Introduction to Junior Tournaments
Who are the SCTA and USTA?
The Southern California Tennis Association (SCTA), a non profit organization, is one of seventeen sections of the USTA (United States Tennis Association). Founded in 1887, the SCTA is the recognized governing body for the sport of tennis serving the following ten counties: Los Angeles, Orange, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Luis Obispo, Ventura, Riverside, San Bernardino, Kern and Imperial.
What is the benefit of joining the USTA?
As a USTA member you will receive: A USTA membership card, Tennis Magazine, the SCTA Tournament Directory and eligibility to compete for a ranking. You also have the opportunity to participate in SCTA Circuits, including Satellite Circuit, USA Team Tennis, the K-Swiss Grand Prix, the Prince Grand Prix, the Central Coast Grand Prix and all sanctioned events. You can become a member by calling 1-800-896-USTA1-800-896-USTA FREE or call the SCTA at 310-208-3838310-208-3838 for an application.
Some of the other programs offered by the SCTA?
The SCTA offers Schools Tennis, Jr. Team Tennis, USTA Competition Training Centers, K-Swiss Summer Singles Grand Prix, Central Coast Grand Prix, Prince Doubles Grand Prix, Maze Cup, Zone Team Championships, Intersectional Team Championship, USTA Boys 18 National Team Championships, and USTA Girls 18 National Team Championships.
Does the SCTA recommend any teaching professionals?
No, the SCTA does not recommend any teaching professionals. But there are some things that you should look for in a pro: teaching philosophy, background, experience and the relationship he/she has with your child.
Does the SCTA have a book of tennis rules?
Yes, it is a good idea to have the USTA rules. The rule book is called “Friend at Court”. You can contact the SCTA at 310-208-3838310-208-3838 for a book or send a check for $7.00 to the SCTA, P.O. Box 240015, Los Angeles, CA 90024.
Procedures For Entering Tournaments
How do you know when you are good enough to play in a tournament?
A player needs to know how to keep score and be able to hit the three fundamental strokes: serve, forehand and backhand. The player should be able to sustain a rally before setting off for tournament play.
Where do you go to get information on tournaments in Southern California?
Contact the SCTA at 310-208-3838310-208-3838 for a SCTA Directory (a listing of all SCTA tournaments.)
What type of tournament should you enter?
There are three levels of sanctioned tournament competition in Southern California. ”Novice”, “Satellite” and “Open” tournaments. We recommend that juniors start playing in novice or satellite tournaments. Novice are one day events where players play numerous opponents over the course of hours. Satellite tournaments are for players that are not ranked in the top 50 in Southern California (or top 40 in the 10’s). The majority of the players involved in satellites have had little tournament experience. Open tournaments are for players at a more advanced level and have moved beyond satellite competition.
What is the difference between a sanctioned and non-sanctioned event?
A sanctioned tournament is approved by the USTA and will be run in accordance with USTA rules and regulations. A sanctioned “open “ tournament is used for SCTA and USTA ranking. Non-sanctioned tournaments are not used for ranking and do not have to follow USTA rules and regulations.
How do you enter a sanctioned junior tournament?
To enter a tournament you may use a standardized entry blank from the back of the SCTA tournament directory or call/write the tournament director to have an entry blank mailed to you. Be certain to enter early and follow entry deadlines.
What age division should you enter?
A player may play his/her age group until the month of his/her birthday. Example: If a player turns 15 in August, he/she may play 14’s until July 31. Beginning in August, the junior must play the 16’s.
The starting date of a tournament determines the players eligibility to participate in that tournament. Example: If a player turns 13 in March and a tournament is scheduled for February 22-23 & March 1-2, the player may play in the 12 & under division since the starting date of the tournament is in February.
When you enter a tournament how do you know when you will play?
The tournament will send you a match notification card telling you the time and place of your first match. If you do not receive the card notifying you of your time two days prior to the start date, call the tournament director. You can also find times and tournament information regarding some of the larger tournaments on the Internet at www.tournaments.usta.com.
Should you enter a tournament if you have a conflict with another activity or event?
The best advice we can give you is not to enter a tournament unless your calendar is open. However, If you have a time conflict write it down on your entry blank. If the tournament director can work around the conflict, he/she will usually do so. However, do not count or wait until the last minute to contact the tournament director with a time problem. Rescheduling matches is extremely difficult, especially in larger tournaments such as the sectionals or designated tournaments.
Can I enter in overlapping tournaments?
A player shall not enter two tournaments at same time. When entries close, a player shall not be
entered in two or more sanctioned tournaments, if any part of the tournaments overlap unless
each Tournament Committee involved understands the situation and concurs in WRITING. After
a player has been eliminated from a tournament whose schedule of play partially overlaps with
that of a second tournament, the player may enter the second tournament. Failure to comply will
lead to suspension points and loss of ranking points from ALL tournaments involved in the
Preparations for going to a tournament
What should you bring to a tournament?
