Jr. Team Tennis Nationals are a bustling, busy time - 30 teams, playing hundreds of matches and using almost 2,000 tennis balls from start to finish - so a great organizational effort is needed by many different staffers and volunteers to keep the event in step.
Scoring is one aspect of running the action at the Surprise Tennis & Racquet Complex that you may be surprised to learn is run by one person - Jerry Thorner of Active.com, the man that knows before anyone else who winds up on top of the standings.
Entrenched inside the tournament desk tent, Thorner handles all the data entry of scorecards for each matchup that takes place during Jr. Team Tennis Nationals. After receiving the handwritten scorecards, he puts the data into the TennisLink system on USTA.com, where kids, coaches and parents can go almost immediately to find out their official scores and rankings.
"Prior to the event, all of the administration work is done within TennisLink beforehand where we set everything up," said Thorner, who is Active's Senior Technical Account Manager & IT Outsourcer for TennisLink.
When it came time to determine the top four teams from the Advanced & Intermediate divisions, Thorner was on the case - within minutes, it was determined that USTA Northern, Southern, Florida and Midwest would be playing for the Intermediate crown, while USTA Eastern, Southern California, Southern & Texas would vie for the Advanced title.
"Each match is assigned a specific scorecard and match number. We take that information and put it into the system, adding in who plays in which positions, and then enter the scores. The system then knows all the rules and regulations behind the scenes and can calculate the stats and standings for us."
Thorner - also doubling as a friendly face, greeting those who come to the desk with their questions and concerns - has worked in various capacities at USTA League and Jr. Team Tennis events for 12 years and is always impressed by the atmosphere of USTA national events:
"The people here make the environment special - the kids, especially," said Thorner. "Whether they're winning or losing, you know they're getting enjoyment out of being here. The staff also makes a big difference, coming from all across the country and providing perspectives from their respective areas.
88 different scorecards will be processed when all is said and done in Surprise - and from those calculations, a national champion will be crowned.