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Tournaments 101
Congratulations! You've decided to learn more about tennis tournaments. On this page, we're going to dive into how fun tournaments for boys and girls can be and how you, as a parent, can get the most out of them. Let's get started.
 
Overview
Tournaments can be a great way for boys and girls to get even more interested in playing tennis. At tournaments, they meet peers from where their areas and from across the state or even region. They also experience playing matches with their peers instead of more practice with their coach. Practice is great and needed, of course, but, as the pros say, there's nothing quite like playing matches, and tournaments can provide that fun experience for boys and girls.
The United States Tennis Association, or the USTA, sanctions most of the tournaments for boys and girls in the country, including in South Carolina and in the Columbia area. Since they run the tournaments, they also set the rules. Luckily for us, there's only one real requirement to play in a USTA tournament: Have a USTA membership. If your children are 10 and under, they can get one for free. If they're a little older, the cost is minimal. Click here to learn more about USTA membership, or call 803-781-2574 and ask for Patrick Yackmack, USTA South Carolina's manager of tournaments and player development.

Tournament Categories
The USTA divides tournaments into two categories: levels and ages. Think of levels as how experienced your child is at playing tennis. For ages, boys and girls cannot play in a lower age division but they can play in an age division above them. For example, if Micah is 14, he can play in a 16 and under tournament, but he cannot play in a 12 and under tournament. Since we're discussed ages, let's get into the different tournament levels.
 
Levels
There are five tournament levels in South Carolina: Five, four, three, two, and one. Think of them as a triangle, with level five as the base of the triangle and level one as the top.

Level Five: These tournaments are perfect for boys and girls new to tennis or looking to gain experience at a tournament. Say your child has never played in a tournament and recently started tennis, a Level Five Tournaments would be perfect! Sign him or her up today! These one-day events feature round-robin formats, which let everyone play everyone. They also emphasize fun, match play and more fun. (Did we mention fun?) If your child does not have a lot of tournament experience and he or she can serve and keep score, a Level Five Tournament will be a great choice! Here's a look at the upcoming Level Five tournaments. Click on the number, how the USTA organizes its tournaments in its system, to start the registration process.
 
Date
Name
USTA No.
Where
09/11/16
Rising Stars at Lexington County Tennis Complex
Lexington
09/17/16
Books on Broad 10 and Under Championships
Camden
09/25/16
10 and Under Early Development Camp
Anderson
10/02/16
Rising Stars at Cayce Tennis & Fitness Center
Cayce

Level Four: Level Four tournaments are a slight step up from Level Five tournaments, which makes sense if we're following the triangle metaphor mentioned earlier, which we are. These tournaments still feature some beginning tennis players but these players might be getting a little more serious than they were six months ago, so they're not quite beginners but they're not experts yet, either. At this stage, players also start to gain “ranking” points, which you get by playing in Level Four or higher USTA tournaments. Ranking points especially come into play at the peak of our triangle.
 
Date
Name
USTA No.
Where
08/05/16
Lexington County Junior Challenger
Lexington
08/26/16
Cayce Junior Tennis Challenger
Cayce
09/02/16
The Reserve Club Summer Challenge
Aiken
09/02/16
T.J. Spurling Jr. Championship
Florence
10/21/16
Topspin Challenger Circuit Tournament
Lexington
11/04/16
Sumter Junior Challenger
Sumter

Level Three: We're continuing to climb the triangle, so Level Three tournaments feature some experienced players who have maybe played a few tournaments and they're looking to step up their game. These tournaments, like the Level Four and Level Five tournaments, still let anyone who signs up play in the event, unless there's a cap on the total number of players allowed. They're usually still a good size, fewer than 100 players, but not 300 or 400 players big. If your son or daughter is an experienced player but hasn't played in a ton of tournaments, a Level Three tournament would be a good choice. There are almost as many Level Three tournaments in South Carolina as there are Level Five tournaments, so again, plenty of opportunities.
 
Date
Name
USTA No.
Where
08/19/16
Rockbridge Junior Tennis Classic
Columbia
10/07/16
Cassidy Allstate Junior Doubles Open
Camden
10/28/16
Wildewood Junior Tournament
Columbia
 
Level Two: This marks a solid step up for payers. These tournaments feature good competetion and typically have hundreds of players competing. Many of them allows SC residents into them. Those tournaments are called "closed." State championships on particular surfaces might be a Level Two tournament, such as the SC Closed Junior Clay Court Championships. Generally, boys and girls with at least some tournament experience should participate in these and if your child doesn't have a lot of playing experience, you might think about a Level Three, Four or Five tournament to start.
 
Date
Name
USTA No.
Where
08/12/16
Pepsi Junior Open
Florence
09/16/16
SC Junior State Open Championships at The Citadel
Charleston
10/14/16
K-Swiss Kiawah Island Junior Championship
Kiawah Island
11/11/16
Southern Junior Championships at The Citadel
Charleston
11/18/16
Van der Meer Southern Junior Championships
Hilton Head Island

 
Level One: We've made it to the top of the triangle! The climb is complete. Level One tournaments are the state qualifier for boys and girls interested in playing at regional and national-level tournaments. The best of the best in the state compete at these tournaments, and only about a handful of them are held every year throughout South Carolina.
 
Date
Name
USTA No.
Where
11/25/16
USTA Open Regional Tournament – November
Bluffton

 

 

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