Annual CALTA Captains' Meeting


January 12, 2009


    The 2009 annual captains' meeting was held on January 12 in the Grill Room of Omar Auditorium, Patriot's Point, Mount Pleasant.  Refreshments were served at 9:30AM and the meeting started at 10:00AM.  Of the 54 CALTA teams, 43 were represented.  


INTRODUCTION - Linda von Grotthuss, President

The primary 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 meeting format is informal; Robert's Rules are not in use; questions/comments are welcome at any time during the meeting. 


As stated in previous years, Linda explained that 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 mornings.  As of the date of the meeting, there were 738 dues-paying members and 130 subs listed in the CALTA web site; 26 matches are played on every scheduled Tuesday during the season.  This means that, assuming no forfeits, there are 416 CALTA members playing matches every Tuesday.  The Board's primary function is to provide and maintain a structure that allows for this.  The full Board meets approximately 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. 


The Executive Board is comprised of the President, Vice President, Secretary and Treasurer, who are elected for a two-year term.  The current President, Webmaster and Scheduler is Linda von Grotthuss; the Vice President and Chairman of the Rules Committee is Nancy Pitcairn, who also backs up Linda on the web site and enters the weekly scores; the Secretary and Chairman of the Junior Recognition Program is Pamela Doggett; the Treasurer is Lynn McNally.  The Executive Board is elected for a two-year term.  CALTA was formed in 2001 when it was realized that City League was in need of coordinated organization.  The Board believes strongly that the smooth functioning of our organization depends on continuity of leadership and that is why, as a group, the Executive Board is serving its fourth two-year term; in accordance with the CALTA Charter, since this is the second year of the current term, there will be an election in the Spring of this year. 


In addition to the Executive Board, there are three At-large Directors who serve staggered 3-year terms.  Prior to meeting date, one of these positions was vacant as Denise Lauer resigned her position recently.  Denise had served as Coordinator for two years and was in her third year as an At-large Director.  On behalf of the Board and the membership, Linda thanked Denise for her many years of dedicated service.  Carole Davie, a past Coordinator, has agreed to finish out Denise's term.  Hutchie Cummin, who plays out of Seabrook, is serving her second year as an At-large Director; Donna Shoaf, from Family Circle, is serving her first year as an At-large Director.  Both Hutchie and Donna previously served as Coordinators; in fact, in recent years our new At-large Directors have been former Division Coordinators as usually at least one of the Coordinators expresses a desire to remain on the Board in another capacity.  At-large Directors are appointed by the Executive Board and are full voting members of the Board.


CALTA currently is comprised of five divisions and each division has a Coordinator.

The Division Coordinators assist in communication between the Board and the Captains and they organize the reporting of the weekly scores for the web site.  They are full voting members of the Board and are involved in all the Board's decision-making throughout the year.  They also help with plans for the annual luncheon. The Coordinators this season are:

Div. 1 - Megan Zwerner; Div. 2 - Martha Stoney; Div. 3 - Christine Faenza; Div. 4 - Renee Holoubek; Div. 5 - Donna Norvelle. 

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.  Volunteers are welcome!


2008 Minutes and Financial Report:   

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.  It was noted that the minutes of all of CALTA's annual meetings, beginning in 2001, are on the CALTA web site -- and they make for interesting reading about the development of the policies and activities of our organization. 


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 are encouraged to check the web site frequently.  Most questions can be answered through the web site -- almost everything Captains and players need to know is there!  Any Board member would be happy to assist any member who would like assistance accessing/using the site.  The Board also welcomes suggestions as to additions or changes to the web site.


Division Structure:

    For new teams the Board will continue to require that a "New Team Application" be accompanied by a nonrefundable dues deposit 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 accommodate any team in the Charleston area that expresses an interest in playing as long as that team's tennis center has enough courts to accommodate the 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.  CALTA welcomed two new teams this season -- one from Park West, one from The Players Club.

    Every existing team that wants to continue to play in the 2009-2010 season will again be asked to complete a "Continuing Team Form".  The form will be posted on the web site early in May.  An e-mail will be sent to all captains announcing when it is available.  The form must be submitted by the end of May for the team to be included in the schedule.  It is not necessary to have a roster or even a captain name when submitting the Continuing Team Form in May.  All that is required at that point is the name of a summer contact for the team and in which division the team wishes to play.

