Here’s a scenario with which we’re all familiar--what do you do?
All 3 courts are full and the hour is up—one new group tags up on Court 1 and comes onto that court, but no one else is waiting. So, who has the “right” to play on Court 2—the group that’s been playing there for an hour already, or the group who played on court 1 or 3 for an hour and got displaced, but quickly went to tag up for Court 2? The answer is both and neither have the “right” to the court. There are no “squatters’ rights” for court time, yet this is a situation that arises all the time and often results in debate and conflict, thus wasting valuable court time and creating bad feelings, so here is a quick refresher on what to do when your hour on the courts is done.
1. Everyone who has played in the prior hour should be coming off the courts and those tagged up (who did NOT play in the prior hour) or booked on court 3 should go onto the applicable courts.
2. If no new players are coming on to one of the courts, none of the players who have come off any of the three courts have a ‘right’ to the empty court. AND, please note, those playing on the court that does not have new players coming on to it do not have ‘squatters rights’ to keep it for the next hour either.
3. Of course, that court should get used. The challenge is to figure out a fair way to share it among those players who’ve just come off and who would like to continue to hit, enjoying that bonus opportunity. We cannot set rules telling members how to divide the empty court - there are too many permutations and combinations possible. But we can say that no players coming off are entitled to the court, no matter how fast you run to the tag board. A means of sharing should be worked out cordially by those interested in continuing to hit.
(There are an endless number of ways to divide up the empty court. At the very simplest, each of the maximum three sets of four players coming off could play on the empty court for 20 minutes, or pairs could be mixed for a round robin type rotation. In any circumstances, getting to play for time beyond your hour is a bonus.) As a reminder, we are a doubles club, so in this scenario especially, no singles play should be occurring on the shared court.
And as a point of clarification...
4. Sometimes latecomers come down to the club 5 or 10 minutes after the hour hoping to find a court. Please realize that in order to have a right to tag up for the hour, you must be at the courts before the hour. If the hour has passed and the courts are being played on (either by those who have just started to play or those who’ve moved on to an empty court), you’ll need to wait. The exception is Court 3 where players have a 5 minute leeway to keep their reserved court.