Name Change Survey

“What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell just as sweet.” But how about us “older” tennis players? Larry Turville asks our opinion of name changes in USTA tennis tournaments…

“In several other sports such as Swiming and Track, those who participate at a high level in the adult age groups of 40 & up are called ‘Masters’ and 60 & up are ‘Grand Masters.’ The idea is to consider name changes not for NTRP levels but for open tournaments such as the FL SSGP Circuit or National Level events. Even in tennis at the Maccabiah Games in Israel coming up the age groups are designated Masters and Grand Masters. I believe we should adopt this for the sport of tennis in the US and worldwide. Question for your readers – which would they prefer, the current Senior and Super Senior or Master and Grand Master?

“In tennis, if you are 40 do thing of yourself as a Senior? Most people think of senior tennis as old people lucky to get some exercise. Masters Tennis has a whole different connotation. Why do you think golf changed it’s name from the Senior tour to the Champions tour? If we are to give our level of tennis the recognition it deserves, then why not give it the right name to go with it?”

What is your opinion? Please Comment below.

And, on the recent changes in USTA doubles league ages, Larry writes:

“The USTA recently changed the age for league player from open, 50 & up, and 65 & up to the current open, 40 & up, and 55 & up. They also changed the names for open, senior, and super senior to open, adult, and senior. This is a good move as now the ages as well as the levels are more even. However, I have heard from a bunch of 65 & up saying ‘what happened to us?’ The answer is there are currently not enough players in that age group to justify National team Championships. The good news is that most sections are offering the 65 & up leagues and because of that soon the numbers will be there to offer Nationals.

Regards, Larry”

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16 thoughts on “Name Change Survey

  1. Non-descriptive names like “Master” and “Grand Master” are useless. Why not just call the divisions “40 and Over,” “50 and Over,” etc.? They will colloquially come to be known as “the 40s,” “the 50s,” etc., as in “John Doe just won the championships in the 50s.”

  2. Definitely “masters” and “grand masters”. The senior olympics has changed to “masters”, and so should we. The names are not non-descriptive and will eliminate the disparaging terms of “seniors” and “super-seniors”.

  3. I’m afraid that designation– ” Masters “; in tennis already refers to whenever they total up the points, & have a ” Masters ” tournament; with 8 or however many Qualifiers. Sorry, guys… SOME year you get to be masters, but not everybody, every year…

  4. I feel like we are all being “baited” by this proposal to use the word “master”. It seems especially telling that this proposal comes to us via a blog written by a long time “wanker.” In keeping with that theme, why not divide the group names into “potent” (formerly the open group), “viagra assisted” (currently the senior group), and “impotent” (currently the super senior group). Of course, this would apply only to the men.

  5. I like Masters and Grand Masters. To me it’s an honor to be playing as we get older and fight the challenges of age. I’d like to “Master” that!’

  6. First, to comment on Jake’s comment, the 50’s, 60’s, etc are age groups within the Masters and Grand Masters, or as it is now, the seniors and super seniors. He’s correct in talking about each individual tournament but the overall tournament needs to have a designation that covers all age groups of a particular tournament.
    Second, to answer Bob’s comment, I’m not sure what he’s referring to. There are no Master’s tournaments with 8 or so except for the McEnroe, Wilander, etc, group. To get into those tournaments, one has to have played Davis Cup, been ranked #1 in your country, or won at least $1M in prize money. Fortunately for tennis, there are more and more of those players that are playing in the current senior division tennis. Mark Cox of England played Davis Cup and is playing most of the European senior tennis events. Also, I think I saw where Bob Carmichael recently played a tournament and Roscoe, who has gotten himself in shape and is playing well, paired with Dick Stockton to play the East/West FL Challenge. These things can only help the game. I would love to see anyone take on my former clubmate from Bethesda, Dan Waldman, who just won the World 50’s at the age of 57! He’d give any pro over 50 a match he wouldn’t forget:).
    Anyway, my vote is Masters and Grand Masters, to give our sport some extra recognition. Where would you put Jim Parker, winner of over 100 gold balls, with wins over many top 10 world ranked players over the years.
    Sorry for jumping around a bit, but I DO feel pretty strongly about the subject and Larry Turville has certainly done a great job in the past and continues to try to give our sport and players the recognition they deserve.

