Annual CALTA Captains' Meeting


January 8, 2007


    The 2007 annual captains' meeting was held on January 8 in the Grill Room of Omar Auditorium, Patriot's Point, Mount Pleasant.  Refreshments were served at 9:30 and the meeting started at 10:00AM.  Of the 55 CALTA teams, 43 were represented.  


INTRODUCTION - Linda von Grotthuss, President

    The purpose of this annual meeting is to give all CALTA captains and interested members a forum to express their opinions and to introduce ideas for improvement -- and for the Board to answer any questions and address any issues CALTA members may have.   The main goal of the CALTA Board is to facilitate the weekly schedule -- to make sure it runs smoothly and to ensure that as many ladies as possible can get out and play on Tuesday morning.  The Board meets usually once a month and keeps in contact by e-mail to discuss any issues that come up. There are currently 12 positions on the CALTA Board.  Two of them are being filled by one person, so there are 11 Board members and it is expected that at least 6 of the positions will be filled by new faces next year.


    The four Executive Board members (President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer) were introduced. They are elected for a two-year term.  Since the current Board is serving the second year of its third two-year term, in February the captains will receive an e-mail asking for nominations for the Executive Board for the next two-year term.  Once the nominating committee has chosen a slate, the captains will be asked by e-mail to approve or disapprove the proposed slate.   

    The three at-large directors, who serve staggered 3-year terms, were introduced and their role explained.  It was requested that anyone interested in serving as an at-large director contact any member of the Board.

    The division coordinators were introduced and their functions discussed.  The current approach to selecting coordinators has become somewhat voluntary (in the past there was no right of refusal if it was a team's turn).  If a team is requested by the Board to select one of its members to serve as coordinator, the Board requests that every effort be made to identify a willing and able team member.  It was noted that the Board has filled at-large positions in recent years with past coordinators interested in remaining on the Board -- testimony to the fact that the job can be fulfilling and rewarding. 


    As there were no objections from the floor, the reading of the prior year's minutes and review of the CALTA financial statement were dispensed with.  Both had been on the CALTA web site for many months. 


Web Site and E-mail Communication:

    The CALTA web site and e-mail are the primary means for the Board's communication with captains. All captains and team members were asked to check the web site frequently and to e-mail comments or suggestions to any board member.  It was noted that the CALTA "board" address is no longer active.  Instead, members may send their comments to any board members (addresses are in the web site) and any message received will be immediately forwarded to all the board.  Captains were urged to regularly check the Results pages to ensure that their scores had been entered and added accurately since the system does not do addition automatically.  Any error or omission should be sent to the division coordinator or to Nancy Pitcairn.


Division Structure:

    For new teams the Board will continue to require that a "New Team Application" be accompanied by a nonrefundable dues payment for 8 players.  The form will be on the web site shortly and must be submitted by June 1st -- earlier if possible.  The Board will try to include any team in the Charleston area that has enough courts available to accommodate its home matches on Tuesday mornings.

    Every existing team that wants to continue to play in the 2007-2008 season will again be asked to complete a "Continuing Team Form".  The form will be posted on the web site early in May and an e-mail notification will be sent to all captains as a reminder.  The form must be submitted by June 1.  The form requests the name of a summer contact for the team and in which division the team would like to be placed.  As in past years, rosters and dues will not be required until just before play starts in August.  It was emphasized that anyone submitting the form should have communicated with her players to ensure that there will be a viable team in the next season. 

    The Board begins the division structuring process on June 1, as soon as all the Continuing Team Forms and New Team Applications are received.  (For anyone interested, all of the Board's division structure worksheets are available for viewing on-line -- a request to the Board will give access.) 

    The Board is often asked what the criteria are for being moved up or down a division.  There are no set criteria that can be applied to all divisions.  Where a team ends up depends on a number of factors, including:

    The starting point for each team is its request on the Continuing Team Form or the New Team Application.  The structuring exercise begins each year with a listing of all the teams in CALTA in the order of their results -- with the first team in division 1 at the top and the last team in division 5 at the bottom.  Next to each team the Board notes the division it requested for the new season.  Because of the length of our calendar, there cannot be more than 14 teams in a division as there are not enough days on the calendar to play 2 rounds and still have a few make-up days.  When a situation arises, as in the past year, where more than 14 teams request the same division, the Board then discusses the profile of the teams in question and tries to group together teams that are playing at the same level.  When a team cannot be placed in the division it has requested, the Board communicates immediately with the captain so that, when the division structure is published, it will come as no surprise and the rationale will have been explained.  There is usually at least one team each year that ends up playing in a division higher or lower than it requested.  The Board makes every effort to ensure that the situation is remedied the following year, if necessary.  


    Concerning the calendar, it was noted that next year's start date for the Charleston Public School system was not yet available as of the date of this meeting, but it can be expected that next season's CALTA calendar will be very similar to the current season -- starting towards the end of August and playing through the end of April with as many make-up dates as possible scheduled for each division.



