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I am 42 going on 43 and really getting into the ITF's.  I figure there are many other players out there that go and travel to the various ones.  It would be nice to hear positive stories and be informed about certain venues that may or may not be worth going to.  For example, my friend did a euro circuit and ended up playing on red clay in the rain--which is very, very common, but being a flat hitter and net player, this style of play was not very suited to his game.  The temperatures were very friendly, but the rain made it extremely chilly also.  Being from Hawaii, I didn't realize you don't stop play for a drizzle.  These are the stories I would like to hear.

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The Grades in ITF tournaments are the cool thing.  Thailand has a Grade 2 tournament in Pattaya to be held on November 19-26.  Last year, it was besieged by a bunch of first round walk overs.  If you saw Hangover 2, perhaps that could be true or maybe not.  First, the heat is pretty tough.  It's easily 35 C or 92 F with oppressive humidity.  Second, Pattaya doesn't sleep so if you want to you can find a party until the sun rises and continues.  A certain Aussie told me he had slept 12 hours in the past four days, but he did make it to the quarterfinals.  A Frenchman once partied there for three days straight.  It's that kind of a town.  The courts are nice with two facilities.  Royal Cliff is very, very slow while Siam Bayshore is faster and shadier.  Winning one round at a Grade Two is like winning a Grade Five.  The key to your ranking is to play the higher grades.  By winning two rounds at this tournament, it pushed me up to a top 300 ranking.  So look around and see if you can find the higher grade tournaments.  Hope to see you in Pattaya

Partying and playing tennis don't mix too well. :)

Sounds like the ITF system is better than the USTA system. What do you think, Gary?

I've been to the USTA Nationals--where they break you into round robins-- 17 sections of the USTA--you play four other regions--top four advance to a semis.  That's fun but hard to party until you're out because it's a team thing.  ITF is individual plus you play one match a day--you know the early round are easier, but at the USTA--it's by NTRP the matches are tough.


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