National League Rules


  1. National League shall be run in accordance with the Terms of Reference agreed between the IRTPA and T&RA. The Organiser of this event is the IRTPA National League representative Lesley Ronaldson
  2. Eligibility – participation in the League shall be open to both Amateur and Professional players of the required standard.
  3. Ranking shall be determined by the World Rankings of players in the Premier Division down to world ranking number 20.  In all other divisions by handicap on  (Handicaps are to the nearest whole number – e.g. 8.5 and 9.4 are both 9.)  In the event of even ranking, the player last ranked higher (better) shall play higher in the team.  Where possible Division 1 nominated and replacement players should be no worse than 5. Division 2 handicap 10 and Division 3 should be no worse than 15. The divisions from Division 4 will be 15-20, Div 5 20-25 etc to Division 9:- 40-45.  Where insufficient teams have entered a division, divisions may be amalgamated.  All players’ handicaps should be within the range of the division when the teams are nominated
  4. Any player who improves beyond the lower handicap range by 1 or more whole points, for example 19.6 is still within the range of the division but 19.4 is not,  will play off handicap to that divisions lowest range.  For example, if the division range as used above is 20-25 and a player improves by say 4 points to a 16 they will owe 4 points. Any player that worsens to 5 points above the division range will not be eligible to play. The organiser may allow a new nomination.
  5. An entry fee of £165 per team is payable for all divisions.  All payments are to be made as one by the club and must be received by the IRTPA with entry forms. Entry fees are the responsibility of the club being represented. Account Name:  The Real Tennis Professionals Association.  Sort Code: 09-01-54 Account No: 12997606 Please notify Susie Falkner by email on completion.
  6. The T&RA Tournament Rules and Procedures shall apply; otherwise the decision of the National League Committee will be final on all matters.
  7. schedule of matches for the first half of the season shall be arranged by the Organisers and will be emailed to the team captains by the last day of August. It is important that players realise they may have to play away matches at an inconvenient time.
  8. All teams must then make any changes they need to and confirm completed fixture list by end of September.
  9. Once finalised, the dates of the matches shall not be changed unless agreed by the Organiser and by both the teams involved. Once scheduled fixtures are agreed any team unable to fulfil them will forfeit the match and full points including any bonus points, unless: courts are unplayable due to dangerous playing conditions on a court, where travelling conditions due to the weather are deemed to be unreasonable by both teams, or if both teams communicate more than 2 weeks prior to the fixture, are in agreement to move the fixture, and find a date within 4 weeks of the original date that does not affect another fixture. The National League committee accepts ‘reschedule’ in these instances.
  10. Fixtures for the second half of the season will be sent out on 1st November and must be confirmed to the Organisers by 1st Finals will be fixed by 1st February within a specific week, and publicised on the website.  If any teams are aware of the week in question conflicting with Club events, they must inform the organisers by 15th February.
  11. Teams Teams from Divisions 1, 2, 3, 4 & 5 will comprise two players, & teams from Divisions 6, 7, 8 & 9 will comprise three players. A maximum of 6 players may be nominated in a 3-player team and a maximum of 4 players in a 2-player team. n.b. Winning teams will only receive 3 individual trophies in 3-player divisions, and 2 in 2-player divisions.  Further trophies can be obtained on request, with the cost borne by the requesting party.
  12. One (1) bonus point will be awarded per fixture if played by nominated players only.
  13. Teams must appoint a captain, who is responsible for liaising with their club, professionals, opposition teams, submission of results and being the primary point of contact for the team. More than one captain should be appointed if pragmatic.
  14. Replacement players may be any player that falls within the handicap range of that division.  See rule 3.  Any nominated players may not play for another team in the same or lower division. Except the No. 1’s in Division 1 / 2, if an injury or exceptional circumstances have been accepted by the organiser as a reason.  Replacement players will not be eligible for any play-offs or finals unless they have played at least two matches for the team they are representing. The National League Committee may waive this requirement in exceptional circumstances.
  15. Re-Nomination A team may be re-nominated up to 31st December, due to injury, relocation or exceptional circumstances with the agreement of the National League Committee.
