Monday, October 3, 2016


The Lee County Women's Tennis League (LCWTL) has 15 divisions offering anyone who wants to play fun, competitive tennis the opportunity to do so. Eight of the divisions are adult (18+) rated without additional age restrictions, and seven of the divisions are for senior players (50+). 

Over 210 teams (110 rated, 101 senior) played in the LCWTL during the 2015-16 league season, and although I am not sure about overlap, I imagine that over 2000 women played in the LCWTL last season. As the numbers grow and players' ratings move up and down, the challenge remains to organize players into divisions that create the fairest and most enhancing competitive environment for all players. 

In efforts to provide as many competitive opportunities as possible for its members, the League provided imbalanced schedules in some divisions. Such schedules resulted in some teams played more matches than others, some teams playing each other more than other teams, etc. As a result and in efforts to be fair, League Champions were determined by the percentage of available points won, rather than total number of points won. I'll include both and more in most instances below.

LCWTL Senior Teams

Bronze Division (3.0-)
Plantation's 2015-16 2nd-place Bronze Team
Captained by Ro DeMarie & Barbara Schlager
In the 16-team Bronze Division, Paseo (290, 74.3%) and Plantation (283, 72.5%) were clearly the cream of the crop,  as second-place Plantation was 26 points ahead of The Landings (257, 65.8%), the third-place finisher at season’s end. Paseo finished the season with five sweeps to Plantation’s three, and took at least three of four courts 11 of 15 times, while Plantation took at least three courts 10 times. Yes, the two teams were evenly matched, splitting the four courts and 26 points evenly in their head-to-head match-up.

Going into the final match of the season the title was Plantation’s to win or lose, they were leading Paseo by four points when they took the court against fifth-place finisher Cross Creek Estates in the season’s last battle. Paseo went up against Del Tura (which finished 11th in the league) in their last match, and I’m pretty sure that both Paseo and Plantation knew where they stood going into to their final matches.

Paseo took care of business, sweeping all four of their courts against Del Tura, while Plantation could only muster wins on Courts 1 and 2 against Cross Creek. That was no surprise, since Cross creek actually took three courts from Paseo in an earlier matchup, and only four teams (including Plantation’s 15-11 win in the final match) had outscored Cross Creek in head-to-head team matches.

In the end, Plantation would have had to sweep all four courts from Cross Creek to retain the top position, and that is something no team in the Division had managed to do all season. Third-place Landings was one of the four teams to best Cross Creek in a dual match, taking three of the four courts played. 

Paseo will be moving up in 2016-17, but Plantation, The Landings, and the other two teams among the top-five in the Division, Breckenridge and Cross Creek Estates, will be back to compete for Bronze supremacy. The number of teams in the Division will remain the same this coming season.

Nickel Division (3.0)

Members of Herons Glen 2015-16 2nd-place Nickel Team
Captained by Judy Begin & Dee Evans
The competition at the top of the Nickel Division was almost as tight as it was in Bronze, but the upper echelon was clear. Pelican Sound (425, 74.3%), Herons Glen (417, 72.9%) and Legends (415, 72.5%) distanced themselves from the other competitors in the Nickel Division, as fourth-place Judd Park finished 38 points third-place Legends. All three of the top teams finished the season emphatically, sweeping all four courts in their final matches.

Despite finishing second, Herons Glen can boast of a pair of wins against Division Champs Pelican Sound, both of which were sweeps. In all fairness, the first win was in the first match of the season when Pelican Sound had to forfeit two courts, something they did in the second match of the season as well. In fact, Pelican Sound forfeited five of 12 courts in the first three matches…and still won the Division. Pretty impressive.

That said, Herons Glen took on Pelican Sound in mid-season as well, and still took all four courts. It appears that Herons Glen would have run away with the Division if it weren’t for the fact that they didn’t like to play away matches against teams whose names begin with “L.” Herons Glen lost (finished with fewer points than an opponent) just three matches all season and those were to Landings, Lexington and Legends. In rematches at Herons Glen, they took three of four courts from both Landings and Lexington. There was no Legends rematch.

