Playing Your Match

Match Site

Matches are played at the "home court" of one of the players. If a player is scheduled to have the "home court" for a match, it will be shaded in gold on the schedule.


Tennis clubs 
Indoor Court locations on the list are not to be selected for our outdoor seasons. You must choose an outdoor court location for the Spring, Summer, and Fall seasons. If you want to play a match indoors during one of the outdoor seasons, your opponent must agree to this, and you must pay the court costs and any applicable guest fees.


Clay Courts 
Clay courts are not listed among our Chicagoland court locations. If you want to play at a clay court, you can do so if your opponent agrees, and if you are willing to pay the court costs and any applicable guest fees.


Public facilities 
If the facility charges court fees, the "Home" player will cover the fees of both players. If the facility does not have a court reservation system, the "home" player must show up early to secure courts for the match. If a court is not available within 20 min. of the designated time, the "away" player may take a default.


"Home" players should be aware of the following issues when scheduling a Home match:

  • Make sure your home courts are not already reserved with high school matches/practice, or park district lessons. High School schedules can be found at this link: - click the high school and look for the tennis team schedule.
  • Know when the courts are typically full from the public.
  • Know when the lights go off.
  • If there are no lights, the match must be scheduled early enough in the day to complete the match 30 minutes before sundown.  If you cannot arrange a time early enough with your opponents, you must choose a lighted court.
  • Know if there are cracks in the courts, broken nets, or anything about the court conditions that will hinder clean play.
  • Know if the courts will be inaccessible for any reason.


If the Home Court player is unaware of any of the issues above, and it results in the match being interrupted or not played, the Home Court player can be defaulted if the Away player is unwilling or unable to reschedule the match.


If the Home Court player believes the condition of the courts is suitable for play, but the Away player disagrees, either/both player can submit photos via phone to the League Coordinator who will then arbitrate and come to a decision. Keep in mind that this rarely happens. Almost all players are amenable to cooperating with each other and finding a reasonable solution.


Head off potential problems when scheduling the match: If you are unsure if the courts will be available, or unsure about whether you can play your match before the lights go off, or unsure if your opponent will be comfortable playing with the conditions of the court, please inform your opponent about as much as you can, then agree on a plan. You could suggest coming to the court site, then having an alternate site to go to in case your home court is full, unsuitable, or unplayable in anyway. Make sure your opponent agrees to this when scheduling the match.


Late Opponent/No Show

If you or your opponent is over 20 minutes late to the match, it is reasonable at that point for the player who showed up to go home and take a default win. But before leaving, the player who showed up should call and/or text the other player to make sure that they communicated correctly about the time and location of the match.  Contact the League Coordinator if a player fails to show and either does not follow up, or shows little or no concern about it.  No shows are not tolerated in the league and can lead to suspension from league play, subject to the discretion of the League Coordinator.  Typically, the League Cooordinator will follow the 3 strikes protocol that is outlined in our Unsportsmanlike Conduct section.


Default Alert:  If a player assumes for any reason (e.g. rain) that the match has been canceled, but does not communicate to his points via text or phone call first, he can be defaulted if the other player shows up and believes the conditions are playable. If you think the match should be canceled on the day of the match, you must communicate via text or phone call with your opponent and receive a response before deciding not to go to the match site. Both players must agree that the match is defaulted, otherwise show up to play. DO NOT CANCEL MATCHES VIA EMAIL.


Who Bring the Balls?

The "home court" player shall provide a new, unopened can of balls. New balls must also be provided if there has been a break in play (see "Incomplete Matches" section).


Players are strongly recommended to use the Wilson US Open ball. It is weighted consistently and properly and doesn't shed right away to nothing. It is made for hard courts and lasts far longer than other balls.  These can be hard to find in stores, but you can get them at a discount online at Tennis Warehouse or Midwest Sports.


Scoring & Tiebreaks

If there is a score disagreement during the match, players must go back to the last point you both agree on, and continue the match from there.