  16. Format of fixtures – In Divisions 1 – 5 both players will play a best of 3 set (to 6 games) singles match against their opposite number off level and will then team up to play 1 set (to 8 games) level doubles. If Covid-19 distancing rules forbid doubles, and the match is one rubber each, the winning team will be decided by sets won divided by sets lost and then by games. Division 6 – 9 will all comprise 3 singles matches, played off scratch. See rule 3. All match results must be emailed to the National League coordinator ( within 48 hours of the match being completed, by the home team captain.  Failure to comply with this rule will result in a 1 point deduction from home team’s points total.
  17. Booking of Courts, and cost of courts i) An absolute minimum of four hours court time should be booked. ii) In all divisions home teams will bear the costs of hosting all matches UNLESS the away side cancels the match within 72 hours of the fixtures start time.  In this instance the away team will be liable for the cost of any unsold courts.
  18. Order of Play – Play in order of merit, with the highest ranked (best) player at No. 1, the second highest at No. 2 and the third at No. 3. The order of play should be confirmed between team captains when they communicate to confirm the fixture.  In the event that agreement cannot be reached, matches in Divisions 1 – 5 shall be played in the following order: 2nd singles, 1st singles, doubles. For 3 player teams: 2nd singles, 1st singles, 3rd singles.
  19. Forfeit of matches – In the event of a team being unable to field a full complement of players, the team shall still play in order and forfeit any matches for which they cannot field a player. (Teams shall forfeit the 3rd singles first then the 2nd) Matches are forfeited by the home team if team orders (by world ranking or handicap) are incorrect. i.e. it is for the fixture holder to double check all details.
  20. Fixture points are awarded as follows: Divisions 1-5 – two (2) points per singles match, one (1) point for doubles match, and two (2) points for winning fixture overall. All Other Divisions two (2) points per singles match, one (1) point for the fixture overall. Teams will also be awarded a bonus point for each fixture where their whole team is made up of nominated players.
  21. Travel Rule– Change of day if travelling exceeds two hours: if the normal weeknight travelling time from the visiting team to an away fixture starting at 18.30 exceeds 2 hours, this fixture may be scheduled for a weekend. It is the responsibility of any home team that requires a re-schedule to notify the organisers upon receiving the fixtures list. The home team must then offer a range of dates (weeknights and weekends) that do not conflict with any of the away team’s other NL fixtures. The away team cannot unduly refuse all of these dates. It is expected that all away teams will play at each home team’s designated day and time, with weeknight travel time being the only mitigating factor to this.
  22. Weather Rules – Should any court have a propensity to become dangerous or unplayable due to adverse weather conditions, it is the responsibility of this court’s professional staff to take every reasonable measure to make the court playable, and contact the away team and the relevant National League committee member with 24 hours (previous day) notice of likely difficult conditions. The National League committee supports the decision of health and safety responsibilities at any National League venue. All matches for an NL fixture must be played on the same court.
  23. Tiebreakers and finals eligibility i) In the case of a tie on points, the following criteria will be used in order as tie-breaks: 1. most matches won, 2. the ratio of sets won to sets lost, 3. the ratio of games won to games lost, 4. the overall result between two tied teams in points, sets and games respectively. Finally, by lot. ii) Divisions with 5, 6 or 7 teams – 3 teams will contest the finals.  Divisions with 8 teams or more – 4 teams will contest the finals.
  24. Marking i) In all divisions Singles matches must be marked. For Doubles matches the home team should arrange to have a competent person to keep score whilst the players do their own calling, if no marker is available. ii) Home teams shall be responsible for the marking whether they mark it themselves or employ a marker. iii) All League finals fixtures must be marked by a qualified marker, subsidised by the League, if that marker is professional.
  25. Shortening the matches – In all Divisions, should both teams agree prior to the start of any individual match, a match may be shortened to three games all in the final set, with the exception of any finals match.
  26. Supper or hospitality relevant to the time of the match is expected to be offered by the home side. When arranging the match the Captain of the visiting team should let the home team know how many will wish to eat, otherwise the home team are under no obligation.
  27. A photograph of the final in each division and a report should be emailed to the organiser by the home team within 1 week of the final being played.

The decision of the National League Committee is final on any dispute. All queries or new information on teams and matches should be sent to the Organiser Lesley Ronaldson