Tennis

USTA Van Der Meer Southern Junior Championships hit the Island on Saturday

Event to feature a new format

ccox@islandpacket.comOctober 19, 2012 

Jim Stubbs isn't ready to pass judgement just yet. The events director at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy is going to first let things play out this weekend in front of his own eyes.

"I really can't speak to it until we actually host it, because we haven't had one like this," he said.

Van Der Meer has had one. One champion, that is. But this weekend, Stubbs and Co. will be seeing double at the USTA Dennis Van Der Meer Southern Junior Championships, which begin this morning at 8 a.m.

That's because the USTA has sanctioned new rules that require tournaments to be played only on weekends so participants miss as little school time as possible. That means this weekend's Southern Sectional will feature two 16-player draws in each age division in order for the players to be finished by Sunday afternoon.

Instead of one champion, they'll have two. Instead of a runner-up, they'll have two. The list goes on.

"As a tournament director, I would prefer to see one champion," Stubb said. "(But) I understand what USTA is trying to accomplish."

In any other year, Van Der Meer would be rewarding eight champions, four each on the boys and girls sides for the 12, 14, 16 and 18 divisions. That number will double to 16 this year.

There are some positives to the format, however. A consolation round has been installed for players who lose their first match. That means each participant will take part in at least three matches this weekend instead of coming from around the region to lose the first one and leave.

The tournament has a 256 player maximum and was close to reaching that number Friday afternoon. That means added business for Hilton Head, which will see five hotels house players from across the Southeast for this level three tournament.

"It's going to be quite a big deal," Stubbs said.

Action will take place at four different locations, headlined by the Van Der Meer Tennis Center, where the championships will be held early Sunday afternoon. Other matches will be played at the Van Der Meer Shipyard Raquet Club, Chaplin Park and Hilton Head Island Beach and Tennis Resort.

"The three academies will be sending some of their ranked kids," Stubbs said. "There's ranked kids coming from all the states, so there's definitely an economic impact on the island. ... It's good for the town."

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