Delaware Tennis Ladder Rules

A must read for everyone to learn how the ladder works and the rules we have in place

Please read the rules!

Here are the rules:

Delaware Tennis Ladder - LADDER RULES


1. The ladder is open to the public.  There is no charge to join.


2. The ladder consists of both singles and doubles.


3. Doubles:

It is up to players to arrange matches.  Select a partner, and see if you can find another team to challenge.  No rules exist regarding how far you can challenge up with doubles. Two teams from the ladder play each other. The highest ranked player on the winning team will move one spot above the highest ranked player on the losing team only if they are below them in rankings, otherwise they stay where they are. The lowest ranked player on the winning team will move one spot above the lowest ranked player on the losing team only if they are below them in the rankings, otherwise they stay where they are.


If a tie-breaker is needed for doubles, the Coman rules (used by the USTA today) will apply.  The Coman tiebreak is no different than a regular tiebreaker, except that players switch ends after one point, and then every four points thereafter.


4. Mixed Doubles:

No rules exist regarding how far you can challenge up with mixed doubles. All players must come from the women's and men's ladders.  To play mixed doubles, work with players on the ladders to arrange a match and go play.  Rankings will be adjusted on each of the ladders.  If the winning team is lower ranked than the losing team, then the ranking of the winning team will be moved right above the losing team.  If the winning team is ranked higher than the losing team, then all rankings will remain unchanged.


5. There will be ladder tournaments at the end of the summer season, but not the winter season.  An invite will go out to all qualified players in advance of the tournament.  After the number of players signed up has been determined, the tournaments will be organized consistent with the number of entries.  All tournaments will be single elimination unless otherwise specified.


We will have women's singles, women's doubles, men's singles, men's doubles and mixed doubles tournaments


6. The top 30 ranked players may only challenge 10 positions up; players ranked 31-60 may challenge 20 positions up; and players ranked 61 and below may challenge 30 positions up.  This rule is at the discretion of the higher ranked player to invoke.  They higher ranked player has the right to accept any match challenge regardless of the ranking of the lower ranked player.


7. All challenges must be honored even if the match must be set up a few weeks in advance. The defender (person being challenged) should, in good faith, offer up times and play as soon as they can. A refusal to offer up options will be consider a default.  That means the other player wins and takes your spot in the rankings.  If you cannot schedule a future match, you should offer up a forfeit at that time.


Notify Bob Davis for refusals or any problems, including any player who is consistently unable to play and doesn't offer up times to play.  If you are unsuccessful getting a response from a player, please use the existing ways that player indicate you can connect with them prior to reporting as an issue.  Email is not always reliable and can get caught in junk mail. Try using the phone or texting before reporting someone as not responding.


Fortunately, the members of the ladder show good sportsmanship, so it’s not anticipated this will be needed. Be cognizant that all of us have busy lives, so let’s be flexible with each other. If you are challenging, please accept a future timeframe when offered by a player.   Defenders should offer a time they can play even if it’s not right away


8. A two week period must pass before a defeated challenger may challenge the same player, or before a successful challenger may be challenged by the player he has defeated, unless both are in agreement to play.


9. Bob Davis will attempt to update the ladder standings by Monday or Tuesday of each week at This may not happen occasionally due to his schedule. Each week of play begins on Saturday and ends on Sunday. Results must emailed to Bob Davis at by 9:00pm Sunday each week. That means if you play a match on Sunday, be sure to report scores using the form on the Scores page of this web site by 9:00pm that  evening. Failure to get your match recorded by this deadline may result in the match not being included. The winner must always communicate the results of a match, unless both players agree the loser will report instead. Winners cannot choose to skip reporting a match just because it did not change the rankings.  All matches are needed for various incentives for games played, etc. during the year.  When you send the result, please give the date of the match, the score and the names of the participants.  Use the form on the Scores page to do this.


10. Rearrangement of the ladder will be applied in date order.  For matches occurring on the same date, the order is determined by the order in which scores are reported.  This encourages everyone to report your match as soon as you can. If the challenge is successful, the challenger moves up the ladder above the defender. If unsuccessful, he retains his original position.


11. The challenger is to make arrangements for an agreed upon court time and location. Matches can take place on any courts anywhere agreeable to both players.


12. If one player does not show up within 15 minutes of the scheduled time, a default results in favor of the player who does show. It is up to the challenger to invoke this rule. Please make every attempt to get in touch with players if you find you cannot make a match. Do that as soon as you know.


13. Both players should bring a new can of balls to the match.  One of those cans is opened for the match.  After the match is over, the winner takes the unopen can of balls, and the loser takes the used balls.


*** Note*** This rule does not apply given the Covid-19 pandemic.  Follow the guidelines on the links page and let that guide you on the decision regarding balls.  Safety should be your guide.  


14. If the match cannot be completed due to weather conditions, darkness, or loss of court time, the match should be rescheduled at another time. The match can be replayed from the start if both parties agree, if not, then the match will continue were it was left off.


15. All matches will be the best two out of three sets, with a seven-point tiebreaker when the score reaches six-all. The first player score to seven points, by a margin of two points wins the set.


16. If both players agree, the third set can be played as a ten-point tiebreaker instead of a normal 3rd set. This is the same as a seven-point tiebreaker; except the game (which will count as the third set) is played until the one player gets to ten points, but must win by two points. This approach is useful when darkness or bad weather is approaching or if both players time is restricted. If both players cannot agree, then a full 3rd set must be played.


17. Each season’s initial ladder rankings are based on the previous year’s final ladder standings. A process will be used to merge the summer and winter results. All new entrants will be added to the bottom of the ladder in the order in which they sign up.


18. The success of our ladder has come from people playing with good sportsmanship. As a result, the need for rulings and dealing with issues has rarely occurred. The intent of the ladder is to serve the public and for people to enjoy the game. Please respect the other players and have a great time.


19. If you have any further questions about the rules, please contact Bob Davis at