A frequent problem at tennis clubs is: what to do when only three players turn up? The usual solution, playing rotating games of two-on-one, isn't satisfactory for a number of reasons. If you switch around every game it's tedious. If you switch every 3-4 games, it feels a little less pointless and boring, but if your players are of varying standards there's usually someone who feels overwhelmed. A lot of people openly hate "threes" - and it's notable that every country attributes it to some *other* country. English people call it "playing American"; Americans call it "Australian", and I don't know what Australians call it.
I've come up with an alternative (I'm probably not the first) I'm calling Triplets until someone tells me it's already been named something else. So far, those who have tried it have been enthusiastic.
- Two of the three players play one game of singles. The loser stands down and is replaced by the third player. Repeat for as long as you want. No one ever sits out more than one game at a time, and someone who goes on a winning streak gets to keep playing. If you want to keep score (people do) the winner is the person who wins the most games.
- If it's very cold it's probably a good idea to play sudden death on the 2nd deuce, so the waiting player doesn't freeze.
- A player who has played two successive games on the same end of the court changes ends.
- The two players in the first game determine who serves first by racquet spin. Thereafter, there are two variants.
For players who can't remember things: the player coming onto court serves. This has the slight disadvantage that a player on a winning streak never serves.
For players who *can* remember things: each pair alternates serve - eg, A serves, playing B. B loses, is replaced by C, who serves. C loses, replaced by B, who serves because A served last time A and B met. B loses, is replaced by C - but last game A vs C C served so A serves. Etc. It sounds confusing when written down, but follows the normal logic of tennis.
- If there is one strong player and two markedly weaker ones, it's probably best to start with the two weaker players facing each other. Otherwise, they may never play each other.
You do wind up sitting out for games, but as against that, you run around more when you are playing because you're playing singles. In practice, unless one player is *really* out of the others' class, any individual's winning streak tends to be self-limiting.
Feedback to refine the rules welcome.