2021 Adult Tournament Changes: Indoor Level 1 (gold ball) Nationals are Eliminated

The following information is courtesy of and reprinted with permission of the NWTO (National Women’s Tennis Organization (click here to go its website).

Summary:

  • The USTA Adult Competition Committee (ACC) has decided to eliminate the Indoor Nationals as Gold ball events since they were the nationals which overall had the fewest participants of any Level I Nationals (formerly Cat I)
  • The ACC has also decided to eliminate required consolation at Level I & II tournaments and to instead require daily voluntary consolation sign ups (for draws of 6 or more players) Edit: Or allow feed-in consolation or feed-in to the quarters with a quarterfinal playoff, i.e. consolation for Level 1 & 2 will be mandatory but flexible as to format.
  • The ACC will require round robin doubles draws (with a knockout round or rounds) using a match tiebreak (10 point) instead of a full third set for Level I & II tournaments EDIT: Feed-in consolation (full or to QF) will also be allowed.
  • For ITF Ranking purposes the Hard and Clay Level 1 tournaments will receive more points (as “Masters” events) than the Grass Nationals
  • Certain Level 2 and Level 3 tournaments will receive ITF points
  • Family events will require round robin play up till the elimination round
  • Draws of 5 or fewer must be played as round robins
  • Tournament draws for 45 and under must start by Thursday (though there’s a qualifier “unless the draw size requires an earlier start) EDIT: qualifying may be allowed for draws too large to play in four days; which players must qualify to be determined (based on ranking, and where the players reside)
  • Maximum (note change from “minimum” to “maximum”) numbers of Level 2 and Level 3 tournaments set); EDIT: for Level 2 events there will be a maximum of 8 tournaments PER AGE DIVISION AND GENDER (so more than 8 tournaments overall…if one Level 2 tournament has only men and another only women, they would count as 1 ITF tournaments and 1 Level 2 tournament)
  • Also study the PPR tables: the winner of a Level 2 tournament receives the same points as the losing finalist of a Level 1; the winner of a Level 3 tournament receives the same points as the losing finalists of a Level 2 tournament or the losing semifinalist of a Level 1 tournament. Basically the winner of a Level 2 receives 70% of Level 1 points. The PPR tables can be found here.

Change 1: Eliminate one Category 1 (Level 1) surface in each Division (where there are four Category 1 (Level 1) events in a Division and play is on the four different surfaces – clay, grass, hard and indoor)

Change 1 Background: Over 50% of tournament participation comes from the top 25% of tournaments. 80% of tournament participation comes from the top 50% of events. Eliminating one Category 1 (Level 1) event in each Division streamlines the tournament calendar without materially effecting overall tournament participation.

Change 2: The Category 1 (Level 1) surface to be eliminated is the indoor surface for all Level 1 indoor events in all Divisions.

Change 2 Background:  For events played on all 4 surfaces, participation in indoor events is in the bottom half in over 83% of the Divisions, and in the bottom quartile in 60% of the Divisions.             

                                                            Bottom       Bottom

                                                              Half          Quartile

                                              Clay           31%            11%

                                              Grass        55%            22%

                                              Hard          31%             7%

                                            Indoor       83%            60%          

Change 3: Award ITF Seniors 1000 points for USTA Level 1 events for Gender Divisions played on clay and hard courts only. Award ITF Seniors 700 points for USTA Level 1 events for Gender Divisions played on grass courts.

Change 3 Background:  In 2021, the ITF is awarding ITF Seniors 1000 points for USTA Level 1 gender Divisions played on two different. This is an enhancement for USTA Level 1 events which currently receive ITF Seniors 700 points. Because the highest participation events are on clay and hard court surfaces, Divisions played on those surfaces will be awarded ITF Seniors 1000 points. Level 1 gender Divisions played on grass will be awarded ITF Seniors 700 points.

Change 4: Level 1 gender events – For singles main draws of 6 or more players, Level 1 events will require a traditional single elimination draw with a daily voluntary consolation sign-up. Main draw singles matches will use a match format of best of 3 tie break sets. Singles consolation matches will use a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. In doubles, Level 1 events will require Round Robin draws or Round Robin flights with elimination playoffs and a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. The Coman tiebreak will be used for all tiebreaks.

