8 Games Enough?

Consolation doubles… Colonial had none. WTC had two sets and a ten-pointer. Sanchez-Casal has an 8 game pro set – as does next week’s Sterling Oaks CAT II. But what is fair to players who travel here and pay $100 a team to play?

Our Hassle

Chuck Kinyon and I played our doubles consol quarter-finals yesterday amidst some controversy. Going out to the court, we agreed with our opponents (John Lundquist and Gary Williamson) to play a match with two sets and deciding ten-pointer … and report the score in the 8-game format.

We ended up getting “behind the 8 ball” and into a bit of a “discussion” with the roving umpire, who saw we were not following the rules. Had we stopped after someone reached 8 games, Chuck and I would have won 8-3 (which is the score we ended up reporting); but we did play the full two sets, which we also won 6-2, 6-4.

“But why?”

Afterwards, we lobbied with Pavel Slozel and TD Rogelio De Haro to allow us to play two-sets for the semis and finals. We argued that it was the end of the day with no matches to follow, they had plenty of open courts, and other matches were still going on. But the best they would say is “maybe” for the finals.

For me, I really dislike “short formats” of any kind. You really don’t have time to “get your teeth into the match” and it is not really enough tennis for the money paid (especially for out of towners playing doubles only).

What is the solution? The roving umpire said to get a tournament to change BEFORE it starts or to not sign up if you don’t like the format. (I know of at least two doubles teams that did NOT play Colonial doubles because there was no consolation round).

Sterling Oaks

Next week’s CAT II is scheduled to be the same 8-game consolation. Can tournaments change? If I remember correctly, when Sterling Oaks was impacted by rain-outs a couple of years back, they changed DURING the tournament to an 8-game format (I think in the main draw).

For this one, I am playing both singles and doubles (with Chuck); and have a first match on SUNDAY vs. George Mathison from Alabama. Any scouting information would be much appreciated.

For this week’s Sanchez Casal results to date, click HERE
For next week’s seeds and draws, click HERE

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9 thoughts on “8 Games Enough?

  1. George,
    Clarification – the eight games pro sets are up to semi’s so in semi’s and finals of consolation doubles format is two sets with TB for third.

    Larry, agreed. But what is your opinion on the format? thanks, george

  2. I think that an eight game pro set is insufficient for any tournament match. However, I agree with the roving umpire – if you don’t agree with the format, either try to get it changed with the tournament director or don’t register for the tournament. If enough players don’t register, it may cause the director to change the format.

    Michael, as they say in marketing, “vote with your feet”. thanks, george

  3. I agree with you about disliking a short format in tournament tennis, George. That includes the 8 game pro set (which I absolutely despise), but it also includes to a lesser degree basic no ad scoring and the third set 10 point super tiebreaker (although I tolerate those because I understand the need for efficiency).

    Tennis has a very unique scoring system that is unlike pretty much any other sport. You have to win, in heirarchical fashion, first points, then games, and then sets before you can win a match. Also, the way that games are scored like the four corners of a clock is not found in any other sport. But he most notable feature is the requirement to win two successive points once the score reaches deuce. And in traditional scoring, before there were tiebreakers and no ad scoring, this extended even to game scoring were a set could go on well past 7-6 because of the need to win by two games.

    All of these unique rules require a player or team to engage in significant strategy that is quite different from anything that I am aware of in any other sport. In fact, there are many tennis coaches, online commentators, and the like who render match play advice that is specifically tailored to the pressures and differences that come from this unique scoring system. In Brad Gilbert’s book, Winning Ugly, he devotes a lot of advice to how you should play differently when the score is 30-30 versus 15-40 versus 40-15 versus deuce, etc. Other commentators coach about hitting different serves to different locations and otherwise playing different game patterns depending on the score, whether you are playing the first game in a set or are tied at 4-4, etc. All of these strategies and intricacies would not exist if tennis was scored just by counting the total number of points won in a timed interval, like basketball or football, or in a certain predetermined number of segments, like baseball.

