Several years ago, I excitedly entered one of the Florida January tournaments, only to discover my first round match was vs. Fred Drilling (who had just been named the #1 60s player in the world!). My tournament ended in just about one hour of play.
Many players have had similar experiences; so Larry Turville suggests a concept called “Block Seeding” as a possible solution. He writes …
“Haven’t heard of Block Seeding? It isn’t used much anymore, but it has a lot of benefits and I believe it could be a big help to sectional tournaments.
“One of the complaints I hear from players is traveling to a tournament, having to play a seed in first round, and not getting many matches. There is usually a consolation bracket, but that’s not the same thing as main draw. With Block Seeding it’s a little like playing in a levels tournament: all the players in the first round or two are non-seeds.
“For example, with a 16 draw (up to 20) tournament, there would be four seeds, and the rest of the field would play ‘to them.’ Non seeds (depending on byes) normally would get two matches against each other before playing a seed.
“The seeded players also benefit as they don’t have to show up until later. Sometimes it can be a little tough on the seeds playing their first match against a player who has already played a couple, but most probably won’t feel too sorry for them.
“For National tournaments where air travel is involved, this doesn’t work as well because it is not quite fair to have players have to make their travel plans before knowing they may be seeded and then have to show up three days earlier than necessary. However, for sectional events where travel is by car this would seem to make sense and win-win for everyone.
“Do you think Block Seeding is an answer for better State/Sectional tournaments like our Super Senior (Masters) Circuit down in Florida? Please comment below.
“A quick story on block seeding… the old National Clay Courts was held for long time at the Cincinnati Tennis Club and they used Block Seeding. In 1973(?), I played Bill Harris, unknown but a great clay courter from Florida, in the round of 16. Bill always won or lost in three sets, didn’t matter who he played. I indeed won the second set and started to think I had a chance. At the change over, Bill gave me the look like you don’t really think you’re going to win do you. He stepped it up a notch and won the third set 6-2.
“The National Clays was still amateur then so they would have couple stars (paid a stipend), and put them into the semi’s so they just had to play just two rounds. This year it was Tom Gorman and India’s Premjit Lall. So to end the story, Harris played Lall in the semi’s, and Lall won the first set joking with the crowd and thought he was going to win easily. Harris was also talking to the crowd telling them this guy is going to lose. It was great theater.
“Unseeded Harris beat him 6-2, 6-2 in the last two sets, and then took care of Gorman (not know as clay courter) easily in three sets to win the tournament. Unfortunately that was the last year of the tournament; but if you ever play in Cincinnati, look for the trophy on the wall with Bill Harris’s (along with a couple other good players like Rod Laver and Tony Trabert) name on it.”
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