Making Tournaments Better

The Longboat Key CAT II had a record number of 333 senior tennis playing entrants, several of whom played singles + doubles or two doubles age groups, which all created scheduling nightmares for the tournament runners.

What lessons can we learn from this episode?

Whose responsibility is it?

  • In “the old days,” match times were posted on the wall; players checked them and showed up the next day.  And if there were changes in start times, the tournament desk called the players to inform them.
  • Today, we have morphed into a gray area with match times being posted online and all players being expected to have access to internet to check the frequent changes that are being made. (like Larry Albritton was defaulted out of the 70 singles).
  • I believe it is the tournament’s responsibility to inform players of changes in posted start times.
  • If there are not enough local, club volunteers to help with this task, I am confident many of us tournament players who have traveled to the site would have free time and be more than willing to help.

The Round Robin format

  • I feel that this format is a great improvement on the opportunity for scheduled, quality matches.
  • For players like me who have traveled two hours and spending upwards of $1,000 to participate, being guaranteed matches on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday makes my planning and expense much more worth the effort.

Playing multiple age divisions

  • This is what is creating scheduling nightmares for the tournament staff.
  • When someone has entered two age divisions in doubles, it is just inviting scheduling conflicts – especially when those matches would normally be played in the afternoon and the winter sunset is at 5:30 p.m.
  • I would suggest that players be allowed to enter two events – only if it is one singles and one doubles.

My understanding is that this tournament, at least, will be making two changes next year: players will be told the time of their next match when reporting scores; and players will be able to enter two categories, as long as one is singles and the other is doubles.

What are your thoughts??

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8 thoughts on “Making Tournaments Better

  1. George,

    I really liked the “new” doubles concept. I was one of the guys who entered two age divisions. It seemed to me that most of the scheduling problems in our divisions stemmed from age groups that had five teams within their round robin. That made for five rounds in four days. That meant no matches one of those days and two matches one of those days, at least for me.

    Most players I heard talking loved being able to play more matches. I can only assume that means more doubles teams will enter in future tournaments. I therefore assume that means more round robin matches. Which I assume means more players playing more matches, nobody getting knocked out of the tournament until the weekend (happy participants) and tournament directors working long hours.

    Bottom line is this is great for us that play and a bit harder (I say a bit because I don’t run tournaments anymore, I am retired) for tournaments to schedule. I am sure this will all get worked out and senior men’s tennis will be the better for it.

  2. Considering all the new formats thrown at the tournament director, Tom Scovil, I thought he did a great job. The TDM program designed by the USTA for scheduling and keeping track of results does not work well with the new round robin format and requires the establishment of multiple draws.

    Most tournament directors don’t schedule matches until after they have done the draws. I have been involved with the National Senior Games and the tennis division for several years now, starting as the local chair in Cleveland in 2013. Last year in Birmingham I was asked to be the National Chair. To insure that the twenty courts at Pelham were sufficient, I scheduled out all 39 draws on a spreadsheet using the largest draw ever in any one division. When it came time to actually do the draws, only two were larger, most smaller, thus I only had to make small adjustments to my scheduling and my assistant who was working the TDM program just read the start times off my spreadsheet.

    Note, however, that it took me over a week to do the initial scheduling. But I was paid for my services. Players need to remember that the organizers of these events are “volunteers” and do this for the love of the game.

  3. I play both singles & doubles and don’t like the round robin format. Instead, we should have a double feed-in process for both singles & doubles. That is, if you win your first round & lose your second, you still play consolations. That way, everyone has quality matches.

  4. I too like the round robin format however i really wish it were two out of three sets because after all we are there to play tournament tennis. I think everyone agrees the
    tie-breaker is a crap shoot and if we are typically playing one match a day a few extra on court minutes shouldn’t be that big a deal.
    As far as the notification of schedule changes i wood much rather have a text to my phone than an email.

  5. I should have added that I am glad that I was not scheduling Longboat. I thought Tom made lemonade out of lemons.

  6. I was impressed with the very small wait time for matches…..333 entrants too!….everyone did a great job arranging the different venues, so that we could play when scheduled.

  7. John… i agree with you on the double feed-in on singles. Sometimes it happens your first round match is too easy and then you play a seed in the second round and you may find yourself over matched. The back draw gives you get another chance to compete.

    That said i still prefer the round-robin format for the dubs. We had more close matches, met more good guys and felt our team work improve as it went …but let’s play three full sets please!

  8. Have only followed the draws online with the new round robin doubles format. Have been most pleasantly surprised at how few teams dropped out before completing their round robins. I’m sure there is a temptation to give up and go home if you’ve lost your first couple of matches. Encouraging to see that that seems to have been kept to a minimum at all the tournaments that I’ve followed. Love that format change, but I bet it gets really interesting when tie-breakers have to be applied when two or more teams end up tied. 🙂

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