    As in past years, it will not be necessary to submit rosters and dues until just before play starts in August.  The Board does request that a submission represent a viable team when the form is submitted.  If there are changes occurring at a tennis center, the captains there are urged to communicate with each other as well as with the CALTA Board.  It is crippling to the scheduling process when a team drops out at the last minute.  This past year there were two last-minute drop-outs.  In one case it was possible to simply add a "bye" since there were an even number of teams in the original schedule; in the other case, the entire division's schedule had to be redone -- not an easy task when all the other divisions are already complete and published. 

     The Board will begin the division structuring process on June 1, as soon as all the Continuing Team Forms and New Team Applications have been 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, e.g., if they are gaining/losing stronger/weaker members.  This is all available for perusal by any CALTA member by requesting the link to the web page.  What then determines how these teams are divided into divisions is not only the request of the team but also the structure of our calendar and the constraints it implies for division size.   Ideally, CALTA's schedule is defined by a season of 26 or 27 matches for a division, from the end of August through the end of April, plus several official make-up days included in the schedule.  Each team plays every other team in its division two or three times -- with an even home/away pattern over the course of the entire year.  Because of the length of our calendar (which follows the Charleston Public School's), 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 two 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 the past two years), the ideal division sizes are 9 or 10 (with 3 rounds of play -- 27 matches) or 13 or 14 (with two rounds -- 26 matches).  This approach has been reviewed at past Captains' meetings, with the clear majority of the captains indicating their approval with continuing this approach whenever possible.  

   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.


   Member Question: Could this annual meeting be held on a Tuesday since that is our league day?

   Board Answer: No.  That would take away one of our regularly scheduled match days and would result in the loss of a make-up day.  (Monday had been chosen by a vote at a prior captains' meeting.)  A show of hands was requested of those who would prefer the meeting on a Tuesday -- no response.


   Member Question:  We did not want to play the December 16 match since it was so close to the holidays.  Can you not schedule matches that late in December?

   Board Answer:  Again, this is a reflection of the basic calendar that the Board works with.  We needed to use that date in order to have a minimum of three make-up days for each division.  Four is actually the target. If both captains agree to schedule their match on another day, they always have that option. 



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

[As Nancy was absent, this portion of the meeting was presented by Renee Holoubek, Div. 4 Coordinator.]


Renee commented that it was a pleasure to stand in for Nancy in a year when there had been no grievances filed and we were proposing no new rules.


Review of 2008-2009 Rules changes:

The only change that had been made last year for the current season regarded the issue of communicating forfeits.  Our rule requests that forfeits be communicated by phone by 8AM the morning of the match.  Our Rules also state that "It is considered common courtesy to forfeit the night before, if known."  While this is not required, it is much appreciated.  In the case of mutual forfeits, the honor code comes into play.  And it should be noted that CALTA Rules allow captains to reschedule mutually forfeited matches, if desired; if not rescheduled, neither team receives the point.


Cell Phone Usage:

The Board had received questions regarding the use of cell phones on the court.  Our rule says: "Cellular phones and pagers are not allowed on the court.  Under special circumstances, a cell phone or pager may be used on the court if approved in advance by all players on the court.  If not agreed to in advance by all players on the court, a penalty of one point will be imposed for each interruption."


    Member Question:  What about a medical emergency?

    Board Answer:  The rule covers this -- and we assume no one would object under such circumstances.

    Member Reply: But they did!

    Board Answer: Unfortunately the rule is on their side, although we doubt that the majority of our members would be.  Accept the point penalty if necessary and hope you never have to deal with that particular individual again!

    Member Comment:  Another option -- one of our players has a diabetic child so she always has her phone on vibrate and wears it when she plays.


"Strength" Line-ups:

In response to a question received about player levels and line-ups:  CALTA does not require that NTRP ratings be used to determine placement in a line-up and CALTA does not use "strength sheets".  Our Charter states: "A player may play in any division she chooses regardless of her NTRP rating."


Timing between points:

A player had e-mailed asking for clarification concerning time limits on court.  CALTA allows 20 seconds between points, 90 seconds during a change of side (including after the first game), and 10 minutes are allowed between the second and third sets or before a 10-point match tie-break.  No time is allowed before or during a set tie-break.  The Board has heard a number of complaints about players taking too long between points.  The Board suggested that polite reminders be made and that, if the offenses are repeated, they be reported to the Board for monitoring and possible Board action.


    Member Question:  Isn't there an automatic penalty?

    Board Answer:  No, without officials, we cannot issue penalties.  Again, try to settle it on the court but, if that doesn't work satisfactorily, keep track of the violations and report them to the Board.


    Member Question:  When are bathroom breaks allowed?

    Board Answer:  At change-overs, unless it's an emergency.


