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How To Organize Junior Tournaments, Programs Or Events

- Elaine Dexter

The event should be on the calendar 4-6 months prior to the event if possible. Tournaments, sanctioned and non-sanctioned will be posted on the CNRA calendar. Sanctioned events will have entry, R2 site and additional information regarding the event. Non-sanctioned events will have basic information posted. Sanctioned events will receive additional promotion from the CNRA.

Establish a distribution list of local junior players. Brian Dixon and Elaine Dexter have an extensive list of juniors that are USRA members and who have played in our junior state championships as well as in any local junior tournaments. A sanctioned tournament will have access to the CNRA e-mail list.

One to two months prior to the one day tournament date, email the list of junior players and parents to advise them of the day the tournament will be held. At this time, you should have a flyer or entry form ready to attach to the email. The entry form should have the main details of the event listed: price, date, start and end times (if possible), food provided and prizes won. For these junior one day events, we would like to keep the price affordable in order to attract new and beginning players. At this juncture, we have been charging $15, but depending on the club requirements, up to $20 would be acceptable. The one day events tend to be mostly about play and will offer low fringes (snacks instead of lunch, paper certificates or photos instead of medals etc.). Main goal is to keep it fun.

The tournament should be easy to enter. If a sanctioned event, you can use R2 and have people enter on line, however all entrants must be a member of the USAR. Entrants will have to pay a credit card fee, so fixing the entry price at $15 will make parents of beginning players more likely to enroll their children. If unsanctioned, allow parents to call in entries with a credit card, or make sure mail in information is on the entry form. CNRA run events will make an effort to subsidize the one year USAR fee ($25) for new members. There may be a limit on the number, and this will vary for each event.

Depending on the number of courts at the facility used, try to make all the events either round robin or pool play divisions to provide the maximum number of games or matches as courts and time will allow. Because of the significant difference in ability of junior players, it is best to combine some ages but keep the ability level as close as possible. So, advanced 10 year old players may be better suited in the 12 year old grouping. It is perfectly acceptable to make an intermediate group that consists of 9-12 year olds and not specify age except to call it Under 12 Intermediate, or Teen Intermediate and include 13-17 year olds in that group. If players enter your event that you are unfamiliar with, please contact either Brian or Elaine and we can help you place that player in the right category. For ranking purposes at sanctioned events, there will need to be a system to determine age group and division winners.

Once you have divided all the entrants in their respective pools or round robins, assign times for each match. If your tournament is small, 20-30 participants, you can have the juniors play 2 games to 11 or even to 15. If the tournament has 40+ juniors, you can have the pools play one game to 11 or 15. In following the goal of having all the junior players get as much playing time as possible, have everyone in the pools advance to the play offs. You can make an “upper level” draw sheet and a “lower level” draw sheet. The draw sheets would be a standard single elimination format starting with either the quarter or semi finals. If time allows, you can have a third place match in each of the play off divisions.

Send out an email advising all the participants of their starting times, or provide a time and phone number in your entry form so that parents can call and ask what their child’s starting time is. At check in, provide any additional tournament information to the participants, such as format of their pool, where refreshments are and/or when they will be served, any club rules that must be followed or waivers that need to be signed. It is a good idea to require all the junior players to referee. New players may be able to partner up with an experienced player for one reffing duty. In order to keep the tournament running on time and smoothly, however, we have found that it is advisable to recruit as many adult helpers as you can to assist in referee duties, help check in, serve food, run the tournament desk, fill in scores, locate kids who are next up to play, etc. The tournament director should be as available as possible to talk with parents, answer questions about the facility, the format, junior racquetball in California and any other parental concerns.

If there are very young children in the event, tournament volunteers can go on the court with them and devise a modified multi bounce game, with a time limit rather than a point limit. Remember that we are trying to encourage and attract juniors of all ages and abilities to get them started in some type of formal play and/or competition. If you have not experienced Multi-Bounce, contact Brian or one of the Junior Committee members to go over the rules.

Finally, at the end of the event, make sure all the medal or trophy winners are identified and the prizes distributed. If you are planning another event in the future, make sure to tell the parents of the approximate date or month that this will occur so they can be prepared to return to your club. Also, have information available for upcoming Junior events. Remember to give parents any information about the CNRA and USAR if this is an unsanctioned event and give any information about upcoming junior tournaments or events to all parents and participants before the end of your tournament.