I’m frequently reminded of why I don’t play in more tournaments. I recently played in a very well run tournament in Athens. Other than that, the tournament scene seems to be in chaos. It’s not all the fault of tournament directors, USATT, COVID, or defaulting players. It seems like it’s a combination of all of these. I’ve never made the trip to Las Vegas for the U.S. Nationals; but I have received numerous reports from players I coach and other attendees. I expect that some players had a great time. It does seem like the reviews are mixed at best.
I’ve had my own issues with local tournaments. I withdrew from one tournament due to some mixed messaging on masking. It appears that I could have played and ignored the mask mandates. Attempts to recoup my entry fee were denied. This did allow me to explore the USATT grievance policies. I am still awaiting some communication from the grievance committee. It appears that they require $250.00 to hear my case for a $155.00 refund. I could be wrong; but I get the impression that the grievance committee slow-walks any communication regarding grievances in the hope that they will be forgotten. I challenge USATT to prove me wrong. Perhaps, the biggest issue with tournaments is last minute changes. Every tournament will require some adjustments. But, these should be kept to a minimum. It doesn’t seem like too much to ask that you know what day you are scheduled to play on. If you have a flight scheduled, hotel reservations, a job, or a life, a last minute change to a tournament schedule might sour you on ever playing out of town again. This weekend, I will be part of the T3 Georgia Cup team. We are scheduled to play on Saturday, but it’s possible we might play on Sunday as well. That could be an important detail to know; but as of right now, we have no idea what the likelihood of matches being played on Sunday is. Some clubs have opted to hold unsanctioned tournaments. I’m not totally opposed to this, but it might prove to be counterproductive. Rather than withdrawing from USATT involvement, find a way to work with USATT to improve all tournament experiences. Most of the obvious problems with tournaments have very little to do with USATT. Many issues could be solved by allowing for a little wiggle room in scheduling.
Lately, it appears that tournament participation has become unnecessarily complicated. Consider the 2021 Georgia Games. They are USATT sanctioned, AGTTA sponsored, Georgia Games initiated, and payments are made through Omnipong. There is a single tournament director attempting to deal with all of these entities amidst computer malfunctions – all from a hotel room in Las Vegas. We can do better.