Skip to Content

What to Know for Your Kid’s First Tennis Tournament

Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

So, it’s Wednesday night, and you just remember that a month ago, you registered your child to play, this Friday, his or her first tennis tournament! If you’re a tennis player yourself, you probably have an idea of what to expect; but if you are entirely new to this, you probably have questions, but not too many answers. If that’s your case, I suggest you continue reading…

So, what should you know for your kid’s first tennis tournaments? Most of the information you need to know is generally posted on the tournament website. As a parent, you need to know the tournament location, your child’s start time, who is the tournament director, and some specific tournament information, among other things.

The tournament director is the indicated person to help you with any inquiry you might have about the tournament; be sure to know his or her contact information.

Keep scrolling down to learn more about how to make this first-time experience more enjoyable for you and your family. Remember, this is general information and not specific to a tournament; rules and policies may differ.

Tournament website

Nowadays, most tennis tournaments have an information website, where they post the players list, draws, matches format, tournament address, results, and other relevant information regarding the tournament. Before you contact the tournament director, check the tournament website to find out if your questions are already answered there.

Tournament & match format 

Since is your child’s first tournament, be sure she is familiar with the tournament and match formats. Although most likely, they will explain, to all players, the specific rules and match format before their matches, it’ll be good for your child to have an idea of what to expect.

Address

Usually the complete address of the tournament facility is posted on the tournament website. Be sure to confirm that you have the correct address. The last thing you want is to arrive and be told that the tournament is not being hosted there; I’ve seen this happened many times!

Tournament specific information

Tournament specific information can be found on the tournament website. Depending on the type and level of tournament, the rules and policies may vary.

Players list

Also, here you can find the list of participants. Maybe a friend of your child might be playing as well.

Draws

Probably, the main reason to access the tournament website is to find your child’s start time; you’ll most likely find this on the draws sections. On the draw, you can see specific match times, as well as, who your child will be playing against. Also, you can find the time your kid will be playing if s/he advances to the next round.

Tournament results

After the tournament is over, the results and match scores will be posted on the tournament website; most likely under the draw’s section.

Important things to know/do!

Location

It’s essential that you know the exact location where the tournament will be taking place, so you can plan ahead, and be on time. Moreover, on the day of the competition, before heading to the tournament, I’ll suggest checking the location one last time, just in case any last minute changes were made. You can do this really quick by going to the tournament website.

Know your child start time

Make sure to know that exact time your child is playing his first match. Also, double check the time in the tournament website or by calling the tournament director because, sometimes, for different reasons, they might change player’s start time. It’s recommended, to check, one last time, match start times before heading to the tournament; as well as with the location, there might be some last minute changes.

You ever heard the phrase “Time is money,” well in tennis is more like “Time is games.” As in other events, being on time is an essential part of this sport. Usually, tournaments have lateness policies. For the USTA Eastern tournaments, players who are late, lose one game for every 5 minutes they are late, up to a max of 3 games. After 15 minutes, they could default your child of the tournament. So, just to be saved, try to be at least 15 min earlier before your child’s start time.

Tournament Director

If there is a person that can answer many of your questions, is the tournament director. Be sure to know who is the tournament director and what is the best way to contact her/him. The tournament director is in charge of supervising all things related to the tournament, so s/he should be able to help with any kind of questions you might have about the tournament.

Also, your child should be familiar with who the tournament director is. If somebody can help your child on the court is, also, the tournament director or her/his assistants.

Registration Fee

Confirm that you paid the registration fee so that they for sure include your child in the tournament. Sometimes, the tournament director will allow you to take care of the registration fee when your child comes to play his/her match.

Provide your contact information

Be sure to provide your contact information (phone number and/or email) when signing up your kid for the tournament. This will allow the tournament director to contact you in the case is necessary.

Rules and regulations

It’s essential for your child to have a general sense of the tournament rules and regulations. Each tournament has different rules; some rules to be aware of are the lateness rule, the overrule rule, whether coaching is allowed or not, and the point penalty system, among others.

Tennis gear and equipment

Remind your child to have all the proper equipment needed for the tennis match. And although is your child’s responsibility to have his tennis bag ready, since it’s his first tournament, he might not be too familiar with what he needs.

Below is a list of things he should consider bringing to the tournament

  • Two tennis racquets (in case he breaks strings)
  • Water and/or choice of sports drink. Most facilities provide players with water; however, he should bring his own, in case they don’t.
  • An extra shirt to change, during or after the match.
  • A towel
  • A book, iPad, or phone or something to stay busy while waiting for his match.
  • A tennis ball can; most tournaments provide players with new balls, however, some don’t.
  • Some snacks (like a banana, energy bars, and energy gels, to name a few)

Is there any attire rules?

As you might have seen on TV, the English tennis mayor, Wimbledon, require players to use mostly white outfits. And although your child is just getting started on her tennis career, some clubs have strict dress code policies; like wearing all white, or not having big logos on their cloth. Make sure to find out if the facility that’s hosting the tournament has any dress policies for tennis players.

From my own experience, I’ve seen players not being allowed to play because they weren’t using the proper attire. So, I’ll recommend checking on this.

Olena Yakobchuk / Shutterstock

Some common questions

Should you bring food?

Sometimes tennis matches can last longer than expected, or the waiting time between matches is more than what you’ll like to, so I’ll suggest you bringing some snacks for yourself, in case you’re there for too long. Most facilities sell snacks, however, in case they don’t, you won’t be feeling hungry.

Are you running late?

