Proposed Rule Changes for 2020

(in the order they appear in the handbook)


That Trophies Rule 6 be amended as follows. All clubs are responsible for all trophies presented to their teams and their members. They must all be returned to the Trophy Secretary by 1st August. 19th July.

Background: More time is needed between the return of trophies and preparation for Presentation.


That the following is added to Government Rule 8

The Committee reserve the right to make a cleaning charge of £5 per trophy for each one not returned in a clean condition.

Background: We have to pay the supplier for cleaning.

Markland Hill

That Registration & Eligibility Rule 3 be amended:
During the season, all players are deemed to be ranked to the highest team for which they have played for on two occasions. They may play in that team or one team down. Should they play for a higher team on two occasions, they are automatically re-ranked to that team. At the start of the season After four completed matches, 3 men in the men’s, 2 men plus 2 ladies in the mixed and 1 boy plus 1 girl in the junior competitions must be nominated as permanent members of the ‘A’ team below which they cannot play. They will be would have expected to represent the team in at least two of the first four league matches. If a club has two teams in Division 1 the above numbers should be increased by 1.

It's not always known before the start of the season who will be the best/starred players, or if they will be available to play in 2 of the first 4 matches.

i.e. new players, or up and coming youngsters may prove to be better than some existing members. 


That part of Registration & Eligibility 7 (f) should be amended:

In all other divisions only players who have represented their team or a lower team club at least twice prior to the last two fixture weeks are eligible to play.

Background: Best explained with an example:
Take a player who has played 10 times for the B team and once for the C team prior to the last two fixture weeks. Is he allowed to play for the C team in the last two fixture weeks providing the B team is a full strength? Since he has played twice for his team which is the B team.

If so, it would be better if the rule said that they must have played twice for their club.

If they are not eligible, it would be better if it said,
“Any player required for a team must have played at least twice for that team or a lower team prior to the last two fixture weeks to be eligible to play in that team.”
If the second interpretation is correct, then you could have some teams with spare regular players who cannot play down in the last two fixture weeks.


Registration & Eligibility Rule 7 (f)
That with regard to how many matches someone has to have played before the last 2 matches of the season Cecil Cup appearances as well as league appearances should be included in the calculation...currently the rule is league matches played only.

Markland Hill
That Registration & Eligibility rule 7 (f) be amended as follows:
In the last two fixture weeks of  Division 1 of the men’s and mixed competitions a player must have represented their team or a lower team in at least 4(strike though 4) 3 league matches prior to the last two fixture weeks in order to play in any of the last two fixture weeks.

Background: Must have played 3 matches as opposed to 4. Just to give a bit more leeway, especially if a player has been injured for part of the season.
Also last season the 1st division had 2 open dates meaning there were less opportunities to get the required matches in.

Markland Hill

That Registration & Eligibility rule 7 (f) be amended as follows:
Full-time students aged 18 or over, living away from home in term time (who must be registered as such on registration night only before the 1st July), are exempted from this restriction. Any club having more than one team in Division 1 have their second team exempt from this rule.

Background: Students to be registered as such before 1st July instead of on registration night.
A student might not decide to play or join a club until they finish uni and then it would be too late to register them as students.


That Match Rule 5 (a) be amended as follows:
The match card shall be filled up before the game is started, the home captain to fill in the names of his players’ first, followed by the visiting captain.  Both captains shall see and sign the card which must be posted online within 24 48 hours of the completion of the match by the home team captain.  A fine of £10.00 will be imposed for late posting. Clubs failing to enter a player’s name will incur a £5 fine.
The home team should retain the card until the end of the season.

Background: Just to conform to the new online system.


That Match rule 6 (ii) be amended:
the none defaulting team shall be awarded maximum points and its match score shall be based on the average of the defaulting team’s match scores for a minimum of seven weeks (senior leagues) or five weeks (junior leagues). half a season’s matches.

Background: Just to clarify and simplify over which period this relates.


That there should be an additional Match Rule 6 (v)
Any team that has had three complete now shows will have that team removed from the league and all results expunged.

Background: If a team remains in the league having missed a lot of matches, this can skew the results/tables. Also, this may encourage more clubs to send a part team rather than just aborting the whole match.


That Match Rule 9 be amended as follows:
The home team shall be responsible for providing at least six three new LTA nominated Dunlop balls per court for each match.  For junior matches the balls need not be new but must be of good quality.


That the third sentence of Rule 1 of the Men’s Competition Rules be rescinded and replaced by the previous games scoring system where games sets finish at 6-6 ot 7-5.


  1. There are five elements to the Bolton Tennis League – Men’s, Mixed, Junior, Afternoon and Winter. It is now the case that in only the Men’s section is it not possible to achieve a tied match (See Note 2 very end). We suggest this is unnecessary, inconsistent and perhaps discriminatory, given the events that led to the change in the scoring system. Taking last year as an example, there were ties in Mixed, Junior and Winter League matches (and in the Afternoon League in earlier years). In the Mixed Division, there have been tied matches in nine out of the last ten years. In all seriousness, in 2019, in the current climate, I do not believe we should have rules (and we suggest this is a fundamental rule) that apply differently to men than those that apply to matches involving Ladies.
  2. The purpose behind introducing tie-breaks into professional tennis was to effect a fair conclusion in a knock-out competition in a time-limited event. No such constraints apply to Bolton League tennis.
  3. We have informally canvassed opinion on a number of occasions, at least in the lower divisions and I have yet to speak to anyone in favour of the tie-break. It seems to me there is much to be said for sport in general and tennis in particular having an honourable tie. I appreciate the change was effected by a club vote (albeit not mandatory and as a result it did not reflect the opinion of all clubs) but we stand by our comments.
  4. Should the committee and clubs approve the next of the two proposals (the proposed amendment to Men’s Competition Rule 6), the underlying reason the scoring system was amended in 2017 would, effectively, no longer exist.

