The Round Robin format in doubles … several tournaments have tried it and some tournament directors have avoided it. Is it good or bad for the game of senior tennis?
What is Round Robin?
In this format, teams are still seeded; but they are placed in groups of three to four teams, who all play each other. In the prototypical format, there are 16 teams that are divided into four groups of four teams each. And the winners of each group then move forward to play in the semi-finals.
Why Round Robin?
In my opinion, the pros significantly outweigh any cons that are voiced …
Avoids Delays: With the traditional format in most tournaments, the doubles starts on the second day, usually Tuesday, and then if you lose, maybe the doubles consolation starts on Wednesday or Thursday, but if you have bye, possibly as late as Friday. By then, players are leaving and you are lucky to get a match.
Avoids Consolation Matches: Consolation is also not fun for the TD who has to try to confirm who can play in the Consolation, and then schedule, hoping not to have defaults. In our younger days, singles was the main priority, but now in the 60 plus age category many players are specializing more in doubles.
Guaranteed Matches: Take a draw of 16 teams, which turns into 4 groups of 4: each team gets 3 matches starting on first day of the tournament, probably Monday. They know they will play three days; and if they are not a seeded team, they know they will play one, plus one or two more vs. their peers.
Player Scheduling Benefit: It does add a day to the playing of the event but look at what it does for the players… They get two or three guaranteed matches in the main draw starting at the beginning of the tournament, and if they don’t make the final rounds, they can go home. They can better schedule their travel and their hotel stays. With consolation doubles they must hang around and with an uncertain idea of when and how many matches they will get.
Lucky Losers: An added feature is the lucky loser provision. In a draw of 12 teams there are three RR groups of 4 with a bye spot into the final rounds. Instead of having a bye, take the second best team from all the groups using a TB systems and put them in the bye spot. This gives a team an actual second shot at winning the tournament after losing in the Round Robin.
Why NOT Round Robin?
According to NSMTA’s Larry Turville, “In talking with TD’s about the RR format, I hear that a few players don’t like it. Like any change, some don’t like it just because it is change. Otherwise, to the complaint of a seeded player that he has to play an extra match instead of getting a bye, one veteran tournament player believes he “owes it to the game” to provide a better format for the majority of players; another says he uses the round robin as a “warm up” for the more difficult matches to come.”
What do YOU think … Round Robin or Consolation Rounds?
For all the results from last weeks CAT II at St. Pete (which DID feature the round robin doubles format), just click HERE
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