A Grassroots Approach to Reducing the Number of Foreign Roster Spots in US College Tennis

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

The Men’s ITA Indoor Tournament just ended. A public university, Oklahoma (6/11 US players), beat a private university, University of Southern California (8/12 US players), in the final. Why is that pertinent? Today’s Guest Post looks at the prevalence of international students on public university tennis teams (click here to read another recent article on this topic). The article is brought to you by a Fellow Tennis Parent who prefers to remain anonymous as her child is currently starting the college recruiting process. Please feel free to share your thoughts in the Comments below.

American tennis parents bemoan the fact that many college tennis rosters are filled with foreign players. After spending upwards of $15K a year for training for 6-10 years, many find their investment lands their student a preferred walk on spot on a D1 team or a spot on a DIII team with no athletic scholarships. Due to 10-15+ hours of training during the  week and tournaments at least two weekends a month, their student may not have had the time to take the toughest courses or study to earn the top grades for an academic scholarship.  NCAA and ITA have no interest in lobbying for reduced foreign roster spots. Parents of underclassmen may consider sending their players to ITFs to booster their chances to attract a college coach who selects recruits based on ITF ranking, but playing ITFs means missing up to a week of school, not a realistic prospect for public school players. What’s a parent to do?

Parents can lobby administrators at their state public university system, their state legislators, the presidents of the student organizations of colleges with majority foreign rosters, and the athletic directors at those same colleges. They can write the lead newspapers in their state. This is a pocketbook issue for American students and parents, and money talks. American taxpayers and/or student fees fund most of the budget for non-revenue sports on college campuses. Why should they be funding 100% foreign teams?  How will nonathletic students feel about their fees funding a coach’s recruiting trips to Europe and South America?

According to a January 2015 report by CBS 6 in Richmond, most students at public universities in Virginia pay at least a $700 subsidy from the student activity fee to fund athletic teams on their campus. The state’s Joint Legislative Audit and Review Commission (JLARC) discovered that 12% of students’ cost of attending public school in state goes to athletics. If you live in the mid-Atlantic section, you already have a legislator, Kirk Cost, looking into reducing the athletic subsidies from student activity fees: http://wtvr.com/2015/01/07/delegate-wants-to-reduce-student-athletic-fees-that-can-costs-kids-thousands/

We can work both to save college tennis and ensure spots for American players by asking for this same information in our own states.  Tennis is a sport that requires discipline, and most of the time, tennis players are also good students.  If you look at the roster of public university tennis teams for mid major D1 and D2, the few US players are primarily in state players because most are receiving 25% ride or less-some are preferred walk ons, but their tuition is low due to in state tuition and or academic discounts, e.g.  some states reduce tuition fees or pay tuition for the in state tuitions with a B+ average. If teams are composed of in state players, recruiting and scholarship costs could be trimmed to reduce the impact to nonathletic student fees and help ensure the long term future of the team on campus. If coaches continue to recruit mostly foreign players, they will kill the golden goose.  Foreign parents have no leverage to argue to save a team. In state tax-paying player parents do.

In my state, there is a local tennis organization with 80,000 members. I plan to write that organization and ask that they write an article in their bimonthly magazine that reviews the portion of international tennis players at each public university in our state. Those 80,000 pay taxes that fund our state colleges, and many have tennis playing children who they hope will play tennis at state schools sometime in the future.  If those parents realize at some state schools there are no US players, yet their tax dollars and their children’s activity fees are funding foreign programs-double whammy- they may want to use the clout of thousands of letters to promote change.

The writing is on the wall.  Athletic departments are cutting costs. Even football programs with winning records are being cut at some schools. We have more of an argument to keep college tennis if the teams are composed of smart in state students who will give back to the state in the future in the form of taxes.  The top D1 public schools in my state do a great job of attracting the in state blue chip and 5 stars with a few foreigners, and they still have very successful, fan watching programs.  We need to translate the success of the top D1 programs in using homegrown talent to the mid-tier and D2 programs.  If only a handful of programs limit foreign players, then the teams with majority foreign players will continue to win.  However, if over a period of time, grassroots state organizations of tennis parents work with the public university system, athletic directors, and college coaches to voluntarily reduce the number of foreign players on each team, all public teams will be on a level playing field, and majority American teams will have a chance to win championships even at the D2 level.

I think many American players 3 star or higher could compete with foreign players by their sophomore year if they had a chance to practice with foreign players their freshmen year. Many foreign school structures allow students to graduate when they are 16 or 17; they are finished after the equivalent of the US junior year in high school. 16 and 17 year old foreign players can sign up for an SAT class and English class and say they are still in school for NCAA regulations even though they have graduated. They can continue to compete for 12 months post-graduation.  They can play a full year of ITFs. How can public school attending players with a full load of courses compete with same age foreign players with a full year of ITFs behind them?  US players can only compete for 6 months after graduation.

One reason I believe US junior players are competitive with foreign players is data from the Universal Tennis. I can look at the ratings of current college players and the rankings of junior players. At many of the instate D2 schools with 0-2 US players, there are already 4 star junior players in 9-12th grade ranked at a competitive level of those college’s line 5 and 6 singles, yet those schools are not recruiting US players. Some D2 schools have strong relationships with overseas recruiting agencies that are paid by foreign parents; it is the path of least resistance for coaches to sign eager recruits from the same academies and/or countries that have provided successful recruits in the past. A hard-hitting article from a state newspaper asking those coaches why they are recruiting foreign players when there are similarly UTR ranked players available instate could force those coaches to take a second look.

We can use the power of social media to help our cause. Foreign players don’t have to be eliminated from teams. Most parents want parity; a chance for their US players to be an active participant, not a benchwarmer on a college team. Foreign players are poised, mature, self-starters; I have met several of them, and I can understand why they are attractive to college coaches, but they don’t deserve all the spots or the majority of the spots on college teams. We need to come up with a twitter tag, Facebook page etc.  Here’s one I came up with in 10 minutes: #50foreigninfive or #3F50 meaning that our goal would be for public university teams to have a roster of 50% or less foreign players which means 50% or more US players in 5 years, e.g. 2020/2021. The 50 in five could also mean 50% of scholarship dollars go to US players. I even came up with a potential logo. Since I don’t have a marketing background (I am a CPA ),  I would welcome any of you parents with a marketing or graphics background to create better hashtags and logos. Logos could be put on buttons, T-shirts, etc.  that parents could wear to tourneys, adult league events, etc. to promote discussion of this issue.

