Why do players enter tennis tournaments? For the vast majority of us, it is to play quality matches vs. quality players, improve our games, and … have fun. That is why having a solid back draw (consolation round) is critical to many players. But how to make this activity more popular?
Tournament player and blog reader Winder Bill (yes, for those of you who do not know him, that is his real name) writes:
“Some (but not many) of the top players routinely do not participate in back draws. Tom Smith and Hugh Thompson are the best examples of those who DO continue to play after an early (and unexpected) loss in the main draw (Editor’s note: After an early exit to Bob Wilkie, Hugh DID sign up for the back draw in Sterling Oaks).
“There is some legitimate concern that if a player is still in the main draw doubles hunt, he may not want to jeopardize his partner’s chances by using up his physicality in an earlier back draw singles match. I speculate that sometimes travel schedule or injury are the main influences but that too often, the potential few extra points is not worth the potential loss effect.”
So what can be done?
Here are some suggestions from Winder and me:
• Make the sign-up in the back draw AUTOMATIC; so the player has to “opt out” of playing and confirm their willingness to participate at registration.
• Like the Longboat Key tournament does, have an active person in charge of the back draw who tracks down and coordinates all players.
• Increase the number of USTA ranking points given for success (and promote that number in the tournament package).
• When prize money is being given, allocate some to back draw winners (and promote that fact).
• Use, what I think is called, a “Feed In Consolation”, where loser’s to seeded players in the second (or third?) round are placed in the back draw.
• Give some flexibility in scheduling the back draw singles to be played AFTER main draw doubles.
What else can be done to make this more popular?
For a link to this week’s Florida Super Senior Grand Prix tournament at the Meadows in Sarasota, please click HERE
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