Running a Racquetball tournament: What I learned

The PSRA held its first tournament of the season September 20th through 22nd, and it marked the first time that I directed a tournament.

 

I was excited, but admittedly a little nervous. With the help of fellow board member Josh Reddinger, and friend Travis Aldinger, I made my way through the dated, confusing, and complicated software that R2 provides.

 

I didn’t quite realize the magnitude of how important scheduling matches was until late Saturday night and Sunday morning during the tournament. There were a lot of things I could have done better, but also a lot of things that went really well.

 

I tried my hardest to accommodate all time restraints, and didn’t make anyone from out of town play Friday. I tried to have refs available for all matches because I know how much it sucks to self-ref. I was always honest, and didn’t mislead anyone if the tournament was running behind.

 

I hope everyone enjoyed themselves (most communicated to me that they did), and I also hope everyone will continue to come out and play, and support the sport, and the PSRA. I look forward to running another event, and putting my lessons learned to use. But also, I am looking forward to it because of the positivity the racquetball community showed me. We are a strong group, and when we work together, I believe there is no way the sport of Racquetball won’t grow. Whether it’s a sport we instill in our children, or just through a friend, like the 3 or 4 new players we had come out this tournament. The board paid for a few dozen renewed memberships, along with a few new faces we had to create USAR accounts for. Several players who were new to racquetball not only came out to their first tournament, but also played well, and won several matches.

 

Players like myself are important to the sport, but not nearly as important as players like Brandon Fuhrman, who played in his first tournament, and not only won the C division, but finished 7th our of 18 in Men’s B. Or players like Bob Dodge Sr., Kevin Comer and Geoff Heskett, who hadn’t played in tournaments at all for years, and decided to participate. Or players like Aaron Dardani, who traveled from New York. I personally thank you for coming, and hope you all will not only continue to play events in Pennsylvania, but utilize your membership and continue to play in events in all states throughout the year.

 

I want to thank Travis Aldinger and Tim Page, Josh, the rest of the board, and everyone that came out and participated and reffed matches. It was challenging, but a ton of fun. Without having a great facility to hold these events at, the state of racquetball in PA would be much worse off.  Also, a huge thank you to Rodney Hake for supplying the pizza and subs, along with Quaker Steak and Lube. Rodney is a big reason why the last two events were successful, and allows the board to extend offers like paying for USAR memberships.

 

I would like to leave you all with one thought.

 

Next time you play in a tournament, consider everything that goes into it. From the sliced bananas, to booking hotels, to managing scheduling around every players’ time constraints – it is a lot. Not to mention that the director must be present from 7:30 until the last match on Saturday and Sunday. It’s a lot, and the goal is to always have a great event that runs on time, and that everyone enjoys. But complaining is probably the least productive thing to do. I bring this up not because anyone at my tournament complained, but because I am guilty of this in the past.

 

If you’re upset about something at a tournament, it’s the last thing a director wants to hear, and on top of that, they are busy running the tournament, and probably not going to remember or care what you’re saying while they

 

worry about what court is open, and who’s going on next, or checking someone in. If there’s something you have to get off your chest and express to the director, do it once the event is over in an email or phone call.

 

I have now seen what it’s like on the other side, and it’s not easy.  73 players and 4 courts wasn’t easy, but it was manageable. I can’t imagine having 4 courts and 100 players, or 7 courts and 130 players.

 

This year, as I plan to play in events with large turnouts like Wintergreen, and the New Jersey Open, I will certainly have new found respect for the directors (Tracie, Ryan, Meredith, Jon, etc.). And when they ask me to ref, or my match at 3pm doesn’t start until 5, I will be a lot more sympathetic. I ask that you all show a similar understanding of how involved running a tournament can be.

 

Thanks again, and I’m excited to see you all out on the courts!

 

Mike Spiro