Men’s Nationals qualifications

For the last several years, the draw for this event has been below 64 teams and, to break even financially, this tournament had to have at least 90 teams participating. APTA Directors John Packard and Bradley Drowne volunteered to study the issue and recommended a change that they felt would get at least 96 teams participating. Their suggestion was to allow those who had reached the third round of an APTA-sanctioned tournament to be eligible to play.

Mr. Drowne, a five-year veteran of the men’s tournament committee, wrote a carefully considered explanation of the circumstances involved in this issue.

“The APTA introduced qualifying criteria for entering the Men’s Nationals in 1976 and prior to that the Men’s Nationals had always drawn 128 teams. There were three reasons why this was so:
• In the 1950′s and 1960′s, the Men’s Nationals were “virtually the only tournament open to newcomers.” Apart from this prestigious event, there were scrambles, closed state tournaments, and a very few invitationals that were extremely difficult to get into.
• Having nine courts, Fox Meadow Tennis Club, site of all Nationals except 1973′s, could handle 128 teams.
• The decision was made to hold the event over two weekends.

In 1975, the Men’s Tournament Committee began thinking about limiting the number of entries. There were several reasons. For one, there were many more tournaments around the country for every level of player and the feeling was that the Nationals should be reserved for the better players and it need not be a ‘proving ground’ for new players, since people could enter regional events. Further, it had become evident that the facilities of Fox Meadow were “inadequate” for 256 players and their wives. At the same time, it was felt that, for the good of the game, the Nationals should be moved every two or three years to other areas. Doing this would necessitate smaller draws to conform to the fewer courts at any other major site. The Men’s Tournament Committee also concluded in its mid-1970′s review that the Nationals should be held over a three-day weekend, rather than on two successive weekends, because of the complexities of the weather, travel plans and illness; this meant limiting the draw to less than 80 teams.

Limiting the draw for these reasons now appeared to be too restrictive, resulting in some good local teams not being eligible to play. Meanwhile, the better regional teams traditionally boycotted the Nationals because of the travel cost, even though they could easily qualify.”

Drowne believed that the proposed change offering eligibility to any player who reaches the third round of a sanctioned tournament represented a promising compromise. The qualifications would be relaxed enough to accommodate most of the talented players around the country who wished to compete.