Column: Tournament Prep — A balancing act
When players work out their tournament schedule for the year in the regard of number of events and leagues they would like to play, which probably includes — singles/doubles and maybe even mixed, how much time they can devote, money, what their body can still put out without the chance absorbing too many aches and pains let alone injuries — it can become quite the balancing act.
I’m not talking about on a professional level, but for the serious amateur who has put in the time to become a pretty decent player within their level of play and/or age group.
All kinds of things come into play with that schedule — work, time with the family, how far you have to travel, amount of days involved and what you’re really trying to prove.
Maybe you’d like to see how good a ranking you can get in 12 months, within your section, nationally or both.
If you’re doing this in singles you only have to look at your schedule and come to terms, but if you’re also trying to do it in doubles or a USTA league, there’s more of a balancing act and many of the dates are already set to consider or have to be coordinated.
Some tournaments are given more weight (points to win for ranking) than others, so those are important to try and make. Or, you can play in smaller events and try to accumulate enough ranking points and head-to-head matches to still meet your goals.
Spacing the events with your budget and how much your body and mind can take is an art in itself.
Maybe you can give yourself a couple thousand dollars for tournament fees, travel, lodging, air-fare, food and entertainment. Not to mention how much time off (unless you’re retired) from work.
If you play six events - how well are they spaced? To stay competitive and tournament tough is one event every 8 to 10 weeks going to work for you? Are the local practice sessions and matches keeping you confident and ready to make it to the quarters through the finals?
Certainly you have to be physically fit to play 2 out of 3 sets, sometimes twice in one day for 3 or 4 days in a row. That can really take it out of you and that’s a fact.
After an event, how fast does your body recover — are you injury prone or in tune with what your body tells you?
After you play a big match and win prior to the finals — what’s it take to compete the following day?
It’s pretty easy to get worn down - but you also have to realize the same is true of your opponent. Wouldn’t you like to be a fly on the way to hear what they are saying and feeling leading up to your next match - probably would be fairly similar.
Planning out your schedule can be fun, exciting, draining, tiring - you can question why the heck this mean so much to you....but all in all it’s the journey, pushing your body and talent to see where it takes you. The people you meet along the way become your friends, sometimes partners and arch opponents.
Is it worth it all in the end, only you can be the judge of that.