Consolation Brackets

caution-signYou enter a tournament knowing you are not likely to win it; but want to get the experience of playing better players for several matches. That is what the consolation bracket (aka backdraw) is supposed to accomplish.

Too Many Good Players?

One reader, who entered a large National tournament, had this observation:

“This was a feed in consolation. Players like Jerry Thomas, Evert Jonsson, Dean Corley and Jimmy Parker, who all lost in the quarters, went into the consolation. That meant a first round loser had to win six matches in consolation to get to the finals. That seems unfair to the second tier players. Maybe you have played a lot of feed ins, it was a first for me and I felt bad for many of the consolation players.”

Consolation Options

According to the USTA, “These player-friendly formats guarantee competitors at least two matches. There are several types of consolation formats.

FMC: First Match Consolation – A consolation draw in which the losers in the first round and those second round losers who advanced to that round by virtue of a bye or default are entered into the consolation draw.
FRLC-First Round Losers Consolation – A consolation draw in which only the losers in the first round are entered into the consolation draw. (Note: This differs from FMC in that a player receiving a bye in the first round of a tournament will not be fed into the consolation draw if they lose their first match.)
FIC-Feed-in Consolation – A consolation draw in which the losers from the main draw are fed back into another draw against players who lost in earlier rounds of the tournament thru the Semi-finals of the main draw.
MFIC-Modified Feed-in Consolation – A consolation draw in which the losers from the main draw are fed back into another draw against players who lost in earlier rounds of the tournament. (Note: A MFIC differs from a FIC in that it generally does not complete the consolation draw OR players which lose the same rounds will feed into separate consolation draws.)

Which version do you think is the fairest?

Colonial Tournament: NO Doubles Consolation

If you are planning to enter the first of 2017 Florida Super Senior Grand Prix tournament at the Colonial, please note the deadline is this Monday at 5 p.m.

Click HERE to signup and/or see the entries.

But please note: In response to the scheduling problems later in the week, this tournament will be experimenting with playing a full three set match in all doubles — but NO doubles consolation round.

Your opinions?

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7 thoughts on “Consolation Brackets

  1. The biggest issue that I have seen with backdraws, which I have both personally encountered a few times and I have heard many, many second tier players complain about vociferously, is that not enough of the seeded or even just very good players who lose prematurely in the main draw stick around long enough even to play the backdraw. That is, after a main round loss, it is typical for at least some of the better players (and in some tournaments a lot of them) either to tell the tournament director that they don’t want to play the backdraw at all, or they do enter the backdraw but they fail to show up for their scheduled match (i.e., they allow a walkover) or they show up but come up with some lame excuse at the last minute about not feeling well or being “injured” and allow a default to be taken against them.

    I am not sure how prevalent this is in the Florida West Coast and East Coast circuits now being played, but I have seen it occur a lot in the Tier 1 summertime national tournaments that I typically play in the Northeast. In fact, I personally saw one well known, highly ranked 50+ player do this at Germantown 2 years ago on grass, and then I saw him back on the court hitting warm ups with one of his buddies later on the same day. So much for being too “injured” to play the backdraw match.

    From the perspective of the second tier player, It seems that many of the good players either: (1) would rather lick their wounds about losing in the main draw so they would rather not play any more tennis; or (2) fear that their reputation might get further sullied, after suffering an unexpected main draw loss, by playing against and possibly losing again to a “nobody” player in the backdraw. So, they just don’t play.

    Of course, this winds up giving the second tier player a technical “win” over a top level player and ranking points in the USTA’s ranking computer, but pretty much every second tier player that I know would gladly trade some useless ranking points that they feel they did not earn for the privilege of playing a real match against somebody much better than them that they would never otherwise play in a million years.

    So, if two of the main purposes of the backdraw are to give the lesser players a chance to at least get two matches in per tournament and also the opportunity to play a match with less pressure against top players, these goals are not being fulfilled in many cases by the status quo.

    How to fix this? I am not sure, but one thought that comes to mind is that instead of just awarding ranking points to the second tier player who technically “wins” by walkover or default, how about actually deducting ranking points from the better player (assuming his ranking differential is more than X times his opponent) who fails to show up for a scheduled match without legitimate excuse or who uses the old injury excuse without convincing the TD that he really is injured by presenting a note from a trainer or a doctor? I am sure this proposal has its own problems, and it may not be workable at all. But I think if you were to ask a bunch of TDs in the Tier 1 tournaments, you would find most have encountered this and a large chunk if not all TDs wish there was a better way to incentivize more of the good players to actually play in the backdraw.

