Tournament Seedings

argueIf you have ever played a tournament, you probably have been mystified how some of the seedings are made. Well, veteran tournament executive Larry Turville offers up two of his own “Pet Peeves” about the process, which is followed by some others that I have heard voiced by other players…

“I Pay, You Pay”

“First, Player A says to his partner, ‘sign up for the doubles and enter me,’ expecting to pay at some later date or maybe not at all. TDM software has added feature which sends an email to Player A saying ‘Player B has entered you; so please sign up and pay.’ But many do not.”

“So when it comes time to do the draw, the computer then erases the player who has not paid. Then the draw maker has to go back and search who the player B has signed up with in applicants. Then he has to do a search in TDM to add them to competitors. In addition to not paying, two of players that were searched came up with delinquent USTA cards and one was not even eligible because he was too young for the division. Come on man! You can do better than that!”

Late Withdrawals

“So then I can make a draw, which normally doesn’t take very long except for then my second peeve… players pulling out of tournaments. Which means to do it right, the draw maker should move lower seeds up. My issue is with players who withdraw after the draw is made in singles and still play doubles and have the moxie to want their entry fee back. Come on, Man! That’s it for now, just the fun of helping run a tournament.”

Withdrawal Reasons

Another tournament player has voiced to me a concern about some of the “upper echelon” players who will look at the draw when it comes out and not like what they see (either their own seed or the players in their path) and withdraw from the tournament! How small is that?

National Rankings

Others have expressed concern about not having their “National Ranking” reflected in their seeding at a local tournament. They feel if they have a ranking, they should be seeded over those who do not. Seem logical?

According to Larry T. “As we know the national rankings are far from accurate. The first question is ‘Did you beat anyone of significance to get there?’ Then you have to compare those results with recent head-to-head to make a more reasonable decision on placing players.”

What are you “Seedings Peeves”?

Sterling Oaks Singles

Monday started out raining and turned very windy in the afternoon, delaying my scheduled singles start time from 3:45 to 5:00 p.m. – which turned out to be to my advantage.

My opponent, Joe Dyser, the former head pro at Sterling Oaks has a vision problem, which makes seeing the ball at twilight very difficult. So combine that with the fact that in the first set I made ZERO UNFORCED ERRORS, I took the set at 6-0.

With a dozen “Dyser Die-hards” watching in the stands, I remained focused (and wouldn’t look over in their direction), made just three unforced errors and took the second set at 6-1.

Today’s round of 16 singles match is vs. #5 seeded Ralph Grieco of Roswell, GA, someone I have never played (he is the official photographer of many of the senior tournaments).

For all the results and draws, please click HERE.

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6 thoughts on “Tournament Seedings

  1. I generally haven’t had too many complaints about seedings, but my biggest complaint is when the TD ignores USTA rankings and win/loss records entirely and either seeds someone else ahead of me who has no USTA record entirely (but the TD says he “knows his game” so the seeding is deserved) or I actually have a favorable win/ loss record against the guy seeded ahead of me. If it results in no prejudice in who we each play, I might actually use the insult as a psychological motivator to play especially hard and well and so, in that situation, it could be a blessing in disguise. But what really aggravates me is when this same thing happens and then the guy who got the favorable seed draws a cream puff opponent in the first round and I am stuck playing against another unseeded player who is very strong. However, aside from the occasional issue like the above, I generally have had few complaints about my seeding, or lack thereof, in tournament play. For the most part, I have found myself mostly agreeing with the TD’s decisions.

  2. National rankings have more to do with participation quantity than quality – if a good player plays 3 or 4 of the national tier I championships and 3 to 5 tier II championships, enough points will be earned for a relatively high ranking (compared to better players who played less tournaments). Seeding, as mentioned, should take into account who one has beaten and ALSO who one has lost against. I am currently ranked 14th nationally which was the primary reason I am seeded 5th at Sterling Oaks. I was overseeded as I never beat a top 20 player in 2014 and lost to many good players who are not considered top players. Andre Marois beat me today in the round of 16 1 and 1. He is a very good athlete and tennis player but not considered a top 4 player in this tournament. My point is that my record did not warrant a #5 seed even though I have a high national ranking. I can beat a lot of players on a good day but have many inconsistent days. Again, you play enough you get a relatively high ranking that should not automatically garner a high seed.

    Winder – a very fair self-assessment. thanks. george

  3. Winder- thanks for the self assessment, but you had a good last week and you are playing well. Andre is a tough competitor and I knew it would be good match. I’m proud of you for losing forty pounds and becoming a force again.

