For American tennis fans frustrated that the United States has fallen behind Europe when it comes to producing top-notch talent, what went on Saturday at the Van Der Meer Shipyard Resort may be part of the solution.
That's where the USTA Van Der Meer Classic's 10-and-under matches were being played using the QuickStart Tennis format.
Older tennis fans and those who don't have kids involved in the sport might not recognize the format.
Long used in Europe and Canada, QuickStart involves a smaller court -- roughly half-sized with a lower net for kids 8 and younger and three-quarters size for 10 and younger -- and different balls -- a larger foam-based ball for the younger group and a lower-compression tennis ball for the older group. And the sets go to four games instead of six. When kids reach the appropriate skill level, they move on.
More fun. That's what tournament director Jim Stubbs said.
"It's about enjoyment," Stubbs said. "The court is appropriate for (the kids') size, they're able to cover more ground and the lower-compression ball isn't rocketing off the racket all over the place. The kids can control it."
As a result, the kids can compete and they have more fun, Stubbs said.
The Luba brothers of Hilton Head Island -- 8-year-old Harrison and 7-year-old Fisher -- defeated Will Henry Alford and Alex Ruckno in a round-robin doubles matches Saturday, 4-1, 4-1.
The Lubas have played the QuickStart format since the USTA started sanctioning it a little more than four years ago. In fact, it's just about the only style of tennis they've played.
"Once in a while they'll try and go out and play with real balls, but mostly they don't find it fun," said Scott Luba, the boys' father. "Both my kids are short ... like in soccer they have 3-on-3 fields, this makes tennis so kids their size can play and learn the proper techniques and skills.
"The biggest benefit is that they enjoy it. It's fun for them. They can have a real long rally, kind of like the pros do, except that they're 10-year-olds. If they want to come to the net, they can get to the net and they have a chance at net. If they're playing on a full court at their size, it's almost impossible to play the net and not be passed or lobbed."
Compared to the Lubas, 9-year-old Carri Hayes of Mt. Pleasant hasn't been playing tennis long. Nine months, actually.
Her father, Cliff Hayes, a longtime tennis player, said he didn't want to start her young and burn her out.
But the second-seeded Hayes edged top-seeded Karina Szatmari of Bluffton, 2-4, 5-3, 8-6, to win the Girls 10 singles championship.
Her father wasn't sold on QuickStart initially.
"I'll be honest with you, I didn't grow up on it. I was kind of opposed to it at first," Cliff Hayes said. "But I'll have to admit. It really is a great thing. With the low compression balls, you can really see the rallies going back and forth for the kids that young and it's really awesome."
If the QuickStart format makes tennis that much fun for the kids, it's natural to think more kids will want to play. Stubbs said that at Van Der Meer Academy, the format is popular and growing.
Cliff Hayes said it took awhile, but he understands why the USTA went to QuickStart.
"We try to be the leaders, but it just wasn't cutting it. Now you can see the Europeans are killing us," he said. "But I've seen (QuickStart) a lot now because I've been to a few tournaments and I've seen how these kids can hit the ball and I think this is going to work out."
USTA VAN DER MEER JUNIOR CLASSIC
Today at Van Der Meer Tennis Center, Hilton Head Island
Divisions: Boys and girls 10, 12, 14, 16 and 18, singles and doubles
Admission: The tournament is free and open to the public.
Details: Draws can be found at http://tennislink.usta.com/Tournaments using tournament ID No. 704129112
Saturday, at Van Der Meer Tennis Center and Van Der Meer Shipyard Resort
(4) Matthew Bishop d. (2) Colby Burke 6-1, 6-2