Third-place Legends had a tough stretch a little more than a third of the way through the season, when they lost three of four courts in three of the four matches they played. However, they also had the best streak of any team in the Division, sweeping six matches in a row in weeks 13 through 18. 

The Nickel Division promises to be even tougher this coming season given the additional seven teams that have been added to the fray. All five teams among last season's top-five will be returning to defend or enhance their positions, although are likely to be comprised of different players.

Copper Division (3.5-)

Cape Coral Racquet Club's 2015-16 Copper Division Champion
Captained by Liz Lashley & Jean Bersch
Cape Coral Racquet Club’s (CCRC) Copper team (370) was one of the most dominant teams in all of the LCWTL. CCRC swept 11 of the 16 team matches they played, won three of four courts in four of the other five matches, and lost only to second-place finisher Legends. CCRC posted the highest available points winning percentage (88.9%) of any team in the entire LCWTL!

Despite finishing 21 points behind CCRC, Legends (349) was a dominant team as well, losing not a single outing, posting six sweeps of their own, and taking three of four courts in nine of the other 10 team matches played. In the one match with Del Tura in which they split the four courts, they still won the match with 15 points to 11. If win-loss record was the determining factor, Legends would have been the League champion with a 16-0 record, as opposed to CCRC's 15-1. Their percentage of available points won 
(83.8%), however, fell short of CCRC by more than five percentage points. 

Beachview (268, 64.4%) was a distant third in the standings, edging Breckenridge for that position by six points. When Beachview and Breckenridge met on the courts, Beachview took three of the four courts, which suggests that their order in the standings was correct.

In light of their success, both captains (Liz Lashley and Jean Bersch) will be moving up to the Silver Division this coming season and CCRC will no longer field a Copper team. The Legends will still be vying for division dominance, although under new leadership, and Breckenridge and Beachview will be as well. Rather than 16 teams, the Copper Division will fall to 12 teams 2016-17.

Silver Division (3.5)
The Silver Division proved to be one of the more hotly
Members of Fort Myers Racquet Club 2015-15
Silver Championship team captained by
Ginger Rasmussen & Martha Hammer
contested senior divisions. A mere 15 points separated the top five teams at season’s end, and that meant that the last team match of the season for each of those five teams was critical to the final standings. Talk about pressure!

The five teams involved included Fort Myers Racquet Club (FMRC- 299, 71.8%), Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC- 290, 69.7%), Legends (289, 69.4%), Del Tura (285, 68.5%), and The Landings (284, 68.2%). FMRC had a five-point lead over The Landings going into the final match, Legends was nine behind Landings and one ahead of CCRC, and Del Tura trailed CCRC by three points to round out the top five going into that final week.

The eventual top-four finishers managed to put winning numbers on the scoreboard, with CCRC, Legends, and Del Tura taking three of four courts in their final matches. Although FMRC split their final match against Gulf Harbour Sterling Silver (7th place), they still posted 15 points. The Landings could only take Court 4 against second-place CCRC in their last match, scoring just five points and donating 21 to the CCRC cause.

Legends had the good fortune of playing 16th-place finishers Rutenberg Racqueteers in their final match and notched 19 important points. The one court Legends lost in a match tiebreak was the difference between second and third place. Del Tura, the fourth-place finisher proved to be a tough squad all season with the exception of a couple of tough and unusual losses.

During the season, Del Tura took three of four courts from CCRC and split the four courts with FMRC and Landings (despite notching only 12 points in both splits). Without a full team, they were swept by Legends in Week 13. Landings played almost all of the other top-five teams even, splitting the four courts with all but CCRC, which took three of the four courts in that final match.

T. A. with captains of FMRC Silver Dragons
and other players from Heritage Cove
The Silver Division will expand from 17 to 21 teams in 2016-17, so the heated competition we witnessed last season should be ratcheted up this coming season. Defending their title will take considerable work, but I know Ginger and Martha will be working hard to make it happen. 

Cobalt Division (4.0-)
In one of the unbalanced divisions where some teams played one match more than other teams, Cape Coral Racquet Club (CCRC) emerged as the Division Winner by winning 72.2% of the points available in the 18 matches they played. Landings finished in second place claiming 63.1% of the available points in the 17 matches they played, and Cypress Lake finished third with a 60.4% point-tally.