A conventional, best 2 of 3 sets shall be played, with a 12 point tie break (first player to 7 pts. by two) used at six games all. If you split sets, players may elect to play a Super Tiebreak instead of playing out the third set. However, both players must elect to play a 3rd set Super Tiebreak. If either player wants to play out the third set, it must be played out. Once agreed upon, a player cannot later change his mind. 3rd set "Super Tiebreaks" are a 10 point match tie break (first player to 10 pts. by two). 3rd set "Super Tiebreaks" are an option to prevent unnecessary fatigue to players and eliminate rescheduling and incomplete matches due to time constraints/sundown/weather.  3 hour exception:  In the unusual instance when a match will exceed 3 hours, a super-tiebreak must be played, unless both players agree to play it out.


  • Record a 12 point tiebreaker as 7-6.  
  • Super Tiebreak scores should be reported by the point totals earned (e.g 10-3).
  • See this video for an illustration of how to play out a 12 point tiebreaker:  


Alternate Scoring Option - Gladiator Tennis adaptation of the "Fast 4 Format"

If BOTH PLAYERS AGREE, a Gladiator Tennis version of  the Fast 4 format can be played as a quicker alternative.  This is helpful especially for matches in the city, where a 1 hour time limit is often imposed because of overcrowded courts.  Fast 4 Scoring Format

--If both players do not agree, then the traditional scoring method ahould be followed.  If a player wants to use the Fast 4 Format, it is recommended that he/she propose that when scheduling the match, and not suggest it when both players have reached the courts already.

--New Heat Rule - If the temperature is above 90 degrees, the Fast 4 Format will be used unless both players agree to play it out.


Fast 4 Rules, adapted for Gladiator Tennis:

  1. No-ad scoring.  At deuce, the receiver gets to pick which side of the court to receive from, and the winner of that point wins the game.
  2. 4 game set - the first to win 4 games, wins the set.
  3. Tiebreaker at 3 games all
    • 1st player to win 5 points wins the tiebreaker
    • 2 points serving each, starting deuce side
    • change ends after 4 points played
    • if tiebreak reaches 4-4, the next point wins the tiegreaker and set.  Spin the racket to see who serves at 4-4.  Receiver of serve decides which side of the court to play on.
  4. Play a Fast 4 tiebreak instead of a 3rd set.  The 3rd set Fast 4 Tiebreaker follows the description in Point #3 above.


Gladiator deviations from original "Fast 4 format"

  • Let Courts on the serve are NOT played out.
  • Scoring is still "15,30,40, Game".
  • There is no "Power Play" point.


Breaks and Rest Periods

The following are standard rules in all organized tennis (Gladiator, ITF, USTA) regarding rest periods and breaks:

  • 15 minute maximum warm-up period. 
  • Players are allowed a maximum of 25 seconds between points. 
  • Players are allowed a maximum of one minute and thirty seconds when changing sides of the court. 
  • Players are allowed a 10 minute break between the second and third sets. 
  • Players are allowed a one-time 3 minute injury suspension. 
  • Play shall never be suspended, delayed or interfered with for the purpose of enabling a player to recover his strength, breath, or physical condition.


Additional Gladiator Tennis rules…

  • Players may have one toilet emergency visit per match, which shall not exceed 5 minutes. 
  • No cell phones or beepers are allowed on court except for emergencies. The first time your cell phone rings during a point, your opponent has the option of replaying the point. Each subsequent time your phone rings during play, your opponent is awarded the point.



  • No coaching of players is allowed by spectators in the adult league.
  • If players disagree on line calls, one player should not ask spectators or others on neighboring courts to support or adjudicate their calls. 
  • Please scroll down for the "High School Rules" to see the coaching guidelines for the STL Junior League. 
  • Children should not be allowed on the premises during a match if they cannot be prevented from coming onto the court or behaving in a way that distracts either player from concentrating effectively.


