Changes to Format for 2020 APTA Men’s Nationals

The APTA Board, Players Committee and the Nationals Tournament Committee have agreed to change the format for Men’s Nationals to be held in Darien, CT this coming season.

There will be two draws for the Men’s tournament this year: A main draw that competes for the traditional Men’ National Championship that will be made up of 64 teams that qualify for that draw and a second/open draw that will compete for the PTI 5+ National Championship.

There were several reasons for making this change to format, but the main reason is to open up the potential to take Nationals to other smaller paddle regions around the country. Hosting our National Championship is a great opportunity to increase awareness and interest in the game we all love. The logistical (# of courts) and financial burden of running Nationals with an unlimited draw size has grown to the point where only a few traditional areas can handle hosting. Boston (2021 host) and Long Island (2022 host) both plan on limiting the Men’s draw to 64 teams. Neither will have the courts/flexibility to host a second/open draw the way Darien can. For that reason, we felt that Darien would be the perfect place to start the transition to this new format. Darien can host two 64 draws and therefore still have any player that wants to participate play in the same area on the same weekend and be included in all the festivities that make up Nationals weekend.

Beyond having the ability to take Nationals to new and smaller regions, we feel this new format has several other benefits:

  • The qualification process to make the main 64 draw (see details below) should drive stronger participation of top level players for our smaller NRTs… which can also help drive interest in the game in those regions.
  • The Main Nationals draw and back-draws will have fewer lopsided matches
  • The new PTI 5+ Nationals creates a new tournament for players too strong to play in what we historically called “B” Nationals. (The entire series of PTI Nationals should provide a Nationals for players of every skill level).

We recognize that this type of change to Nationals won’t sit well with 100% of our membership. The tradition of having an open draw for our National Championship that anyone can participate in has played an important part of how paddle has developed over time. We promise to make every effort to be completely transparent about these changes we’re making and to make sure the execution of the transition is as smooth as possible.

For the 2019/2020 season, Women’s Nationals will be unaffected by these changes. Currently, women’s draw sizes aren’t generally as large as the Men’s draw sizes and women’s leagues haven’t yet adopted the PTI rating system as quickly as the men’s leagues. We hope more women’s leagues will join the APTA and use the PTI rating system. Once we have more PTI data and gather input from female players and the Women’s Players Committee, the APTA plans to roll-out similar changes for the women.

Qualification Process for the Main draw for Men’s Nationals:

Criteria #1: top 32 ranked teams as of Monday February, 24th (day after Peachtree & Arapahoe)

Criteria #2: any top 5 finisher of an NRT or top 9 of a Grand Prix. For a Grand Prix event that chooses to have a premier draw of 16 teams... the top 9 from that draw qualify; the top 5 from the Open draw also would qualify. If the premier draw is greater than 16 teams... then only 1 team from the Open draw would qualify.

Criteria #3: the tournament directors have up to 4 wild cards they may use (but don’t have to) to give teams a spot in the Main draw.

Criteria #4: If Criteria #s 1 - 3 yield less than 64 teams, the remaining spots will be allocated in order based on a team's combined PTI (ie; the lowest/best rated teams will get in first).

If Criteria #s 1 -3 (with or without wild card spots) yield more than 64 teams, the weakest rated teams outside the top 32 ranked teams (based on PTI) will have play-in matches at the beginning of the tournament. For Darien in 2020, the winners of the play-in matches will fill out the main 64 draw; the losers will become seeded teams in the PTI 5+ National Championship which will be held concurrently with main Nationals.

The weakest rated teams based on PTI takes precedence over what NRT/GP you qualified through (or what place you finished in the NRT/GP) in determining which teams are put into the play-in matches.

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