Annual CALTA Captains' Meeting
January 7, 2008
The 2008 annual captains' meeting was held on January 7 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 56 CALTA teams, 40 were represented.
INTRODUCTION - Linda von Grotthuss, President
The main reason for this annual meeting is to give all CALTA members a forum to express opinions, suggest ideas on ways CALTA can be made even better, and for the Board to answer any questions CALTA members may have. The main goal of the CALTA Board is to facilitate our 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. There are currently 712 dues-paying members and 140 subs listed in our CALTA web site, and 27 matches are played on every scheduled Tuesday during the season. This means that, assuming no forfeits, there are 432 CALTA members playing matches every Tuesday. The Board's primary function is to ensure that this all runs smoothly.
The Board meets usually once a month and keeps in constant contact by e-mail to discuss any issues that come up. There are currently 12 positions on the CALTA Board, with an expected turnover of at least 5 of them next year.
The Executive Board is comprised of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, who are elected for a two-year term. The current executive board is serving the first year of its fourth 2-year term. The four executive Board members were introduced. In addition to the Executive Board, there are three at-large directors who serve staggered 3-year terms. The three at-large directors were introduced and their role explained. The division coordinators were introduced and their functions discussed. The selection of the division coordinators is done immediately after the division structuring process early in June. The Board makes every effort to rotate coordinator responsibility among teams, taking into account the movement of teams between divisions and the changes in team rosters from year to year. Captains will be notified, in late June or early July, if their team has been selected as a coordinating team and will be asked to make every effort to identify a willing and able team member to accept the job. 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 due to serious problems with junk mail. 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. Captains were asked to let the Board know if there is anything they would like to see added to the web site. One change this year is the addition of an on-line application form for the Junior Recognition Program.
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. Anyone aware of a group that is thinking of starting a new team should alert them, or their pro, to this requirement.
Every existing team that wants to continue to play in the 2008-2009 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 since it can be crippling to the schedule when teams cancel at the last minute. This past year, unlike the previous two seasons, had no last-minute drop-outs, thanks in part to a cooperative effort among the Division 5 captains. The Board thanked them for their flexibility..
The Board begins the division structuring process on June 1, as soon as all the Continuing Team Forms and New Team Applications are received. The Board begins by listing each team in each division 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. Listed next to each team is the division it requested to play in, with notes indicating any special circumstances for a specific team, such as gaining/losing stronger/weaker members. This is all available for perusal by any CALTA member by requesting the link to the web page. Of the 56 teams signed up for the 2007-2008 season, 12 teams requested Division 1, 12 requested Division 2, (with 3 others volunteering for wither Division 2 or 3), 12 teams requested Division 3 (with one team amenable to either 3 or 4), 10 teams requested Division 4 and 6 teams requested Division 5. A team that gives the Board an option contributes to much-needed flexibility but that still does not resolve all the issues.
CALTA's schedule is defined by a season of 26, 27 or 28 matches, from the end of August through the beginning of May (following the Charleston Public School system), with 2 or 3 matches against each of the other teams in the division plus several official make-up days included in the schedule. Because of the length of our calendar, there cannot be more than 14 teams in a division. It was explained that this is not an arbitrary decision. There are simply not enough days in the calendar for 15 or 16 teams to play 2 rounds and still have a few make-up days. Conversely, 11 or 12 teams in a division doesn't work because two rounds of play would make for too short a season and there are not enough days available for three rounds. So, unless there is a specific need for a small division to accommodate a certain level of play (as with Division 5 this year), the ideal division sizes are 9 or 10 (with 3 rounds) or 13 or 14 (with two rounds). This approach has been reviewed at past Captains' meetings, with the clear majority of the captains indicating their approval with continuing this approach.
In the current season, in order to achieve viable division sizes, a few teams had to be placed in divisions that were not their choice. There were teams in both Divisions 1 and 2 who requested a lower division. While those specific situations will be remedied this coming year, assuming the teams still want a different placement, there is no guarantee that another team will not be placed in its first choice of division.
The Board is aware of the uneven level of competition in this season's Division 1. The following solution is being considered: There are currently a total of 27 teams in Divisions 1 and 2 combined -- 14 in Div. 1, 13 in Div. 2. Assuming that all those teams continue to play next year, those 27 teams could be split into three divisions of 9 each, or a 10,9,8 combination -- all of which works within the calendar. (A division of 8 teams would have 4 rounds of play.) The Board will also endeavor to eliminate the uneven levels of play in Divisions 4 and 5. This could result in a 6-division structure next season.
The Board will not know exactly what there will be to work with until all the team requests are in. Each year is a new slate until the number of teams and the levels of any new teams are ascertained -- but the Board assured the captains that the goal is always to have as level a playing field as possible in each division. The Board will communicate with the team captains throughout the process.
The Charleston Public School calendar is the basis for CALTA's season, and the Board tries to schedule play only on days that school is in session. While the school calendar for next year is not yet available, the Board assumes that the 2008-2009 season will be very similar to the current season.
Changes to the CALTA Charter:
In previous years, divisions with 10 or fewer teams were given awards for only first and second place. Paragraph 17 of our Charter, which deals with the annual luncheon and division awards, now says that "in each division, the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place teams will be recognized with awards -- and if there is a tie at the third-place level, both teams will receive awards. Ties in first and second place will still be resolved by counting sets and then games, if necessary, but third-place ties will stand at total match count.
RULES & CAPTAINS' RESPONSIBILITIES - Nancy Pitcairn, Vice President & Rules Chairman
Two changes had been made to the Rules for the current season -- limiting the number of subs to a maximum of 5 per team, and clarifying what defines an emergency (a verifiable public situation, not normal traffic or a flat tire, etc.) to determine when the 10:00am deadline is in effect. As there were no objections from the floor, these changes will be considered permanent.
