PDA

View Full Version : My first USTA tournament coming up - tips?


Taxvictim
05-21-2007, 07:27 AM
Registration has officially closed for a local USTA tournament next weekend. There are only four applicants for Men's NTRP 3.5, so I suspect they will do it as a round robin.

My instructor said I should sign up as a 3.0 since it's my first tournament, but there were no other 3.0 applicants, so I signed up as 3.5. I've never been formally rated.

I have reviewed the rules of tennis, the Code, and even the Friends of Court book regarding tournaments, but I'm still unsure what to expect. I do plan to tell my opponents it is my first tournament and to invite them to correct any breaches in etiquette.

So, after the tournament director says "Taxvictim and Sandbagger, you're on Court 3", what usually happens? We meet at the court, spin the racket, choose sides, and warm up for 10 minutes?

How do we report our score? Are we given a score card to turn in afterwards?

Does the tournament director provide the tennis balls? (Friends of Court says they do.)

How are the rest periods enforced? (90 seconds at changeover, 120 at set break... right?). I played a practice match this weekend and was sucking air big time at the breaks, so chances are I won't be complaining if our breaks run long. But I also don't want to be accused of stalling.

What if my opponent asks for a restroom break during the match? (Could take at least five minutes to walk back to clubhouse from the courts.) What if I need a restroom break?

Do you remember anything that surprised you the first time you played in a tournament? I don't know any of the other players. I'm 45 years old and haven't played in any organized competition since a club match in high school, so this is all new to me.

tennis-n-sc
05-21-2007, 08:13 AM
Registration has officially closed for a local USTA tournament next weekend. There are only four applicants for Men's NTRP 3.5, so I suspect they will do it as a round robin.

My instructor said I should sign up as a 3.0 since it's my first tournament, but there were no other 3.0 applicants, so I signed up as 3.5. I've never been formally rated.

I have reviewed the rules of tennis, the Code, and even the Friends of Court book regarding tournaments, but I'm still unsure what to expect. I do plan to tell my opponents it is my first tournament and to invite them to correct any breaches in etiquette.

So, after the tournament director says "Taxvictim and Sandbagger, you're on Court 3", what usually happens? We meet at the court, spin the racket, choose sides, and warm up for 10 minutes?

How do we report our score? Are we given a score card to turn in afterwards?

Does the tournament director provide the tennis balls? (Friends of Court says they do.)

How are the rest periods enforced? (90 seconds at changeover, 120 at set break... right?). I played a practice match this weekend and was sucking air big time at the breaks, so chances are I won't be complaining if our breaks run long. But I also don't want to be accused of stalling.

What if my opponent asks for a restroom break during the match? (Could take at least five minutes to walk back to clubhouse from the courts.) What if I need a restroom break?

Do you remember anything that surprised you the first time you played in a tournament? I don't know any of the other players. I'm 45 years old and haven't played in any organized competition since a club match in high school, so this is all new to me.

The biggest thing I rember is how nervous, tight and choked up I was. Of course, I got smoked. Looking back, after many tournaments, I wonder what the big deal was. ;) You'll do fine. Unless you are making a living from tennis, just have fun. Lighten up, laugh at your errors, try not to fall down and enjoy the experience. Let us know how you do.

tangoll
05-21-2007, 08:32 AM
Just take the procedural things in stride, ask your opponent or the tournament director/coordinator, or whoever looks like they know what to do. If you're serious about doing the best you can in the matches you have play, then some tips I can offer (some came from other threads in this forum)

- play one point at a time; play the ball; don't worry who the opponent is, but adjust your game and tactics as you see his/her style of play
- play to keep the ball in play; don't go for winners, but hit shots that force the opponent into errors (this was from a thread on mental concepts)
- be alert to the overall structure of the match; bear down and play harder on the big or critical points, like when you need to close out a game or set, or coming back from love - 40 to deuce, or consolidating a break.
- if you have to play a tiebreak, play more conservative; get higher number of first serves in, try to avoid gifting points to the opponent thru double faults.

Recognize that after all, it's just a tennis game, win or lose.

Let us know how you did. Playing tournaments is great for improving one's tennis, both in strokes and strategy, but more so in developing mental toughness. I started playing our local club tournaments just six years ago, and each year, each tournament, I did a bit better than the prior year, prior tournament, whether it's singles, doubles, mixed doubles. So just relax and enjoy the tournament.