RULES & CAPTAINS' RESPONSIBILITIES - Nancy Pitcairn, Vice President & Rules Chairman

    Only one change had been made to the Rules for the current season (in Rule XII):

If a match is re-scheduled, the next CALTA scheduled make-up date available to both teams should be the first option.  A team cannot refuse to play on a scheduled make-up day on its calendar.  If both captains agree, the make-up can be scheduled for an earlier alternate date.

Since there were no comments or questions on this new rule, it is now considered a permanent addition to the Rules.



    Over the years the Board has worked very hard to ensure that our Tuesday morning matches happen with a minimum of confusion and conflict.  It all begins when the home team captain calls the visiting team captain the day before the match.  At this time any forfeits should be communicated and any weather concerns addressed.  If there will be a substitute for the captain, phone numbers should be exchanged.  This sets the groundwork for the morning of the match in case there are issues of weather or wet courts.  On the morning of the match, each captain or her substitute should be available by home/cell phone for any communication from the other captain should a problem arise.  Cell phones should be on at all times until both teams are at the courts. 


"Emergency" deadline:

    The Board has determined the need to redefine what constitutes an "emergency" in terms of CALTA's final deadline (see Rule VI).  In general, getting lost or running into normal heavy traffic is not considered an "emergency".  All captains are required to accept responsibility for a basic level of forward planning.  No one should leave the house without knowing how to contact her captain on the way to a match -- and the captain should be reachable on her cell until everyone has arrived.  It is expected that ladies traveling some distance will allow time for getting lost or a bridge opening or heavy traffic -- and still be on the court by 9:30am.  That being said, if someone does run into an unexpected verifiable public situation (major accident, road closed, traffic re-routed) AND she communicates with her captain AND the captain is able to communicate the situation to the other captain by 9:30am AND the late player is able to stay in communication as she drives and be on the court by 10am -- in that case the 10am extension should apply.  But such situations are few and far between. 9:45 remains the default time for any other circumstance.  Everyone is strongly urged to allow enough time and to communicate, communicate, communicate.  

    When the emergency extension is applicable, the home team can either hold the visiting team to the 10am deadline or can choose to play whenever they arrive.  In either case, when the visiting team informs the home team about the situation, the home team captain must communicate clearly to the visiting team what the case will be. 


    With regard to start times, the following (not on the agenda) was also noted, based on a situation that arose this season:

CALTA Rule VIII states that if, during play, a question arises that is not covered in the CALTA Rules, the matter should be settled according to USTA Rules governing play.  The captains were asked to note that this applies to match play only and does not cover situations prior to the start of play since many of our other rules differ from USTA.  Recently a team was made to wait one hour after arriving (due to wet courts, and the USTA requirement was quoted).  This is not consistent with CALTA Rule XII that states that, if a match cannot start at 9:30, either team has the right to request a reschedule if later play is inconvenient. 


Member Question:  Is forcing a default really in the CALTA spirit?

Board Answer: Many CALTA players have jobs, children, scheduled appointments and need to be able to plan their day based on certain fixed times.  Knowing that a match will start no later than 10am (unless all parties agree to a later start) assures them adequate time to complete their match based on normal expectations.


Member Question (to the attendees in general):  Is a default really the end of the world?

Board Answer:  While we all recognize the competitive nature of our sport, it is still just a game.  If players can indeed wait longer and play later, we hope that the "CALTA spirit" will allow this to happen -- assuming there has been the appropriate communication.  On the other hand, if it is not possible for a team to wait beyond the deadline because of prior commitments, the defaulted team should understand this position. 


Member Question:  What about starting late because of wet courts?

Board Answer:  This is a different issue and is one that is fully addressed in the CALTA Rules.  It is the home captain's responsibility to communicate with the visiting team throughout the morning in the case of "iffy" weather, beginning with a 7:30am phone call -- and it is her responsibility to ascertain the condition of the courts at 7:30.  If they are unplayable at that time, she should follow Rule XII. 


Member Question:  What happens if it rains on the way to the match?

Board Answer:  This is where communication is key.  If everyone has her cell phone on, decisions can be made quickly: to proceed and hope for the best, or to call off the match mid-commute -- whatever, so long as everyone is on the same page.


Member Question:  We, as the home team, have arrived on our own courts to find that it has just rained there but nowhere else in the vicinity, nor did it look like rain.  Does that require that we default?

Board Answer:  No.  We all have to understand that the weather in the Lowcountry can be extremely fickle.  If indeed a sudden burst occurred in a very localized area, immediate communication of that fact is in order and then the decision process as described in Rule XII will begin.  Please note that this is not the same as a home team just being unaware of the conditions.  A visiting team arriving to courts that are, and have been, unplayable for a substantial length of time does indeed have the right to require a default since the home captain apparently failed in her responsibility to ascertain the condition of the courts at the appropriate time. 


Member Comment:  Perhaps if all captains made an effort to be at their courts by 9am, some last-minute problems could be averted.