The CALTA rules on forfeits currently state that the team that forfeits must communicate the forfeit to the opposing team by 8:00am the morning of the match, unless there is a last-minute emergency. The Board is adding "by telephone" to this rule. Even though we may use e-mail for much of our communication, there are still many instances where such a message will not be seen in time. This happened with a team this year and the captain receiving the forfeit did not get the e-mail message. She found out about it prior to the match when she herself called the other captain to forfeit. This led to another issue: In this case a "double default" should be applied and neither team receives a point. The Board understands that many teams wait until the last minute to declare a forfeit in case the other team may call first -- so this is an honor system situation. The Board obviously cannot and will not police this. Two additional points: A forfeit should be given the night before the match, if known, and it is also permissible, in the case of a double default, for the two captains to agree to reschedule the match.
Conduct and Sportsmanship:
The subject of conduct and sportsmanship arose this past season, with both official grievances and unofficial reports filed or noted against players who exhibited poor on-court behavior and questionable line calls. While the Board does not have a specific mechanism in place for penalizing anyone for such behavior, the Board does keep a record of complaints, and, if and when the preponderance of evidence suggests action needs to be taken, the Board will endeavor, on a case by case basis, to resolve the problem. This year a warning letter was sent to an individual, detailing the pattern of bad conduct logged by the Board and informing the individual that, should this behavior continue, the Board would consider suspending her from CALTA play. The issue was resolved amicably. Captains were encouraged (as noted in the Captains' Responsibilities document) to report instances of poor conduct to the Board so that future grievances might be avoided.
Captains were reminded to report scores in a timely fashion, and kudos was given to Division 3 for always being on time!
Last, and in response to a situation that occurred on the courts recently when a player collapsed and no one knew how to reach a family member, it was suggested that captains discuss with their teams how an emergency situation like this might be handled. Players should be encouraged to carry emergency contact information with them on court.
The floor was then opened to questions.
Member Question: In a previous league in Ohio, we scored a point for every set won. Could this be done in CALTA?
Member Comment: In Division 1, that would help those teams at the "bottom" feel better about their performance.
Member Comment: But it could also put undue pressure on captains to put out line-ups geared toward big wins in two sets.
Board Comment: The Board will look back at the matches played so far this season and see what effect this kind of scoring would have on the standings.
[Post-meeting addition: The board subsequently studied this proposal and decided against it. Scoring a point for each set won could lead to a situation where a team whose losses were in straight sets could end up ranking lower overall than a team that won fewer total matches (on a 2-of-3 basis) but that benefited from the extra point awarded for a third set won in losses. The Board discussed several possible variations on this type of outcome, which is contrary to the traditional approach that a tennis match is won by winning two sets. The Board decided that winning/losing in two sets or three sets should not be an issue in the total overall scoring. It was noted that, although the current team standings did not show any change at the top of the rankings when this suggested approach was applied, there were some significant differences in the middle of the standings.]
Member Question: In New Jersey, we scored one point for winning the overall match.
Board Answer: This would not work for CALTA since we play four courts per match and there would be no winner with a 2-2 split.
Member Question: I know that we have the option of playing a 10-point tiebreak in lieu of a third set, but who decides and when?
Board Answer: The decision is usually made at the end of the second set but can be made at any time. The key is that all four players must willingly agree to it. It is not a majority decision. If one player does not want to play a tiebreak, a third set is played.
Member Question: In Jackson we held singles matches for a set period of time before we began the doubles matches. Could we do that in CALTA?
Board Answer: No, CALTA is a doubles league. There are already singles leagues in place in the Charleston area.
2008 CALTA LUNCHEON- Lynn McNally, Treasurer
This year's luncheon will be on Tuesday, May 13 at 11:30 am again at the Omar Auditorium. The price to attend will again be $20 for dues-paying members, $25 for subs. Invitations will be sent by e-mail to all captains in April and it will be their responsibility to forward them to their players. Everyone is encouraged to come. It is an opportunity for all CALTA players in all divisions to come together. This will be our sixth annual all-division luncheon. 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 and a festive way to end the season. Omar is the ideal place since they can set up tables of any size/shape -- allowing each team to sit together, no matter how large the team. There is ample parking and again this year there will be police-directed free parking for the event. And once again we will have the very popular raffle that benefits CALTA's Junior Recognition Program. Everyone is encouraged to participate in the raffle. It is dependent on contributions from our members, many of whom have a particular talent that the raffle can showcase. All donations are welcome and will be given appropriate signage, crediting the contributor/shop/artist/craftsman.
JUNIOR RECOGNITION PROGRAM - Pamela Doggett, Secretary & Chair of Junior Recognition Program
When CALTA was established in 2001, its mission statement said in part that CALTA would identify junior women's tennis needs in the Charleston area and apply CALTA's available resources in support of them. Since then, in the six years of the program's existence, 119 grants totaling over $36,000 have been given -- even with only $2,000 budgeted from dues each year. The rest of the funds come primarily from the luncheon raffle (and some from individual donations).
Due to the growth of the program, there will be one change this year: all nominations will be required to be submitted on-line through the CALTA web site. This will allow all Board members (who collectively form the Junior Recognition Program committee) to see the applications as they are submitted and will give them sufficient time to study them and to have all the individual information prior to the selection meeting.
As in the past, letters will be mailed to all schools, tennis clubs and public facilities in the Charleston area, explaining the procedures. Information will also be posted on the CALTA web site and James Beck will be asked to put a notice in his column in the Post and Courier. These letters will be sent earlier this year (March 15) in order to give those submitting nominations time to get used to the new format. The final deadline for submittal remains April 30. The Board will meet the week after the luncheon to make the selections.
There being no further business on the agenda or from the floor, the meeting was adjourned.