3f50

Don’t whine about your son’s chances to play on a college tennis team. ACT! Those of you with middle school players, please step up to help. Parents of players already of recruiting age may not want to sign letters to coaches or ADs, but they can do research and write legislators, state tennis organizations, state tennis pro organization. Here is your to do list:

  • Lobby NCAA so foreign players and US players have the same post-graduation rules. Either allow US graduates to compete 12 months post-graduation or clamp down on foreign students and tighten the rules about what graduation means. If they finished school at 16, then just allow them 6 months to compete too
  • Lobby USTA/ITF to attempt to get more ITFs on US soil. For such a large population of tennis players, our country may have a disproportionately small portion of ITFs. If that is the case, it is probably because ITF does not want to step on USTA toes. However most of us know USTA rankings have limited value; we put more stock on other ranking systems. If college coaches want to see ITF rankings, we need more ITFs here. Maybe some of the popular national bowls that were cut could be reborn as US ITFs
  • Form a group with other tennis parents from your state. Research the amount of foreign players on state public school rosters. Write the public universities, athletic directors, legislators, etc. in your state to promote gradual change. Remind those coaches with 100% foreign players that they are most at risk of cut programs if they do not have any in state players.  Who will cry if their program is cut? Create a website with the Emails  of the above stakeholders. Write the lead newspapers in your state. There is some risk to these actions. Programs could be cut. However, if 1-2 100% foreign programs are cut, other D2 college coaches may have an epiphany and realize the value of US players, especially those in state in saving their programs.
  • Encourage college coaches to look at UTR rankings. If your son can’t attend ITFs due to school, that ranking system allows coaches to compare your son to current college players and foreign players without playing ITFs.
  • Attend the matches of college programs in your state that already have 50% US players. If you write articles, praise those coaches. On your state Facebook page, maybe create a green/yellow/red light system. Green light is for programs that already have 50% or more US players, yellow is for programs that commit to change but aren’t there yet, and red is for coaches who don’t respond or have 100% foreign players
  • Write your state association for tennis pros, and if you are a pro, get involved. It’s the trickle down theory. If parents hear that US players aren’t not earning spots on college teams, parents will quit sending their sons to academy. If you are a pro, that will affect your bottomline. Get involved in this fight to have parity on college tennis teams. You may be a former international player now residing in the states. I hope you see the benefit of a balance between foreign and domestic players in our quest to both save college tennis and spots for US players.
  • Be willing for your child to look into D2 programs. Some D2 coaches will argue their team is mostly foreign because there were no US players interested. I don’t think that is true anymore. With the rise in college tuition, many parents and players are interested in instate colleges. D2 programs may be a great fit for 3 and 4 star players. However, in many states, the public D2 programs are 80%+ foreign, a much higher % foreign than D1.

This is a list of ideas that one tennis parent brainstormed in a couple hours. If we put our collective brainpower together, we can come up with multiple ideas to promote US players on college teams. Parents of daughters, I don’t mean to ignore you, please get involved. However, it’s the boys teams most in danger of being cut and/or losing American slots.

Here are some additional articles to read:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/05/07/college-sports-on-student-fees_n_1497376.html

http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/15/athletics-cost-colleges-students-millions/2814455/

http://www.athleticscholarships.net/2012/03/08/international-athletes-recruited-college-tennis.htm

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-12561545

 

71 Comments on “A Grassroots Approach to Reducing the Number of Foreign Roster Spots in US College Tennis”

  1. As a NCAA Division II tennis coach, I agree and disagree with the statements made in this article. Before you go dismissing my opinions, please hear me out.

    I grew up in the southeast U.S. and played tennis on scholarship for a division II college. I have coached over a hundred players as juniors that have gone on to play collegiate tennis. This list includes the No.1 singles player in NCAA Division I men’s singles and a previous NCAA Division I women’s singles champion. It also includes numerous players who played at smaller NCAA DI and DII colleges including: Elon, Appalachian State, College of Charleston, Lees McRae, Belmont Abbey, Lenoir Rhyne, Queens and many others.

    As a NCAA Division II college coach, I can tell you that there are many players from the U.S. who could be an integral part of our team that are rated from two-stars to four-stars by Tennisrecruiting.net. However, many times those players dismiss NCAA Division II schools and THEY CHOOSE to go to a smaller NCAA DI school and play at the bottom of the lineup or go to a larger NCAA DI school and play club tennis or do not play at all.

    I am all about offering players from the U.S. the opportunity to play college tennis. But like any coach who is striving to develop the best program they can, you have to find the players somewhere.

    I will give you an example.

    I started my current coaching position one month ago. The coach passed away first of the year after a short illness. He was a very respected coach who was named national coach of the year on two occasions and was known for recruiting American tennis players throughout his career.

    Knowing that I am late in the game to be recruiting players for the coming fall season, I put out notices on several tennis coaching groups on facebook that reached across the country and the world stating that I had significant scholarship monies available for both men and women. The result?

    I had only three potential American men recruits contact me. Not one American female contacted me regarding my post. I realize this is late in the process for many American players who typically decide their collegiate fate in December of their senior year, but I have to fill three positions on the women’s team and four positions on the men’s team.

    I also reached out last week via email to each player in our state and surrounding states that has not made a verbal commitment to a team according to tennisrecruiting.net. Again, no responses to date.

    My recruiting board has 34 female candidates and 42 male candidates for this fall. A combined 14 players are Americans and only 3 of those would make the top six on our team.

    American players receive much more academic and financial aid from our school and foreign players. I typically have to use much more of my very limited tennis scholarship money on foreign players to bring them in.

    My point is that I 100% agree that American college tennis should have more American players competing. However, until American players become more willing to compete for NCAA Division II colleges, many coaches are left with no choice but to recruit more international players to fill roster positions.

    And by the way, I still have those scholarships available for any willing players out there who are interested.

    Scott Handback
    Head Men’s & Women’s Tennis Coach
    Lenoir Rhyne University
    Hickory, North Carolina

  2. Lisa, great thoughts and ideas. We started the recruiting process with our daughter starting in the 8th grade. Every summer, tournaments included college visits…scheduled admissions sessions and campus tour followed by a visit with the tennis coach. We would write down all our questions ahead of time by starting with our daughter’s own questions. After each visit we bought a souvenir, had lunch and talked about what we learned and updated our questions for the next new school. It was fun and our daughter’s poise and confidence around college coaches bloomed! She made her commitment in January of her junior year. What we learned: the established dedicated college coaches share recruit information with one another and help each other find recruits. As We visited more schools, the coaches already knew about our daughter. This was an important self discovery process for our daughter, she realized her priorities in deciding which college she wanted to attend and was ready for that commitment early. (She was a top 50 recruit) She had a relaxed Senior year and used that time to connect with her future teammates and become familiar with the routines and expectations before her campus arrival.

