Tournament numbers down
THE Lismore Open and Ballina New Year Open have felt the sting of Tennis Australia changing to an online entry system for 2012.
The Ballina tournament is down 100 players from last year after many failed to register in time.
"We're only going to have about half the number of players we had last year," Ballina Tennis Club president John Whitty said.
"Tennis Australia has switched to an online entry system that has a 14-day cut- off before the competition.
"We generally get most of our entries coming in between Christmas and New Year, and a lot of players didn't know."
Regular drawcard Mark Draper was among those who missed out on entry.
However, home town favourite and defending champion of both tournaments Brendan Moore will return as the No 1 seed.
Moore is ranked 26th in Australia and will be challenged by Brisbane players Luke Jerry and Brad Clues.
Ethan Coker (Raymond Terrace) will be the No 2 seed in the Lismore tournament with Jacob Sullivan (Grafton) the No 2 at Ballina.
Whitty expects some positives to come out of the situation.
"With a bit of luck it might open it up a bit and some players might surprise us," he said.
"There are a lot of seeded players who I haven't seen much of before that are obviously pretty handy.
"We were unlucky that we were the first two tournaments of the year and the players obviously weren't used to the new system.
"Hopefully we can return to normal next year."
In other changes, the Lismore tournament will not be an open draw, with three rounds of qualifying matches before the main draw begins.
"The idea is to avoid 6-0 6-0 scorelines and have some better matches in the main draw," tournament director John Stoddart said.
The Lismore tournament begins today, with qualifying rounds expected to run through to tomorrow afternoon.
The Ballina tournament, which starts on Friday, has been reduced to a three-day format this year instead of the usual four days.
There will be a total of $10,500 prizemoney for the two tournaments.