The SCTA recommends that you consider bringing the following: towel, water jug, extra clothing (to change into), hat, fruit, sports drink, warm-up balls, and your racquets. Be aware of weather conditions you will be playing under and bring other items if needed.
Do you know the directions to the tournament site?
Make sure that you understand how to get to the tournament site. Call the tournament if you need further help. Use sites like www.mapquest.com or www.mapblast.com to locate a site. Be sure to arrive at least 15 minutes prior to match time. You may want to get there early and stretch before your match.
Checking in at the tournament desk!
Find the Tournament desk and check-in showing your USTA card. Please check yourself in, do not ask someone else to do it for you. Once you have checked in it indicates that you are ready to play. Stay within calling area of individuals working at the desk. So make sure that you use the restroom and that your water jug is filled before you check-in. Remember: be patient if the matches are running behind. Matches may run longer than expected.
What if you show up late?
Under USTA rules you can be penalized. If you show up more than 15 minutes late, you may be defaulted out of the tournament. A default means that because you were absent at the beginning of the match the victory will be awarded to your opponent. The length of time you are allowed to be late before being defaulted is at the discretion of the tournament referee, unless the tournament has indicated that the USTA Point Penalty System will be used (Below).
Loss of toss*
Loss of toss*
Loss of toss*
Plus 1 game
Plus 2 games
Plus 3 games
* Serve, return or side
What if it rains on the day of the tournament?
It is your responsibility to call the tournament to find out if it is raining at the tournament. If you are unable to get through, keep trying. If you are unable to reach the tournament director then you must drive to the tournament site, so that you will not be defaulted. Remember, the tournament director has many players and parents calling to find out about the tournament, so be patient. Be sure to locate the time & location of your match.
What if you are unable to make my match time and you need to withdraw?
Once the draw has been made, you are under obligation to play in the tournament. So you must call the tournament and notify them if you cannot play, so the tournament can call your opponent! This is a courtesy that you owe the tournament and your opponent. The sooner you call the better. Since many players may travel many miles and in some cases have an overnight stay it is your obligation to notify the tournament.
All 4 players compete in their first match at 8:00 am on 10/11. Notice the “S” after 8:00AM. This denotes the match location, in this case Santa Ana. The winners of those two matches will play each other at 1:00 pm on 10/11. The winners of those matches will play next at 11:00 am on 10/12.
What Does “Bye” mean?
That means that you moved on to the next round in the tournament without playing a match. Byes occur in the first round of a tournament.
What type of format is used at junior tournaments?
Tournament directors use various formats. Five formats are used most often by directors in Southern California.
· Standard draw—a single-elimination format, which simply means you play until you lose. **
· Standard draw with consolation—a format in which all first round losers compete in a separate draw.
· Feed-in consolation (aka back draw)- a format in which all losers from all rounds through the quarterfinals are fed into another tournament draw.
· Round robins--designed so you play everyone entered in the tournament in your division. Use with eight or fewer players.
· Compass Draw--use a format that guarantees each participant the opportunity to play a number of matches.
(** The format most often used in junior tournaments)
All tournaments with consolation and back draws must be played to completion without default in order for that tournament to count as a tournament played for ranking and endorsement.
What is a tiebreaker?
Tiebreakers are mandatory in all sanctioned tournaments and are used when the score reaches 6-6 in a set. The type used most often is the “twelve point” tiebreaker. The first player to win seven points (winning by a margin of two points) will win the tiebreak and the set.
How long does someone have to wait for a court?
In tennis, unlike other sports, the clock does not determine the length of the contest. Therefore there are no definite starting and stopping times. It is difficult to say exactly how long a match will last. Tournament directors schedule with this in mind and usually award the first player and his/her opponent who checks in with the first available court and so on, thus rewarding individuals for showing up on time. In some cases, however, matches may get backed up. Please, be patient with the directors. They are trying their best.
My name was just called. Now what?
Go to the tournament desk. They will give you a can of 3 balls for your match. You will play 2 out of 3 tiebreak sets. In most cases, you will receive new balls for the third set. You will receive a short warm-up period just prior to your match. It will range from 5-10 minutes. During that time you should hit whatever ground strokes, volleys and serves you need to be prepared to play your match.
Why and How are tournaments seeded?
Tournaments are seeded so that the best players do not meet each other in the first round. The SCTA sends a seeding list to all tournament directors so that each tournament director can do his/her own seedings. The SCTA seeds all Designated Tournaments. There is one important thing to remember regarding seedings. Seedings can be done a month before the tournament starts so that tournament directors can make the draw, schedule the matches, and send out times. Therefore a recent result would not be included in that tournament seeding.
How are draws made?
Most draws are made by computer. All players entering a division are placed into the computer. Then the tournament director pushes a button that makes the draw.