    We learned from the coaches…. Coaches have to prepare their season schedule a year in advance ( or more) . The stronger the schedule the higher the need for strong players. Foreign players will commit early or get back with a coach on their decision in a timely manner. American players aren’t prepared to make commitments when the time arrives leaving coaches in a state of uncertainty and scrambling for players hence Foreigners in the lineups. This is not the whole picture but we are doing this to ourselves. We also learned coaches appreciated the opportunity to educate us on the recruiting process from a school/coach perspective when we met with them before being “eligible”.

    Coaches are equally interested in the recruit’s off court conditioning routines, their interest of program study, etc. If a recruit demonstrates they are prepared to handle the rigors and want to attend the school above other schools, they have put themselves in contention for an offer. If a coach chooses to share scholarship info and program aide info that is a signal a recruit is a contender for an offer. Coaches are selling you their program and looking to “hire” you into their program “when” they share their scholarship and program benefits. If a coach doesn’t volunteer the info, that’s because they don’t see a good fit or sense you are disingenuous …only there to mine for info. Always follow up with an email summarizing what you learned and express appreciation for their time given to you.

    I too am frustrated by the lack of American players making the rosters.

    This is not absolute and true for every coach/program but it was consistent in our experiences with the established programs and schools we made contact with during our rewarding journey of discovery and education of the college recruiting process.

    Karen Haviland

  3. Having coached as an Asst for 3 yrs I agree with Coach Handback, many of the American kids will not even peak at the smaller D1 much less D2 schools, in many ways it is easier to recruit similar or better Foreign kids who are excited to play anywhere and in many cases much less maintenance than an American kid coming in with sense of entitlement.
    As far as ITF lack of tournaments and following same Amateur/Graduation rules I agree it needs to be addressed and enforced.
    Until American kids in the 2* and up range choose to look at smaller schools outside of P5’s then Foreign Players will continue to show up and take “spots” to compete as Coaches are paid to win and graduate their players.

  4. Without internationals you would have no college tennis. So if you want to destroy college tennis then yes bring in a rule to prevent internationals and we can have 20 really really strong teams and the rest just making up the numbers. The 20 strong teams can play amongst themselves as they wont want to play against the others. Would be a disaster. Junior college tried it for a few years and have reverted back as they know it doesn’t work and they struggled to fill teams and the standard dropped. I have coaches every single day trying very hard to fill their rosters, they are desperate to fill them but don’t have enough players who want to join the team. So there are plenty of places and those places sometimes get filled by internationals because Americans don’t want to go there. So an American either needs to work harder so they can choose to go to the big time college tennis teams or they change their sights and like internationals, they choose to go anywhere they can to make the team and play tennis.

    1. Please understand that no one is looking to prevent international players from playing NCAA tennis. This is about setting a limit on the number of international players who can receive scholarships.

  5. From my observation of collegiate tennis fans who come to matches tend to be mostly local. I rarely see fans drive hours as they might for football or basketball. Doesn’t it just make sense to get more players who played in the area or regionally to get more spectators to come and support the teams?

    I totally understand why the coaches get foreign players but I would like to see some sort of a limit to apply to all ncaa teams to level the playing field.

    I for one will not be attending matches nor supporting teams with mostly non US players. Why should I support a system that decreases my son’s chance of playing collegiate tennis.

    Keep this up college tennis and no one will care if your programs fold. Why? Because I and other parents will be talking/writing to donors about this situation.

  6. Karen, how did you set up meetings with coaches before your daugher was “eligible?’ Were a lot of coaches around during the summer? It seems like many would be on vacation or busy running summer camps. Of course if they were running camps, I guess they could meet parents and players unofficially during breaks. It is confusing to me how to handle communication prior to eligibility jr year. I know players can Email or call coaches but they can’t call back. Did your daughter just get lucky and happen to reach the coaches when they were available? One idea I had for my son to contact coaches is for him to watch one of the team college matches, send an Email saying how much he enjoyed watching, say he was interested playing in a few years, and that he would be back in touch early his junior year with video. However, I dont know if coaches even want to get any Emails without video. My son finally grew so we ordered some video of a semifinal match he won in Regionals and maybe that can be turned into a recruiting video this spring before waiting until his junior year.

    Thanks coaches who are reading this blog. It really helps us parents to hear what you are thinking. If D1 goes no ad and D2 doesnt, you may get a lot more interest in D2. Since D2 schools are smaller than D1 and usually have lower prof:student ratio, my 4 star player has both mid tier D1 and D2 schools on his list. How soon is too soon for a player to contact a coach? Does it depend on the player level? A lot of freshmen and sophs now are playing ITF qualifiers and playing up some 18s sectionals. What is the best way for underclassmen to show interest? Call athletic dept to arrange unofficial visit? I now see a few players verbally commiting in January of their junior year. What is your advice for upperclassmen. I envy Karen and her daugher that they finished recruiting early and she has a relaxed senior year. it sounds like a win win for coach and player to have decisions made early as long as player doesnt get injured.

    Also coaches what is the best way to ask a coach for a referral to another school? Many kids may have gone to summer college camps and made positive impressions on coaches, but may not be a good fit academically or athletically for that particular university. Is it OK to Email a coach for a referral if you think the coach would remember your player?

    1. I’m not Karen (!), but I’ll reply to some of your questions since we recently went through all this recruiting stuff. 🙂

      Your son can contact coaches any time. If you’re going to be in a city where there’s a college he’s interested in, then he can email or call the coach and let him know that he’d love to stop by to see the tennis facilities and say hello. There’s no reason a player should wait until his or her junior year to start contacting these coaches. He can send emails after a particularly good tournament result or a coaching change or any other progress in his game to keep the coaches updated on his progress and to show his interest in the schools.

      In terms of showing interest (you asked about that in the 2nd paragraph), he should be contacting the coaches directly – they are the ones who arrange visits in conjunction with the Athletic Department. Also, we know many players who committed early, did wind up injured, but the college coach honored the commitment – a high school injury doesn’t necessarily mean disaster in terms of college play.

      We also experienced asking coaches for referrals. My son spoke with a couple of college coaches with whom he had developed a rapport over the years and asked them to put in a word for him with other schools – they were more than happy to help! Please note, though, that all this came directly from my son, NOT ME – please encourage your son to do the work and to be the one contacting these coaches. From what I’ve been told on many occasions, the college coaches really don’t want to hear from us parents until it’s time to talk about an offer. They want to meet us and get to know a little about us, but, really, this is about the player. 🙂

  7. First thanks for publishing this article and thanks also to the coaches for sharing their opinions and perspective. I appreciate the difficulty for a coach who is paid to produce the best team possible and whose continued employment depends on winning. I now also better understand the challenge for the D2 and less familiar D1 school coaches.

