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  • Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    As we approach the end of January, we would normally announce the date for the AGM for the Gainsborough Evening Tennis League – to be held early in March. We would also ask club officials to consider how many teams they will be fielding for the coming season.

    At present, it is not clear what the situation will be when the season would normally commence in April.

    It may be sensible, however, to begin with two assumptions:
    • It will not be feasible to convene a normal AGM in March
    • An uninterrupted full playing season (April to August) looks unlikely

    As club activity was severely restricted last year, it may be difficult for clubs to predict which players will be available at this stage so it could be some time before club representatives are in a position to commit to the season.

    So, we propose that decisions over league matches are delayed until the situation becomes more clear.

    If we are to hold matches, they could be scheduled to commence in May – assuming this would comply with Government legislation and guidance issued by the LTA applicable at that time.

    There will be a range of options to consider when we all have more information available:

    • Run 3 divisions based on league positions at the end of the 2019 season with a single match against each opponent (either home or away)
    • Run 4 divisions as discussed at the AGM in March 2020 (dependent upon sufficient teams entering)
    • Organise the two knockout cup tournaments if there are sufficient weeks available
    • If a significant proportion of clubs consider it is not advisable to proceed, forego match fixtures again for the 2021 summer season

    If we agree to run either three or four divisions, teams will be ranked according to their finishing positions in the 2019 season reflecting promotions and relegations so effectively, the same situation that would have pertained at the start of the 2020 season.

    philgreen113
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    Hi, is the option of running the tournaments to be as a stand alone alternative to one match league fixtures or to be staged alongside one match league fixtures?

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    As I see it, the options are to hold the league AND the cup tournaments or just hold the league matches if we end up having limited weeks available. I don’t think the cup tournaments will work fairly without league matches because there would be nothing to restrict the use of stronger players in later rounds of the Holmes tournament – no nominations, etc. If there are three divisions, there would only be one match against each opponent but with four divisions, there could be a home and away match against each opponent as there would be fewer teams in each division and therefore fewer weeks required. The downside of having four divisions was that there would be significantly fewer matches for each team but in the current cicumstances, that would be a distinct advantage – assuming we get to play league matches at all.

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    One further thought: Changing to four divisions this season then back to three divisions next season would imply that any potential promotion or relegation at the end of this season would be irrelevant. We would need a minimum of 28 teams for four divisions to be sustainable and there are unlikely to be extra teams this season.

    nickadams8
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    Good Evening,
    With guidance now allowing the resumption of Tennis from the 29th, we’d be happy for the league to resume once regulations allow. My proposal is for the league to stay in its original format, as to what it was going to be last year, with the view to move to a fourth division in 2022. Also, if guidance results in competitive tennis / doubles to not be allowed until we move through the further easing of restrictions (so May/June), is that we play each team home or away, and play both cup’s alongside.
    I’d also propose if possible, initial away matches to be as close to the opposing team as possible, if many players are required to travel alone, and leave the longer distanced matches to the end of summer where hopefully the tighter restrictions have been lifted.

    As a final idea, last year at Scotter we used separate balls for each player, to avoid cross-contamination from picking each other’s balls up. However we recognise this may be a problem in matches with ball supply.

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    Here are the clubs that have confirmed their teams for 2021 [10 Mar]

    Brigg 3 teams (confirmed)
    Epworth 4 teams (confirmed)
    Gainsborough 2 teams (confirmed)
    Haxey 3 teams (confirmed)
    North Scarle 2 teams (confirmed)
    Retford 3 teams (confirmed)
    Saxilby 1 team (confirmed)
    Scotter 2 teams (confirmed)
    Wheatley 4 teams (confirmed)
    Wheatley Hills 2 teams (confirmed)

    26 TEAMS TOTAL

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    Proposed timetable for League activities:

    Wed 10 March – deadline for team entries, return of contact sheets

    Fri 12 March – options published with recommendation (i.e. number of divisions and implications for fixtures)

    Mon 15 March – deadline for final response from clubs

    (Mon 29 March – current date for outdoor sports to resume)

    Wed 31 March – target date for publication of GETL fixture list and Cup Draw with Captains’ contact list. Player nominations sheet distributed to team Captains.

    Friday 30 April deadline for receipt of nominated players lists from clubs

    [Nominated players list to be circulated to Captains before fixtures commence]

    May (date to be confirmed) Inter-club league matches begin. Note that fixtures involving two teams in the same division from the same club may be scheduled in late April, if necessary.

    Sunday 5 Sept – GETL Finals Day

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    OPTIONS DISCUSSED AND RECOMMENDATION

    We have 26 teams for the 2021 season – the same as in 2020. Wheatley Hills has entered a second team and Brigg 4 has withdrawn.
    The season is now 17 weeks maximum if we commence matches on 3 May and finish on 27 August.
    If we run the two cup tournaments, this will account for 3 weeks leaving 14 weeks for league matches.

