Are Tournaments Dying?

funeralThe USTA Adult/Senior Competition Committee (ASCC) plans to offer tournaments additional format options in an attempt to woo league players to “our faltering senior tournaments,” according to Alan Messer at

Alan reports that a survey of the more than 50,000 league players rated 4.0 and higher indicated players want “shorter, more economical options.”

Regional Differences?

The premise seems strange to me because we are just completing the fourth in the Florida Super Senior Grand Prix series, with a whopping 335 entries at the Sterling Oaks CAT II.

But blog contributor Paul Mabry reports, “I’ve been playing Super Seniors here in Texas for 3 years, initially 60s and now 65s and I can tell you participation is way down. Sometimes they can’t even make a draw combining 3-4 age groups in the Houston area.”

How are things in your area?

According to Alan Messer, concerned players should send their opinions to

Sterling Oaks Results

On Saturday, Chuck Kinyon and I took on the #1 seeded team of Mike Beautyman and Les Buck. As the popular losing saying goes, “It was closer than the score.”

Yes, they beat us 6-1, 6-1; but we were deuce/ad in most games. Being the better players, they saved and converted when it counted.

Thanks to Chuck for teaming with me for three tournaments (and also to Ted Underwood for two times together). What I have learned is that: we can play with ANY doubles team in these tournaments!

For full results to date and the schedule of today’s final matches, click HERE

Payne Park Deadline: the deadline for the first Sarasota area tournament in one week is Sunday at 5 p.m. Click HERE for more details.

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7 thoughts on “Are Tournaments Dying?

  1. What has happened across the USTA is that in an effort to give almost every section some sort of major tournament (Men’s 35 Indoor in Maine for instance), the overall product has become watered down. There are way too many Category 2 events and they added Super Cat 2’s.

    The entire schedule needs to be streamlined across the board, something we have tried to do here in Florida. I have led the scheduling committee for over a decade now and have been fairly successful in getting the Florida tournament schedule to one of the best in the country. National needs to have someone to do this for them.

    That being said……entry fees are expensive, no question. Travel and associated costs (meals, lodging, etc.) aren’t going down. Very challenging for players to play a full season now and more and more players have to pick and choose where they are going to play. Economics are a factor and I encourage all tournament directors to make their events as player friendly as possible.

    Finally, a part of the equation falls on the players as well. Make sure you enter on time (get your doubles partners USTA number and enter as a team), try to avoid defaulting a match at almost all costs (retirements will happen). Play consolation matches (if not for you, play for your opponent so he can get matches). Very frustrating to get a tough draw, lose and then get no opportunity to play again. Its why players respond its difficult to pay a $50+ entry fee and only play two sets.

    Anyone with any comments, suggestions or criticisms on the Naples/Fort Myers portion of the West Coast SSGP can E-mail them directly at

    Mark, yes, traveling to an away tournament can cost $500 – $1,000; so it is important to “get your money’s worth”. thanks. george

  2. Obviously, the Sterling Oaks event was a great success despite 2 days of rain. I played 5 events this winter scanning December through January. All events were well attended and great fun! I will say on the club level there has been a big decline in players that wish to spend a weekend or more playing a tennis event. At the Quechee Club in VT, we have dropped all club championships in favor of one day socials and team tennis formats.

  3. Hi guys, if the usta is trying to get league players to play senior tournaments etc, it’s funny because usta is broken down 3.5. 4.0. 4.5. 5.0. That’s like saying a 3.5 sixty year old can compete against another 4.5 sixty year old . Either the rating system doesn’t work or they want lesser talented players to enter in and get beaten 6-0 6-0 that sounds like fun right let alone the expense lol. Anyway we all love tennis and especially George for stirring us up thanks

    Ohiojack, good thoughts! I have also proposed a “festivus tournament”…. Harkening back to a Seinfeld episode, a tournament “for the rest of us” with no top ranked players allowed to enter. Thanks, George

  4. For many years we had a very well attended and successful senior tournament here in August in the Minneapolis area to raise money for the Inner City Tennis organization. The main reason it was so successful is that it was promoted by the super human effort of Bob and Karen Busch. When they turned the tournament over to someone else that did not promote the tournament with emails, letters and phone calls like the Busch’s did, the participation and quality of the tournament went down drastically.

    Dave, yes, Alan Messer also said “good marketing is critical.” How is your leg? George

  5. Thank you to people like Larry Turville, Mark Taylor and the Club TDs because the Florida tournaments are obviously thriving and don’t have the falling senior numbers that other regions are experiencing. Personally, I really appreciate national tournaments with Feed In Consolations because you essentially get 4 tournaments (singles & doubles) in one, which is a great ROI on your travel expenses. I know many clubs don’t have enough courts for FICs but they sure are attractive.

  6. I would like to provide some insight on tournament lengths and the idea of adding a “fun” component. There are several adult alternative formats not only spreading in Florida, but other sections, along with the UK and several other countries.

    Touch Tennis, founded by Rashid Ahmad from the UK, is played on clay with special-made Touch Tennis balls, (dense foam balls-not our youth foam balls), short racquets, and short courts, much like a Pickle Ball court. The advantage of these over Pickle Ball is the skill of spin and slower timing, are a huge components. There is also a ranking system already in place. It is a large-purse tournament played not only in the UK. Masters Tennis from Florida, is a friendly format with easy scoring and modified court size to allow for more players to continue playing when their mobility may be limited, an injury or post surgery event has compromised his/her strength or ROM to continue playing full court. Many facilities are creating round robin Masters Tennis events to their tournament offerings.

    Another, Fast 4, played by the pros and collegiate players, is hitting Florida. Mike Curran, Bar Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Ft. Myers, won an award from USTA FL for hosting a successful Fast 4 Tournament last fall that attracted over 100 players and moved a volume of players through one day of play. It was fun, fast, and competitive.

    These are fast scoring options and in our Florida heat, may be preferred in summer months and may be preferred over days’- long tournaments. Being creative is what is needed today with tournament lengths and scoring formats.

    Fun tennis is making a come-back in Florida and across the state, not only for seniors, but for the adult population in general. XGLOsive tennis is being piloted this year in several locations throughout the state. It is glow in the dark tennis with great dance music and fun play.

    Formats like these attract veteran back on the court and new players to our game. This is precisely what we need to offer since many are migrating to other sports for their “fun” exercise or social time. Also, many people want “variety” and are more willing to continue playing if they combine some fun in addition to their competitive play.

    Christine, good stuff! thanks, george

  7. reduced rate or free entry if you reside in tournment county, has anyone experimented with this?may require some marketing. Could put qualifiers like never reached quater finals of that tournment

    Jack, excellent idea! Thanks, george

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