I remember the first USTA sanctioned tournament my daughter played in. It was several years ago, about this time of year, and she got crushed in both her matches. It wasn’t easy to watch, but it was great experience.
If your child has been working hard at junior clinics, private lessons, match play, or any other practice, now is a perfect time to let them try a USTA sanctioned tournament. There are several to choose from—I’m including a list below. My biggest piece of advice? Don’t be afraid to put them in a tournament where they might lose!
Somebody once told me that a competitive player should have an even mix of matches that fall into three categories: easy-to-win, surely-to-lose, and evenly-matched. Maybe your child has been playing the Bernard Masters Circuit and winning a lot of matches. Or maybe he or she has been beating all the other kids during match-play days. Now is the time to push a little and see what happens at the next level.
Rest assured, your child will let you know how they feel about the competition. When my daughter played that first tournament I mentioned above, one of her friends from clinic did the same. They were both about the same level at the time. My daughter’s friend lost both her matches too. Afterwards her mom said to me, “That was horrible! She won’t be doing that again!” And she didn’t. That girl went on to be a nice player, and was actually on my high school tennis team at Bishop Watterson. But she didn’t pursue playing higher-level tournaments, it wasn’t something she enjoyed.
Every child is different. I was able to see my daughter’s intense competitive spirit from a very young age. After that first tournament she told me she wanted to work harder so she could beat those girls the next time. She was hungry for more. Over the years she has improved and won a lot, but she also loses plenty of matches. She continues to lose every time she is pushed to the next level. But she is very competitive and she uses her losses to become a better player.
So use the next few months to see how your child does when pushed to that next level. And enjoy the ride!
Here is a listing of local tournaments through the end of February. (There are more tournaments in Cincinnati and Dayton, if you’re interested in traveling but I am not listing them here.) Your child must have a USTA membership in order to participate in any sanctioned tournament. You can sign up for a membership by clicking here. Click on each tournament to access the registration page on the USTA website.