Autumn brings the cool air and has local tennis players moving indoors. This marks the start of the annual block time tennis season in Baltimore. Here are some tips and basics to navigate through the indoor sessions.
1. Depending on the club, most block time sessions run from September through May of the following year. Usually it is two hour blocks the same time on the same day every week. Some clubs offer variations such as one or one and a half hour blocks.
2. The costs will vary by facility with a wide range from as low of $80 to as high as $600 for a range from 20 weeks to 35 weeks.
3. Due to the high costs, most block times are doubles play as opposed to singles to make the costs more manageable for all involved.
4. Keep in mind that most tennis clubs will also require participants to be paid members. It could be a partial or full time membership package. Many clubs provide free tennis balls if the fees are paid by a certain deadline.
5. An important part of block time is the number of players. This will depend on the number of courts available at time of sign up. It is usually wise to have more players than spaces to insure that the courts will be full and used. Every week there will be a few players who will have to sit out.
6. This brings up scheduling which can be a tricky and sometimes difficult task. Whoever is the designated captain or organizer must keep in mind all the variables. To be fair, the schedule should try to give all the players an equal amount of play time. Variety also has to be considered because even though it is a limited field, players do not want to play the same people every week
7. A major part of the enjoyment of block time is the dependability of the group of players. Nothing is more disappointing than three players showing up with no fourth. Three player or “Canadian doubles” is not what most players have in mind when they join blocks.
8. In addition to the paid members, there needs to be a list of substitute players who can fill in when the regulars cannot play. This can lead to the proverbial stuck between a rock and a hard place. Usually substitute players are not charged any money to play which might annoy the paying members, but no substitute means no full doubles court play.
9. A key to block time is communication between the organizer and the rest of the group. Once a schedule is made it is important for all involved to get a fill in player if needed. This burden normally falls on the organizer, but a good group can often work out arrangements among themselves.
10. Before joining a block, one must understand the commitment. The indoor season can be enjoyable but only if the group is dependable and everyone involved makes an effort to follow the schedule.
Block time tennis is great way to stay in tennis shape over the colder months in Baltimore; it is also a good way to stay in touch with fellow players.