Caswell
05-21-2007, 08:57 AM
A lot of your questions really depend on the venue and how big the tournament is.

There are two places where I play USTA tournaments. One has plenty of courts, the other usually schedules more matches than they can handle. Obviously the first place is a lot more laid back about warmups, changeovers, restroom breaks, etc that the other.

99% of the players I've seen in tournaments are pretty casual about the whole thing, so the non-designated tournaments I've played in were pretty casual affairs overall.

If it's a designated tournament then you'll have USTA officials on-site. They typically enforce warmup times (I've always been told seven minutes) and changeover times. They'll handle the coin toss at the start. They won't call lines and typically won't intervene in line call disputes (which are rare), but I've had an opponent called for foot faulting by an official who was watching our match.

As for sandbagging, I wouldn't worry too much about it. In my region at least, the tournament competition is noticably weaker than the league competition of the same level. That's not to say you won't find someone playing below their level, but it's more likely that you'll find a good match and have a good time.

Good luck!

Matt_MS
05-21-2007, 12:17 PM
The tournament director will call both of your names, and you will approach the scorer's table and meet him and get the balls, he then tells you what court to go to, so you go to your court.

Usually our officials (southern section) tell us to warmup for 5 and then take serves, if there are officials on site they flip the coin beforehand, and so that is taken care of. If not, we usually spin after we are done taking serves.

maverick1
05-21-2007, 01:18 PM
As for sandbagging, I wouldn't worry too much about it. In my region at least, the tournament competition is noticably weaker than the league competition of the same level.


That (reverse sandbagging at tournaments) seems the case everywhere. I posted the same thing once, and a couple of others agreed.

In fact, I believe most people want to play people better than themselves, not only in practice but also in more formal competition. IMO, the reason sandbagging exists in the leagues is they involve teams. You have to be among the best in your team to play much singles at all. There are typically 14 or more players in the team and only two play singles - those guys are invariably among the top 5 players in the team.

Taxvictim
05-22-2007, 07:20 AM
Hope I'm not considered a reverse sandbagger, though I certainly am looking forward to playing against men with experience. I checked on the USTA website, and all three of my competitors have played in leagues and/or other tournaments at the 3.5 level.

Thank you for your responses and suggestions. This is a big facility and a small tournament (probably because it's on Memorial Day weekend), so I hope things will be pretty casual.

Geezer Guy
05-23-2007, 09:21 AM
All I would add is that you're lucky to be playing a round-robin. That way you get 3 matches no matter how you do, and you get to play everyone.

At first I cringed when you said you were going to tell your opponents it was your first tournament (seems like about half my opponents start out be telling me they haven't played for 3 monthes, then they kick my butt) but on second thought I don't have a problem with it. It's the truth, after all. You're kinda taking a chance that an unscrupulous opponent may try to take advantage of you, but the chances of that are pretty slim.

As for the bathroom break, I always take one right before I head out on court. You'll be hanging out with all the other players, the tournament director will call out your names, tell you what court to go to, and give you balls. I'll shake my opponents hand, say something nice, then tell him I'll meet him on court. (I shake his hand BEFORE I go to the restroom.)

As for the other stuff, just play it by ear. Follow the lead of your more experienced opponent - and just do what you think is fair and sportsmanlike.

Have fun!

Taxvictim
05-23-2007, 10:35 AM
(I shake his hand BEFORE I go to the restroom.)


Hah!

Thanks for the advice. I was also starting to think I should not say anything about "my first tournament", if only so they won't start off with that knowledge as a mental advantage.

Yes, I'm glad it's going to be a round robin, too, if only to get my money's worth in matches.

smoothtennis
05-23-2007, 10:39 AM
Hah!

Thanks for the advice. I was also starting to think I should not say anything about "my first tournament", if only so they won't start off with that knowledge as a mental advantage.

Yes, I'm glad it's going to be a round robin, too, if only to get my money's worth in matches.


You never know...overconfidence at the 3.5 level can spell disaster for many. I wouldn't mention it up front, as Geezer said, every match I seem to have the guy is saying he is hurt, hasn't played in 10 yrs, etc etc, it all sounds the same now. I just say in response, that I play every week, feel great, it's a nice day to play... I assume they can run for four hours however no matter what they say.

Caswell
05-23-2007, 11:23 AM
Thanks for the advice. I was also starting to think I should not say anything about "my first tournament", if only so they won't start off with that knowledge as a mental advantage.

