This year, for the first time, the Georgia Qualifier included the option for the top 8 players in the state to waiver out of competition. Please understand that playing the Qualifier has always been mandatory in order to get endorsed into the Southern Closed, the tournament that awards a spot into the National Hardcourts for the winners of each division.
Before you formulate an opinion on this year’s new waiver policy, let me provide a little background . . .
Historically, many of the top players in the state would come to Macon, Georgia in late May, play one round – and sometimes only one point! – of the tournament to satisfy the endorsement requirement, then withdraw. If you look at weather reports of Macon in May, you will understand why – it’s incredibly hot and humid this time of year, and, typically, there is a lot of rain, too, making this event last even longer than it should for a 64-draw tournament. On top of that, there are usually multiple cases of severe dehydration and cramping – players as well as spectators – requiring trips to the ER for treatment. The state’s best players don’t want to risk illness or injury unnecessarily before the sectional closed, so they do the minimum to ensure a spot in Southerns. Coming up with the waiver policy seemed like a good way to prevent these early withdrawals, save the families of the top 8 the expense of travelling to Macon, and create a more competitive tournament overall.
We still saw a couple of cases of early withdrawals in the main draw by top seeds and even more cases when the seeds were relegated to the backdraw – seeded players have an automatic berth into the Southern Closed so maybe they didn’t feel the need to finish the tournament in Macon because of the reasons stated above.
FYI, Georgia gets 37 quota spots into the Southern Closed: the 8 waivered players plus the 16 players who reach the Round of 16 at the Georgia Qualifier plus any remaining players who played the Qualifier and are next in line according to the latest Georgia Standings List. All players must apply to the Southern Closed in order to be considered for selection – there are no automatic entries.
I’m sharing this information because I’d love to hear from you on this whole idea of waivers. The pros and the cons. Are they good for player development? Are they good for junior tennis? Are they good for tennis families? Why or why not?
Please post your thoughts in the Comments below.