I received the following via email from David Feldman, a Tennis Parent in the New England section. With David’s permission, I have also shared it with the folks behind the Match!Tennis App. Please have a look then let us know what you think about it in the Comments below. Thanks! Lisa
As I watch my son attempt to find a satisfying doubles partner for the upcoming 16L1 National Championships and the subsequent 16L1 National Doubles Tournament, it’s clear that this process is very trying for the players. As I’m sure you’ll agree, everybody wants the best partner they can get, many players aren’t sure who that is, and the discovery process is logistically and emotionally challenging for all involved.
I have a proposal: math! In particular, the economists and game theorists have long since studied this problem, and there’s a way to make everybody as happy as possible. It’s called the Stable Roommates Algorithm. Just substitute “doubles partner” for “roommate” and it’s a perfect fit for the doubles partner process. I suggest that USTA implement this algorithm on the TennisLink page for relevant tournaments.
Here’s how it would work:
1) Players admitted to an event would rank the partners they’d be willing to play with. A simple list, ordered from first preference to last preference, of the players accepted into the event. The list would be private; i.e. not shared with other players.
2) Just prior to the event, the Stable Roommates Algorithm would be run by the computer against all of the lists, and it would create doubles pairings. Those players would play with each other.
The best part is that this system would still allow any two players sure they wish to play with each other to do so: Any two players who put each other first on their respective lists are guaranteed to get matched to each other. In this way, this new system includes the current “mutual USTA #” method within it, making the transition comfortable.
Even better, it’d take pressure off of tournament directors to play the role of in-between, and free players (and parents) from the often agonizing parade of requests and rejections. I’m a computer science major and a tennis parent, I’d be happy to discuss this in more detail with USTA National or TennisLink. Best of all, this technique would be applicable to all doubles events across all divisions of USTA play.