By David Minihan, USPTA Master Professional
Questions, concerns and comments from parents, players and coaches are typically my topics when writing blogs. Recently, I have noticed there seems to be a lot of people that don't understand how a draw is actually constructed. I fielded a call about a week ago from a parent that assumed that her daughter had to play the number one seed first round because her ranking was low. This couldn't be any further from the truth. Lets start from the beginning.
Entries Have Closed
One of the first thing a tournament director (TD) will do is form his or her tournament committee. Some tournaments have certain requirements to be eligible to play a particular event. Typically these tournaments are set up as a Tournament Director Selection Process. This means the administrator of the event will manually select those that are eligible once the deadline closes. Once selected, the players credit card will then be charged. If the event is open to anyone, the players card will be charged as soon as they register. Once players have been selected, the tournament director and referee now have their entry list appear in the tournament management on-line program called Tournament Data Manager (TDM).
Type of Draw
Each district, section or national tournament has a certain draw type required by the rules that are regulated by their governing body. The tournament director and referee will set up these draw types within the TDM system (Example: Feed in Consolation through the Quarterfinals).
You will want to check with the tournament on which type of seeding criteria will be used. Some sections might use the most recent standings list while others might use a rating system.
Number of Seeds
3-11 players: 2 seeds
4 seeds 24-47 players:
8 seeds 48-64 players:
As you can see in Table 6 (USTA Friend at Court), each seed is placed on a specific line. For example on a 16-draw, seed 1 on line 1 and seed 2 on line 16. You will notice that after seeds 1 and 2, that the remaining seeds are in groups. Seeds 3-4, 5-8 and 9-16. Lines on the draw are reserved for these groupings. For example, in a 32-draw, lines 9 and 24 are reserved for seeds 3 and 4. These two seeds will be drawn randomly for one of these two lines. There is a misconception that seed 4 automatically should be placed in the top half of the bracket. This is not the case! I have received a few calls from parents that submit a complaint that the tournament director and referee made the draw incorrectly because the number 3 seed was in the top half. Seed grouping lines are randomly drawn.
Creating the Draw
As stated before, each district or section has their own specific set of rules. One of these rules might be separating certain players from playing each other in the first round. For example, separating players from the same city. TDM has the ability to separate the players automatically once the TD and referee define the criteria in the system. The draw is now ready to be made. Before the invention of TDM, you can imagine the amount of manual work that had to be completed prior to making the draw. All the TD and referee has to do now, is click a button. Boom! The draw is now ready for the TD to schedule the tournament. Lets take one step back and take a closer look on the specifics when the "button" is pushed in TDM.
1. The system determines the size of the draw (or example, 8-draw, 16-draw, etc.)
2. The seeds will then be placed on the appropriate lines. See Table 6. Remember, players are randomly chosen for specific lines within their seeding group (Seeds 3-4, 5-8, etc.). In Figure 6 of USTA Friend at Court, you can see where the seeds can end up. So a good example, a player that is seeded 8 in a 32 draw, can be randomly drawn on lines 5, 13, 20 or 28.
3. Byes. Where do they go? Seeds are awarded a Bye first and then the remaining Byes are distributed so that the total numbers of byes are evenly distributed by quarters and halves.
The draw is now made and the Tournament Director is ready to schedule the matches. Easy as that!