[Later in the meeting a clarification was made in response to a question from the floor regarding 10-point match tie-breaks in lieu of a full third set.  The CALTA Rules do not legislate either a full third set or a match tie-break.  The decision to play a 10-point tie-break instead of a third set is decided by the four players and has to be unanimous -- all four players must willingly agree.  The decision itself can be made at any time prior to the third set -- including during a 10-minute break after the second set.]


Match Start Time:

The last rules item on the agenda regarded various aspects of starting on time. 

    It was emphasized that players -- both home and visitors -- have the right to expect matches to start on time.  All players are expected to be on the court and ready to play at 9:30.  Line-ups are to be exchanged at 9:30 regardless of whether all players have arrived.   While there is a "grace" period until 9:45 (10:00 with a verifiable, serious, non-isolated traffic incident), this is not a justification to arrive late at will. 

    The home team is responsible for ensuring that their courts are playable by 9:30.  This does not mean arriving at 9:30 and then preparing the courts for play.  There have been multiple issues recently due to the weather.  When there has been overnight rain or there is morning moisture (dew), the home captain has two choices: 1) cancel the match and reschedule, or 2) prepare the courts for on-time (or mutually agreed-upon delayed start time) play.  She does not have the option of expecting the visiting team to wait until the courts are dried.  Home teams need to be realistic as to how long it will take the courts to dry and advise the visiting team appropriately.

    CALTA's Rule 12 states:  "If the weather is questionable, the host captain may suggest to the visiting team that they postpone travel until she makes the decision (no later than 8:45AM) whether or not to play, and, if the decision is to play, to start the match at a later time that morning.  If this is inconvenient for the visiting team, the visiting team may request a rescheduling."  This rule can serve as a guideline when there is a moisture problem.  It is recommended that someone from the home team visit the courts early in the morning to determine if they are playable and, if not, to estimate the amount of time and effort required to make them playable for an on-time start.  Every effort should be made by the home facility/team to make the courts playable by 9:30.  If the home captain judges this to be impossible, this should be communicated to the visiting team and a mutual decision can be made regarding a delayed start time or a rescheduling. 


    At this point in the presentation, the floor was opened for discussion.  Because of the recent (damp, moist, foggy) weather conditions this season, there were many experiences described -- visiting teams arriving to damp, unplayable courts where no one had made an attempt to dry them; visiting teams arriving to damp, unplayable courts in spite of a home team's diligent efforts to dry them; matches started on time on courts considered playable by all the players only to have the facility's management require them to leave the courts; 15-minute waits; one-hour waits; et al.  The conclusion of the discussion, with a consensus of the captains present, was that 1) timely and accurate communication between the captains and 2) due diligence in drying efforts by the home team are the keys to minimizing the irritations that these kinds of situations can cause.  

    There was an exchange between the captains of two teams who had been scheduled to play each other the previous week.  The home team captain had not communicated with the visiting captain since she assumed, as had been their experience in the past, that they could make the courts playable by 9:30 and in fact the home players arrived early and made every effort to do so.  Despite the efforts of the home team (using blowers, squeejies, towels), it was obvious that the courts would not be ready by 9:45; the visiting team then left.  Since she had not been contacted prior to traveling, the visiting captain did not want to reschedule but wanted to have a mutual default with no points given to either team.  The home team captain agreed that she was wrong to assume at 7:30 that the courts would be able to be dried (as had been their consistent experience in recent seasons with similar dampness situations) and stated that in the future she would not fail to communicate the possibility of damp courts at match time (even if she thought they could be prepared in time).  But, she felt that, since due diligence had been performed by the home team and decisions made in good faith based on their previous experiences, the match should be rescheduled.  The visiting captain asked the Board for its opinion.  The Board's response was that there is no hard and fast rule that covers this -- but, given that diligent effort was clearly made by the home team, the Board's opinion was that, in keeping with the fun spirit of CALTA, rescheduling would be the recommended and appropriate solution -- and, if the visiting team did not agree with this, they had the option of filing a grievance.  The general opinion that was voiced by the captains attending was that it would be appropriate to reschedule the match.


    Member Question: Could we start our matches at 10:00 instead of 9:30?

    Reply:  A resounding "no" from the room.




2009 CALTA LUNCHEON- Lynn McNally, Treasurer

    This year's luncheon will be on Tuesday, May 12 at 11:30AM again at the Omar Auditorium.  An invitation will be sent by e-mail to all captains in April and it will be their responsibility to forward it to their players. 

