The Round Robin format in doubles … several tournaments have tried it and some tournament directors have avoided it. Is it good or bad for the game of senior tennis?
What is Round Robin?
In this format, teams are still seeded; but they are placed in groups of three to four teams, who all play each other. In the prototypical format, there are 16 teams that are divided into four groups of four teams each. And the winners of each group then move forward to play in the semi-finals.
Why Round Robin?
In my opinion, the pros significantly outweigh any cons that are voiced …
Avoids Delays: With the traditional format in most tournaments, the doubles starts on the second day, usually Tuesday, and then if you lose, maybe the doubles consolation starts on Wednesday or Thursday, but if you have bye, possibly as late as Friday. By then, players are leaving and you are lucky to get a match.
Avoids Consolation Matches: Consolation is also not fun for the TD who has to try to confirm who can play in the Consolation, and then schedule, hoping not to have defaults. In our younger days, singles was the main priority, but now in the 60 plus age category many players are specializing more in doubles.
Guaranteed Matches: Take a draw of 16 teams, which turns into 4 groups of 4: each team gets 3 matches starting on first day of the tournament, probably Monday. They know they will play three days; and if they are not a seeded team, they know they will play one, plus one or two more vs. their peers.
Player Scheduling Benefit: It does add a day to the playing of the event but look at what it does for the players… They get two or three guaranteed matches in the main draw starting at the beginning of the tournament, and if they don’t make the final rounds, they can go home. They can better schedule their travel and their hotel stays. With consolation doubles they must hang around and with an uncertain idea of when and how many matches they will get.
Lucky Losers: An added feature is the lucky loser provision. In a draw of 12 teams there are three RR groups of 4 with a bye spot into the final rounds. Instead of having a bye, take the second best team from all the groups using a TB systems and put them in the bye spot. This gives a team an actual second shot at winning the tournament after losing in the Round Robin.
Why NOT Round Robin?
According to NSMTA’s Larry Turville, “In talking with TD’s about the RR format, I hear that a few players don’t like it. Like any change, some don’t like it just because it is change. Otherwise, to the complaint of a seeded player that he has to play an extra match instead of getting a bye, one veteran tournament player believes he “owes it to the game” to provide a better format for the majority of players; another says he uses the round robin as a “warm up” for the more difficult matches to come.”
What do YOU think … Round Robin or Consolation Rounds?
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thoughts on “Round Robin Review”
March 3, 2019 at 10:50 am Edit
Good comments George and agree that the positives far outweigh the negatives for the general population of players.
March 3, 2019 at 11:09 am Edit
Two more negatives are… 1) you need either more courts or longer days to allow for all the extra matches, and 2) those guys playing both singles and doubles will be playing more and potentially either making it harder to schedule or getting injured (which causes defaults down the draw).
Still, I agree that the benefits overshadow the detriments. Most of us are trying to play MORE matches, not fewer.
Terry, i believe, without all those consol matches, there may be FEWER total matches on the courts. thanks, george
March 3, 2019 at 12:14 pm Edit
Only got to play that first doubles only tournament, but I found *nothing* negative about the format. *And*, Larry even ad-libbed a separate consolation tournament that worked out well – even modifying it when there was a no-show or two. Best run doubles event I’ve ever participated in. Love the format.
March 3, 2019 at 2:29 pm Edit
I’ve played a few round robin format matches…I like the format.
I think it’s great for the game
March 3, 2019 at 2:55 pm Edit
Round robin is a good idea, and I would like to see it played more in tournaments myself. I agree with all of your pluses and minuses, George, and I also agree the positives predominate. While I can see how a few of the highest seeded players might feel it is an inconvenience to have to play an extra match, especially against potentially weaker teams, it is simple math to understand that a format that benefits many but displeases only a few is still worth pursuing.
Plus, if players are so good that they can literally destroy other teams out there, there are many opportunities for better players in those situations to use the match as a practice session to try out new things and to see how they work: For instance, an established team can switch sides receiving to see how they do. They can play a few points where both stay back. Or if one or both of them are not normally net rushers, they can make a point of playing serve and volley and chip and charge on everything. They can play around with the I formation if they don’t normally do it. If they are usually a power team, they can both try to play more finesse and touch shots, and more lobs. Vice versa if they are normally lobbers or touch players. They can experiment with different kinds of serves and different plays for the net man from them. They can stand in different spots at the net or at the baseline when receiving. Etc. The list is endless.
Marty, great idea to use the matches to try different things! thanks, george
March 3, 2019 at 4:55 pm Edit
I enjoy the round robin idea. It’s great being able to play more matches that actually mean something, especially because of the lucky loser. My only suggestion is that the formula should be communicated to the players so they know what they need to try to accomplish if losing a match.
Andy, i am with you! I like to know the “math” before going on the court. PS i have your Sanchez shirt in my trunk. George
March 3, 2019 at 7:03 pm Edit
I think it’s a great format….meets all the criteria for the average guy to enjoy tournament doubles………I can only hope that the USTA approves this for most tournaments.
March 3, 2019 at 9:23 pm Edit
It’s a great format. George Morton and I had three exciting three setters at World Tennis. At CAT II tournament, we only got to play one round robin match because we were in a three-team group and one team defaulted to us. Fortunately we won the other match and advanced to the quarterfinals. If we had lost our match it would have been disappointing to play only one match, but probably still better than consolations. Last year we got to the consolation final in CAT II tournament without playing a match.
March 4, 2019 at 7:03 am Edit
I think the new format would be welcome for players with only modest hopes for moving forward in the draw. Assurance of an extra match might offer more incentive to enter.
March 4, 2019 at 8:39 am Edit
I also think the RxR format worked pretty well this January. The only shortcoming that I saw was when you were placed in a group of 3 when others were in a grouping of 4. You might try group of 5 with a Bye next time if there is an uneven sign up.
Chuck, i think you are on the right track… if there were ten teams, instead of having groups of 3-3-4 … make just TWO groups of five teams; and then have the winners and the two next best teams come out into the semis. thanks, george
March 4, 2019 at 9:05 am Edit
I love the format as indicated by my eagerness to join the NSMTA. However, I have now played in 5 tournaments using this format and only in one was I in a group of four, thus only two matches. It’s the luck of the draw, but haven’t seen the benefit.
March 7, 2019 at 5:21 pm Edit
I also think the benefits outweigh the minuses. Agree with you and with Chuck that groups of three should be avoided as much as possible. Actually playing three matches, or more if you advance is very acceptable in my opinion. Teams leaving town before their third match after losing twice leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth unless an injury is the reason. Don’t know for certain that happened this season (Jan-Feb) here and hope it doesn’t.
George, yes, those who “default” because they can’t win deprive another team of their third match. thanks, george
is a tournament-level, senior tennis player who lives and plays his tennis most of the year in Naples FL and the summer months on Lake Sunapee, NH. A professional writer who owned and ran a direct marketing company for 30 years, George writes the popular tennis web site SeniorTennisAndFitness.com and authored the book "Senior Tennis."