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Tue, Feb. 25

Column: SW USTA Section 2016 Adult/Senior Grand Prix Tournament Series

It's pretty neat to see a newly organized series of tournaments put on throughout the Southwest Section that will allow the best eight adult and senior players in their age groups compete in a year-end championship round robin that will determine who the best player really is, giving them bragging rights - not to mention, awards, prize money and a champions dinner for all.

This inaugural season for the SW Section Grand Prix will hold and promote 13 Level 1 and 2 - three to four day tournaments in singles, doubles and mixed categories starting Feb. 25 and running through Oct. 30. The more events you partake in, the better your chance of accumulating enough points to be one of the top eight players to get invited to participate in the year-end Santisi Brothers SWS Grand Prix Championships, which will be held Nov. 10-13 in Phoenix at a site to be determined.

The downside is this is set up for the "Open Players" in each age group and not set up for NTRP level players. Maybe there's a separate NTRP year-end event, but if that's the case it'll have to be another column for you and myself to be enlightened from. 

Age groups in the events begin at an "Open Division" ages 18 to 29 and then go in five-year increments starting with: 30, 35, 40, 45, etc., up through the age of 90 if there are enough participants. You must turn the age of the group you're entering within that year (Dec. 31, which is a great tennis birthday) or you can play down in a lower age group if so inclined. You must also be a current USTA member and pay the tournament entry fees by each deadline.  All of this can be done on the USTA website, where you find and click "tennislink."

Players receive full ranking points for singles and 50 percent of the points for doubles toward qualifying for the year-end championship.

The top eight men's and women's players in each division will be invited to play in the SW Section Santisi Brothers Grand Prix Championship. In the event of competitors having equal points, a tie-break system is in place.

The format for the final championship of eight players be split into two four-player groups where a round robin will take place, and the winner of each group will advance to the finals. The finalists in each division will receive awards and prize money, and all players will be invited to a "Champions Dinner" hosted by the Santisi Brothers Pizzeria & Sports Grill.

All-in-all, this new format will hopefully bring many players back into the mix to grab enough points to make it into the top eight players in their age group in the SW section. It's always fun to visit and compete at all the different locations throughout the Southwest, meet your contemporaries and take mini vacations at the same time.

Are the Division 1 tournaments worth more points each round you play and advance in than the division 2 tournaments? Yes, but you'll have to contact Liz Murieta, the director of SW Adult Competition at 480-289-2351, Ext. 102, to find out those exact differences.

Now that you've got most of the facts, get online at southwest.usta.com and join in the fun!

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry.  He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or choward4541@q.com.

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