Tuesday, January 3, 2017

It is 2017, ready for USTA League Nationals yet? Draft schedule has Florida as the new destination and clay is in play!

It is the third day of 2017, but it is never too early to start thinking about Nationals.

I came across what appears to be a draft schedule for Nationals this year, and there are some things that will be familiar, but some that are perhaps surprises too.

First, what is familiar.

All Nationals will be played in October and November as has been traditionally done.  Additionally, 18 & over generally is first, early in October, 40 & over is later in October and early November, and 55 and over and Mixed are predominantly in November.

Now, the surprise.

Last year, Nationals were predominantly in the desert Southwest with eight of the events held in Arizona, five in Palm Springs, and three at a new for 2016 Mobile, AL.  But in 2014 and 2015 they were entirely held in Arizona or California.

The shift should have been a sign though, as for 2017, California has been completely replaced by Florida!  Of the 14 events scheduled (18+ and 40+ Mixed are all single events rather than two of each) a full eight are being held in Florida and there are none in California.  Mobile still pulls in three and Arizona gets the other three.  See the table below for the schedule.

But the surprises aren't limited to the locations.  Some Nationals will now be played on clay!  According to the draft schedule, 40+ 3.0 and 3.5 as well as all of 55+ will be played on clay while the rest will remain on hard courts.

Now, perhaps this shouldn't be a surprise and we should have seen it coming.  In fact, some of you probably had as there were rumors that the new USTA National Campus in Orlando with its 100 courts would be a natural host for some Nationals events.  And indeed it is, hosting six of the 14 events in 2017.  And since it has both Har-Tru and Europen red clay courts, having the seniors use it probably makes sense.

But the clay courts will likely be a big advantage for players from Florida who are able to play and practice on clay the whole year.  Not many other areas have clay courts in any significant amount let alone play league matches on them.

Here is the schedule, or you can see the draft schedule for Nationals PDF the USTA has.

Note: The schedule has changed slightly, see this blog post for the update.

Adult 18 & over

Oct. 6-83.5Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 6-85.0+Orlando, FLHard
Oct. 13-152.5WOrlando, FLHard
Oct. 13-154.0Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 20-223.0Surprise, AZHard
Oct. 20-224.5Mobile, ALHard

Adult 40 & over

Oct. 13-153.0Ft. Lauderdale, FLClay
Oct. 20-224.0Orlando, FLHard
Oct. 27-293.5Ft. Lauderdale, FLClay
Nov. 10-124.5Orlando, FLHard

Adult 55 & over

Oct. 27-296.0 & 8.0Orlando, FLClay
Nov. 17-197.0 & 9.0Orlando, FLClay


Nov. 3-518 & over 6.0-10.0Mobile, ALHard
Nov. 10-1240 & over 6.0-9.0Mobile, ALHard

What do you think?  Are you glad to see the majority of Nationals in Florida?  Or did you like having them in Arizona and California?  And will playing on clay be a nice addition or is it an unfair advantage for some and will take away from the competitiveness of Nationals?