For starters, every child is different and unique. However, as a baseline, the USTA has done a comprehensive study on world class players and what level tournaments they played as juniors. What they came up with is that a player has the most long-term potential if they have a 2:1 win/loss ratio. This means for every match the child wins, they lose one match. While you can't predict results, a way that I have done tournament schedluling for my consulting clients and students that seems to work is to take the best result at each level tournament (and age group) and assume it for the next 3 months. The reason this works is that even though the result is the child'sbest and not necessarily their average result, kids age out making the tournaments easier as the child gets older. Then after three months, it is time to evaluate again. If the child likes dominating or feels better playing strong tournaments, then the USTA says anywhere from a 3:1 to 1:1 ratio is acceptable.
1. A child is young and can't stand losing. Then 3:1 might make sense.
2. The child enjoys playing tournaments and developing is a much lower priority. Then 3:1 makes sense.
3. The child is coming back from a long-term injury. Then 3:1 makes sense.
4. The child is in the 16's or 18's and desparately needs national points to make a Super National so college coaches could watch them. Then 1:1 makes sense.
5. The child has a small window to qualify for older age tournaments with their current-age ranking. Then 1:1 makes sense.
6. The child wants to play 18's tournaments while still in 16's so that when college coaches start looking at them, they have a respectable 18's ranking. 1:1 might make sense.
Tournament scheduling is an extremely important part of a players' junior career. It's not like baseball, basketball or soccer where you play age and level appropriately. I have seen kids burn out from losing too much and "point-chasing." I have also seen kids in too low of an age division or USTA/Eastern level to the point of being ignored by college coaches. Please be sure to consult with a knowledgable coach or with JuniorTennisConsulting when making your schedule. You could reach me at JuniorTennisConsulting LLC at 516-605-0420 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Ricky Becker is The Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club and independently coaches high-performance juniors year-round predominantly at Bethpage Park Tennis Center. As a player, Becker was awarded Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis Team and 1989-1992 Roslyn High School Teams. He was ranked number one in the Eastern Section and fourth in the United States in the 18-and-unders. He can be reached at email@example.com, 516-359-4843 or via JuniorTennisConsulting.com.