    Marty, interesting proposal! Thanks, george

  2. George , I believe most tournaments are FMC , but wouldn’t mind the other format where you drop down in the quarters . Most people that sign up want to hit some tennis balls , and most tournaments require travel so anything the tournament directors can do to encourage more play would help. Some seniors I have talked to do not have a clue as to how good or bad the tournament players are , so the quarantee of more matches sounds good. Happy new year

    OhioJack, for their $100 singles and doubles entry fee, players just want to play! Thanks, george

  3. George, I am puzzled by Colonial playing three sets in the doubles which will result in night matches that not many will be happy with, but at the same time not playing consolation. If they had shorter regular doubles, might have time for consolation. On consolation there are many factors and issues. To me the key is to provide at least two matches and preferably three to all players. The problem with feed -ins while in theory they are great, they have several drawbacks. First, from my experience only about half of the players who lose play in consolation. So then, you can go several days without playing a match or in the opposite you may have to play two matches in one day. It is a scheduling nightmare for the TD who doesn’t know who will show. I think the issue of a player not playing in the consolation should be his decision, but the important thing is that if you are not playing in the consolation tell the TD. Better yet, tournaments should not enter players in the consolation unless they sign up for it. Some then still don’t show and I would be happy with some minus points. How about the case of a player who withdraws from main draw singles, but then players doubles. Perhaps any points he has earned should be eliminated. To me consolation is meant to get more competition and depending on courts available, the more matches the better.

    Larry, my understanding at Colonial is that the three set matches is the trade-off for not having a consol round. But as one player said to me, “You lose 6-2, 6-2 in the first round, and you are done!” The feed-in sounds complex; and all back-draws are based on players willing to participate, clearly committing to it, and sticking to that commitment. thanks, george

  4. Some of the comments here make me think about that other “no show” situation where a player knows he is not going to play the next round and fails to default prior to the last point of a match so his opponent can go on to play the next match. Obviously this gentlemanly act benefits not only the player he defaults to but to the player who would have had the walkover in the next match. I’ve seen this discussed previously, but not sure if it was on your site here, George, or elsewhere. As for FMC v. FMLC I think FMLC is the fairest given the objective of every player having the opportunity to play a minimum of two matches. After all, the investment one make not only in practice time but the financial one involving entry fees, travel, etc. should be, at the minimum, rewarded with more than one tournament match. In any event, most of us second tier guys are in the tournament to play as much tennis against good players as we can — win or lose. HAPPY NEW YEAR all you fellow tennis addicts. It’s gonna be a great year as long as we can stay health and on the courts.

    Yes, Bernie, it was here you read about “the lucky loser” concept. And have a Healthy New Year as well. thanks, george

  5. Most players would not enter, travel and spend the money if they did not want to play several matches.
    If everyone had opportunity to play until they had two losses, it would create more opportunity for better seeding in future tournaments.
    Those not wanting to play in the feedbacks lose that opportunity.
    It is ridiculous to lose in the second or third round in a Cat 2 or National tourney and then be out of the event with no chance to get more singles competition if wanted.

    david, interesting perspective. thanks. george

  6. Many good comments here and I agree with those that advocate for at least 2 matches and 3 if possible. In my experience and talking to many players, the second tier player wants to play … against better players would be ideal but most important is getting to play several matches in a tournament. Thus, consolations are the way to go. To partly handle the situation of the consolation player not showing, TDs should make, as part of the check-in process, players CLEARLY understand they will not be entered into the consolation unless they sign up. I don’t think that taking point away for no shows would work very well … there would be too many factors to consider making it an administrative nightmare.

    At the end of the day, the top tier players will come and play for the points, ranking and for future seeding. It is the second tier (and third) player that tournaments need to cater to more if they are to be successful and continue to grow. How about a second consolation draw for those that lose in the first match of the consolation draw?

    MAS, interesting idea! Thanks, george

  7. George, I am a second or maybe even third tier player who just wants to see how far he can get in either a singles or doubles tournament. You can probably count on one hand the players who have a chance of winning any particular tournament. So the more play the better, especially as we get older.

    I ran Platform Tennis tournament for over thirty years and we had consolations in every round. You have to lose three times to get out of the tournament. Yes, we had a few of the top players who wouldn’t play in a round of 16 or quarter reprieve, but the did not represent the majority.

    I traveled last year to Baton Rouge to experience the Bocage tournament there. It’s a 14 hour drive from Bonita Springs. My partner and I played the number one seed in the first round and were out. I won’t go back.

    Without back draws, FMC, or separate round draws, you soon will only see a few teams in the doubles events.

    Walt, i already heard from one doubles team that decided NOT to play next week, because there is no consolation round (“not worth the money or the time”). thanks, george

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