This tournament guide mini-series will help you navigate the tournament landscape no matter where In the U.S. you are from. Today we will be focusing on the Southern Section.
Tournaments are an important part of any players regimen. Without the competitive atmosphere where there is something on the line, it will be tough for your child to learn how to fight off nerves and play their best in tight matches. I know we’ve all seen this scenario. It’s a big match, and your kid just practiced yesterday and was looking great. During warm up everything looks just as good. Your child is hitting the ball cleanly, and their strokes are on point. But then as soon as the match starts it’s like watching a different person. They start pushing the ball as if they’ve regressed a year or more in ability and it only gets worse as the match goes on. Eventually, they lose the match, and you can’t help but wonder why it happened and what needs to be done to get over these mental barriers.
Unfortunately, the only way to get better at this is to continue to put your child in these situations until they start to get comfortable with them. However, you can speed up this process by allowing your child the highest chance of success early on. Early success will give them the confidence they need to play up to their actual level in a match. This is why playing tournaments can be so important. If used correctly then you can boost your child’s match confidence and mental toughness allowing them to win when they need it most.
In this article, we will go over the different types of tournaments in the Southern Section and when to play each one. The Southern Section is comprised of Tennessee, Mississippi, Kentucky, South Carolina, North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, and Louisiana.
Southern District Tournaments
Southern Level 1, 2, and 3 are not to be confused with state level 1, 2, and 3 tournaments. The southern level 1-3 are sanctioned by the southern section, and the level will most likely be presented in the title of the tournament. These tournaments are for experienced players only. If your child is not ranked in their state, then I would suggest they sign up for a state level tournament instead. These tournaments give sectional ranking points, and some also give national ranking points.
State Section Tournaments
The Tennessee level one tournaments are high-level tournaments for elite players only. Level 1a’s are equivalent to a southern level 4, and level 1’s are qualifiers for the Southern Sectional Closed event. These are some of the best tournaments offered in the state, and your child should not enter one unless they have a good ranking in the state and have had plenty of tournament experience.
Level 2’s are either Southern level 3’s or 4’s and are on just about the same level as the Tennessee level 1’s. These tournaments are for elite players, and your child should not play in one unless they have a good ranking in the state and have plenty of tournament experience.
A Tennessee level 3 is for intermediate to advanced players. This is where you can start to test your child’s skill. There are plenty of experienced players in these tournaments, and you should not sign your child up for one if they don’t have any tournament experience. A level 3 tournament will either offer doubles or a feed-in consolation draw for the singles. Feed-in consolation draws mean that your child will have the opportunity to play at least two matches in the tournament which is great for getting your child more tournament experience
Level 4 tournaments are for intermediate players and are the majority of tournaments run in the state. If your child has played in a couple of level 5 tournaments and has done well, then it is time for them to move up to level 4. Here they can test their skills against a wide range of players and build their match toughness.
These tournaments are for anyone who is new to playing in tennis tournaments but has a little bit of tennis experience. They are one-day events and give your child a great opportunity to play in some of their first tournaments. There are only a few of these throughout the year but if you are looking for a chance to put your child into their first tournament, a Tennessee level 5 is a great option.
An L6 tournament is meant for beginner players and is the best place to start for kids that are not used to a tournament atmosphere. It is a round robin tournament meaning that even if your child loses they will still get the opportunity to play multiple matches. It is easy for kids to get discouraged when they go to a tournament that is 2+ hours away just to lose in 20 minutes. That’s why Level 6 round robins are so important. Not only do they get the valuable experience of playing multiple matches with different kinds of players but, you spare them the discouragement of being sent home right away. Take note that these tournaments do not count towards ranking and are simply a fun way to ease into a tournament atmosphere and gain experience.
Until the end of 2017 South Carolina is reimbursing your child’s first junior tournament! All you have to do is fill out the waiver which is available on their website here!
The South Carolina level 1 tournaments are for the elite players in the area who feel they have a chance to compete on both the regional and national level. These tournaments act as qualifiers to the Southern Closed Tournaments and your child should only enter them if they are top 100 in the area.