So you left the house early for the match, however, for whatever reason, you guys are running late! First of all, remember is just a tennis match, so don’t try to speed up and put you and your family at risk of an accident.

As soon as you realize you guys will be running late, call the tournament director, and tell him/her that you guys a running a late, and give him/her an approximate time you guys will be arriving. Although your child will most likely be penalized for being late, at least, they’ll wait for you guys to arrive, instead of defaulting her.

How long will the match last?

Although tennis matches duration will differ, tournament directors usually have an idea on how long, on average, matches will last. Also, depending on the tournament and match format used, the duration of tournaments and matches will vary. If the tournament format is single elimination, your child will play their match and if they …

  • wins, they’ll have to play again; make sure to find out their next match start time.
  • lose, they’ll be done. However, double check with the tournament director because, on some occasion, they might have to play a consolation match, which is offered to players who lose on their first round.

Will the match start on time?

If there are matches scheduled before your child match, there is a possibility that the previous matches will last longer than expected, delaying the next matches. If your child’s match gets delayed because there is no court available, it’ll usually be for around 15 minutes. Tournament directors schedule matches taking into consideration the expected average match duration and how long matches could last, and according to this, they make the schedule.

If your child wins the first match, when is s/he playing again?

If your child wins his match, he’ll most likely have to play again; be sure that you guys know when is his next match. You can usually find their next match by checking on the tournament website or contacting the tournament director.

Can you take pictures or videos?

Before you start taking pictures of your child’s first tennis match and posting them on social media, be sure to know if taking photos or videos is allowed on the facility. Some clubs or tennis facilities have special rules regarding taking pictures or videos on their site; so find out whether it’s permitted or not.

Is coaching allowed?

Be sure that you guys know if coaching is allowed, even if you’re not looking to coach your child during the match. it’s important that your child knows about this rules, in the case her opponent gets coached when she is not supposed to.

How can you help your kid in their first tennis tournament?

It’s essential that your child has a positive experience in her first tennis tournament. According to the United States Tennis Association, around 40% of junior players stop playing tennis tournament after their first tournament. Here are some things that you can do to help your child have a better time on the court:

  • Remind your child that if there is any problem on the court that she cannot solve, to ask for help to the tournament director or her assistants. Sometimes, they are the only persons allowed to go on the court and help your child with any issue during the match.
  • Always be supporting to your child, whether she wins or losses. If she wins, don’t make a big deal out of it; otherwise, she might feel pressure to win again on her next match. If she losses, try to focus on the positive aspects; sometimes it’s better not to say much, and just be there with her.
  • Be sure the tournament is of the appropriate level for your child. Ask your kid’s tennis coach to recommend the right tournament for her.

What else…

Weather & rain date

If the tournament will be outdoors, check on the tournament website, if there is a rain date in case of inclement weather. Also, know how they’ll let you know about it, whether they’ll be contacting you, or they’ll be posting it on the tournament website.

Bring something to stay busy

Like mention above, tennis matches might last longer than expected, so I’ll recommend that you bring something for you to stay busy, like a book, tablet, and/or magazine. Nowadays, phones have all the entertainment you’ll need, so I don’t think this will be an issue.

Viewing

In some occasion, there might not be viewing areas for spectators. So, before you invite uncle Joe and aunt Jane to your child’s first tennis tournament, make sure to find out whether there are viewing areas in the tournament facilities. You can quickly find out by either calling the tournament director or the facility that’s hosting the tournament.

Warm-up

In the case, your child will like to warm up on the court, double check if there are warm-up courts for tournament players. If not, you’ll most likely have to book a court in advance.

Make sure to check-in!

As soon as you guys arrive at the tournament, be sure that your child checks-in on the tournament desk. If your child doesn’t check-in, it might be considered as if she is not there.

Having players checking in, allow tournament directors to know which players are here or not, making it easier for them to run the tournament smoothly.

If you need to withdraw your child …

In the case, you need to withdraw your child from the tournament, make sure to contact the tournament director as soon as can. Whether you get a refund for the registration fee will depend on the tournament policies.

It’s important to let the tournament director know that you won’t be playing, so he can take the appropriate actions. For example, he can either have another player take your child’s spot or to tell your child’s opponent, in advance, that she is not playing at that time anymore.

In the case, your child has to withdraw due to injury, the tournament director might ask for a doctor note or medical certification stating that your child is injured. This could make it easier for the tournament director to refund you the registration fee.

One last piece of advice

As a coach and as a player, I’ve seen how much pressure, sometimes, parents can put in their child when competing in a tennis tournament. Although you probably know this, please remember your child’s first tennis tournament should be all about him or her having a positive and fun experience; this is important so they can stay motivated to continue playing this great sport!

As a USTA Tournament director myself, I think this post covers many general aspects you should know for your kid’s first tennis tournament. However, I’m sure there is more information parents should know about; if you have any additional information parents should be aware of, please let us know, below, on the comment section! Thanks!

Related Questions

It is possible to register your kid to a tennis tournament after registration has closed?

  • Yes, it’s possible; however, it’s going to depend on the tournament policies and the tournament director. Contact the tournament director, directly, to see if your child can still be included on the tournament. If not, you can ask for your child to be in included on the alternate list.

 How does a tennis tournament alternate list works?

  • When the tournament organizer is no longer accepting more entries, they’ll, usually, have an alternate or waiting list for players who didn’t make it into the tournament, but will still like to participate. If a current player withdraws and a spot opens up, the first player on the alternate list will take that spot; if another spot opens up, the second player on the alternate list will take that spot; so on, and so forth.