(3) Jared Woodson d. Justin Dunn 6-0, 6-2
(2) Colby Burke d. James Bachety 6-1, 6-2
(4) Matthew Bishop d. Jiri Honajzer 6-3, 6-1
Benjamin Likins d. (1) Charlie Drake, injury
Tim Becker d. Rory Samuels 2-6, 6-3, 1-0(5)
Decho Valev d. Lucas Heyde 6-0, 6-2
Tristan Puehse d. (2) Alexander Vanezis 6-1, 6-1
Sean Sculley (4) d. (1) Mitchell Brockmann 6-2, 6-0
(2) Alexander Vanezis d. Joseph Schrader 6-3, 6-3
Tristan Puehse d. (3) Aaron Newland 6-2, 6-2
Brent Jenkins d. Kyle Howell 6-2, 4-6, 1-0(7)
Dariush Moslemi d. Colten Lavery 6-4, 6-2
John Page d. Trevor White 6-4, 6-4
Kyle Howell d. Tyler Hall 6-1, 7-5
Will Danzell d. Robert Kennedy 6-1, 6-3
(1) Alex Sklizovic d. Alex Likins 6-3, 6-3
Robert Kennedy d. (2) Thomas Jenkins 6-0, 6-0
Will Danzell d. (3) Moses Hutchison 6-4, 6-3
(2) Thomas Jenkins d. Sean Greiner 6-3, 6-2
(3) Moses Hutchison d. Cameron Clark 6-3, 7-6(5)
(4) John Rutkowski d. James Craigie 6-1, 6-1
(1) Keith Moultrie d. Brendan Healey 6-1, 6-3
Brendan Healey d. (2) Jackson Armistead 6-0, 6-0
(1) Keith Moultrie d. Conrad Alford 6-4, 6-2
Brendan Healey d. Faisal Raza 6-0, 6-1
(2) Jackson Armistead d. Stratton Pollitzer 6-1, 6-2
(2) Jackson Armistead d. Faisal Raza 6-0, 6-0
(2) Fisher Luba d. Gabriel Lezcano 4-0, 0-4, 7-3
(1) Harrison Luba d. Porter Schrader 6-0, 6-3
(2) Fisher Luba d. William Alford 6-2, 6-0
Gabriel Lezcano d. Faisal Raza WD (admin)
William Alford d. Nico Martucci 5-4(4), 4-0
Thor Pullon d. Morgan Woodson 6-1, 6-0
Nico Martucci d. Faisal Raza WD (admin)
(2) Kennedy Shaffer d. Julie Clark 6-1, 6-0
(3) Carolina Lewis d. Yuriko Ono 6-3, 2-6, 1-0(8)
Jade Lewis d. (4) Olga Zavarotnaya 6-3, 6-4
(1) Barbara Rodriguez d. Margaret Smith 6-2, 6-2
Diana Colen d. Mia Colbert 6-0, 6-0
Mary McNeal d. Mollie Polk 6-0, 6-2
(2) Valerie Droop d. (3) Samantha Schuster 7-5, 6-2
(1) Alexandra Burak d. Ellie Czura 6-1, 6-4
(2) Valerie Droop d. Audrey Bennett 6-0, 6-2
(3) Samantha Schuster d. Annika Wagner 6-0, 6-3
(4) Ariel Shulman d. Elizabeth Williams in walkover (inj)
(2) Katie Rankin d. Madison Dillon 6-1, 6-2
(3) Marium Raza d. Hanna Dzehtsiarova 1-6, 7-5, 1-0(6)
(4) Adelaide Lavery d. Samantha Kriney 6-1, 6-0
(1) Catie Meighan d. Keyvona Moultrie 6-1, 6-1
Sabrina Soliz d. Nicole Sister 6-1, 6-1
Madison Daniel d. Maria Strunjas 6-0, 2-0, Ret (inj)
(2) Natasha Puehse d. Sayda Hernandez 6-4, 6-4
(1) Sara McClure d. (3) Raluca Velcu 6-0, 6-1
(2) Natasha Puehse d. Rachel Riley 6-1, 6-0
Sayda Hernandez d. (4) Mary Grace Armistead 6-0, 6-0
(4) Mary Grace Armistead d. Hannah Yontz 6-0, 3-6, 1-0(7)
(2) Carri Hayes d. (1) Karina Szatmari 2-4, 5-3, 8-6
(2) Carri Hayes d. Ellie Zimmermann 4-1, 4-2
(1) Karina Szatmari d. Allison Kandel
(2) Carri Hayes d. Emily Ruckno 4-1, 4-2
Emily Ruckno d. Maya Gozlan 6-0, 6-0
Emily Ruckno d. Madeleine Pollitzer 5-4(4), 4-1
Burke/Williams d. Bachety/Becker 8-4
Page/Woodson d. Bishop/Honajzer 8-6
Bishop/Honajzer d. Bachety/Becker 8-1
Burke/Williams d. Page/Woodson 8-3
Brockmann/Kohli d. Davis/White 8-4
Davis/White d. (2) Lavery/Smith 8-4
Brockmann/Kohli d. Schrader/Sklizovic 8-6
Puehse/Puehse d. Howell/Newland 8-0
Jenkins/Likins d. (2) Moultrie/Oliver in walkover (inj)
(1) Hutchison/Rutkowski d. Greiner/Kennedy in walkover (inj)
Craigie/Healey d. Moultrie/Raza 8-4
Moultrie/Raza d. Alford/Pollitzer 8-6
Luba/Luba d. Lezcano/Pullon 6-1, 6-0
Luba/Luba d. Alford/Ruckno 6-1, 6-1
(2) Lewis/Lewis d. Ono/Walston 8-2
(1) Rodriguez/Zavarotnaya d. Dorau/McNeal 8--3
(2) Lewis/Lewis d. Bennett/Smith 8-0
Ono/Walston d. Colbert/Hinnant 8-0
(2) Colbert/Colbert d. Campbell/Dzehtsiarova 8-6
(1) Czura/Schuster d. Aaron/Lavery 8-2
Aaron/Lavery d. Shulman/Williams in walkover (inj)
(2) Puehse/Raza d. Daniel/Jordan 8-1
(1) Meighan/Rankin d. Dillon/Soliz 8-3
Dillon/Soliz d. Kriney/Strickland 8-2
Kennedy/McClure d. Armistead/Daniel 8-2
Velcu/Hernandez d. Kennedy/McClure 8-5
Kandel/Ruckno d. Pollitzer/Szatmari 4-2, 3-4, 7-2