Time-compressed tennis tournament formats such as Fast4 and Tiebreak Tournaments are taking off in South Florida, benefiting time-crunched players with one-day tournament formats, and tennis organizers with additional revenue opportunities.
“Taking off is an understatement!” says Mike Curran, director of tennis, fitness and spa at Gulf Harbour Yacht and Country Club in Ft. Myers, who has had close to 200 participants signing up for some of his one-day events.
“Not only have I had record participation in my events at Gulf Harbour, but Mike Baldwin, the director of tennis at The Sports Club at Mediterra [in nearby Naples] has run a few with great turnouts and feedback as well. I have had so much positive feedback that my members are always asking, ‘When is the next one?'”
Curran says one-day events such as Fast4 and Tiebreaker Tournaments are becoming new revenue streams for clubs and tennis facilities.
“From a mathematical standpoint they are far more advantageous due to the one-day format,” he says. “Even if you saw no increase in participation compared to a regular 2-3 day event, we have to allocate a dollar amount to our time. I have been extremely successful in the short format tournaments I’ve run at my club so far, and an argument could be made you are making double or even triple on these style of tournaments due to running the tournament for one day instead of three.”
Competitive adult tournament participation numbers have been trending down over the years due to increased time demands. Curran says his members and players in the Ft. Myers-Naples are responding to a trend that is nationwide.
“After recently attending a few USTA conventions and listening to Kurt Kamperman (USTA chief executive, Community Tennis and USTA National Campus) speak, I can tell you all that the USTA is totally on board with this new format and understands fully the next generation’s needs,” Curran says. “If anyone is reading this and hasn’t tried a short-format tournament, or aren’t familiar with what they are and how they run, you better educate yourselves quickly because they are here to stay. I am always happy to assist anyone who would like some input or info on this fast-growing and exciting new format for tennis.”
USTA Florida Director of Competitive Tennis Jason Gilbert says the number of registered alternative-format tournaments is quickly growing with the help of proponents such as Curran.
“We couldn’t be more thrilled with the rapid growth of alternative-format tournaments such as Fast4 and Tiebreak Tournaments,” Gilbert says. “Due to the success of Mike’s tournaments we’ve had many tournament directors inquiring about running one-day tournaments. Our main objective is to support and promote these half-day and one-day tournaments with the hope of them becoming a mainstay in our tournament offerings.”
Curran says he has been fielding alternative format queries from not only across Florida, but across the country.
“All kinds of people are contacting me,” says Curran, who had just gotten off the phone with a tournament organizer from Connecticut looking for some advice. “From tennis directors to city managers, club owners, to teaching pros who are looking to add a cool event to their programming. I recently gave a few speeches at USTA Conventions in San Diego and Orlando, and will be doing a round table session at the USPTA Florida State Convention this June.”
While Curran enjoys spreading the word on the benefits of alternative format tournaments, his greatest rewards have come from seeing the increased participation and social growth in his own laboratory for alternative format tournaments — his own club.
“I’m actually holding a Mixed Fast4 event at my club on April 23 due to popular demand,” he says. “I’ve already held a 10-Point Tiebreaker Tournament for men’s and women’s doubles and singles, as well as a Doubles Fast4 Tournament, so mixed doubles was the obvious choice for my next event. I also implemented the Fast4 format this year for my Singles Club Championships, which was so well received that we will be continuing this for the foreseeable future. My next initiative after the mixed Fast4 tourney in April is to start planning a regular yearly schedule for my short format events so that past and future participants can plan well in advance to be available for my tournaments. My goal is to create a ‘culture’ surrounding my tournaments so that everyone knows when and where it is each year, so that it can continue to grow in participation.”
For more information about alternative-format tournaments or info on running an event, contact Jason Gilbert at email@example.com.