These tournaments are for experienced players and can be considered championships where kids battle for the title of best in the state on a particular surface. They usually have large draws and are designated as “closed” tournaments unless stated otherwise. A closed tournament means that only a resident of the state can participate (in this case South Carolina). The South Carolina level 2 is intended for top junior players with a good amount of tournament experience and you should not enter your child into one unless they have had success in lower level tournaments first.
South Carolina level 3 tournaments are the lowest level open tournaments offered by the state. An open tournament is one that will accept anyone unless there is a cap on the maximum number of players in a tournament. These tournaments are generally smaller than a level 1 or 2 tournaments and are for advanced players with a limited amount of tournament experience. You should sign your child up for a level 3 if they have had success in level 4’s or if they are an advanced player that wants to try to challenge themselves in competitive match play.
Level 4 tournaments in South Carolina are called challengers and are sanctioned tournaments that count only towards state ranking points. They are for intermediate to advanced players and are a great way to start your child in competitive tournaments. Children are guaranteed 3 matches in these tournaments and have a few regulations. Anyone ranked in the top 10 of the most recent USTA SC Standings MUST play up an age group.
These are called Rising Stars events and are introductory tournaments for players who are new to tennis or want to start playing tournaments. They are one day events with a round-robin format with an emphasis on being a fun educational experience for both the parents and players. The round robin format means that even if your child loses they will still get the opportunity to play multiple matches. It is easy for kids to get discouraged when they go to a tournament that is 2+ hours away just to lose in 20 minutes. To play in one of these tournaments your child must have an USTA membership and must have less than 200 ranking points from any state or division.
Level 6 tournaments are part of the 10 & under youth progression program which you can read more about in our article here
These are the highest level tournaments North Carolina offers the highest amount of ranking points up for grabs. They are closed to NC residents and are intended for elite players who compete on a sectional and national level.
The North Carolina Level 2 is for advanced to elite players and are considered Southern Level 3. The draws are limited to 32 players in each age division and player selections are based on the USTA Southern Section standings list once entries close. It’s no easy task getting into one of these tournaments and your child has to be high on the food chain to play in one.
NC Level 3’s are intended for intermediate to advanced level players and only have 16 player draws per division. Selections for the tournament are based on NC standings at the time entry to the event closes. This means that your child has to be one of the top 16 players to enter into the tournament. You should not sign your child up for one of these tournaments unless they have had plenty of tournament experience, have done well in lower level tournaments, and have started to build up a ranking. These tournaments are well worth it due to the great competition if your child can get in.
The North Carolina Level 4 is for intermediate to advanced players and are a great place for your child to pick up valuable experience from playing a wide array of players. A player must have accumulated some standing points to play in an NC level 3 and draws are limited to 16 per age division. These tournaments make up the bulk of tournaments offered in NC. Your child should enter into one of these tournaments if they have played a tournament or two and are looking to see how much they have improved and what still needs to be worked on.
Level 5 tournaments are meant for players who are new to tournament play and looking to gain valuable experience. These tournaments have ranking restrictions and anyone who have a standing 1-100 are not allowed to participate. By having this restriction, you can be sure that your child will be playing opponents who are also newer to the tournament landscape. Draws are limited to 16 players per age division and are the best place to take your child if they are looking to start getting serious about tennis.
A Level 6 tournament is meant for beginner to intermediate players and is the best place to start for kids that are not used to a tournament atmosphere. It is a round robin tournament meaning that even if your child loses, they will still get the opportunity to play multiple matches. It is easy for kids to get discouraged when they go to a tournament that is 2+ hours away just to lose in 20 minutes. That’s why level 6 round robins are so important. Not only do they get the valuable experience of playing multiple matches with different kinds of players but, you spare them the discouragement of being sent home right away. Take note that these tournaments do not count towards ranking and are simply a fun way to ease into a tournament atmosphere and gain experience.
We hope this article was helpful! If you enjoyed this post, please be sure to share it on Twitter or Facebook by clicking the buttons below!