Unsportsmanlike Behavior

Ensure an enjoyable league with quality opponents! Please report all acts of unsportsmanlike conduct to the league coordinator. If players don't report, no action can be taken. Not reporting problem players means other members will be subjected to the same behavior. Unsportsmanlike behavior includes:  Verbal abuse, bad line calls, no response to phone calls, excessive questioning of line calls, and consistently rude or argumentative behavior. Players will receive a verbal warning from the league coordinator after two complaints from different players within a 3 year period.  A third complaint within a 3 year period will result in a one calendar year suspension.  Behavior that involves immediate expulsion from the league are physical abuse, threats of physical harm, and racial slurs.  Do not expect the League Coordinator to expel a player if it is your word vs. his word on the first offense.  But if you report an offense, and a pattern of complaints has been established with that player, this protocol will be followed.


Disputes and Protests

Because all league matches are unofficiated, players are responsible for both knowing the rules and enforcing them while on court. The Gladiator Tennis League Coordinator will only overturn matches if you follow the "Disputes and Protests" rules below:

  • The League Coordinator will only rule on disputes in which the offending player has been issued an "official protest" at the time of the incident. (See Issuing a Protest below). 
  • The League Coordinator will not impose rulings, or settle disagreements about the following: 
    • A disagreement in which an "official protest" was not stated to the opponent at the time of the incident.
    • A disagreement in which the players can't agree upon what events transpired, which include line calls, foot faults, scoring, court conditions, match scheduling, or rude behavior unless indisputable evidence can be provided. Because a league official is not present, we will not take one player's word over another or the word of casual bystanders. These events should be resolved on court according to the helpful guidelines found in the Friend at Court guide from the USTA.
  • It's important to make it very clear, that even though a ruling can't be made on these events, negative behavior should be reported. A "complaint file" is kept on players who have complaints reported on them. After two negative comments, the player will be contacted and issued a verbal warning. If the same behavior happens a third time, the player is suspended from the league for 1 calendar year.


Official Protests 
The purpose of issuing an "official protest" is to prevent a player from wrongfully taking a point when their opponent knows they are breaking the rules. The protest provides a means for getting around the impasse and allowing the match to be completed and later ruled on by the League Coordinator. You should never walk off the court during a match. If the League Coordinator does not rule in your favor, you will lose the match. By completing the match under protest, you still have the possibility of winning the match both on the court and through the League Coordinator's ruling.


Issuing A Protest: 
A protest should be announced if your opponent agrees on the events that have transpired, but disagrees on what the rules are:

  1. State to your opponent what rule has been broken. 
  2. State that you are completing the match from that point forward "under protest" to be later ruled on by the league coordinator.
  3. After the match, the League Coordinator will review the situation and will overturn a match based on a single disputed point if it is supported by the rules found in the Friend at Court, or found in the Gladiator Tennis rules.


In any dispute, if you claim the point, you should be 100% sure of the rules. If the league coordinator finds that the USTA rules do not support your actions, you will lose the match based on that one infraction. If you are not 100% sure of the rules, it is wise to let your opponent take the point and continue the match under an "official protest" (this will increase your odds of winning the match). If your understanding of the rules is wrong, then the League Coordinator cannot disqualify you based on the infraction. You still leave yourself the possibility of winning the match on court. If you are right, and the League Coordinator supports your protest, then your opponent would be disqualified based on the infraction and you would win the match.

Your opponent touches the net with his racket. You state that per the rules of tennis, if you touch the net with your racket, you lose the point. Your opponent disagrees about the rules and is adamant about taking the point. You state that if he takes the point you are playing the remainder of the match "under protest". Inform him that if the league coordinator rules in your favor he will lose the match based on that one single point. Report the incident to the league coordinator. In this case the coordinator would support the rules of tennis and overturn the match in your favor. You would receive the win and your opponent would only receive points up to the infraction. If you simply disagree about the rules and do not state that you are "protesting the match", the coordinator will not rule on the infraction or overturn the match even if your opponent agrees he touched the net.