15-Love to the ladder system

Girls’ Tennis Coach Harvey Mardyks has adapted a unique method of team tryouts from those used at country clubs that he feels eliminates unfairness and subjectivity on our tennis courts.

Mardyks’ method is called the ladder: a spreadsheet containing every prospective player’s name and their relative ranking, as determined through a challenge system. An athlete moves “up” or “down” the ladder by challenging (and subsequently playing) another in an attempt to take her spot and move her down. The top twelve spots go to Varsity, and the rest go to Junior Varsity, with an overall team cap set at 24 girls.

Emily Paulson, a freshman on Junior Varsity, explains the ladder system as she knows it–to make the team, you have to play four matches. However, to move up, “You have to email someone to challenge them, and they have to accept…whoever wins out of [ten] games gets the spot.”

Natalie Davis, a senior on Varsity, has played on the tennis team for all four years of high school.  She believes that the ladder is very objective, and people get moved up “all through skill.”

“I feel like the ladder can be frustrating sometimes because you want to be in a spot but you can’t get there,” Davis said.

Cara Weinstock, a senior on Varsity, and Paulson share the sentiment that progress up the ladder is based on talent and regulated by the strict design of the system.

Weinstock adds that the ladder is not only a reinforcement of fairness but also serves as encouragement. “The coach wants us to be motivated and to play,” Weinstock said. “The whole point of the ladder is to get us to practice during the summer.”

Despite rumors of preferential treatment with respect to Varsity spots given to girls who take private lessons from Coach Mardyks in the off-season, such allegations appear to be unfounded. “He doesn’t have favorites like that. He places people where they should be,” said Davis.

In fact, according to Mardyks, this year, “every girl that tried out made the team,” with only 19 players to fill the team’s ranks.

“The last few years I’ve had less than 24, so everyone (who tried out) has made it,” Mardyks said.

This tryout method won Mardyks the USPTA (United States Professional Tennis Association) Coach of the Year award in 2009. Along with this recognition, Mardyks brings years of coaching experience, both local and as far away as Utah, where he started his career in 1974.

When Mardyks started coaching with the Newbury Park High School’s girls’ team about ten years ago, he came with a focus : “getting the girls to have fun, play the best tennis they can play, and focus one point at a time, one game at a time.”


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