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Building a Tennis, Pickleball or Padel Tournament Schedule

Everyone picks up a racquet or paddle for different reasons. Whether it's an opportunity to socialize with friends, get a good cardio workout, or simply have a fun hobby, racquet sports create incredible opportunities for a wide audience. Regardless of your level of play, one of our top recommendations for all players is to get a taste of competition in a tournament setting. Some players play a tournament every month, others maybe one or two a year, and for the majority of racquet sports players, they actually never play a tournament! Those that have experienced tournament play know that it is a whole different matchplay feeling. And that's a good thing! Nerves creep in, but so does a level of focus that you might not even know existed within you. Playing a tournament can lead to incredible levels of motivation to get better, and an intrinsic feeling of progress.

There are many options for tournaments in almost every part of the world for tennis, pickleball and padel, and it can be hard to figure out where to start. Even if you're a seasoned tournament player, our guide below will help you work backwards to create an optimized schedule with some ideas to keep things fresh and fun. Important Questions and Next Steps Singles or Doubles? Both? Mixed or Gender Doubles? We recommend playing a max of two draws, with pickleball being the only exception in some cases where all three are possible. Remember that all of these racquet sports are very physically taxing, especially singles. If you are new to tournaments and want to play singles, we recommend just playing in that division and avoiding doubles. If you're an experienced tournament player and feel confident in your conditioning, then go for both. As far as finding a partner for doubles, this can be difficult at the start, but we recommend talking to the tournament director as there are often many other players just like you who are looking for someone to play with. Once you get to the tournament, you'll meet a lot of people who could become eventual partners! Another great resource is to ask your local tennis professional if they know anyone that might be a good fit. One, Two, or Three Day Tournament? Pickleball and padel can sometimes complete one day tournaments, which is great, but make sure you understand the possibility of a full weekend of matches and ensure you're available to play during all scheduled windows! Also understand that even if you lose, most tournaments feature either a consolation back-draw or round robin style format that means you will play multiple matches regardless of outcome.

How long is your tournament season? If you live in a year round temperate climate (we're jealous!), then you have a full year to plan a schedule. For many players, the season will be short due to harsh winters OR steamy summers. If there are indoor facilities in your region, then tournaments can still run year round! We recommend finding the 5-6 month period where there will be the most tournaments available and picking this as your "competitive season". How many tournaments should I play?

If you're new to any of these sports, then we recommend your first year to register for 2-3 tournaments and figure out what your favorite format is, find a reliable partner, and get more comfortable in a competitive setting. If you're an intermediate or advanced player, or have experience playing tournaments, then we recommend roughly one tournament per month over the 5-6 month season. This will allow you to still keep your regular schedule of hitting sessions, clinics, lessons or leagues in tact. It also helps you focus on what to improve over the other three weeks of that month. Where do I find local and regional tournament listings? This is where the three racquet sports start to get a little fragmented, but not to worry, we've split up our recommendations below. Tennis USTA Tournaments - these are open to all USTA members, and registering is fairly simple. Search within your section, and most importantly, make sure you look at the details to ensure your level of play is being offered by the tournament. Many of these tournaments can also be qualifier tournaments to national events so definitely search for those options if you want to progress further! UTR Tournaments - a great option as these tournaments are often co-ed and only based on level, which can help the draws fill up and ensure you get a competitive match no matter what. Adjust the filters based on your location. Club/Local Tournaments - these are slightly harder to find at times, but there are often a lot of great options! Search "tennis clubs near me" in your search browser, and navigate to the websites events/tournaments pages. If you're needing more help, we recommend contacting the Director of Racquets or your local pro. Destination Tournaments - there are a few options here, and these are a great "once a year" option to put on your schedule. Find a resort that is offering a tournament, and make a trip out of it. One of our top picks are the CDT Ladies Retreats (yes, we're biased), which are hosted on both the East and West Coast, and feature daily clinics as well as team matchplay competition! Another great, fun option is Racquet Wars, which hosts 20+ doubles tournaments at resort destinations across North America. Pickleball and - both of these sites have a great database of upcoming events, and registration is quite simple. One good feature of both is that they show you how many players are currently registered, which should help you select an event that has a good number of players at your level. Minor League Pickleball - these are team tournaments (2 men, 2 women) that will allow you to play both gender and mixed doubles, and maybe even singles if the match gets to a dreambreaker. They are really fun, and playing in them gives you a chance to quality for MiLP championships at the end of the year. Even if you are signing up solo, the tournament director will place you on a team at your level.

Padel USPA Tournaments - while the schedule is more limited than tennis/pickleball (due to less courts/facilities), padel tournaments are on the rise and the USPA is the best resources in the U.S. to find a tournament. Almost every tournament has three playing levels to suit a wide variety of competitors. You must sign up for USPA membership to play in these tournaments.

National Padel League Tournaments - newer to the space, but another great option for tournaments that lead to an end of year championship, the NPL Masters Miami.


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