imposition of the five-rung penalty is the obligation of the forfeitee, who should first try to contact the offendor and/or the Ladder Chairman. If the forfeit is justified, the forfeitee adjusts the magnetic board, and describes the situation on a challenge-result card.


Members must be ready, willing and able to play on demand. A member who wishes to withdraw from the ladder for a while can go onto "reserve" status. The member's name is removed from the board until he feels ready to compete again, at which time he is re-instated with one five-rung penalty. A member "on reserve" at the end of the season can rejoin the ladder in the following season either five rungs below the position he left (with no free challenges) or as a new player at the bottom of the ladder (with two free challenges).


Printed lists of the ladder standings are issued periodically via the NASA/GSFC internal mail system, e-mail, and/or the club's internet web page. Offsite members without e-mail or web access may: (a) arrange delivery in care of an onsite friend with a GSFC mailcode, (b) pick up a copy from the bulletin board at courtside, (c) supply the Ladder Chairman with a set of self-addressed and stamped envelopes. Members should update their GSFC mail code and/or e-mail address by leaving a note in the challenge-result box at courtside or by contacting the Ladder Chairman directly.


The Ladder Chairman is a volunteer appointed by the GTC Executive Committee. The Chairman maintains the ladder standings, interprets and enforces the rules, settles disputes, and periodically distributes membership listings.

GTC Ladder Standings

GTC Home Page