    But, here is what I still don’t understand. There are a large number of top tier D1 schools who are primarily filled with foreign players. I looked at Tennis Recruiting Network and here are some of the schools that from 2011 – 2014 almost exclusively filled their rosters with foreign players: Va Tech, Baylor, Texas Tech, Ole Miss. These are just the couple that I discovered through a very cursory look at the recruiting classes. I don’t believe that these schools have the same challenges that the D2 coaches shared with us. These are big-time D1 sports powerhouses with strong brand names. So explain to me why these coaches are ignoring American players and relying on foreign players to fill their rosters.

    I don’t have any problem integrating some foreign players into a roster, but I think that schools like the ones I mention above have basically abandoned American players and that is unfair and a dis-service to American tennis and American players. In my opinion, this is the issue that needs to be fixed — top tier D1 programs bypassing American kids. Shame on those schools and those coaches, because unlike their D2 colleagues, they definitely do have a choice.

  8. From a 2006 NY Times article entitled Foreign Pros in College Tennis (click here to read the entire piece): “Coaches, however, say they have presented credible information since 1994 and that the N.C.A.A. neither investigates in a timely and thorough fashion nor metes out significant penalties. These penalties are so lenient, coaches say, that they do not deter teams from taking chances on international players, even those with extensive professional résumés.” In July 2007, USA Today reported that the NCAA was looking into allowing junior tennis players to accept prize money prior to enrolling in college (click here for the article). In April 2012, the NCAA approved allowing junior players to earn up to $10k in prize money and maintain amateur status (click here to read more), however, once enrolled in college, they may not accept prize money in excess of any expenses incurred.

  9. I am all for giving American kids scholarships, but I think we have to be realistic. College coach of a D1, answers to his his school, and they want to see the team win. If he isn’t winning he might lose his/her job. It is my opinion that in general, keep in mind I am not saying all and this is just my opinion, foreign players are better players. I do have some experience with tennis in Europe. Most often parents and coaches don’t want to spend time and money on a player that is good, but not great. If they train at that level they train to go pro and choose college if that doesn’t work out. I can probably find several coaches who would recommend kids to coach Handback and who would jump at this opportunity, but they are all in Europe.

  10. Funny that you should mention Baylor and Texas Tech. I followed the tennis scene in the old Southwest Conference in the 1970s and 1980s. In those days, SMU was a national power, and Texas, Texas A&M, Arkansas, Houston, Rice and TCU were very good as well. Trinity University in San Antonio was still a Division 1 power that won a national title (they were D-III in other sports and are D-III in tennis now).

    That did not leave a lot of talent for Baylor and Texas Tech. To be blunt, Waco and Lubbock were not desirable destinations for vacations or tennis players. But international recruiting had not really started in the 1970s. So they recruited players who would be referred to today as 4-star recruits (there was no TennisRecruiting.net then). When they played the blue chip and five star recruits of the other schools listed, they lost every time, of course. I suppose they should still be doing the same right now? Their role in society is to provide tennis scholarships for players who cannot compete in their own conference, with few of their own students and alumni showing up to watch them lose their matches?

    Instead, what you see now is that Texas Tech and Baylor recruit overseas. As Baylor’s coach noted more than a decade ago when questioned about this, Waco, Texas, is not a prime destination for the affluent country club families of the tennis scene in America.

  11. ClarkC – Thank you for the history lesson. I appreciate understanding the roots of foreign players at those Texas schools. I have actually been to Waco and my son has played at the Baylor courts, as part of the USTA Zonal competition, and quite frankly, Waco is a lot nicer than many, many top-tier D1 schools that fill their rosters with American players. Have you ever been to Tallahassee, Florida? How about South Bend, Indiana? It is not about excuses as to why these schools can’t get American players today, in 2015, where they are brand name sports programs. It’s about them not making the effort, or not caring enough about having an American-filled team. In today’s world, Texas Tech and Baylor recruit and compete amongst the elite in football and other sports, so that empirical data supports that if they care, they can get the kids there. Perhaps it was true in the 1970’s that the bulk of American tennis players came from “country club families” but today in 2015 that’s hardly the case. Your justifications may apply to the approach 40 years ago, but have no application today. These schools are filled with foreign by choice, not by necessity.

    I’d share on additional insight. My son and I met one of the head coaches from one of the schools I mentioned above on a flight where we were headed back from a tournament. The head coach was returning from a trip to South Africa, where he was recruiting players. Consider the investment in money, time and effort to travel across the world for college recruits. If that coach had spent an equivalent amount recruiting American players, he would certainly could have filled his roster with quality American recruits. Many of these potential players have never had the level of coaching that the international players receive and have tremendous upside potential. That is where the coach actually has to apply his skill and determine which American juniors are players he can recruit and improve versus just recruiting older, foreign players, who are already there. Yeah, it’s harder work, and often that is why American players are bypassed.

  12. A comment on Jon Wertheim’s piece on SI.com: “To discuss the replacing of Americans with foreign players, I believe Wertheim has the right perspective and “rustamtahir” cannot see the core problem. Coaches are supposed to win. If you allow them to pick the world and reject the American pipeline if some foreigners come cheaper and with better odds of success, they will. So a long distance track power recruits Kenyans, Ethiopians and a stray Somali or two to fill his entire squad. Has them housed in a cheap off campus house,, maybe with the Jamaican sprinters on scholarship – and gives them classes like “team communication” and “rocks for jocks”.

    “Soon word gets to promising American long distance runners in High School and sometimes earlier – that several colleges that once offered scholarships to Americans have now gone into training the Kenyan, Tanzanian, Somali, and Ethiopian Olympic squads.

    “This is countered by proponents of foreign athletes dominating some sports is that Americans don’t care if we don’t win or compete, “just as long as we can see the best play, and Be Inspired!”.

    “No, like when liberals used Title IX and decimated the minor mens sports, American wrestlers were not Inspired by them being able to watch the best Russians, Turks and Iranians….they simply went on to sports that did offer some better rewards for working hard and being successful. Or if big enough, went for the ultimate fighter path..

    “And if there is nothing but US-trained and subsidized foreigners doing well in a sport…Americans will not only leave the sport but be less inclined to support it. The 10K loss is the extreme sports gain. And while the Marathon has turned into a participant sport and popular on that level – few care who the skinny Africans were that had 15 of the 20 top spots. . “

  13. For one thing, other sports are different. Football players will go to Lubbock and Waco, even though they are not the French Riviera, for various reasons. They get a full scholarship to play in a major conference, and they seem to have a different attitude about this than tennis players. However, there are other non-revenue sports besides tennis that do not have the huge pool of overseas talent available, because their sport is not as popular overseas as tennis, and in many cases these teams simply do not really compete for conference championships. When you can only offer partial scholarships, a lot of things need to be right about your school and location in order to get the top players in non-revenue sports.

