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Tournament Spotlight - Englewood Tennis Club Super Series

March 18, 2009 02:17 PM

By: Tori Townsend

As part of USTA Florida’s commitment to excellence, the association is evaluating many of its tournaments in 2009. Every month, one junior tournament will be selected as a “Tournament Spotlight” due to its high evaluation marks received post-event and/or for hosting a successful tournament for junior players in the state.

Congratulations to March recipient Bob Zipay, Tournament Director (TD) of the Englewood Tennis Club Super Series in Englewood, Fla. The tournament drew 111 players, Feb. 14-16, and made a big difference by doing the “little things”. As director, owner and head professional of Englewood Tennis Club, Bob has been involved in every aspect of tennis for over 25 years. Sharing ownership with his mother Sue since 1989, the duo has created a family-like atmosphere at the club which has carried over to the hundreds of events they’ve held throughout the years.

“Mom and I run the operation together and we have always put a lot of thought into any program we run,” he said.

Bob, who was a ranked junior player in New England, played tennis in high school, college and received his USPTA (P-1) certification in 1990, will serve as TD for the upcoming G12 Designated, April 4-6, at Englewood. With his wealth of experience and knack for tennis, USTA Florida knows Englewood Tennis Club will put on another great event.

While at his home away from home, Bob took a few minutes to discuss the Super Series and how he delivered a great tournament to junior players in the state.

Q. What is the best part about being a tournament director or why is being a tournament director special to you?
A. I love it because I do see the players year after year. I see the little kids come out when they are 9-10, then I see them when they are 18, and then I see their names when they go on to make it on the pro tour. It’s just kind of neat having a friendly relationship with these kids that are really trying to see what they can do with their tennis.

Q. What do you think are the key ingredients to hosting a successful tournament for junior players?
A. Being organized is cliché because everybody talks about being organized, but as close as you can come to keeping match times on schedule, that is key. A lot of people these days don’t understand that there could be delays. The most important thing I hear from people is that we sweep our courts before every match. I have a team of my junior players go out to line and sweep before every match. That will limit bad line calls and cut down on disputes because we sweep away all the previous ball marks, and it gives the players a nice, fresh court to play on.

Good referees are another thing. If you have referees that do a good job, it makes a huge difference. They resolve issues right away. We have a good layout and vantage point for the referees because we’ve got a small facility where everything can be seen from the clubhouse.

Q. Are there any particular matches that stick out in your mind from the tournament?
A. There are always a lot of good matches and players. We had a round robin format in the 10 and under division with only three entries and all the girls beat each other. When we determined who won based on the criteria, they were all separated by only one game (outcome is decided by who loses the fewest games). It was a shame handing out a trophy to only two girls when they were all so close. That was a heart breaker as they were all winners in my mind. I have never had to do this in 20 years.

Q. What is the most important thing you want players and parents to remember when they finish your event?
A. I don’t think players and parents really understand what goes into running an event. Some do and some don’t. We still run a business and we’re putting time aside to do this the best we can over a weekend period. It is nice to get the positive feedback like you are getting off your evaluation form. Parents should appreciate that these clubs are giving their kids a place to play. I don’t know if a lot of parents understand what the USTA and the clubs are providing for their kids.

Also, respect our referees – they don’t care who wins or loses, but they are out there trying to make the matches run as smoothly as possible. Parents and players need to understand this. Having said that, I hope they remember having a great weekend.

Q. Take us through what goes on behind the scenes about a week before the tournament begins.
A. It is easier now because all the entries are done online. We used to have someone manning the phones. Taking down names and information was hard because you often have difficulties with the language barrier or getting the correct USTA numbers. TDM has made it a lot easier for the preliminary steps. Once the entry deadline has passed, knowing how to run TDM is important because you can schedule accurately, download all the names from the system and get the draws done faster with the program.

There are just a few days of getting all things in order before the tournament so we are not caught off guard when players start coming in for their matches. I always make sure the draw sheets are up ahead of time and that I’ve got my schedule ready go!

Q. As you know, USTA Florida is evaluating many of its tournaments in 2009 in hopes of setting a high standard of excellence for all events in the future. Below are a few comments reported from tournament evaluation forms filled out from your Super Series:

  • “This was a very well run tournament. The directors were very friendly and everything was really organized. I would recommend this tournament to anyone.”
  • “Very friendly facility. Easy to view matches. Plenty of parking. Very professional event management. Courts were in very good condition. Water fountains courtside. Plenty of chairs. Kept to the schedule. Stifled problems before they escalated. Bathrooms were clean and always had paper towels.”
  • “Smooth experience; courts cleaned between every match; plenty of smiles!”

How do these comments make you feel after putting your time and energy into being a tournament director, and specifically, running the Super Series?

A. You know, that is what we do it for. That is exactly what I hope people feel when they leave here.

Q. Is there anything else you would like to add?
A. It is nice to be acknowledged for hard work. We wouldn’t be able to do it without help from the kids who volunteer and the referees - they are all part of it.

***Photos taken from the Englewood Tennis Club Super Series






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