    There are various options, all of which have been considered:

    Option 1A (3 Divisions)
    Run three divisions as in 2019 (and planned for 2020) with 8 teams in Div 1 and 9 teams in Divs 2 & 3.
    In Divs two and three, each team would play opponents once either home or away. In Divs 2 &3, there would be 8 matches played over 9 weeks, with each team having a “bye” week.
    In Div 1, there would be only 7 matches played over 7 weeks. So in Division 1, first round cup losers would have only 8 matches in total during the season, if there was only a home or away fixture.
    Conclusion: This fails to provide sufficient fixtures

    Option 1B (3 Divisions)

    There is the option in Div one to play each opponent twice over 14 weeks which still leaves three weeks for cup matches but no leeway (apart from cup eliminations).
    Conclusion This fails to address the problem of too few fixtures in the lower divisions.

    Option 1C (3 Divisions)

    Not schedule cup matches and have home and away matches in 3 divisions however this requires 18 weeks so would only work if we started matches on 26 April or played into September when daylight is an issue.
    Conclusion: We have undertaken to delay inter-club matches until May and we need to complete the league by the end of August so this is not feasible in 17 weeks.

    Option 2A (4 Divisions)

    Run four divisions as proposed at the 2020 AGM with each team playing opponents both home and away. For this to work equitably, there must be an equal number of teams in the third and fourth divisions (known as 3A and 3B) which are parallel. The first format considered was 7-7-6-6 (number of teams in each division).
    This would give 12 matches over 14 weeks in divisions 1 and 2 while teams in the lower two divisions would have 10 matches over 12 weeks. This allows 3 weeks to schedule cup matches, the only leeway being bye weeks and cup eliminations in divisions 1 and 2.
    Conclusion: Everything works but having only 7 teams in Division 1 in 2021 is likely to be difficult to manage transitioning into 2022.

    Option 2B (4 Divisions) RECOMMENDED FORMAT

    Run four divisions but with 8 teams in the first division and 6 teams in the other 3 divisions. This has the advantage of honouring the promotion from division 2 in 2019 while providing all divisions with an even number (as opposed to an odd number) of teams which makes scheduling more efficient as there would be no bye weeks.
    There would be 14 matches over 14 weeks in Division 1 and 10 matches over 10 weeks in the other three divisions. Again, this allows for 3 weeks to schedule cup fixtures.
    Conclusion: This appears to meet all the main criteria as far as possible within 17 weeks and the transition to 2022 will allow for additional teams to be accommodated in the lower divisions while retaining 8 teams in the first division in virtually all conceivable circumstances.

    RECOMMENDATION
    Each of these solutions has its merits and most would just about be workable though, as always, a rainy season would cause some pressure when rescheduling matches.
    When recommending an option, the single most important consideration has been the potential transition from the 2021 season to 2022. Several clubs considered entering additional teams this season but with all tennis activity currently suspended, it is not an easy commitment to make. On the basis that more teams are likely to enter in 2022, now is a good time to move to 4 divisions.

    So the recommendation is to go with Option 2B
    Div 1 8 teams
    Div 2 6 teams
    Div 3A 6 teams
    Div 3B 6 teams

    The Knockout Cup Tournaments

    Assuming all the teams still want to participate in the knockout tournaments, for the cup draw, as the only change is Wheatley Hills 2 replacing Brigg 4, the 2020 draw (which was witnessed and published) could still be used.

    Dealing with two teams from the same club in the same division
    With any of the above options, some matches involving two teams in the same division from the same club can be scheduled for late April to avoid strategic team selection leading to “helpful” results at the end of the season.

    billcullen1
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Not keen on Division 1 having 4 extra matches compared with the rest (they are more likely to extra cup games as well). Why should they get 40% more matches than other teams – we all pay the same fees! Would prefer to see 7 teams in both Divisions 1 and 2 – at least it would be fairer. In view of the shorter season, Wheatley could enter a 5th team – if it helps.

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    Just to be clear, your offer (this evening) to enter a fifth team is based on having variable home nights and, unfortunately, the database system is not designed to accommodate that.
    I have responded privately in detail but what you have described is Option 2A. I would have no problem with that, it is an obvious solution. The only reservation I have is that there may not be 7 teams again in Division One in 2022, which will, to some extent, make the outcome this season at bottom of Division One, irrelevant. Nevertheless, this is no more than a recommendation and I would be happy to arrange four divisions 7 7 6 6, if there is more support for that option.

