Family Friendly Junior Tennis? Ron McDaniel May 13, 2016 Events, Lifestyle Junior Tennis is not always family friendly or fun. In many areas of the country there are a small number of local players in any given region. All the kids tend to compete regularly against each other for USTA ranking points and they tend to get pressured to beat their opponents by family members. All of this can lead to not a very fun experience. For kids that are not too serious (they just enjoy the sport) they may not enjoy the high intensity of a USTA tournament. For kids that are serious, the stress to perform can make the experience much less fun. But new formats are emerging that are changing this. Both in the USTA and in the WWTA formats are being used where the start times are set and the draws are limited to a specific size to make the tournaments more predictable. This also makes it easier to have a social event after the matches, because most people finish nearly at the same time. In the USTA, a 16 Draw Compass Tournament allows every player to get 4 rounds, win or lose. And if the tournament has 8 courts available, everyone can start and end at the same time, making the entire event very robust competition, yet more family-friendly with scheduling and more social with an after party. See an example here. The WWTA has also released a micro tournament format that is 3-4 hours long and gives all players a chance to play 3 rounds and complete an entire tournament in one visit to the courts. This format is for 8 players and the WWTA encourages junior player parents to organize and run the events. Ranking points in the WWTA are awarded and UTR points should be available soon as well for a small fee and if a club is sponsoring the event. The goal of these formats is to have more dependable match times so families can do other things in the same weekend, and also both of these formats allows for playing 3-4 players in a shorter period of time to maximize the skill development. Both formats never eliminate a player. And after our 1st micro tournament we did a survey and here are some of the things the kids said: “I like not having as much pressure.” “I like getting coached while I am playing” “I like that you can talk to your parents on change overs” “I like the party” “I like that the tournament is one day.” Sure there is a tradition to uphold and the standard tournaments will remain the place to truly test your skills, but these new formats will help players develop new skills, new friends and win over more players to the sport.