Jim Stubbs patiently waited to pass judgment until after the USTA's trial year with the waterfall draw came to a close. But now that the rules have become a full-time part of sanctioned tournaments, the events director at Van Der Meer Tennis Academy is letting his opinion be known.
"I'm not a big fan," he said earlier this week. "Just speaking as both a parent, an adult and educator, I like kids to understand that there's winners and losers in life."
The waterfall draw was first installed in 2012 as way to eliminate the amount of class time children miss during the school year for playing in tournaments. It limited action to Saturdays and Sundays only, meaning that in order to squeeze in an event as large as this weekend's Dennis Van der Meer Southern Junior Championships, Stubbs and Co. will have to reward a pair of champions and runner-ups in each age division.
Sixteen champions will be honored in all this weekend, as over 220 kids will compete in the Level 3 tournament that features boys and girls singles action from 12s up to 18s. Before last year, only eight winners would be determined.
"There's some very talented players coming in," Stubbs said. "It's a Southern tournament, so we're drawing not just from South Carolina but from Virginia to Louisiana."
Joining the visitors from other states will be local students from both Van Der Meer and Smith Stearns. Play begins Saturday at 8 a.m. and will continue until dark, Stubbs said. Action will be held at Van Der Meer Tennis Center, Shipyard Resort, Chaplin Park and Hilton Head Beach and Tennis. The 12s and 14s will all be held on Shipyard's clay courts.
The tournament will resume Sunday at 8 a.m. with the finals matches expected to begin around 1 p.m.
Stubbs isn't thrilled with the idea of a clear-cut champion not being determined, particularly in a tournament as high-profile as the one taking place this weekend. It's an unfortunate aspect of an event that will feature some of the brightest young stars the sport has to offer.
"These players are getting close to the end of the year and they're playing for rankings," Stubbs said. "It's just one of those tournaments on the schedule that the level of the tournament itself predicates the level of players."