    Lynn reviewed the history of our luncheon . . . Before CALTA was formed from its predecessor "City League", there were three separate divisions of City League (A, B1, B2).  They were run independently of each other and each was responsible for arranging its own luncheon.  For two years CALTA continued with the separate division luncheons -- some of which were not very successful due to difficulties finding affordable locations that could accommodate the team tables.  In many cases the food was poor quality and/or too expensive and the teams could not sit together but had to be separated.  In 2003, when we decided to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the founding of City League, the captains were polled as to whether they would be interested in having one large luncheon for all divisions.  The majority (by far) answer was "yes" and since then we have held one joint luncheon for all divisions.  It has proven to be a great success and has been very well received by our members.  It is a festive way to end the season and provides an opportunity to socialize with all CALTA members. 

    This year's luncheon will follow the pattern of previous years, including custom table sizes so that all members of a team can sit together, police to handle parking (free), gifts for all members, door prizes for each table, awards for the winning teams -- and the very popular raffle that benefits CALTA's Junior Recognition Program.  It was noted that Omar has a new food manager who comes from the widely recognized Hamby's Catering and we are looking forward to working with him on our menu.

    The price to attend will again be $20 for dues-paying members, $25 for subs.


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

    CALTA's Junior Recognition Program has been in existence for seven years.  In that time, CALTA has awarded 165 grants totaling almost $46,000.  Since only $2,000 is allocated from annual dues, this means that $32,000 has been raised through the generosity of our members at our annual fundraiser -- the raffle at our annual luncheon. 

    Last year the Junior Recognition Program began using on-line applications so that the entire Board (which acts as the committee for the program) could see the individual applications as they were submitted and read Pamela's annotations indicating previous nominations/awards of the applicant.  The Board felt that the decision-making process was significantly improved with their being able to have sufficient time to study the applications prior to the selection meeting. 

    As in past years, Pamela will mail an informational packet to all schools, private clubs and public facilities in the Charleston area. Nomination forms will be available on the CALTA web site and we hope to have the Post and Courier announce the program in its tennis column.  The final deadline for submittal remains April 30.  The Board will meet the week after the luncheon to make the selections. 

    Pamela noted that every year the Board receives letters, phone calls, e-mails from our winners and their parents.  Many of the recipients want to go to college and are hoping for tennis scholarships.  The money they receive from CALTA helps with lessons and clinics to improve their game and their ratings -- and the recognition is an added bonus on the college application.  Many award winners continue to keep the Board up to date on their progress with notes and newspaper clippings.  Pamela read into the record the following note received this year:

        Dear Women of CALTA:

        I just wanted to say thank you so much for supporting me all these years.  I really appreciate everything you all

        have done for me and I probably wouldn't be where I am without your help.  Everything that you all have done is so

        wonderful, especially for the tennis society, and Charleston is very lucky to have this Association.  This year I have been

        interviewing with many college coaches and I will be playing Nationals, WTAs and ITFs.  I will keep in touch.  Once again, I

        am so thankful for your support!  Sincerely, Caroline


Member Comment:  The luncheon puts too much emphasis on the raffle and not enough on the winning teams.  I would like to see more recognition for the winning teams and less time taken for the raffle.  The Board members could draw tickets during the luncheon and write the winning number or name on a card beside the item.


Board Reply:  These comments had been sent in a letter (by the same member) to the Board in June 2008 and the Board had considered these suggestions.

    Regarding recognition for the winning teams, they are asked to stand as they are announced and are asked to go to the "Winners' Circle" where their team photo is taken; the photos are kept in the web site during the following season.  [Seating the winning teams separately at the front of the room, as had been suggested in the member's letter, would not be feasible since the luncheon tables are grouped by division.]  The Board will consider the possibility of more visible identification of the winning tables.

    Regarding the raffle, writing names would not work since many of the members buy dozens (many dozens!) of tickets. The Board had discussed the use of display cards with the winning numbers but were unanimously against that approach since many members have told the Board that they very much enjoy the excitement and anticipation of the announcements and hearing the group's responses to the individual items.  [That approach also would introduce its own set of complications with 450+ members crowded around the raffle tables trying to read the numbers and checking their many tickets. This type of approach works well at a raffle where each attendee receives one ticket but not in our type of raffle.]  Every effort is made to keep the raffle moving very quickly -- different color tickets; runners to distribute to the winners, etc.  In fact the 100+ items at last year's luncheon were handled in less than an hour.  The Board received many comments from attendees about how they had thoroughly enjoyed that part of the luncheon and hoped it wouldn't be changed. 

    The Board will continue to solicit reactions from the members about the various aspects of the luncheon and will make every effort to be responsive to the majority opinions and requests. 



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