  7. Appreciate all the replies even from Marty Judge who makes sure we don’t take ourselves too seriously. Keep in coming.

  8. George,
    As to the name changes–It’s probably useful. I value Larry’s opinion, & I’m guessing that most others will agree with him.
    As to age bracket changes–I too have heard a lot of “what happened to us?” by 65+yo players, of whom I’m one. That “there are currently not enough players” in the 65+ group is an arbitrary decision the USTA chose to make for, I assume, financial reasons. Ordinary 65+ players cannot judge what the USTA can afford to do. But they can judge whether or not they have “paid their dues,” as many have been members for decades; and it rankles that they have now essentially been shut out (for most 65+yo’s, playing against 55yo’s is tougher than 55yo’s vs. 40yo’s and 40yo’s vs. 20yo’s for the obvious reason that their health and strength are declining faster). It is also conceivable that, given attrition in the 65+ age group, “currently not enough” could be forever.
    In short, when the USTA created age groups, I think it should have allowed more than two of them over 40. Maybe it would be more fair to all its members if the over-40’s were simply divided by three, even if that created sections not divisible by five, such as 40+, 52+, & 63+. Maybe also it would be fair, and would encourage more people to play, if there were four rather than two divisions over 40, or even over 35. And maybe too it would be fair, if there were three or four over 40 divisions, that players in the oldest division simply were priveleged to be a smaller group than the others (and maybe in recompense pay more for trips to the Nationals). And surely there are possible solutions out there better than these, And surely if more suggestions had been solicited from players, and if more information had come down to players explaining why, from among several reasonable solutions, this specific solution was chosen, there might have been fewer “What happened to us?” questions.

  9. Either designation is acceptable but being a Grand Master certainly is more distinguished, as is Master, than Super.

  10. As for name changes, if that will in fact assist with greater numbers of players playing, then have at it. My input is I would like to see more time spent as to why the tournaments see less and less particpants, as evidenced again at the Southern Seniors in Jackson, MS. Are leagues taking way to many participants from tournaments? And if so, then that seems to be the direction of the USTA in supporting their base. Changing the name, either way……………..a rose is still a rose. How do we increase participation in tournaments so the draws have meaning with 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th rounds having competitive matches? To many tournaments the past years of one easy match followed by a semi-finals match.
    Tough questions I know. Good luck with name change. My thoughts are the name will not increase the number of participants………………and if it does………..great!

