What is this Compass Draw tournament coming to the Capital Region?

If you like competitive pickleball, playing new opponents and enjoy driving to different courts in the Capital Region, you should check out the Compass Draw tournament proposed in the area.

A Compass Draw is an intriguing format where teams play a “tournament” that stretches out over the course of weeks and months. The tournament organizer tells you (via a slick website) who your next opponent is, and you have two weeks to arrange a match with that opponent. Everyone plays at least five matches.

I interviewed Tom Polk, founder of Compass Draw Tournaments about the Capital Region tournament.

You can also watch the extended version of the interview, where Polk talks about how he pivoted from a career in computer science to launching Compass Draw Tournaments.

An attractive feature of the compass draw is that losing teams keep playing, but they move into different brackets. The idea is that even the losing teams will eventually find well-matched competition.

Tom White, of Scotia, played in a compass draw in North Carolina and encouraged Polk to launch one in the Capital Region.

“It’s like you are in a tournament but you don’t have to travel to some place far away and you don’t have to sit around in a gym waiting for matches,” said White. White and his wife, Peggy, started playing pickleball when they retired a few years ago.

I will attempt to explain how the Compass Draw unfolds – it’s not easy – but I’m also including a video made by Tom Polk that probably does it better.

Imagine a the standard March Madness bracket but it has a mirror bracket going in the opposite direction. All the teams start in the middle. The winning teams move right, or East, like on a compass. The losing teams move West. Winners in the East bracket keep moving East. Winners in the West bracket keep moving West.  Losers in the East bracket move North to a new bracket and losers in the West move South to a new bracket. Basically, if you win, you play in harder matches and if you lose, you play in easier matches with the goal of finding equally matched competition no matter what your skill level.

And then, the match results from the first four rounds are used to seed the teams for a Final Draw, another series of matches that will end with two winners: the winner of the winner’s bracket and the winner of the consolation bracket. There are even prizes.

The whole thing costs $20 per player to participate or $25 if you play in a singles event.

You will also be able to see the competitors and how they are doing, as the brackets start to fill in based on match scores.

It takes commitment from participants because players must arrange matches and report the scores. Teams have two weeks to play each match. Substitutes are allowed. Matches will begin on May 1, and registration starts April 1.

» Sign up for the Compass Draw Capital Region mailing list by March 17 and you will be entered into a raffle for some Compass Draw swag. Here’s the link to the mailing list: https://compassdraw.com/pickleball/capitaldistrict

Sign up ASAP to demonstrate there is enough interest to run the tournament here.

Every player/doubles team will get a minimum of 5 matches, each of which consist of a best-of-five game series. The tournament plays out over the course of 8 to 12 weeks depending on the number of players registered. 

Six divisions are being offered but will only run if enough people sign up:

  • Women’s 3.0 Doubles (2.5 thru 3.4)
  • Women’s 3.5+ Doubles (3.5 and up)
  • Men’s 3.0 Doubles
  • Men’s 3.5+ Doubles
  • 3.0 Mixed Doubles
  • 3.5+ Mixed Doubles

If players want other options, email Tom White at tomwhite3@gmail.com to express your interest. Here are some possibilities:

  • Men’s 3.0 Singles 
  • Men’s 3.5+ Singles
  • Women’s 3.0 Singles
  • Women’s 3.5+ Singles
  • Co-ed 2.5 (2.0 thru 3.0 with no gender restrictions)
  • Separate age 55+ divisions for any of the above

Visit  https://compassdraw.com/pickleball/capitaldistrict for complete details about how Compass works.  If you have questions not answered on the website, you can ask Tom White here: tomwhite3@gmail.com or email the tournament director, Tom Polk, at CapitalDistrictCompassDraw@gmail.com.

Let your friends know about it too.