Vail Club 50 tennis is changing for Summer 2016.

Summary of the new “Social Tennis” program
The duties of the Tennis Coordinator have been arduous, with the result that it has become difficult to recruit one. Therefore we are instituting a new process that will significantly reduce the workload of the Coordinator and, we hope, result in an enjoyable experience for all concerned. Signup for tennis will be on the VC 50 website, similar to a social event signup. Weekly emails will still go out, as reminders. Each week, the Coordinator will send the email and reserve courts. As well, each week there will be a Leader (volunteer or appointed, as determined by the Coordinator), who will handle that week’s organization and logistics at the courts. At the start of play, players will divide themselves into groups based on level of play, then after six games, winning players will move to play other winners and losers will play losers, with new pairs, round-robin style. This will result in a natural sorting of participants playing against others of similar ability. An odd number of players will be handled by reserving an extra court and/or rotating into play.

What are the “new rules”?
Signup: During the tennis season, members who have expressed interest in receiving Social Tennis emails will get a weekly reminder message, including a button like this…




  1. Click on the button and fill out the Sign Up form.  You will be able to use this form to sign up (or cancel) for multiple weeks.  You will be able to submit this form multiple times throughout the season.  If you sign up by the deadline for a given week, you WILL play that week and are expected to show up except in the case of emergency.
  2. We’re not guaranteeing that the perfect number of players (a multiple of 4) will show up each week.  It’s possible, for example, that 17 people sign up, in which case we’ll reserve 4 courts.  Which means of course that during a given round, 1 person will sit out.  But from the perspective of each individual player, sitting out will be a rare event (at most one round per week, probably much less frequently than that).  If 18 or 19 people sign up, we’ll reserve 5 courts so the “extra” players each round can play singles or Canadian Doubles (1 player vs. 2 players).
  3. Each week the Coordinator shall choose a Leader for that week. The Leader will handle court assignments as described further below, court payments and ball distribution, and other duties for that day. The Coordinator can choose a Leader from among volunteers or simply appoint someone.
  4. Via email, the Coordinator will notify the players who is the Leader for the week; the Coordinator won’t necessarily be at Ford Park unless he or she happens to be playing.  If there is any problem (e.g., there are significantly more signups than spots on the courts), the Coordinator will notify the players by email how the situation will be handled.

Thursday Morning:

  1. If you’ve signed up, show up.  We’re not guaranteeing the perfect number of players, but we’re still reserving and paying for the courts.  If you’ve got a true last-minute emergency, the new rules should mean the remaining players can still have a good time without you.  But signing up is still a commitment to play.
  2. Cost is unchanged: $1 for Ford Park members, $5 for those who are not.  The Leader for the week will collect the money as the players arrive, pay Ford Park for the reserved courts, and distribute new balls.
  3. We will play 3 rounds per session.  8 games per round.  No ad scoring on second deuce.  Short tie-breaker (first team to 5 points, win by 2) if the game score is 4-4.
  4. If there are “extra” players, 1 (or 2 or 3) players will volunteer to sit out a round, or play singles or Canadian Doubles.  We trust all players to “take their turn” sitting out.  And if you already sat out in a recent week, just say so and let someone else sit out for a round this week.

Starting play:

  1. Players will self assess as either a stronger player or a weaker player.  As described below, players will “move up” or “move down” during the session based on winning or losing, so regular players should have an idea of their level within the group.
  2. To start a session, stronger players will put their rackets in one pile, weaker players will put their rackets in another pile.  The Leader will pick 2 rackets from the pile; those players are partners on the “top” court.  The Leader will pick 2 more rackets; those players are the opponents.  Repeat the process for the remaining courts.
  3. At the end of a round (8, no-ad on second deuce, games):
    • The winning partners on the “top” court stay in place.
    • The winning partners on the other courts “move up” 1 court.
    • The losing partners on the “bottom” court stay in place.
    • The losing partners on the other courts “move down” 1 court.
  4. To start the next round:
    1. Any players sitting out rotate in at roughly their self-assessed level.
    2. Partners from the previous round become opponents in the next round.
    3. New partners are decided by spinning a racket.
    4. For example, suppose in the first round, John and Cindy play on the “top” court and win against Bill and Jane.  In the second round.  John and Cindy will stay on the “top” court and play against each other, and Bill and Jane will “move down” to the “second” court and play against each other.
    5. Further suppose that in the first round, Jim and Karen won on the “second” court.  Jim and Karen “move up” to the “top” court.  To decide whether John plays with Jim or Karen, spin a racket.
  5. At the end of the session, each player should consider his or her self-assessment based on the day’s play.  If you consider yourself a stronger player but lost every match, perhaps you should start out with the weaker players for the next session.

How will we roll out the new program?

On Thursday 8/20/15, we discussed this proposal with the players at Ford Park, and tweaked the proposed rules slightly.  On Thursday 8/27/15, we had hoped to test the new format but the session was canceled due to rain.

We’ll learn as we go in Summer 2016 and modify the details based on player input.

We will also investigate two other “bigger picture” suggestions prior to Summer 2016:

  1. Is there a “mid valley” location that would be more convenient for members who currently have a long drive to Vail?
  2. Is it possible to start slightly later, e.g., 8:30am?

We welcome your thoughts as we do our best to design a great new Social Tennis Program!

Will and Michele Darken (Summer Sports Coordinators,,
Paul and Karen Gerhardt (Board Members,,