My son and I were at a Designated tournament (Southern level 2) this past weekend at one of our favorite spots: Mobile Tennis Center in Mobile, Alabama. Even though it’s a 5-hour drive from our house, we try to get down to Mobile for the majority of the tournaments there, mostly due to the stellar work of Scott and Lorraine Novak, the tournament directors for these events. But, I digress . . .
For 2014, the Points per Round tables for these Designated tournaments dramatically changed. However, the biggest change came in two other areas. Prior to 2014, these designated events counted toward a player’s national ranking; now, that is no longer the case. Also, prior to 2014, the backdraws of these designated events were played to completion, usually ending some time on Monday afternoon; now, that is no longer the case either (see box below).
Draw sizes will be 64 draws with feed in matches stopping after play completed on Sunday. Players from lower division will be considered on their lower division standing. 1/8 of the draw is taken from the younger age players in the top 80 who are still eligible in the younger age group. Doubles will begin Friday no earlier than 5:00 PM local time.
Now, there have been times that I’ve been upset or even outraged over something junior tennis related that I’ve later realized didn’t matter one iota to my son. So, when it looked like my son was going to get through all of his backdraw matches last Sunday only to hop in the car and drive home a day before the tournament was officially over, I decided to ask him how he felt about the fact that he wouldn’t have the opportunity to see the backdraw through to completion. Maybe he would be glad to be done after playing 3 tough matches in a day? Maybe he was okay with not missing another day of school?
His answer was NO. No, he was not glad to be done. No, he would be fine missing a day of school if it meant having the chance to actually WIN the backdraw. No, he did not like feeling as though he was abandoning the tournament. And no, he did not like the way the point tables are structured so that his wins don’t even count in his ranking.
Okay, maybe my son is an anomaly? Maybe the other kids feel differently? So, I asked around. Guess what? An overwhelming majority of the players felt the exact same way as my son. They want the chance to finish what they start. They don’t want to be one of 8 players reaching the same level in the draw – they want the chance to be The One Who Fought Through And Won the backdraw.
I’m really hoping our section changes the way these Designated tournaments are structured in 2015. The way things stand now, if a player gets a tough first-round opponent in the main draw, there really is very little incentive to stick around and fight through the backdraw. Rather than have the main draw quarterfinal losers feed into the backdraw, why not have a separate consolation draw for them and allow those who have already played multiple backdraw matches to have the chance of being the one who comes back and wins the whole thing?
I’ve heard from so many college coaches who say they love seeing kids fight back after a disappointing main draw loss to go deep in the backdraw. They say it shows character. They say it shows the competitive spirit.
Please Southern Section, let the kids play the backdraw!
P.S. Please take a few minutes and nominate your favorite Tournament Director(s) for our inaugural Best Tournament Director Award before the December 1st deadline! Click here for the nomination form.