As I contemplate the Open Schedule and wonder where the season will take us in Florida and when it will take us there, I realize it is only a month away!
We all know the tournament host Clubs must decide if they will or will not host under the FSA Protocols by September 16th and then the FSA Board will meet a few days after that and decide what we will do. Don’t forget they need to account for tournament directors as they decide what to do; two tournament directors have talked with me in making their decisions and both have decided to direct, other than that, I have no idea what’s happening on that front.
It is probably necessary to look at the season in two halves because things may change by the 1st of the year and in all likelihood the Board will make changes as we go depending on what the current situation is anyway. Port Charlotte decided at the end of last season to stop hosting tournaments so the schedule has holes in it before any of the Clubs decide what to do. It should be no surprise if small clubs, not enough courts, or private clubs, another level of protocols, decide not to host. When the Board meets, they will know what holes need to be filled depending on when they decide to start the season. St Pete and Lee County have said they would host and I’ve heard Bradenton, Avon Park and Sebring will host; Maybe they can fill in the open spots as, outside of St Pete, no one Club, will in all probability be able to handle the demand. Lakeland is still possible and maybe St Cloud which would be a big bonus to the east coast. Maybe the mixed tournament at Tropical Haven can be played and Ft Pierce could probably handle the demand if the City lets them. Hollywood probably shouldn’t be under estimated, they could handle the demand.
There is always the possibility the FSA could scrap the schedule and rebuild it; at least the 1st half, and rotate tournaments between the Clubs willing to host with two each week to handle demand.
Demand, of course, will be down compared to other years; the Canadians probably won’t be able to come right away and some snow birds may stay put, at least until it gets unbearable but there is certainly demand to play tournaments. The closest example I can use is the Zephyrhills Club where we are playing six days a week with Wednesday and Saturday being tournament days. There are only a few more players for tournaments but the makeup of the field is quite different than on fun days. Lots of players want to play competitive matches. Our virus numbers continue to trend down in Florida.
As a side note, if the FSA decides not to start the season for some time to come, how will the Winter National Doubles be handled in Bradenton in early November? In that it is a National Tournament it could be played. The FSA currently awards Florida points for the tournament but could decide not to this year!
Earl Ball 9-1-2020