    But whenever tournament directors, or others, deviate from the traditional scoring system, they also interject changes to the strategies that have been developed to win matches and, in effect, they change the game as we know it into something different. Yes, I appreciate the fact that this may be (sometimes) necessary due to the size of the draw, court availability, weather, lighting, etc. But to just blithely tell someone who has spent $100 + just to enter a tournament – not to mention the travel costs for out of towners – is really to be disrespectful to the players and placing non-tennis considerations ahead of the core of the game.

    Over time, this will have, and probably also has, the effect of eroding a lot of players’ enthusiasm for tournament play. Simply put, if you are forced to play a game that is different from what the game is supposed to be, you cannot help but to be disappointed and wonder if golf might be better.

    One final thought: It is extremely common in tournament play among accomplished players to see matches go three sets. So, you could easily lose a first set 1-6, but come roaring back and win the next two sets, say, 6-3 and 6-4 to take a match. But if you added a few more games to that 1-6 first set loss and changed the score to a 3-8 pro set loss, you would never have the opportunity to play yourself back into the match and wind up winning. THIS is the major reason why I hate the 8 game pro set so much. It becomes a crap shoot. If you are a slow starter or just happen to get unlucky at the beginning of a match and you go down a break or two, there is literally no opportunity to redeem yourself and come back to win. In this sense, one aspect of the beauty of the unique scoring system in tennis — the fact that 2 out of 3 sets must be won before a match is over — has been completely tossed out the window with the 8 game pro set.

    This may be some other game, but it is NOT tennis.

    Marty, long, but accurate. it changes how we play the game. thanks, george

  4. Generally, a Doubles match goes faster than a Singles match. If “time” is a concern, which seems like it usually is, I don’t understand why they play the long format for Singles (3 full sets) and a short format for Doubles (2 regular sets and a 10-pt TB for a 3rd set). I’d think you could churn through more matches faster by doing the opposite.

    Terry, my thoughts exactly! thanks, george

  5. George – as much as I’ve enjoyed playing the SS Grand prix the last 10 years, I’m not playing any this year for that very reason. I can’t justify giving up USTA league matches and paying tourney fees with no consolation draw. There are plenty of courts available in the area, so I don’t understand the reasoning.

    Jeff, maybe if more people follow your lead, the tournaments might change to make more consumer friendly. thanks, george

  6. Hi , George a question that comes to me is ,what is the goal of the tournament ? Most successful events usually start planning well in advance of the event. Most send out questionnaires , then they have to work out the particulars with the sources that they have. With tournaments they are dealing with members etc. But some have forgotten to ask the players what they like, as we don’t always know what they are dealing with . Ideally we need a tournament center I’m just joking . But in reality we all love tennis and can’t understand how anyone could not love ,eat, and drink tennis.

    OhioJack, agreed… we are the customers. thanks, george

  7. George,

    I am with you, some thing changed this year in the way consolations for doubles is structured and even when matches were scheduled, except at World Tennis. My partner for Sanchez, Gary Engelhard, and I didn’t read the fine print, and were scheduled to play on Monday, a day neither of us could play, so we forfeited the first round, then played the team we were supposed to play in the back draw.

    It’s not only unfair for the “travelers” to play “short matches” but also for those of us who “live” here during the winter months to pay high fees only to play the people we see every week in full matches. Unless they change things back next year, I for one will not play the tournaments any more.

    Walt, the more that do that, the more likely change will come. thanks, george

  8. George,

    It should be clear that only the doubles conso is a pro set for maybe the first or second round.Although there are plenty of courts around no one wants to give them up during the season. We are lucky to have two other sites help out, but two of the sites used last year declined this year to help. We went to two sets and TB in doubles a few years ago as you know because matches were going into the late night. Many tournaments don’t offer both consos in singles and doubles so the SSGP is good in that they do. If someone out that has a club in Naples that would give up their courts in season, please let me know.

    Larry, thanks for the background. I think if there were no consos, sign-ups would drop dramatically; and you would only get the players who thought they had a chance of winning several matches. George

  9. Without us consolation players there would be no tournament. And no prize money for the seeded players. And why isn’t there more prize money for the consolation finals?

    John, a while back i promoted the concept of an “Festivus tournament” … a tournament for the rest of us (no top ranked players allowed). george

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