This proposed change does not rely on the suggested following change to Men’s Competition Rule 6 to succeed but does, I believe, follow logically from it.


That Men’s Rule 6 should be amended to reflect the terms of Mixed Competition Rule 6. The reasons for putting forward this proposal is as follows:

Background: To amend Men’s Competition Rule 6 to ensure matches are played to a conclusion.

  1. This would obviate the underlying reason that we believe led to the change to the men’s league scoring system outlined in Men’s Competition Rule 1, introduced in 2018.
  2. The league season seems very short if one plays only in the Men’s League, especially since the men’s cup competition was dropped. In Division 7, it’s commonly the case there are only 12 matches.
  3. In practice, this is likely to affect only a small number of matches but can, potentially, have a significant effect on league positions. To take 2019 as an example, there were only 8 abandoned matches (only 4 in 2018) yet in two instances the abandonments were material to the top position in two divisions (see Note 3 at the very end). A change of this rule should go some way to resolving disputes about playing conditions. I believe it is not correct to treat matches involving ladies differently from those only for men. I have slightly expanded on this at Point 1 of my proposal on the change to Men’s Competition Rule 1 (above). It is clearly anomalous that mixed teams are given a considerable degree of latitude to complete matches whilst Men’s matches are abandoned.


That Mixed League Rule 1 be amended:
Mixed League teams shall consist of 4 gents and 4 ladies playing 4(strike through) 2 gents’ doubles sets, 4(strike through) 2 ladies’ doubles sets and 4(strike through)  8 mixed doubles sets.  All sets shall be played to 6 games up.

Background: The mixed league should contain more mixed matches, ie. 2 mixed sets and 1 ladies/mens set instead of the current format which is 1 mixed set and 2 ladies/mens sets.


That the following should be added to Mixed Match Rule 1.
At 5-5 a tie-break is played.

Backround: This would remove the advantage for the side that won the spin and opted to serve. If the issue is time taken to complete a tie-break then maybe we could consider a shorter tie-break?


All junior matches to be played on Friday nights (possibly to add with a 6.15 start.)

Background: Seems the most popular choice anyway and avoids the logistical confusion of multiple choice times.


That Junior divisions are to be drawn up in consultation between junior match secretary and junior team co-ordinators during February, rather than by automatic promotion and demotion.

Background: This is an attempt to put appropriate strength teams in the most competitive division for them. Due to the cyclical nature of the strength of junior teams (age and growth related!) teams can often be inappropriately matched within a division.

Markland Hill

That the junior league revert back to 4 boys and 4 girls per team.

Holcombe Brook & Lostock

The junior league to be split into separate boys’ and girls’ leagues. The boys adopt the men’s league format of 6 players but using sudden death deuces and a 6-6 finish (no tie-breaks) . 

Background: Sudden death deuces now pretty much standard across doubles anyway so matches don’t drag on too late.  

Holcombe Brook & Lostock

That the girls are to be teams of 4 with boys 11U used if absolutely desperate.  Available girls should always be used as a priority. Matches would consist of 4 sets only so consideration should be given to making those full deuce and tie-break sets.

Background: The consensus seems to be that some girls are intimidated and put off competitive tennis by having to play against older and often much stronger boys. This is an effort to get more girls competing on a level playing field while trying to ensure that the boys also get a more competitive match rather than the current 4 in a team format which often results in the boys playing two sets with much weaker partners against a similar combination and only one competitive boys’ doubles.


That the Howarth Cup in its current form be scrapped in favour of a one day event celebrating junior tennis across the league. Format to be arranged.

Background: When we all got together with Mark, we all felt that the current format wasn’t great. Very few teams enter, Mark didn’t feel the handicap system worked with juniors, various junior organisers said it was demoralising for their teams, very difficult to turn teams out for two matches on the given weekends. Consequently it was suggested that playing it as a competition over a weekend or even one day at one venue, possibly to a completely different format than the league would be more fun, might encourage more teams to enter and Tom lemon seems to have some good ideas as to format.

End of Rule Proposals.

Points to note which are not rule changes:

Remove £20 withdrawal fee on page 4.
Change  Cecil Cup 2nd Round to Quarter-finals on Page 4

From Eagley

Note 1. The 2019 handbook, Men’s Competition Rules, Rule 1 mentions the option to play sets to 8-8. I thought this was now obsolete although I can’t immediately find the evidence that it is. If not, the irony is that it is still possible to have a tied men’s match.
(This was a compilation error. It does not appear in next year’s handbook. RC)

Note 2. The terms ‘tie’ and ‘draw’ are both used in Bolton League Tennis. For 2019, the Mixed and Winter League tables have a column headed ‘Drawn or ‘D’ whilst the Junior and Afternoon leagues show ‘Tie’. Perhaps the description should be standardised?
Committee agreed they should all say 'Draw'

Note 3. One of the abandoned matches to which I allude above is mentioned in the June 2019 Committee Meeting notes (June notes refer to Men’s Rule 9 but, surely, it’s Rule 6?).
Yes - corrected. RC