  11. Howie makes an excellent point. Why are the draws in the tournaments – pretty much all of the tournaments to my observation – dwindling? It is now commonplace here in Middle States, admittedly never a hotbed of tennis to begin with, for tournament directors to cancel entire age bracket divisions (or even whole tournaments) due to lack of interest. When there are enough players signed up so a bracketed division can be played, it is often like Howie explained, “one easy match followed by a semi-finals match,” or even one easy match followed by a finals which happened to me earlier this season.
    Personally, while I do like the USTA league play, I am increasingly finding that I am forced to make choices that I do not want to make between having to play on a given Saturday for my team versus playing a tournament that weekend that I have played in the past, or maybe even have a title to defend. Increasingly still, I find the guys I used to be playing in the same tournament are now off playing league play for their respective teams elsewhere but they have made a different choice than me — i.e., eschewing playing the same tournament again in favor of playing league matches with their teammates.
    I even noticed at last year’s grass court nationals, the Men’s 60s that I did play and the 55’s that I did not, as well as the 50’s that I only observed but did not play because it was being played near my home, that there seemed to be an unusual number of vacant slots and byes in these tournaments from what I had remembered in the past. In short, while I have no empirical evidence to support it, it does seem from personal observation that even the long venerated national tournaments may be suffering from declining interest.
    Is it because the leagues are taking away players even in the national tournaments? I don’t know. But what I do know is that balance is a good thing. When things tilt too much in one direction versus another, that always creates problems.
    One final serious comment that I would like to make – that is, the USTA has really created a mess here in Middle States with the new “open,” “over 40,” and “over 55” league format in terms of scheduling. The reason is that, because we don’t have the same weather that folks in more “tennis friendly” areas of the country do, there is simply not enough time in the season to get in all matches for all teams signed up in all of these divisions without overlapping schedules. So, if a club wants to sponsor teams in all three brackets — and my club does — then it has to put up with the fact that the last two or three matches of the “open” team’s season will be played on the same weekend (or even the same day) as the first two or three matches of the “over 40 team.” And the “over 40” team’s schedule will overlap in the same manner with the “over 55 team.”
    Not only does this create scheduling nightmares for the club, but it also forces players to have to play matches on different teams back to back, sometimes without even a day off between matches because, due to the compression in age groups, it now seems that a lot of older players want to play in all 3 divisions. For example, I am signed up to play on teams in all 3 divisions, not so much because I wanted to, but because I was worried I wouldn’t get to play as much tennis this year as in the past because tournaments that I used to play in the past have increasingly been cancelled or brackets within them that are closer to my age have also been cancelled.
    I guess the bottom line to my complaint is I wish it was more like the old days, where there were more tournaments with more participants and the league play, such as it was, did not overwhelm everything else.

  12. A problem with using Masters and Grand Masters is that the name does not fit all the entrants, because there is no eligibility requirement other than age. Some entrants are not and never pretended to be …Masters or Grand Masters. One could have an eligibility requirement – a champion of a USTA tournament within the past 2-3 years. Without an eligibility bar, Masters or Grand Masters is an exaggeration of the truth. Yet, we don’t want an eligibility bar – we like to have local players have the chance to play the highly-skilled players at national tournaments, for example.

    But It is true: the best of us are real Masters or Grand Masters; they deserve respect for being champions – the best – of their age cohort and often, over the lifespan. We do need to recognize this in the name.

    Could we stress the love of the sport rather than the expertise? SSTA – Super-Senior Tennis Aficiandos? 🙂

    I do rather like Masters and Grand Masters – let’s think of something equivalent to this. How about combining age and expertise: Senior Masters and Super-Senior Masters?

  13. Many great comments, and it is apparent to me that leagues while fun are part of the reason age tournaments have seen a decline. Marty doesn’t have time to play in tournaments because he’s playing in three leagues. I’m not sure about his complaint of the club not being able to schedule the three leagues as before there were also three age groups open , 50, & 65. Instead of the current open , 40′ & 55. Although Marty’s still hanging tough maybe he shouldn’t be trying to play in the open which would give him time to play a few tournamens. An issue that Nick brought up that may have a solution is to have some “block” seeding tournaments. This is where you insert the seeds into say the quarters and the rest of the field plays to them. The advantage is that the non seeds get to play each other for a couple rounds before playing a seed and get better matches. Also seeds don’ t have to show up until later in the tournament. In regard to the original point it is correct that the concept is that a Masters level player is a higher level player maybe 4.5 and above. Perhaps the Masters level tournaments should be limited to certain draw sizes and there would be qualifying. The important point in all this is that we continue to play and enjoy tennis regardless of whether it is leagues or tournaments. I believe there are solutions we just need to look for them.

  14. Masters and Grand Masters adds simplicity to the names of the events. There is nothing Super about being a Senior, just slower and older. I like the names. It is a Masters event doesn’t mean everyone that enters is a Master of the game or a Grand Master. I like the simplicity and will make it easy for Larry to make a neater logo.
    As a former ALTA player the USTA would do well to take a lesson on how to run a league and playoffs.

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