USTA Colorado
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Junior Tournaments

A.C.E. Multiple Match Tournament Format


Lifestyles and Tennis
People’s lifestyles in many nations around the world have changed. They can access what they want, when they want, quicker than before. Whether it’s high-speed wireless access, pizza delivered in under 30 minutes or TV on demand – many people are used to quickly fulfilling their needs.

On top of this ‘fast’ lifestyle, people have less time. They are working longer and have greater access to more activities (other sports, movies and tv, bars, video games). This means they have busy schedules and do not want long commitments. Parents, on top of their own busy schedules, can have 2 or 3 children who may all have 3 or more activities on a weekend (piano, hockey, basketball, tennis, football etc).

Consider matching these busy lifestyles of players and parents to traditional tennis competition:

  • Often it takes over 4 hours out of the day
  • Can be spread over a week, you could be knocked out first round or get through to the final... 
  • You never know which day you’ll be finished!
  • There can be a lot of waiting around rather than playing matches

It is clear why, in many nations, that not enough people are playing competition – the traditional formats and scoring systems used are very unattractive to children, adults and (most especially) parents.

Tennis must change. Competitions at the ‘starter’ and ‘intermediate’ levels of tennis are in much need of an overhaul. Working together, tennis can become more attractive so that players get to enjoy playing and competing in a way that takes less time; offers more matches and less waiting around; and that involves all players for as much of the event as possible.


The A.C.E. Format


Beginning last year, Colorado's tournament offerings for entry-level (Futures) and many intermediate (Challenger) junior players look a whole lot different than in years past. In an effort to provide a better tournament tennis experience for youth players in Futures and select Challenger events, USTA Colorado adopted the multiple match A(bbreviated) C(ompetitive) E(xperience) format, or A.C.E.. The multiple match A.C.E. format requires all sanctioned entry-level events to guarantee multiple matches by instituting modified scoring and scheduling formats. In 2015, all Futures and Challengers events will utilize the A.C.E. format.

A.C.E. puts Colorado at the forefront of a growing movement across the country that challenges the age-old standard of forcing inexperienced competitors into a lose-one-and-you're-done scenario. to experience tournament play. A.C.E. includes either round robin or compass draw formats, guaranteeing players a minimum of three matches.

Abbreviated: Events will use different compass and round robin options, ranging from short sets (first to 4), one-set formats or timed formats (8s and 10s divisions only). Futures events will also adopt no-ad scoring. Tournaments will complete pool play in a single day, with advancement play taking place on a subsequent day. 

Competitive: Compass draw formats are tailor-made for the tournament sampler, who get real tournament experience without the expense, time and travel commitments of traditional week-long tournaments. The compass draw format keeps matches competitive, allowing better players to play tougher matches and less-skilled players to play easier matches. This keeps kids from getting discouraged and helps them feel successful.

Experience: By condensing the event and offering guaranteed, competitive play, tournament directors are ensuring a player- and family-friendly experience. Some organizers are even offering other social opportunities (swimming, pizza party, etc).

Download the ACE Quick-Reference Flyer.


Scoring Formats under A.C.E.


Short Sets to 4
Instead of playing first to 6 games, play first to 4 games. At 4 games all, play a tiebreak to 7.

Third Set Match Tiebreak
Instead of playing 3 full sets, if the score gets to 1 set all an option is to play a match tiebreak as the third set. This can be a tiebreak to 7 or 10 points, the winner of this match tiebreak would win the match 2 sets to 1. This rule can significantly reduce the time needed to complete an event and was recently used at Junior Wimbledon due to bad rain causing matches to get behind schedule.

No 'Ad' Scoring
No ad scoring is where, instead of getting to deuce and then advantage (40-40 then Ad-40), you only play one more point. At deuce (40-40) the receiver chooses which side to receive the serve from and the winner of that point wins the game.

The No ‘ad’ rule prevents long games played at deuce — advantage — deuce — advantage — etc. and can give more interest as there should be more breaks of serve (especially good for young elite players learning about playing under pressure). With no-ad scoring, it is simply 15-30-40-GAME.

Play 1 Tiebreak
Many formats, especially for young or inexperienced players, can benefit from matches that consist of just 1 tiebreak to 5 or more points. The advantage of this is that:

  • The scoring is simple for players to understand
  • It takes less time — good for children with short attention spans
  • Can play more matches and opponents – good for adult players wanting a social experience
  • Scoring is less embarrassing — although player can lose 7-0 in points, this would be less embarrassing for a starter player than losing 6-0 6-0 in a formal event.

Best of 3 Tiebreaks
Holding many of the same advantages as above, playing best of 3 tiebreaks takes less time and keeps the scoring simple. Great for starter players and/or parents with busy schedules.

Timed Matches
Timed matches allow coaches to have total control over when all matches start and finish. This makes it far easier for you to run an event as all players start, finish and change opponent at the same time.

You can use any length of match you want, but a maximum of 15 minutes/match is advised. Scoring can be as in a tiebreak but players keep counting until the time is up.

No Knockouts
Never, never, never should the first competition a starter player plays be a knockout event. How do you think a nervous, inexperienced starter player feels when they hear “You lost first round so now you can go home”? Knockouts are good for experienced, older players but the starter player wants and needs lots of smaller matches against different opponents. 

Single-Day Schedules
Finding time to be a parent is hard these days, and the traditional week-long tournament format isn't helping parents who are new to the experience. By condensing a tournament to a single day (perhaps two, given advancement day), parents are aware of the time commitment and gives them flexibility to plan around the event, and to fit tennis into an already crowded activity schedule.

Traditional competition is no good for starter players, it’s too long, too serious and often too much pressure. Using the A.C.E. Multiple Match Format will help to make competition more accessible and enjoyable for starter players.

The perfect starter competition is short, simple and has plenty of matches for ALL players. 

Download the ACE Quick-Reference Flyer.

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