Tennis Competitions at Club Towers – What are our next steps?

6 July 2023

Thanks to our tennis playing members for completing the competitions questionnaire in May. We had a great response, which gives us a good sense of what we can do better in 2024. The responses threw up some specific conclusions, which are listed in the appendix below, but this is a short summary of the direction we want to go in ….

  1. Tournaments need to be better defined as to which ability standard they are best suited to.
  2. Members need guidance on their ability level (or grade) relative to others.
  3. We want to ensure our annual tournament schedule includes some competitions that appeal to each playing standard so that we provide good choice and fair opportunities for players at all levels.
  4. We will test the appeal of scheduling tournaments at different days and times – not just Saturdays.
  5. We want a mixture of tournament formats. Many have merit and variety is a good thing as members have a wide range of preferences.
  6. We will make it easier to enter tournaments.
  7. The Club Championships and some other low-cost tournaments will be free to enter. Unlike our squash tournaments, tennis tournaments start and finish on a set day and the draw takes place beforehand. The organiser and all players rely on everyone turning up, and for this reason an entry fee may sometimes be charged. This covers the running cost of the event and achieves greater commitment from all entrants to arrive on the day.

One of the key messages to emerge from the survey is that we need to grade tournaments.

This is the tricky bit! ….. How will we grade players?

We have created three new grades of player as a guide, and we will promote and target each event at members in the appropriate ability grade.

Grade A – all players attached to a 1st or 2nd club team (not Vets) – past or present, or any player who has competed in the top three divisions of the box leagues. A pool of approx 40 players

Grade B – all players attached to a 3rd or 4th club team (or any Vets) – past or present, or any player who has competed in divisions four to six of the box leagues. A pool of approx 70 players

Grade C – all other racquets members

Please remember the above criteria are only a guide. Players may self-certify their own grade, or if unsure ask Head Coach Nick Boys to define their grade for them. We anticipate that some members (not yet established in or attached to teams or playing in box leagues) may have played at a high level at other clubs, and it is appropriate they should be quickly assigned to the right grade to suit their ability.

For any queries concerning this new approach, please contact Steve Adams at [email protected] or speak to him at the club.

The table below shows a provisional outline of the programme for 2024. This is a work in progress, but hopefully demonstrates how we plan to follow the above guidelines, emerging from the survey.

Appendix of Questionnaire Conclusions

  1. A high proportion of members are content we already have about the right number of events.

2. Most members of all standards prefer to participate in events where the players are of similar ability.

REMEDY – tournaments will be graded in 2024 and player gradings will be introduced.

    3. The better players are attracted to events which are more competitive, with more of a ‘pure’ tennis

    REMEDY – higher graded tournaments will be designed in an appealing format to the better players.

    4. The format of the annual Club Championships is appealing to the better players, but many
    intermediate and lower ability players feel their standard is not good enough to enter.         

    REMEDY – a new “Grade B” Challenger Championships event will be scheduled in the first half of 2024, targeted at intermediate players. The finalists will qualify to enter the Grade A Championships later in the year, and the Challenger finals will be scheduled on the same weekend.

    5. Some of the better players find the Championships Finals weekend too physically challenging. Some
    Vets players would like the Vets finals to be integrated into the main finals schedule on Saturday.

    REMEDY – we will seek to plan a more integrated and flexible schedule on Finals weekends.

    6. Many of the better players are rarely attracted to events run at a weekend, which are often problematic
    due to family commitments.

    REMEDY – we will move some events to different time slots to test their appeal in 2024. We already know that the “Strawberry & Pimm’s” tournament is very popular on Friday evenings.

    7. The better players often prefer to choose their partners or select their partner within certain
    parameters, and to arrange their own longer format matches.

    REMEDY – the higher graded tournaments will be designed accordingly. Members will have more choice from the range of tournaments in 2024.

    8. The lower ability players are often attracted to a more relaxed format, often in a 3 or 4-hour
    tournament on a Saturday. They like the event to be organised by a coach and rely on their partners
    being chosen for them or rotate their partners on the day.

    REMEDY – we will preserve this format in the lower graded tournaments and retain the relaxed and social feel, which we know is popular. The new graded approach is intended to make these tournaments less intimidating to early learners.

    9. The tournament entry process needs to be easier and more transparent for players to enter.

    REMEDY – we are introducing simpler methods of entry, possibly a booking sheet concept on the Tennis Noticeboard, similar to the process used to enter our Squash events.

    10. Early notice of upcoming events is welcomed by the members, at least three months ahead.

    REMEDY – Communication of our annual programme will be improved. We already announce upcoming event three months in advance via the “On Court on Club Towers” newsletter – emailed to all Racquets members and supported by other media such as WhatsApp and posters on noticeboards.

    11. Early Learners and improvers need more support, encouragement and help in being introduced to
    other members.

    REMEDY – we will refocus on and relaunch our club booked Social Tennis sessions.