Board Response:  Many do -- and it makes a difference!


Team Structure:

    Many times in the past we have asked the captains if they want USTA ratings to determine which division ladies can play in or which position in a line-up.  The vote has always been to allow ladies to play in whichever division and on whichever team they would like to play.  During this season, the board was asked to review a situation of a 4.0-ranked player in division 5.  The board found that there were extenuating circumstances -- both personal and team-related -- and concluded that the situation was reasonable.  The board will continue to monitor such situations on a case-by-case basis when brought to its attention. 


Member Comment:  I feel that no one rated above 3.0 should play in division 5.  It's no fun getting "blown off the court" -- many of us are new to the game and are just learning. 

Board Answer:  In addition to what was stated above, there are several other important considerations.  With regard to division 5 specifically, limiting player levels would make the division even smaller than it currently is -- not what the division 5 teams have requested.  In general, we have seen through the years that individuals rarely stay in a division that is out of line with their level of play -- it's no fun for them either.  Many times it is a case of a club being able to field a team only if they can include a wide range of players available at their club.  The Board feels it is more important that anyone who wants to play in CALTA may do so and should be able to do it out of the club they belong to.

Member Response:  That makes sense.  



    All CALTA captains were polled by e-mail recently about the issue of subs.  It was the general consensus that teams want to be able to have subs but that a limit on the number allowed would be desirable.  The board has elected to limit the number of subs on a team to 5, beginning with the 2007-2008 season.  There will still be no limit on the number of dues-paying members that a team can have.  The Rules and Roster Input forms for next season will be amended to reflect this change.


2007 CALTA LUNCHEON- Lynn McNally, Treasurer

    This year's luncheon will be on Tuesday, May 15 at 11:30 am again at the Omar Shrine Center.  As in past years, there will be police-directed free parking for the event.   Invitations will again be sent by e-mail early in April to all captains.

Many CALTA members remember when each division was responsible for arranging its own luncheon.  Since 2003, when we celebrated the 30th anniversary of the founding of City League, CALTA's predecessor, the tradition has been to have one joint luncheon for all divisions -- and it has been a huge success.  This year, for the first time in many years, there will be a price increase -- from $15 to $20 for dues-paying members, and from $20 to $25 for subs.  Captains are urged to encourage all their players to attend.  There will again be a raffle to benefit the Junior Recognition Program.  Donations of items for the raffle are welcome and the artist/craftsperson/shop will be promoted.  Business cards can be displayed.  Donors should note that donations to CALTA are not tax-deductible as charitable contributions (CALTA is a social 501c7 organization -- not a charitable 501c3) but are deductible as business expenses and a tax id for such purposes can be provided.   


JUNIOR RECOGNITION PROGRAM - Pamela Doggett, Secretary & Chair of Junior Recognition Program

    When CALTA was established in 2001, its mission statement included: "to identify junior women's tennis needs in the Charleston area and apply CALTA's available resources in support of them."  The program started modestly, with an allocation of $2,000 budgeted from dues.  Since then, in the 5 years of the program's existence, 84 grants totaling almost $27,000 have been given -- despite only $2,000 budgeted each year from dues.  Most of the funds have come from the annual luncheon raffle, which has been gratifyingly successful thanks both to the hard work of those involved in gathering the items and to the enthusiastic support of our members. Recently, as the local tennis community has learned of the impact of our program, funds have been donated from a variety of other sources -- from individual CALTA members, from teams and tennis centers at social functions and tournaments, from memorials organized on behalf of departed members, and so on. 

    Every spring, packets are sent to all the appropriate schools in the Charleston area, as well as every private tennis club and every public tennis facility.  Nomination forms are also available on our web site and it is announced in the Post & Courier.  Anyone in the Charleston area can submit a nomination and the recipients may use their grants for any tennis-related purpose -- which explains the change in the name of our program to specify "recognition".  We felt that it better reflected the wider focus of the program.  We recognize ability and help train it; we recognize effort and encourage it; we recognize achievement and reward it; we recognize need and try to fill the gaps.  Our awards have covered the full range -- from the basics of putting shoes on feet and racquets in hands to funding lessons and clinics, sending girls to tennis camp, and helping out with tournament and travel expenses for the very serious.  Indirectly we have helped girls to receive tennis scholarships, both from the extra learning opportunities afforded and from the added accolade on the college admission applications.  And we are grateful to the local pros who have matched our grants with equal time lessons and clinics for those deserving and in need.

    As Lynn mentioned, we will again have a raffle at our luncheon to benefit the Junior Recognition Program.  This year's promises to be bigger and better than ever.  Back by popular demand will be another of Lynn's fabulous quilts, tennis and golf lessons, original art, handmade jewelry, wine, spa and exercise packages, a portrait package, and a lot more.  Again, we ask that if there is anyone who would like to showcase their talents and display their wares, please contact any Board member -- it's for a very good cause!



There being no further business on the agenda or from the floor, the meeting was adjourned.