    So you think that these coaches could compete for conference championships with American recruits and for some reason they choose not to do so?

  14. I have heard this idea about taking American recruits and doing a good job of coaching them so they catch up with the blue-chip recruits many times in these discussions. If it is really possible, what examples can be named? If no examples can be named, why assume it is possible?

    I am not sure what you are saying about Tallahassee and South Bend, so I am not sure how to respond to that without some clarification.

  15. Clark there is one way to test this idea of developing US recruits. TRN keeps archived lists of graduates. One could take 2012 graduates, look at the 3 or 4 stars that committed to D1 schools, and then look at team schedules to see if these guys actually play or if they are benchwarmers. However we need some parameters for a good test. Define what good coaching would be in measurable terms. Is it a 3 star that ends up playing line 5 or 6? Or is it a 3 or 4 star from 2012 who now has the same UTR ranking or plays the same line singles as another player in that conference who was a blue chip or 5 star in 2012? The best way to do this analysis would be to use raw scores not stars, e.g to look for any players above 200 on TRN who are major contributors at a D1 school.

    I think most parent’s concern is not that their 3 or 4 star is being undervalued vs a blue chip or 5 star US player. We all recognize the validity of TRN, and blue chips are better than 3 stars. The concern is comparing apples to oranges-US players ranked on USTA/TRN and international players ranked by ITFs. ATP, etc.. Of course there is overlap as the homeschooled 5 star and blue chips are playing ITFs. The concern is that some coaches automatically assume foreign players are better. If UTR is a valid ranking system (it is new-what do people think), there are a lot of junior players ranked similar in level to foreign players. I could easily list 10 4 star freshmen or sophs in my state that are ranked on UTR just as high as a senior international student who had some iTF points and earned a 75% ride. If I look at D2 and midtier D1 rosters in my state, the UTR rankings of line 5 and 6 average 11-there are tons of US underclassmen at that level. We are talking about the kids on TRN from 70-250-kids that wont go to a top D1 school but could contribute to many other schools as underclassmen unless coaches dont even look.because in their minds it is either top 60 US or international

    When the international players, the homeschool US players and the public school players end up on the same team in college, they are finally on a level playing field. The latter group has the most potential for upward growth. Former homeschoolers not used to the academic load might struggle,. For the first time publicly schooled players who already know how to balance school and tennis are able to practice the same amount of time as the others who may have practiced 1.5x-2x as much in high school. However these players with upward potential may have the least visibility to coaches who prefer foreign players as they are the least likely to miss school to play ITFs.

    Here is another test for 4 stars on TRN. Pick a school in your state or a neighboring state that has a mostly foreign roster. Add that school to your schools of interest. See if the coach looks at your player’s roster. Over the last 12 months, none of the 8 public D2 coaches have looked at my player’s profile; one looked 13 months ago.. 4/5 public D1s in my state have taken at least one look-even ones that recruit 5 stars- probably just to check him out as the opponent of a higher recruit. Excluding D3, about 30 D1/D2/NAIA schools have looked at my son’s profile. The only D2s were private ones. Players keep hearing the message look beyond D1-there’s lots of opportunity but I dont see that. D2 is where I think coaches need to be encouraged to look at US players.

    Some schools with foreign rosters may not be looking at TRN at all. You can argue that a coach may recruit foreign players because they need them to win, but how do you feel about coaches at public universities who dont even try to recruit US players, they dont scout them at USTA tournaments, and they dont watch them to see if they are as good as their foreign recruits? That is what needs to change. Dont jump on a plane to nab a recruit until you have at least looked in your own backyard.

  16. Diane- I think your points are extremely well articulated. Her point, Clark, is that these D1 and D2 schools (including the brand name D1 schools I mention above amongst many others) do not make enough effort to recruit from the available US players. I disagree that tennis is different and the US players will not look at locations like Waco. This year, 2015, the NCAA D1 National Championships are being played in Waco! How many NCAA football or basketball championships have been held there? My point about Tallahassee and South Bend is that these are not cities that on their own are any more attractive than Waco or Lubbock, but that the coaches at FSU and Notre Dame overcome the geographical challenges and recruit some very fine teams with largely US players.

    I also appreciate the point of view from the coaches who have commented on this post regarding their inability to attract US players, and I accept that after that route has been exhausted, they have no choice, but to look at foreign recruits. However, I think to Diane’s point, it is interesting that in her limited trial, that many of the coaches did not even look at her child’s TRN profile, but instead looked overseas exclusively.

    I wrote to the coach at one of the schools I mentioned in my list of foreign-filled schools about a year ago and told the coach that my son might be interested in playing there if they changed their focus from foreign to US players. While under NCAA rules that coach could not contact me directly, he never even looked at my son’s TRN profile and never reached out to my son’s coach. So Clark, when you tell me that these schools recruit foreign kids exclusively out of need, I find, based both on Diane’s experience as well as my own, that this is a bit of a cop out, especially for the brand name D1’s that choose to follow this path of recruiting.

    One final comment on the recruiting process. I have seen a lot of college coaches at major national events as well as at our Sectional Closed Championships. Many of these coaches are from lesser known schools and they make the effort to see US players and get visibility for their programs by their presence. I think, again to Diane’s point, before coaches jet across the world to South Africa, they should fly to more local events to get to know and try to recruit US players first.

  17. Where are the specific examples of teams that recruit American kids and win in their conference against schools that seem to avoid American kids? For example, do we have a D-I mid-major conference where one team recruits almost entirely American kids and beats conference rivals who never attempted to recruit those kids? Do we know that the two schools are truly equally desirable to recruits? Do they have equal funding for scholarships? I need names. This is a phantom argument without names.

    I follow TRN very closely, and I almost never see a blue chip recruit list Texas Tech as a school of interest. For example, right now Texas has a blue chip commitment and is listed as an interest over the next four classes by three blue chips and three five stars. Texas Tech has a commitment from a five star and interest over the next four years from two five stars and zero blue chips. The interest section is telling, because players volunteer this info at an early age, even before coaches are allowed to contact them.