  4. I wonder if the USTA could enter all the tournament results into the computer, just as they do with the team matches. A players results in team matches determine what level they may play in, such as 3.5, 4.0, 4.5 etc. My understanding is that each player receives a numerical rating according to their results, and I think that rating is carried out to the 100ths or even thousandths. If all the tournament results were entered into this system, everyone would have a numerical rating, and the seeds could be determined by these numbers. It seems to me that this would be a fair way to determine the seeds, and eliminate any potential bias. There would be no need for a seeding committee, and players unhappy with their seed would not really have anything to stand on.

    Doug, I think all results are entered into the computer, with points for each round having increasing value. But, as others have said, there is more to it than that. Thanks, george

  5. One other comment. I agree with Winder Bill about the frequent lack of reliability of national rankings. If you play in one or two Cat I tournaments, and a handful of Cat II tournaments, you can get a fairly high national ranking even if you constantly lose in the first or second round and manage to squeak through a win or two or three, including by your opponents defaulting, thereafter in the consolation round. And it is quite common to draw defaults in the consolation round because many guys don’t treat it all that seriously and/or just want to go home and lick their wounds after getting kicked out of the main draw to their mind prematurely. I know because I have benefited from this situation. It does not mean I am a great player — most assuredly I am not, as anyone who has seen me play will attest. Now, at the very top of the national ranking lists — say, everybody from #1 down to #25 — those rankings are almost certainly all well deserved because they have been earned through having to play well, and beat other highly ranked players, in multiple tournaments. But the lower your number may be, the more suspect your national ranking probably is for the reasons that I previously cited. I would dare say that TDs should probably make it a rule not to consider any national ranking for seeding purposes that is lower than, say, the top 25 and is based on a minimum number of Cat I or Cat II tournaments having been played — say, at least 3 or 4, if not more, per season.

  6. The main problem as I see it is that each TD only runs one tournament per year. Ranked players go to many events every year. So the players quickly spot a bad seed and the good seeds. The TD has far too much power and should rely much more, especially on final decisions, on the national seeding coordinators. If a player enters a seeding appeal, it should be taken seriously.

    My feeling is that National tournaments should go by National rankings first, then local rankings, and for sure the most current (within 12 months) head to head results. TD’s should not be allowed to just put in whoever they think is good. Only special cases, like Mark Myers or Roscoe Tanner for example, should be considered for seeding, and only then in the top 4. Let those players who have paid the money, invested the time, played the matches, exposed themselves to wins/losses/injuries, and attained the rankings be given what’s due to them. If the others are so good, let them beat their way through the draw (as Brian Fineberg did in the 60’s). Next tournament he’ll have a record for the TD AND the seeding coordinator to look at.

    Last fall at the Clay courts in New Orleans I was ranked #16 Nationally and was unseeded. 8, yes EIGHT, players with lower rankings or no rankings were seeded ahead of me. I looked at my investment of time, money, and matches, and thought WTF. When I appealed the seedings prior to the draw being made the TD, who did not consult the seeding coordinator, said that one of the seeded players ranked behind me (and who I had beaten TWICE within 3 months prior on clay) had a good win over a highly ranked player. Apparently the fact that the good win occurred on a grass court, the highly ranked player had never played on grass, the winner was a serve and volley specialist, and the seeding appeal involved the National CLAY COURT championships, seemed to mean nothing. Eventually the seed didn’t hold up. He lost prior to the round of 16.

    I lost first round to a very good local player. He lost second round after giving the 5th seed a run for his money. He eventually won the 2nd round consolation tournament beating a player who beat Joe Bouquin. I eventually beat my way through the mass of 1st round losers (5 matches) to win the consolation without losing more than 3 games per match the entire way. Was this a good use of my time and money? Probably not. Those other 7 players who just rocked up and got seeded, some of whom hadn’t played a tournament in two and a half years, and most of whom we won’t see for another few years, they probably got their ego and monies worth.

    Michael Beautyman was just ranked #2 in the nation, 2015, in M65s. He looks at the seeding and sees he’s #5. If you were him would you spend the time and money to travel to Sterling Oaks?

    If you want to motivate players to play more events and expose themselves to head to head results, go by the rankings and head to heads. If a good player enters a tournament once every 3 years and doesn’t get seeded, so be it. If I draw him first round and lose, that’s the luck of the draw. It happens sometimes. But to allow TD’s to be all so powerful (when the Seeding Coordinators who examine wins and loses all year long should be) is not, in my mind, good for the game.

    Michael – Thanks for the thoughtful response! I think there needs to be a variety of input and a balanced approach to the local tournaments. George.

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