Life in Limbo

As a precursor to this post, you might want to go back and read my earlier post on the USTA ranking system and how it works.  That done, let’s talk about life in limbo aka The Alternate List.

With the new smaller draws at the USTA tournaments, there is likely to be an alternate list for most age divisions.  The alternate list is simply a document listing the registered players who were not ranked highly enough to make it into the main draw but who, in the event that a main-draw player decides to withdraw from the tournament before the first match is played, might get to play.  This list is ordered by ranking so that the higher your ranking, the better your chances of making it into the main draw.

For local tournaments, being on the alternate list isn’t really that big a deal.  After all, you live close to the tournament facility, so finding out last-minute that you get to play is okay.  But, when a tournament is out of town and requires travel and hotel reservations (and maybe even missing a little school), the alternate list is a big, fat pain.

My son and I are living in limbo right now.  There is a Southern Level 3 tournament this coming weekend about 2 1/2 hours from where we live.  Under the new rules, 32 kids get to play in each age division, 28 taken from the age group itself and 4 taken from the younger age group.  In this weekend’s tourney in the 16U boys, in addition to the 32 in the main draw, there are 33 boys on the alternate list – my son is #5.

[Interesting aside:  the only age group in this tournament that DOESN’T have an alternate list is the 10U where they have to play on the short courts with the low-compression balls; in fact, there are only 10 girls and 14 boys competing in the 10U.  The 12U boys have an alternate list of 19 and the 12U girls have an alternate list of 5, probably due to so many of the younger kids playing up.]

When you’re on the alternate list, you cannot sign up for another tournament unless you remove yourself from that alternate list.  At #5, it’s hard to know whether or not my son will get into the main draw at this point.  There is no other Southern Level 3 tournament this week, but there is a Southern Level 4 tournament a little further away that he would like to play IF he doesn’t get into the Level 3.  We are hovering in limbo!

Solution?  Win matches to improve his ranking so my son automatically gets into the main draw of these tournaments.  Obstacle?  His ranking isn’t high enough yet to guarantee entry into the main draw of these tournaments to earn the necessary points.  Anyone else see the irony here?  Maybe another rule change is in order!

12 thoughts on “Life in Limbo”

  1. This is another example of the…”takes money to make money.” only this is about USTA points and money. Exactly why tennis in the States is just for aristocrats. My son is liking Baseball more and more!! Thanks Patrick McEnroe for allowing this to happen. Great job and use for the USTA dues. Along with the great reliability of tennislink. C’mon suits. Do your appointed jobs!

    1. that’s exactly what we’re doing, clark. and even though i hate for it to be about winning and losing, if your child is concerned with his/her ranking and having the opportunity to play in the higher-level tourneys, then winning more matches is the only real solution here.

  2. Then there is the intense pressure. Not just match pressure, but the pressure that you have to win, to get the points, to get off the alternate lists. Meanwhile, there are a select few who are getting the points again and again. Playing the same kids again and again. All swimming in the pool of the higher level points. It will take almost a year of local and off-the-waitlist points to get to a L3/2/1 tournament. Tennis is not fun this way. Tennis is not rewarding this way.

    1. NorMandy, do you feel USTA should re-vamp the ranking/points system? any suggestions as to how they could improve it? would love to hear your thoughts (because i have several of my own, lol)!

  3. Story of our life, and why exactly Julius referred me to your blog. Page by page I am reading…there has to be an app for that? Maybe I could buy you lunch one day and you could help me figure out how to accomplish this with two players…same school district too.

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