Don't be surprised if your opponent knows its your first tournament. A lot of players (myself included) look up their opponents in TennisLink and/or the section standings when tournament draws are released.

I do it because I lile looking at stats, but others do it to try and get an edge. It can backfire on them though - I've heard more than one league / tournament opponent grumble about the fact that my computer rating is a 3.0 and I just beat them in a 3.5 match. I know for a fact that one opponent expected to cruise through his match with me (his teammate told me), only to get beat by me 6-4, 6-3.

Taxvictim
05-23-2007, 11:36 AM
Good point, Caswell, because I did the exact same thing to the other three competitors listed in the 3.5 group. All have played in leagues and tournaments before at the 3.5 level.

Caswell
05-23-2007, 11:38 AM
Good point, Caswell, because I did the exact same thing to the other three competitors listed in the 3.5 group. All have played in leagues and tournaments before at the 3.5 level.

You know, I read that above and for some reason it didn't sink in. D'oh!

Taxvictim
05-23-2007, 11:55 AM
Yeah, Caswell, but it didn't occur to me that the other players might be internet savvy enough to do the same thing to me. So thanks!

zapvor
05-24-2007, 03:27 PM
just show them your avatar and they should be`intimidated.

tennisace432
05-24-2007, 03:51 PM
^^lol

heres some advice: be ready to lose chances are you will anyway its your first

try not to donate much double faults or stupid errors and you should do ok at 3.5 level.

have fun

Taxvictim
05-25-2007, 06:13 AM
just show them your avatar and they should be`intimidated.

Thanks! You're the first to comment on it.

As for reverse sandbagging at tournaments, I have an idea about why that might happen. In my case, I signed up for 3.5 because it was the only level with any players. Now I'm told I can't sign up for anything lower for the next year. In other words, I'm stuck at that level for at least one year because I self-rated myself a 3.5. I still think I can be competitive at that level, but if it does turn out that it was too high for me, I will still have to keep playing 3.5 in any other tournaments this year.

maverick1
05-25-2007, 06:46 AM
I signed up for 3.5 because it was the only level with any players. Now I'm told I can't sign up for anything lower for the next year. In other words, I'm stuck at that level for at least one year because I self-rated myself a 3.5.

Signing up for a 3.5 tournament is one thing and self-rating as 3.5 something totally different. The former doesn't prevent you from signing up for 3.0 tournaments. The latter was a mistake on your part.
In your first year, you can sign sign up play at any level of tournaments without a rating. A friend of mine played several 3.5 and 4.0 tournaments last year, and at the end, the computer gave him a 3.5 rating.

Taxvictim
05-25-2007, 06:55 AM
Thanks, Mav. That's good to know. I did not self-rate myself in any official way. I only signed up for the 3.5 level of a tournament. The pro I was talking to equated that with self-rating myself on my USTA membership.

Anyway, if I do get creamed this weekend, it's good to know I can sign up for a 3.0 level next time.

The first round of the tournament is tonight, but since it's a round robin with five players, an odd player has to sit out each round. Tonight's round is the one I'm not in. Gives me a chance to go to the park and check out the competition ahead of time. (But also means I'm the only person that has to play two matches per day on both Saturday and Sunday.)

maverick1
05-25-2007, 07:36 AM
Good luck, TaxVictim.

I don't think I am in a position to give you advice, but I find that the best approach to important matches is to not to have any expectations, pretend you are there to see what other players are like.... don't think too much about strategy or technique...If you make a lot of errors initially because of nervousness, don't yell at yourself. Just keep playing as if you expect it(in fact, actually expect it). Let the opponent think that you are a lot worse than you really are. When you start playing more consistently, he will wonder what has gone wrong with his game. If I am getting killed, I play to get to 30 in each game. If I am doing that, I try to win some games.

penpal
05-25-2007, 07:42 AM
Good luck Taxvictim, and have fun.

Getting back to some of the procedural type stuff; I agree with most everyone else as to the general casual atmosphere of tournament players. Having said that, every once in awhile you will run into a player who is hyper-concerned about dotting the "i's" and crossing the "t's" of the rulebook.

Some items that might come up:

- As I understand it, you are technically supposed to call the coin flip/spin the racquet before warming up, and you should warm up on the side you will begin playing on. If a tournament official is flipping the coin he/she will probably explain this (he/she will probably also tell you how much time is alloted for warm-up and that he/she will be calling foot faults ... I'm not sure why they always throw this one rule enforcement warning in, but it seems to be a common theme).

