Picking a Tennis Schedule

Thanks to @TennisSteve88 for suggesting this as a topic, it’s a good one!  If you have a suggestion of your own please contact me by leaving a comment at the bottom of the page or find me on twitter @naomicavaday.  There is so much to talk about but I will pick out parts that might be interesting. The first and most important part of scheduling is having a completely flexible approach to it all. You need to be able to change plans, book a flight on the way to the airport and travel anywhere at a moments notice. I am often getting a visa in case I go somewhere and then end up not using it. It is a fine balance of being organised for the 2 or 3 options you are considering, but ready in case you suddenly get in to a bigger event unexpectedly. If you don’t have flexibility you will miss so many opportunities. An example of this was earlier this year when I was competing in the States. I was planning to play the three 25Ks there and fly home to play the 25K in Glasgow, but I got in to qualifying for a 100K in Michigan and seeing as I was already in the States I changed my flights and went there 2 days later. I qualified and reached the 2nd round picking up 19 points, which is my biggest to date, and even though it cost me a lot of money to change my flights it was the best thing to do. I would normally discuss a plan for the next 2 or 3 months with my coach as a guide. In this discussion we would pick out a couple of tournaments to target as a priority, and then fill in other tournaments around them to ensure I get enough matches in the lead up. 50% of the time this changes as you are guessing what your ranking will be in 2 months time, so you often get there and find that the tournaments your had planned aren’t right for you now. The ITF have a great system called the IPIN where we do all of our planning, entering and withdrawing online. You can enter up to 6 tournaments per week, and after the entry deadline your position on the list appears on your IPIN. The withdrawal deadline is 5 days after the entry closes, so you have time to see how strong the tournament is and make your decision. We watch the lists closely, checking several times a day if we are unsure on a tournament to play. All of the players I know will have some weeks where they withdraw early as they know what they are doing, and some weeks where they wait until they have 30 seconds before the deadline, frantically refreshing the page before the time runs out and the ITF withdraw you from all of your events except the one you are highest in. We leave it this late to see if we might scrape in main draw somewhere, or get a higher seeding as this makes such a big difference to the draw. Unfortunately a lot of the girls around the world are staring at the screen at the same time, so the list can still move right up to the deadline. Screen Shot 2015-06-13 at 10.00.47 We consider many factors when picking tournaments. Tournament size, surface, strength, travel expense, travel time, jetlag, and conditions just to name a few. If you have played a tournament before then you know it well and whether it is right to play. Players often ask advice from each other, I am constantly receiving messages on Facebook about the practicalities and logistics of Sharm and I am happy to help. Likewise I try and pick the brains of other players for cheap hotels and good restaurants wherever I am going. You want to try to play the highest event possible, but it is your decision whether you would rather be in qualifying for a bigger tournament or main draw of a lower event.   The points are so much higher in the bigger tournaments which forces you to play up, but if you keep playing up and losing then you aren’t getting enough matches and your confidence will drop. It is a balance. There is no right or wrong answer for this, I try to have a combination of the 2 so that I give myself a chance to do well in the bigger events and pick up points, but I can still get enough matches in to feel good about my game. Scheduling will be so important for me in the next 12 months as I push on to the top 200. This is because I need a combination of competing at a high level, picking up points, as many matches as possible and confidence from winning. It doesn’t always work out how you want, and you can get tough draws in weak events and easier draws in strong events so you never know. Everybody has messed up entries and withdrawals, as it is tough to keep on top of it all until you get used to it. My advice… be prepared, and go with the flow!

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