Change 4 Background:  A key goal for the ACC is to enhance the tournament experience for singles and doubles players in all events. In singles the physical demands of playing in the consolation rounds plus frequent player withdrawals have hurt player experience and participation. In doubles, player evaluation and feedback supports high player satisfaction and success in Divisions played with Round Robin formats. Match formats other than the traditional three full sets are becoming more common, and it is believed that in all events except main draw singles that it is the appropriate time to implement two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set across all national events. These changes align with ITF requirements so that the events receive ITF status and points.

Change 5: For gender related Level 1 and Level 2 events with participants age 45 and under, tournaments will be required to start no sooner than Thursday unless required by draw size. Main draw singles matches will use a match format of best of 3 tie break sets for events that are longer than 4 days. For singles events that are 4 days or less and for singles consolation matches will use a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. 

Change 5 Background: A key goal for the ACC is to enhance the tournament experience for players in all events. Players in many age groups, and especially in the age 45 and under age groups, have less discretionary time in which to play national tournaments. By shortening the length of the events it is hoped that more players will be attracted to participate. Using an alternative match format for age 45 and under events is consistent with ITF standards.

Change 6: Family Divisions – All Level 1 Family will require Round Robin draws or Round Robin flights with elimination playoffs, and a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. Alternative play and scoring formats for Family events must be submitted to and approved by the Sanctions Committee.

Change 6 Background:  In doubles, player evaluation and feedback support high player satisfaction and success in Divisions played with Round Robin formats. Match scoring formats other than the traditional three full sets are becoming more common, and it is believed that it is the appropriate time to implement two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set across all national Family events. It is understood that there are Family events with large draws played over 3-4 days, thus the Sanctions Committee will consider alternative formats for these types of events.

Change 7: Level 2 gender events – For singles main draws of 6 or more players, Level 2 events will require a traditional single elimination draw with a daily voluntary consolation sign-up. Main draw singles matches will use a match format of best of 3 tie break sets. Singles consolation matches will use a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. In doubles, Level 2 events will require a Round Robin draws or Round Robin flights with elimination playoff and a match format of two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set. The Coman tiebreak will be used for all tiebreaks. These changes align with ITF requirements so that the events receive ITF status and points.

Change 7 Background: A key goal for the ACC is to enhance the tournament experience for singles and doubles players in all Level 2 events. In singles the “one and done” approach has hurt player experience and participation. In doubles, player evaluation and feedback supports high player satisfaction and success in Divisions played with Round Robin formats. Match formats other than the traditional three full sets are becoming more common, and it is believed that in all events except main draw singles that it is the appropriate time to implement two sets and a match tiebreak in lieu of a third set across all events.

Change 8: Designate up to 10 tournaments as Level 2 events and 12 tournaments as Level 3 events in 2021. Provide ITF Seniors 700 points for the gender and mixed divisions appropriate for Level 2 events and ITF Seniors 400 points for the gender and mixed divisions in Level 3 events. The sanction for Level 2 and Level 3 tournaments will be based on (1) overall tournament participation, (2) players per event (PPE), (3) number of Divisions in the tournament and (4) other criteria such as player feedback, quality of courts and player social events. Standards for comparable ITF events will also be considered when awarding sanctions for these events. There may be Level 2 and Level 3 tournaments that will not receive ITF Seniors points.

Change 8 Background: Limiting the number of Level 2 and Level 3 tournaments including those receiving ITF Seniors points is expected to grow the number of Level 2 and Level 3 events. [comment: this paragraph seems to have an error in it…stay tuned for an update.]

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12 responses to “2021 Adult Tournament Changes: Indoor Level 1 (gold ball) Nationals are Eliminated

  1. It is so unfair to eliminate the Indoor Nationals. Those of us who live in areas where we have to play indoors for most of the year, the Indoors is our best opportunity to do well. Why does it have to be eliminated? Is it too difficult to hold 4 Nationals? There’s always been a Club willing to hold it. I was so excited to reach an age where I didn’t have to travel all the way across the country to enter the Indoor Nationals, and now you eliminate it. This is really a sad situation.

  2. What is the origin for the source notes that you reprinted from the NWTO. Do you know who wrote the summary and in what context? I can’t tell if it is something that the ACC put out as official (or unofficial) communication or if it is the NWTO notes using other sources. I am writing about this on my own site and need to understand the source.

    • The NWTO was presented with the information in a conference call with the USTA I believe. But you should contact the NWTO president for more information. I have updated my article with a few changes/clarifications I received from USTA staff.

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