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    The other consideration was that reducing the first division to 7 teams now would mean that one team will be relegated without playing a single match having been promoted at the end of 2019 which seems rather unfair. The only alternative would be to relegate an extra team from the 2019 season which would be a retrospective decision and certainly more unfair. In future, as the distribution of teams between divisions will need to be decided at an AGM, we need to move to a concept of team ranking rather than promotion and relegation as movement between divisions is affected by the number of teams entering and leaving the league and decisions made at the AGM. So, for the coming season ONLY, if we do have 8 teams in Division One, I would propose that the team that wins division two is promoted two places up the rankings. This means that the team that finishes 8th in Division One would almost certainly be relegated to Division Two and the team finishing in 7th place would also be overtaken by the winner of Division Two. So if the AGM then decides that there should be 7 teams in Division one the following season, the winner of Division Two would still be promoted and the team that finished 7th would also be relegated.
    The same principle would apply to the other divisions where it would be agreed at the start of the season, how many places the winning team would be promoted – either one or two.
    So this season, with four divisions, the winners of 3A and 3B would both be promoted above the two teams finishing at the bottom of the Second Division. This is why we need to have an equal number of teams in Divisions 3A and 3B, so that a statistical comparison is as fair as it can be, to determine the final team rank order for the following season.

    billcullen1
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    If the majority of clubs opt for 4 divisions then there are at least 3 teams in Div. 2 that will be relegated (rather than the usual 1) so I can’t see why we are protecting Div. 1 teams and keeping their league numbers 33% higher than the others. Better to make it more even/fairer by relegating two from Div 1 and then having 7 teams in Div. 1 & 2.

    As for having unequal number of teams in Divs 3a & 3b, whilst not ideal, it would not be the end of the world – and some people would get extra tennis which it is what it should be about in a parochial league.

    After consultation with some of the committee, and in view of the lack of matches proposed with the four divisions option, I think that it would better to stick with 3 Divisions in 2021 (OPTION 1C) -and scrap the Cup for this year. Providing COVID stats continue to fall and with many of our clubs having floodlights, the season could start late April and extended through to mid-September to help issues around fixture congestion.

    I appreciate that there hasn’t yet been sufficient feedback from others so wonder if a Zoom meeting could be arranged to discuss all these options and everyones opinion is voiced.

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    Bill, you said on 25 February “realistically (we) are expecting no more than ‘half a season’ from mid-June at best which would be better than nothing.” I have tried to take account of what has been said by youself and others but now the parameters appear to be changing.

    It was your suggestion at the 2020 AGM to move to four divisions and it was made clear at that time that this would result in fewer fixtures for each team.

    The proposal on the table provides for more fixtures than the half-season you said your members were (at best) expecting.

    Taking account of reservations expressed by other clubs, I believe that waiting until May before starting inter-club matches is a prudent way forward and any solution needs to take account of that.

    billcullen1
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    You are right about my views last year and even last month but the dramatic downward change seen in the last 3 weeks in Covid stats is astonishing and can’t be ignored. I have always erred on the side of caution – I had serious doubtsabout the LTA recommendations on returning to play – so much so that I requested further confirmation which they supplied. I have taken into consideration this and the views of others at the club and I am not saying that they won’t change again if circumstances demand but we must endeavour to offer the best we can at the given time. I advocated 4 divisions in 2020 based on player availability at our club and how the end of the previous season had finished with, if I remember correctly, one of our teams having to play 3 games in a week just to complete fixtures. It is pleasing to report that our membership has continued to flourish and the enthusiasm for team tennis has also increased this year – something that I could not confirm on the 25th of February. I would have hoped that, in these strange times, we all should accept that both circumstances and views may change. The decisions made this year are more important than ever – as I asked previously, are we holding some form of League AGM (Via Zoom) to sort out as everything as views last year (pre-Covid) may no longer be valid.

    jackieconchie
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    The captains of all 3 teams at Retford have agreed with the proposal of 8 teams in Div 1 and 6 teams in Divs 2, 3a and 3b for this season.
    We have discussed the matter and appreciate that organising the league and knockout cup after all the disruption that Covid has caused must have been very difficult. We are all happy that we can start playing tennis again soon and are keeping our fingers crossed that we can enjoy some competitive tennis this summer with no further interruptions.

    James Pepper
    Participant
    Post count: 1

    Epworth agree with proposal 2B with 8 teams in Div 1, and 6 in 2,3a and 3b

    billcullen1
    Participant
    Post count: 4

    Why are Epworth 3 from Division 2 playing in the Div 3 & 4 Cup?

    Graham Standley
    Keymaster
    Post count: 10

    The Holmes cup is for the lower half of the teams and the divisions are immaterial as the handicapping takes account of the overall rank order of each team. There are 26 teams and so the same 13 teams are in the Brittain Cup as in 2020 and the same 13 teams are in the Holmes Cup except for Wheatley Hills 2 replacing Brigg 4.

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