Monday, March 14, 2011

How (not) to plan a round-robin tennis tournament

Yesterday we had our (winter) season ending tennis party, and it was (I believe) a great time for all.  Unfortunately, I didn’t do a very good job of planning the tennis part of the event.  My simple rotation of players from one court to the next (women clockwise, men counterclockwise) didn’t quite work, so I’ll have to rethink it before the next time.

I was looking for a simple, adaptable way to accommodate an ever changing number of mixed doubles tennis players such that everyone would get to play with everyone else, or at least a different partner every four games, against a different pairing each time.  This is not as simple as it sounds.  Problem #1 is that we weren’t going to have a set number of players, let alone and equal number of men and women, for the entire time.  Most of the draws, plans, gimmicks and/or algorithms that one finds to assist in this sort of activity assume a stable number for a given period of time (e.g. number of rotations).  Problem #2 stemmed from the fact that we didn’t have enough courts to accommodate everyone that eventually showed up, so many players sat for at least 15 and perhaps as long as 30 minutes waiting to rotate in.  Given that we started at 1 PM and (some of us) played until after 7 PM, I think that everyone got to play enough tennis to satisfy their ‘thirst’, but it could have gone smoother, sooner.

The next time I attempt to plan such an ambitious endeavor, I will definitely leave more time to do it; a few hours the day before the event is not enough time.  I did find (actually, a teammate found) a terrific website for round robin tournament scheduling which includes several links to alternative sites.  Apparently, round-robin events are common to other sports, and even games like chess, as well.  I also found a relatively new iPhone app – “there’s an app for that” – but since the free version didn’t work very well I decided not to buy the $9.99 version which claimed to have been able to greatly simplify the entire process.  Perhaps a more thorough investigation of these options will assist me (or you) in the future.

Fortunately, everyone brought lots of sumptuous food – some of our ladies were very creative – which makes up for almost anything.  Playing tennis with women and having great food week-to-week is what makes mixed doubles seasons my favorite during the year.  Now it's time to start the next season, as a player only.

No comments:

Post a Comment