Wednesday, November 25, 2020

It’s only a rectangle – Learn how to run great tennis mixers!

Doug Browne

If you are running the tennis program at a Golf and Country Club, it is inevitable that the two sports will collide. Fair or not, golfers and tennis players often clash but it is imperative to understand the differences. For one, I’ve never met a tennis pro who didn’t want to unwind on the golf course. Most of my close friends shoot well below 90 and just love the game.

And when it comes to the social scene, golf has so many incredible advantages; proven handi-cap system, innumerable ways to run a scramble (‘Closest to the pin, ‘three clubs only,” “Best ball…”) we could go on and on. But most significantly, a bad golfer or two will never truly disrupt the game. Believe me, I know what this really means. If I were to play in a foursome with far better players than me, my erratic play would not ruin their low scores.

Due to this inarguable fact, tennis professionals must be razor sharp when they run their socials. Case in point – One weaker player in a doubles match will completely destroy the pairing and then all-four players no longer have fun. So, when running a round robin or mixer, it is crucial to be a top-flight matchmaker.

In most cases, it is impossible to use a good computer program when running a competitive mixer as there are usually too many ability levels signed up to play. If I have a minimum of thirty-six people signed up for a big event, I often have 12-14 different ability levels so I better be on my game or the event could fail.

Therefore, the first step in running a great mixer is to carefully study the players and then make the best possible match-ups or at least set it up well on paper so one has a better chance to succeed. No one can be blamed when the best player at the club, in a very competitive challenging match, does not have his best stuff.

In this specific case, the other three players understand and will be able to move on. When things are moving in the right direction, having two professionals filling in can make or break an important event. In other words, it is predestined that there will be some funky pairings and when the pro or pros can fill in, the doubles court automatically gets a boost of energy and excitement.

Good pros know how to fit in and add much needed color; the pro can control the flow of the point and add certain fluidity to the match. And, who doesn’t want to hit a winner by the pro and win the point in glorious fashion! The next step is also vital; do not have players sitting out if you can help it.

Most of our senior southwest Florida tennis players fear getting stiff if they play a round, sit, play and sit again. To me, this is a very valid point. Tennis players want to go to their facilities and play for 90 minutes or two hours and then go home. Unless there is an extra court with a state of the art ball machine or some other stimulating exercise option, people will get bored and not sign up for the next round robin.

If the administrator has great pairings and the mixer is set up with continuous play, adding extras like prizes, music etc…will create the perfect environment to get people excited about the game of tennis! By the way, we are going to have an incredible season of tennis and the pros will be ready at Hideaway Beach, the Island Club, Marco YMCA, South Seas Club, the Marriott and the Marco Island Racquet Club and countless private courts on our beautiful Island – enjoy.

Doug Browne is the Hideaway Beach Tennis Director and the new Collier County USPTA Pro of the Year. Additionally, Doug has been the International Hall of Fame Director of Tennis this past summer. Doug has been writing his tennis column for the past fifteen years and welcomes your feedback.

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