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Junior Tournaments get Format Upgrade

March 31, 2014 04:06 PM
 
 

 

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Beginning in 2014, Colorado's tournament offerings for entry-level (Futures) and many intermediate (Challenger) junior players are going to look a whole lot different than in years past. Read the announcement here.

In an effort to provide a better tournament tennis experience for youth players in Futures and select Challenger events, USTA Colorado requires all sanctioned entry-level events to guarantee multiple matches by instituting modified scoring and scheduling formats. In all intermediate tournaments, players will be guaranteed a minimum of two matches.

The changes put 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.

Benefits to Players
Kids competing in Futures tournaments are typically unaccustomed to competitive tournament play. Following a nationwide study that showed that more than one-third of first time tournament samplers never played in another tournament, it became apparent that the product just wasn't working for that level player.

By instituting these directives, USTA Colorado anticipates that entry-level tournament players will find the experience far more welcoming and exciting. More matches is more fun, and playing in an all-day event against a variety of opponents provides a much more social atmosphere than a lose-one-and-you're-done experience. For new players, it means more time with friends, meeting new people and just hanging out between matches. It’s fun and easy for players to see who else is playing and how everyone is doing. It also gives players the flexibility to commit to other family/sports/school/etc. opportunities.

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. Matches tend to get more competitive after each round, since players of similar skill levels tend to gravitate towards the same brackets. So, when you lose, your matches get easier and when you win they get harder.

Benefits to Families/Relatives
Finding time to be a parent is hard these days, and the traditional week-long tennis tournament format certainly didn't help those parents who were new to tennis. By condensing a tournament to a single day (perhaps two, given advancement play), parents have a concrete idea of what sort of time commitment they are signing up for, and that gives them the flexibility to plan around the event.

But even more important as a parent, you want your child to succeed, and 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.

Benefits to Coaches/Facilities
Compass draw tournaments are a perfect way for junior players to practice the skills they are learning from their coaches. For many tennis coaches who want to watch their pupils compete in their first tournament, it can become a challenging prospect if they have to remain flexible for an entire week in order to counsel their charges prior to and after the match.

With the new formats, coaches can help players recognize mistakes and correct them over the course of a day of matches. This repeated feedback from coaches can greatly benefit young players who are experiencing competitive tennis for the first time.

The major benefit for host tennis facilities comes both in terms of overall participation numbers and the streamlining of event management. As more and more children are enticed to step into tournament play, facilities will reap the financial benefit because of a larger pool of players.

Multiple Matches
In Futures, tournaments will adopt either round robin or compass draw formats, guaranteeing players a minimum of three matches.

In Challengers, competitors will be guaranteed two matches (although some Challenger events will offer round robins and compass draws).

Scoring Modifications
The compass & round robin draws in Futures events will use different 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 for all matches. All Challenger events are required to offer a minimum of two matches, although many tournament directors have chosen to implement the one-day/modified scoring/multiple match format).

Single-Day Schedules
With the exception of indoor events, all Futures tournaments will complete pool play in a single day, with advancement play taking place on a subsequent day. Challenger tournaments aren't required to complete their draws in a single day, but many tournament directors recognize the many benefits to players and parents of a one-day format, and are configuring their draws to accommodate them.

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