Monday, August 8, 2011

How to plan a round-robin social tennis event

This is kind of a redo of my earlier post How (not) to plan a round-robin tennis tournament. We had some success the second (and third) time around with a “new system”, which was nothing like our first attempt.

The objective was to have an afternoon of mixed doubles tennis whereby every player would get to play for a couple of hours in a way that would minimize the duplication of partners and opponents while maximizing the fun! Ideally, everyone would get to play with a different partner every time, against a different opponent every time. My neighbor actually had an idea that worked great; there was virtually no duplication until the fifth and final rotation, and everyone got to play for a couple of hours. We even worked out a way to accommodate the fact that we had too many men, one late arriving lady, and some that got too hot or tired to continue. All in all, a great afternoon of tennis for all participants!

The key is having at least 3 courts and an equal number of men & women – for a set number of rotations – that add to a multiple of four: for example, 6 men & 6 women (adds to 12) on 3 courts, or 8 men & 8 women (16) for 4 courts. If you have more men than women (or vice versa), you could have a couple of people “double up” and play as a team, substituting one for the other after each rotation; this is a great way to find a place for late (or unexpected) arrivals, particularly if it’s a social vs. competitive event.

Start with mixed doubles pairings on each side of every court and play 4 games (everyone serves once), switching sides after 2 games, with no-ad scoring. If the teams end up tied 2 games to 2, spin a racquet to determine who gets to serve a tiebreaker point, which must be served either man-to-man or woman-to-woman. The winning team moves up one court (from court 1 to 2, 2 to 3, or 3 to 1 etc.); the losing team stays. Tally each player’s total on (e.g.) a dry erase board – if the winning team won 3-1, each player gets 3 points while each player on the losing team gets 1 (if they ended 2-2, every player gets 2 points; the racquet spin only determines who moves “up” a court). Wait until every court has finished and, after all the winning teams have moved to the next court, switch partners and start the next rotation. In 2 hours, you should be able to get in 4-6 rotations. If you choose (and you have some fun prizes), add up each player’s tally to determine a winner, or winners.

Even though it was another hot August day in Atlanta yesterday, we had a great time. We did have more men than women, a late arrival and some that wanted to stop early, but we were able to double up and/or substitute so that everyone got their fill and no one complained when it got time to award the (nominal) prizes. Again, as long as it’s a social event, this is a great system that allows everyone to play. Additionally, everyone was asked to contribute a small amount to pay for Gatorade, water and tennis balls, and to bring a snack/dish to share for after event cool down and socializing.