    As I mentioned earlier, in my youth the coach at Texas Tech just accepted that he was always going to lose to Texas et al., and his athletic director accepted that as well. Ditto for Baylor. I guess the times have changed in this respect. What do people in this discussion think Texas Tech should do? They currently have a five-star freshman who is getting a fair chance to prove himself at #6 singles and #3 doubles. The five players ahead of him are three Brazilians, a Belgian, and an IMG academy kid who has lived several places in the world before landing there. He is playing ahead of a couple of older foreign players, so he is being treated fairly. But take a look at what five-star recruits do at Texas, for example. John Mee is listed as 5-star by TRN, but was a low blue chip when he committed, before he stopped playing many tourneys. The players above him are three foreigners and two blue chips. A couple other five-stars did not ever play much; one transferred to LSU and one is injured now but would not make the top 6 if healthy. The injured player could have had in-state tuition and more playing time at Alabama or Auburn. Maybe the five-star should have gone to LSU in the first place, but coaches will tell you that they lose recruits to bigger programs where the recruits sit on the bench. This is one reason that some coaches give up on the local 4 or 5 star players and try to find comparable players overseas. Read the first comment in this discussion, from a coach. No one bothered to address his first-hand experience.

    By the way, Notre Dame has significant recruiting advantages over Texas Tech in ANY sport. Academic reputation, tradition, big name history in sports, inside track on graduates of Catholic schools, etc. Notre Dame recruits Americans almost exclusively, and they currently have a roster of two blue chips and a bunch of five stars accumulated over the last four recruiting classes. That will give them a pretty good team. In the ACC, they will always finish behind Virginia, UNC, and Duke with that kind of roster. Maybe they are fine with that status quo. Texas Tech and Baylor would be unlikely to even achieve that level if they recruited almost entirely in America, because they are a notch below Notre Dame in overall desirability.

  18. Clark, what I disagree with is the thought that for many schools there is no other way than recruiting foreign players. I think back to the article about long distance track referred to above where once American kids understood the scholarships were going to African runners, they looked to other sports. We all know that tennis has a similar challenge. In many cases, many top athletes pick football, basketball or baseball over tennis because there are more opportunities both scholarship wise and professionally. What we need to do is to have the colleges work with us to ensure that the opportunities for American players increase, not get supplanted by opportunities for foreign players. That is in the best interest of everyone in this country who is interested in tennis and the theme that started this stream of conversation.

    If I were a college coach, I’d be at local tournaments in the off season, and I’d host clinics for junior players on a regular basis. I’d look to do anything possible within NCAA rules to build the overall talent pool and level of play for juniors in my area, including generating an excitement about tennis so more athletes are drawn to the sport. I mentioned previously that my son played at Baylor for USTA Zonals. We walked away with a really good impression of Baylor from that experience. He also played Zonals in Knoxville, TN a few years before in a younger age group, but the University of Tennessee decided not to let the USTA use their courts that year because the previous year some of the kids had left a mess. OK, I get the concern over neatness and damage, but I can’t help still thinking years later, how short sighted Tennessee was to not take advantage of having top kids from multiple Sections throughout the country see their facilities and play on their courts.

    When you say Notre Dame has an inherent advantage over any other school, that is only partially true. Notre Dame used to be THE strongest draws for football recruits and had a storied history in that sport year after year. This year they had another mediocre performance and ESPN ranked their 2015 recruiting class only #13. UCLA won the NCAA basketball championships year after year under John Wooden. This year they are unlikely to even make the NCAA tournament. Even in tennis, Stanford had a long history as THE premier tennis school and no one even considered UVA or Georgia as tennis powers. Today these are amongst the schools that are consistently at the top of the Men’s college rankings while Stanford is #39 in the latest ITA rankings, right behind #38 Texas Tech. Why does #4 UVA have a primarily US-based squad when nearby #33 Va Tech, also in the ACC, has a largely foreign squad?

    In terms of TT specifically, that is exactly the school I wrote to, right after Tennis Channel featured an article on their program. That is also who I never heard back from. So, what I think TT should do is work harder to look at American kids. As far as never seeing a Blue Chip mention TT as one of their choices, I looked at every Freshman and Sophomore Blue Chip on TRN and only six Freshman and three Sophomores have ANY schools listed at all, so you cannot use that as the basis for saying that there is no interest in any particular school. The Blue Chips play it pretty close to the vest in most cases.

    Finally, anyone obsessed enough to read streams like this are clearly fans of the game of Tennis. I’d suggest again that it is in the best interest of American tennis that we look at how to develop our talent and get our players to the point where the talent pool is deep enough that we can fill rosters with more American players. Recruiting American players helps. Ignoring American players and recruiting foreign players hurts. With all due deference to the insightful comments of the coaches who have posted here, that’s the bottom line. I have no issue with foreign players as a supplement or a last resort, but I think it’s untenable that this is the principle approach employed by many schools and I support NCAA limitations (not prohibitions) and the other grass roots suggestions listed at the beginning of this stream.

  19. Here are my 2 cents. (child played on scholarship at mid. Div.1 school) It’s all about $$$. Coaches will be “ivited” by foreign recruiters with all expenses paid. Once in foreign country, they are paid “fee” if they decide to offer a scholarship to foreign player, considering a scholarship is worth 200k.

  20. First— thank you writer of “Grassroots Approach” for your excellent article that spurred comments from knowledgeable, wise, and informed coaches and parents etc. Forums like these are invaluable and (can) create a tennis community! I think we do. As a parent of a junior player (12 y) I thank you Lisa. I am invested in tennis progress and opportunities as most of us here — aligned in a common goal–well, except for those who have to answer to the all might dollar as well as expectations for success. I understand their position.

    Can we keep it simple and just? Propose an NCAA agreement (rule) for 2 foreign players per team/school
    , both Div. 1 and 2 ( Div. 3 does not offer scholarships is my understanding.) Then, this would create even better players from foreign countries as they compete for slots AND keep a space for American youngsters who are eligible for athletic scholarships/ want to improve their game/ play on a college team. Objections?

    And finally, wow… On T. Sampras’ post : Really? Div 1 coaches getting paid trips to Europe and a given a ‘fee’ wink wink if they give a $200,ooo scholarship? Wow– what have ‘we’ allowed? How many of these youngsters even ‘turn pro’? None. But they must be grateful for an education that is almost free and tons of tennis opportunity. Can we create a better system of support for our U.S. youngsters and correct the injustice of this? YES!

  21. “When you say Notre Dame has an inherent advantage over any other school, that is only partially true.” That is not at all what I said. I said that Notre Dame had an advantage over the likes of Texas Tech, not over every other school.

    I see that no one is providing the examples I asked for. Everyone thinks a coach can just “coach up” the American 4-star recruit to 5-star level, or the 5-star recruit to blue chip level, and only laziness keeps the coach from doing so. Why are there no examples that can be given in the entire country? One of the best jobs of doing this is Ty Tucker at Ohio State, yet he also generally has a top six that is half foreign. He gets American 5-stars and low blue chips and runs a redshirt program (rare in college tennis) and gets improvement over time from Ohio natives who don’t cost much in scholarship money. Peter Kobelt was a five-star who redshirted as a freshman and played #1 during his 4th and 5th years. So why doesn’t Tucker do even more of this instead of having half his lineup from overseas? Too lazy? Or is it not that simple?