In this particular division, because of the imbalance in number of matches played and strength of opponents played, it bears mentioning that FMRC finished fourth with 57.2% and Forest was listed as fifth with 56.5%. It bears mentioning because when I examined the matches that the teams had played, it turned out that some teams had played tougher schedules than others.

It turns out that CCRC, Cypress Lake and FMRC had played six matches against the other four teams that finished in the top-five, while The Landings and The Forest had played just five matches against the other top-five teams. Given the schedule disparity, I was curious to see how the teams would line up if we looked at their point acquisition percentage just amongst the teams among the top five.

CCRC still emerged atop the standings with 66% of the available points. However, The Forest leapfrogged into second place, grabbing 56% of available points against the other top teams in the Division. Cypress remained third with 51.2%, with The Landings and FMRC closing out the top five at 40% and 35.9% respectively.

This division turned out to be one of the most interesting division to review because of the imbalanced scheduling. The Division will move from 13 teams to 11 in 2016-17, so all things should be equal. As I wrapped up the analysis of this division, it occurred to me that although the LCWTL does a far better job than I ever could with scheduling so many clubs, teams, matches and players, I couldn't help thinking that a "strength of schedule" factor might be included in determining division standings when all is not equal. Just a thought…

Gold Division (4.0)
Verandah (353, 71.4%) lost three team matches against teams that were among the top seven finishers. They took three of four courts from Plantation, the second place finisher early in the season, and then lost three of four to Plantation late in the season.

Plantation (336, 68%) split with Lexington, but picked up 12 points to Lexington’s 14; In Week 8, they were swept by Rutenberg, a team that finished 8th; two weeks later Legends took the top two courts and Plantation posted 11 points that week. They finished strong in their last six matches, sweeping three of them and taking three of four courts in the others.

Pelican Landing (327, 66.1%) closed in third place, and had good performances most weeks with a blip on the scoring radar every few weeks. Early in the season (Week 2) they dropped three of four courts to fourth-place finisher FMRC, four matches later, they only took 11 points from CCRC (9th), five matches later Plantation took three of four courts from them, and four matches later they lost three of four courts to division-winning Verandah.

FMRC started out like gangbusters and built a large lead over the first eight weeks of the season, before a key injury changed the dynamics of the team and effectively derailed their championship chances. In the end this was a division of near parity at the top with the steadier performers taking the honors.

The Gold Division will move from an imbalanced schedule with 14 teams to a balanced schedule with 17 teams. each team with play every other team once, so strength of schedule won't be an issue this coming season as it may have been last season. All of the top teams return to battle for Gold in 2016-17.

Platinum Division (4.5)
Division Winner Cypress Lake (450, 82.4%) lost to Paseo in Week 4, getting 11 points after splitting courts, and got another 11 points in a split with Park Meadow W in the final match of the season. Those were the only two times Cypress Lake came up on the short end in team matches in a 21-match season, where the eight teams played each other three times. 

Cypress  split courts one other time, again against Park Meadow W, but notched a 15 - 11 win in that match. They also posted 10 sweeps in their 21 matches, and were 25 percentage points ahead of their nearest competitors in available points won. In a nutshell, Cypress Lake’s Platinum performance against a quality field was simply spectacular.
Milly Beck & Diane Geater of Park Meadow
Paseo (315, 57.6%), the second place team that finished more than 100 points behind the Division Winner finished ahead of two Park Meadow teams that were neck and neck for the third spot in the Platinum hierarchy. Park Meadow Aces (PMA- 290, 53.1%) finished just three points ahead of Park Meadow W (PMW- 287, 52.5%) but dominated PMW in head-to-head play. In the three team matches they played, PMA took nine of the 12 individual courts, outscoring PMW 62-16. 

The Platinum Division will fall to seven teams this coming season, as Sundial will no longer compete in this highest level of senior play in the LCWTL.

Phew! That wraps up my wrap up of the senior divisions. If you aren't already dizzy and care to see what transpired in the rated divisions, click here or return to the list of blog posts. 

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