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How Tennis Flanders efficiently divides 1,300 teams into divisions, thanks to league optimization algorithms

Optimized competition schedules, twice a year 

Tennis Flanders is the umbrella organization of more than 450 Flemish tennis clubs, together accounting for almost 150,000 members. These members can register to practice their favorite sport in interclub competitions.

RefAssist helps Tennis Flanders organize the various divisions of this interclub competitions cleverly.

Challenge

A complex planning problem that has to meet many requirements

Tennis Flanders organizes an interclub competition for its clubs. Twice a year, 1,400 teams have to be divided into a series that has to meet many requirements. For example, a division has a certain number of teams, and there has to be a maximum difference in player levels. Results also need to be optimized. For example, teams from the same club must be limited, and travel distances must be minimized. This results in a complex puzzle that is difficult to solve with the human brain. There are plenty of competition management software packages on the market but none that take travel distance and time into account.

Approach

Data collection and thorough analysis of requirements and objectives

A RefAssist business consultant helped Tennis Flanders collect all the necessary data. After a thorough analysis, the conditions for the planning were determined. Various objectives were also set for the optimization.  

Because this calculation has to be done only twice a year, Tennis Flanders chose not to use the software operationally. It delivers the data to our consultants, and we let our algorithms do the work. 

Solution

RefAssist’s algorithms deliver optimized solutions, on demand  

Ready-made division schedules are delivered to Tennis Flanders. It receives different solutions each time, optimized on the basis of different objectives. For example, for one solution the minimum travel distance for the teams weighs the most, for the other the maximum number of teams of the same club weighs the most. Tennis Flanders receives a clear report with valuable insights such as the minimum, maximum, and average travel distance per team. It determines which solution is most ideal for the organization and communicates this to the clubs. 

Of course, the analysis does not have to be done repeatedly. Recalculations are done twice a year, and the solutions are delivered quickly.

Result

More job satisfaction for staff members and more joy in playing tennis for the players

The employees of Tennis Flanders no longer waste valuable days trying to solve a highly complex planning puzzle, and they can spend their time more efficiently. 

But most of all, the players are the winners. They will find more joy in playing tennis through balanced leagues and less travel time.

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