    I think of Notre Dame as Ohio State minus the foreign players. They both do a great job with American 5-star and lower (non-elite) blue chips, but Ohio State finishes higher in the rankings every year and even won an indoor title last year. So, is Notre Dame the better model for what coaches should do, or Ohio State?

    Certain schools and locations have a harder time recruiting tennis players than others. Football recruits have a different attitude. Virginia Tech is better than Virginia in football, and Virginia is better in almost every other sport besides football. It is not just in tennis. Why do you suppose? Likewise, a school like Mississippi State is often good in football and baseball, but not so great in other sports and needs overseas recruits to have a good tennis team. Baseball and football players will go to Starkville, but not many high-level American tennis players.

    You mentioned Georgia becoming good in tennis despite not being a traditional power decades ago. Georgia bought their way to greatness with millions of dollars in facility spending, which permitted them to become the NCAA hosts every May for eons, gaining exposure for recruits. This is not a path that others can follow, and the NCAA will not permit one school to dominate the hosting in May any more as a result of complaints about this during Georgia’s lengthy hosting streak.

    Lots of bad tennis examples and bad analogies to football. Where are the tennis examples of some coach in a not-so-great location like Lubbock or Waco or Starkville or Blacksburg who recruited almost entirely in America and caught up with the powers in his conference?

  22. Dear Parents
    I have spoken to a few coaches and one from a Division I famous school. I asked her point blank what is the criteria for recruiting and handling scholarships.

    1.- We are paid to win.
    2.- Foreigners are better ranked player and have better attitudes
    3.- Parents of the foreigners are glad and delighted their kids play.
    4.- Parents of americans could learn the attitudes of the foreign parents

    Then I spoke about how we recuit in our business and if we have a choice of an american or an american with foreign parents. The choice is very easy.

    Parents you are a big part of the problem. Face it.

  23. First, to the coach Scott, it is too late in the game in December to recruit spots for next year.
    Most players have an idea where they are going by the end of junior year of HS.

    Second to Karen, I strongly disagree with starting the recruiting process in 8th grade.
    Folks, if your kid is a good player, the coaches will reach out and get in contact with them on Sept 1st of Junior year. My son went and visited the schools informally by himself junior year, and it was better than having mom or dad there looking over his shoulder. The only time parents should get involved is to discuss the money or financial aid packages.

    There is no need to start looking at colleges in 8th grade. Let your kids be kids, and enjoy their childhood!

    Lisa, it is great that we keep on having this conversation if only to let parents of younger players ( BOYS ONLY as Title 9 skews the girl discussion) know that after they pay for group tennis lessons, private tennis lessons, sneakers, racquets, strings, tournaments and travel:

    1) There might be very little to NO scholarship money as it is being used for the foreigners.
    2) There might not be a spot on your in state university tennis team as it being taken by a foreigner.

    I think what is upsetting for tennis parents is that many of them have been lied to by tennis academies and coaches. I once watched a “free” consultation where a coach played with a boy for ten minutes to assess his skills and told his mom that if he came 3x a week ( and $$$ lessons), he would get a scholarship for tennis. Of course, the kid could barely walk without tripping over his own feet and had zero athletic ability, but the coach saw a meal ticket and a naive parent. Years later, kid has no scholarship and still is at best a rec player.

    So, a parent enters this equation with some hope of redeeming some of the $ back, and then Johnny can’t even get a spot on his State University team, and this is where you see the anger coming from the parents. And frankly, I don’t care what private universities do with anything….
    But, I do care about my state university as my taxes help support it, and it is infuriating to see an all foreign mens tennis team at a state university in this economy.

    The next generation of tennis parents needs to know how this is playing out, as I don’t see a 2 man cap every coming. The USTA doesn’t care about this issue and how it affects our juniors.
    If you hope to redeem your money, most likely you should look to another sport.

  24. Parents need to understand that the schools also have to fight to keep the programs running, and winning is one way. If parents expect to get their money back after investing in tennis they have never realized that it is from financial terms the worst investment you will make. For other terms it is the best, but not for money. Most taxes that we all pay go to support your roads, police etc, banning a few foreigners so a player with less skill can play defeats the purpose of tennis altogether. Also keep in mind, if you send your kids to famous academies it actually means that your kid is not that talented and that you have means to finance this. The really good kids are there for free. Conclusion, if you have to pay, your kids are not good enough. Remember this is a sport where only the top 10 are recognized, to get there is 1 in 20000 shot.

  25. “banning a few foreigners so a player with less skill can play defeats the purpose of tennis altogether.”

    “banning”
    No one is talking about a ban.
    We are talking about a cap.

    “defeats the purpose of tennis altogether.”
    Sorry, but it defeats the purpose of junior tennis in America when teams are all foreign in college.

    I am not sure your concerns of fielding a winning team are the concerns that I am addressing.
    I just want younger parents to be aware of the landscape because the foreigners in tennis are increasing year after year.

  26. Maybe just the foreign recruiting trips should be banned. Players should be seen on US soil. There should be more events in the US besides ITFs where potential US players and international players could both play. Wouldn’t it be great if each conference held a showcase weekend tournament in the fall for potential recruits? Or maybe sectional and/or state USTA sections could hold tournaments for high school juniors and international recruits on weekends when national junior tournaments or sectional 1/1As are not scheduled. Maybe UTR could be used for selection to choose the best US and international players among the applicants. These tournaments could be limited to 11th graders. Maybe there could be a summer tournament in each section for seniors and the fall tournaments for 11th graders. If D1 coaches attend KZoo for the blue chip and 5 star recruits, these other tournaments could be a way for coaches to compare US players outside the top 75 with international players. Maybe D2 coaches would attend. Unlike ITFs, these tourneys could have a backdraw or even be compass draw with a guaranteed 4 matches. Players could choose to attend the tournaments outside their region to have more exposure to college coaches outside their section. USTA could pilot some tournaments like this in California, Southern, Florida, Eastern, etc. There are internationals training in these sections at academies already. It would not matter if the tournament earned USTA points as long as it counted for TRN and UTR rankings and if coaches attended.These events could save coaches time and money; they could encourage recruits to attend these tournament rather than having to attend separate tournaments to view each recruit. Also these tournaments would be great for younger US juniors to watch with their parents and look for differences in US and international style of play, body language, attitude, etc.

