Fast4 Tennis: Fun, Fast & Competitive
Have you ever signed up for a USTA tournament only to find out a couple of days before the first match that it had to be cancelled due to low participation? Or even worse, have you blocked you weekend, missed your regular social match, showed up at the tournament site to find out the only other participant was a no-show?
Have you ever not signed up for a tournament because you had plans on one of the tournament days, missing the entire thing because you were not sure what time your match would be?
Have you ever missed a tournament because it didn’t make sense to drive to the tournament site just for one match, that may even get cancelled leaving you with no tennis at all?
If the answer to any of these questions is yes, Fast4 is for you!
In an attempt to encourage participation, USTA is trying a new round-robin competition called Fast4, guaranteeing the players multiple matches in one day. I was lucky enough to be part of one of these events at Temecula in Southern California on Saturday July 1st. The event was organized by Scott Smith representing the USTA and Randy Ivey, the head coach of Tennis Varsity at Linfield High School. It was a fun day of tennis, where I played 3 singles matches and 2 mixed-doubles matches over the course of the day, met new players and had a blast.
Here is how it works.
Fast4 Tennis is a match format where a player needs to win four points to win a game and four games to win a set, as opposed to the customary six games. Hence the name Fast4. The games are no-ad scoring and tie-breakers apply at three games all. If players split sets, they play a 9-point Tie-breaker, similar to a 12-point tiebreaker but with a different service order. Each player serves twice starting in deuce court switching sides after 4 points. At 4-all, the player who served second in the tiebreaker serves the ninth point with the receiving player choosing sides on the final point. First player to 5 points wins (sudden death).
This shortened match type was introduced by Tennis Australia in 2014 and now beginning to be adopted by the USTA.
Fast4 Tennis makes match times predictable, allowing the organizers to better plan different events and optimize the use of the facility. With this format, Doubles would take approximately 35-45 minutes and Singles runs about 40-55 minutes per match. The entire event is completed in a singles day (as opposed to the usual 2 or 3 days) and is less physically taxing. There is no need for overnight stays, eliminating hotel expenses.
“Most players were excited about being able to play different players and finish in one day”, commented Scott Smith, “they mainly wanted to know when the next one would be in their area”.
It is exciting to see innovation and change coming to the way tennis is played. Being able to compete playing tennis, have fun, and still be able to enjoy free time on the weekend is a welcome improvement to my tennis life.
More Fast4 Tennis tournaments are coming up. Look for them on USTA and join a full day of tennis and fun with new friends! Don’t forget that you can always find a pal to play Fast4 tennis on the TennisPAL app.