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Tournament Guidelines

Q. I have seen and participated in a number of USTA adult tournaments in which two rounds are scheduled in a day (not due to weather issues), but while one player has to play only once, the other has to play a second time against a fresh opponent. In reviewing the results, I've noticed that, not surprisingly, the win-rate percentage for the player who has to play twice is extremely low. Should not one of the primary goals of any tournament be to create a fair environment for ALL the players to compete on equal terms? I don't believe time constraints are a reasonable answer, and it is not done just with seeded players. Do you agree that while this scheduling decision may be within the rules, it does not meet the basic standard (especially true on very hot days) of being fair to both competitors?

A. That is a tricky question. I believe that tournament directors seek the fairest standards for ALL players. At many clubs/facilities, courts may be at a premium. Regularly scheduled programs, or open time for members, may be prioritized ahead of the tournament matches.

Another variable is that in most sanctioned adult tourneys, there are rarely exactly 32- (or 16- or 64-, etc.) person draws. If there are, say, 25 entrants in a 32-draw, then seven players will get first-round byes. In the end, if a player gets a bye, he/she will play fewer matches than someone who does not. This is not unfair; it is just a matter of numbers. It may feel unfair to the player who has to play twice, but that is the nature of the beast. Sometimes getting a match in early will help a player become accustomed to the courts and surroundings, so it is not always a disadvantage.

One last note, you can express your concerns to the tournament director (TD), but you should also give the TD the benefit of doubt. Trust that he/she is trying to be fair to all players.

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