- Most players expect the warm-up to be conducted as follows when playing singles:

-> Groundstrokes
-> One player comes to net and the other feeds him volleys
-> After taking 5-10 volleys, the player requests to be fed a few overheads
-> The other player then comes to net and warms up volleys and overheads
-> The player who was the last to feed probably has most of the balls on his side of the court, so will take serve warm up on the deuce side (3-6 serves). The other player does not return these serves.
-> Once the player has finished taking his serves on the deuce side, the other player takes deuce court serves. This is then repeated on the ad side, and that's it for the warm-up.

- If someone has come to watch you play and the only good viewing area is from within the boundaries of the court fence line, be sure and ask your opponent for permission for your "fan" to sit there. Usually not a problem, but every once in awhile you run into someone who doesn't like it.

- This one isn't tournament specific, but it seems that's where I most often see it -- if your opponent plays a first serve that you thought was long (and therefore you didn't play his return), it is his point (assuming his return was good) -- you should NOT let him know that you thought the serve was long and suggest a replay of the serve.



-

Taxvictim
05-25-2007, 07:50 AM
Good stuff, penpal. Thank you very much, because it is the lack of knowledge about what the other experienced players will expect that's made me most nervous. For some reason, I am terrible at warming up... just hitting balls back and forth. It's not until the points start counting that I can hit the balls properly. My opponents in this tournament will probably conclude from the warm up that I've never played before.

Maverick, that's a good strategy idea to just go for 30 per game if I'm getting creamed, then work my way back up. I'll keep it in mind.

r2473
05-25-2007, 03:39 PM
Registration has officially closed for a local USTA tournament next weekend. There are only four applicants for Men's NTRP 3.5, so I suspect they will do it as a round robin.

My instructor said I should sign up as a 3.0 since it's my first tournament, but there were no other 3.0 applicants, so I signed up as 3.5. I've never been formally rated.

I have reviewed the rules of tennis, the Code, and even the Friends of Court book regarding tournaments, but I'm still unsure what to expect. I do plan to tell my opponents it is my first tournament and to invite them to correct any breaches in etiquette.

So, after the tournament director says "Taxvictim and Sandbagger, you're on Court 3", what usually happens? We meet at the court, spin the racket, choose sides, and warm up for 10 minutes?

How do we report our score? Are we given a score card to turn in afterwards?

Does the tournament director provide the tennis balls? (Friends of Court says they do.)

How are the rest periods enforced? (90 seconds at changeover, 120 at set break... right?). I played a practice match this weekend and was sucking air big time at the breaks, so chances are I won't be complaining if our breaks run long. But I also don't want to be accused of stalling.

What if my opponent asks for a restroom break during the match? (Could take at least five minutes to walk back to clubhouse from the courts.) What if I need a restroom break?

Do you remember anything that surprised you the first time you played in a tournament? I don't know any of the other players. I'm 45 years old and haven't played in any organized competition since a club match in high school, so this is all new to me.

I would start by practicing your hooking. Just hook on the big points. On meaningless points, you may even want to call some out balls in, just to show that you are a fair man. Then, try to develop some annoying habits (my favorite is the guy that would toss the ball between 1 and 10 times each serve so you never knew when he was actually going to hit his serve).

Taxvictim
05-28-2007, 05:58 PM
My scores look like a variation on the Fibonacci Sequence: 0,1.1,1.1,2.6,6.

I won my last match out of four. Five player round robin, which forever more I will remember my first tourney as "Slaughterhouse Five", even though I came in fourth out of five. The last guy had the tools to beat me, but not the patience. He was fifteen years younger and would go for winners too soon.

Anyway, it was fun! Everyone was nice and encouraging. There were no awkward rulings or arguments about anything. At the end of the two days, we were all standing at the tournament table talking. The top guys really encouraged us newcomers to keep playing.

This tournament will help me most because now I REALLY know what I need to work on in lessons.

Thank you everyone for you help, encouragement, and tips. They gave me the confidence to go out and face the unknown for a few days.

goober
05-28-2007, 06:11 PM
Well getting to play 4 matches in a RR at a level just above where you are at is probably the best first tourney you could have had hoped for. Most tourneys you have to keep winning to play that many matches :D