Where are seeds placed in a draw? Does the #1 seed always play the #4 seed in the semifinals and the #8 in the quarters?
No, seeds are placed according to USTA rules. The #1 seed is placed at the top of the draw and the #2 seed in placed at the bottom of the draw. Then a coin is flipped to see if the #3 is placed at the top or bottom of the draw. The #4 is placed in the opposite seed position. This is how all seeds are done for a tournament. Also, many tournaments use computers and the tournament program will do the seed placements. The tournament program will vary seed placements in each draw.
Will there be umpires at all tournaments?
Not all tournaments can obtain umpires at each site. Some umpires are paid and some are volunteers. However, the people who are there are doing the best job possible and are trying to be fair to all sides. All the professional umpires are usual wearing a “blue shirt”.
What is the difference between Default and Retirement?
A default is given when a player fails to play a scheduled match due to injury, sickness, etc. It is the defaulting player’s obligation to notify the tournament desk immediately of a default. Please be considerate of other individuals time and call if you will be unable to attend the tournament. A default does not count as a win or as a loss. All tournaments must be played to completion for the tournament to count for ranking. All matches played before the default will count for ranking. A retirement is when a player is unable to complete a match. When a player retires, it counts as a loss for ranking.
Conduct during match play!
Spin your racket to determine who has the choice of side, serve or receive. Take all practice serves before your first game. Make all calls loudly. Volunteer all of your own violations such as double bounces, ball touching you, reaching over the net, foot faults, etc. Never catch a ball before it bounces.
Call the Score!
Call the score before starting to serve. If you disagree on the score, every effort should be made to reconstruct each point in the game. Go back to the last score where there is an agreement. Do not ask spectators for their opinions. If you still disagree ask the umpire.
Call lines as accurately as possible!
When playing it is your responsibility to call fairly and honestly all balls, in or out, on your side of the net. All calls you have in doubt must be called in favor of your opponent. Calls of “out” or “let” must be made clearly and instantly. Never go to your opponent’s side of the court to look at a mark. If you feel that incorrect calls are continually being made, ask the tournament referee for assistance.
What should you do if you have a problem with the score?
If you have a problem with the score, you should try to work out the problem without any assistance from parents, friends, or spectators. If you can not agree go to the tournament desk to help settle the dispute. If you can not agree then go back to the score you can both agree on.
What should you do if you have a problem with lines calls?
If you have a problem with lines calls, then you should go to the tournament desk without parental assistance or find an umpire (If available and not on-court). Only the player can request an umpire & must notify their opponent why he/she is leaving the court.
If you feel your child’s opponents parents are coaching. What should you do?
Do not confront the parents. Walk to the tournament desk and notify the tournament director or referee!
What should you do if you have to use the restroom?
In an non-umpired match, the player should tell his/her opponent and go directly to the facilities without conversation with anyone. In an umpired match the player must notify the official on-court.
Is coaching allowed at junior tournaments?
Coaching is not permitted during a tennis match, except during the authorized rest period between 2nd & 3rd sets. (except Boys & Girls 18’s). Use of a foreign language is not allowed to converse with a player.
Conduct Between Matches
You just finished your first match. Do you have another match? How much time do you have between matches?
As soon as you finish your match report the score to the tournament desk. Find out the time of your next match. All junior players should be given at least 1 hour until their next match. A tournament referee has the authority to authorize more time under severe weather conditions for those who have played long matches.
You split sets. How much time do you have until you must return to the court?
That depends! Players in the Boys & Girls 10, 12, 14, & 16 and under division players receive a mandatory 10 minutes rest period. Boys’ 18 and Girls’ 18’s do not receive a rest period between second and third sets. When leaving the court make sure to return in 10 minutes or you could be penalized.
How many matches in a day should you expect to play?
Tournament directors should only schedule two singles and one doubles match a day, but in some cases it may be necessary to play two singles and two doubles matches a day. All singles matches should be played before starting doubles matches.(Exceptions are made whenever inclement weather is involved)
SCTA Satellite Tournament Rules
You just won your first satellite tournament. Can you still play satellites?
Yes. You can play and win two satellite tournaments in the same age division before you must move up to the next age division in satellite events. A player may win four satellite tournaments during a competition year. However, a player may not win more than 5 satellite tournaments during the junior’s career.
Is there a Masters’ Tournament for all satellite winners at the end of the year?
Yes, there is a Satellite Masters’ Tournament in January for all the satellite tournament winners who have won 3 matches (not including byes or defaults) during the calendar year.
You won a satellite tournament, but won only two matches in the tournament. Do you still get invited to the satellite masters? No, A player must play and win 3 matches (not including byes or defaults) for the tournament to count to be invited to the Masters.
You just won a second Satellite tournament. Are you ready for Open Junior Tournaments?
Yes, you should now try to play a few tournaments in your own age division.