    The USTA can create new tournaments. The New Balance tournament this summer attracted college coaches to watch players who played for their high school teams as well as USTA tournaments. There were 3 applicants for each spot the inaugural year, and I am sure it will be more competitive in future years. USTA sponsored college recruiting tournaments would be even more popular. Possibly there could be tiered tournaments with A and B divisions with blue chips/5 stars and highest internationals in A maybe UTR 13-15 and the B division for internationals, 3 and 4 stars US juniors with UTR 11-12, 64 draw held in the major sectios. College coaches who cant snag the 5 stars could watch the best of the 4 stars and see how they compete with international with similar UTR rankings. Some of you may think the ITFs already do this, but if a player gets an unlucky draw in an ITF Qualifier, one lost match and he/she is out.

  27. Not to beat a dead horse here, but the point of going to college is to get an education. It’s not to win tennis matches, or to develop American tennis players for the purpose of creating new professional athletes. Athletics is supposed to augment the educational mission. This is especially true with respect to tennis, which is not, by any stretch of the imagination, D1 college football or basketball in terms of generating income – no college tennis program, anywhere, is funding the university athletic department, and 98% of the student body, alumni, and the campus community has no idea whatsoever whether their local college or university tennis team is 12-0 at the moment, or 2-10. To that end, they very existence of women’s programs in particular is not due to popular demand, but is due instead to Title IX and the legal requirement to offset the vast amount of money devoted to men’s football and basketball.

    Having watched them place just a few weeks ago, let’s take a look at the roster of the women’s team for the University of Memphis – a public university funded by Tennessee taxpayers like myself. Australia, Wales, Ireland, Spain, Ukraine and Germany all represented, and not a single American kid on the roster. Seriously? Public funds being used, exclusively, to fund the education of foreign students. They couldn’t find one American girl that could competently swing a racquet and would have accepted a scholarship? And they are all of 7-6 on the year, so it’s not like they have purchased tremendous success. The only way schools have gotten away with this practice for so long is that the sport is too low profile for a sufficient number of people to have raised a sufficient fuss about it. The operating presumption ought to be that that US taxpayer funds allocated to subsidize public schools ought to be used to assist the children of those US taxpayers.

    Having said that, I’m all for having some foreign players. Multiculturalism and diversity enhance the educational experience for everyone. However, stacking the teams of American colleges and universities either exclusively or predominantly with foreign players is both lazy and shameful. I’m reasonably confident it will end eventually, not because of the NCAA doing the right thing or coaches restraining themselves, but most likely due to posts like this and people spreading the word to local media, university trustees and state lawmakers who appropriate funds to public colleges and universities. Basically, people are going to have to be shamed into doing the right thing. Personally, I’m looking forward to the first televised interview where a D1 public university tennis coach goes on camera to explain why his or her roster is comprised exclusively of foreign players.

  28. Javier – I’ve read a lot of what you have to say. Most of it does not make sense and is circular. Love tennis, play but parents stay away, but if you do play and have to pay you are no good, the coaches hate you and love international players, but do nothing because the international players are good for US tennis, gooblygoop if you ask me. I would appreciate if you could articulate your views without lecturing to parents from a point view of a parent.

  29. Martyn: To help you understand while disagreeing, my first post was meant to share with whomever reads this what a DI coach told me. I thought it was clear it was that, my opinion is that parents should share in the blame. I understand that you disagree and that is fine.
    My second post is based on the thread above where a parent expects to make some of the money back somehow and is now realizing that he was lied to. Point is meant to explain that if you think tennis is a financial investment, it is not. That is also fine if we disagree. All the best.

  30. jpalenque, I think Marty thought you needed to elaborate, that’s all, more words….

    I was the one who told the story about watching a coach interact with a parent,
    and the parent being lied to that their kid (who couldn’t even walk straight ) would somehow get a scholarship. My point was that this parent was naive and had no knowledge of D1 tennis.

    Lisa’s board and bloggers are trying to get the word out to the younger community that this is not a sport to recoup your investment. The question is how does the word get out? Should the USTA do a better job letting young parents know how it is out there?

  31. Chad Messier is spot on!!
    The current path a kid has to take to have a chance of making a college D1 team.
    Home school and play tennis 24/7..Dum!

    List any college Tennis coach fired for not winning …most people don’t know they have a team.

    College tennis has never been a path to the pros never will.. Futures are for that.
    Foreign players do not want to see golden goose killed thats who respond to these post.
    I would love to look into a crystal ball and see in 15 years who is right on this debate..

  32. bottom line is that foreign players are much more open minded and more globally engaged than US junior players. there are many, many more pathways for foreign tennis players than US junior players. the A #1 goal for foreign players is not an NCAA education. If we are sitting here debating how to eliminate the third or fourth tier of foreign players because the US cant compete on the global level then where is the US at in regards to competitive tennis?

    The problem is not NCAA coaches recruiting foreign players. The problem is with how US junior players are cultivated and developed…beginning at U10.. This entire discussion is nothing more than another knee jerk reaction to the total incompetence of US junior tennis over the past 20 years. Everyone needs to put their arms around the concept that tennis is a global sport and the US is currently behind in this competition. Until this reality is understood there will always be these myopic discussions.

  33. I stayed away from this topic, and decided to speak out because of the statements made that have a similar theme. US Players/athletes should get first dibs because…..

    http://www.freep.com/story/sports/mlb/tigers/2015/02/24/mlb-drew-smyly-yoan-moncada/23942133/

    “It’s not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that,” Smyly tweeted Monday afternoon. “Everyone should have to go through same process.”

    Honestly as a Retired Military man this is what is KILLING america. This sense of entitlement, and US kids believing they DESERVE something.

    Frankly GET BETTER!.
    The WORLD studied Basketball and the NBA Rosters are filled with FOREIGN players. 20 years ago, they knew they needed to get better.
    BUT our answer in the US is create hurdles/road blocks so AMERICANs succeed….

    Game knows Game, Ball don’t lie, and SPORT chooses who’s best on the field. All phrases proving you can not legislate SPORTs

    GET BETTER, GET PRACTICING

  34. Seminole, I am disappointed that your quotes are not accurately summing up the baseball process in this country, and it is a distraction from this conversation, but here goes….

    A player who has played in the US on a high school or college team is subject to the draft.

    Moncada was able to use the free agent system, and was not tied to the draft.

    And the MLB commissioner agrees –
    Rob Manfred’s response to Drew Smyly’s comments on Moncada: “It makes all the sense in the world to have a single method of entry.”

    Should there be an international draft with the national draft….
    Or should drafts be gotten rid of completely as they lower the labor cost…
    Or do baseball players get paid a ridiculous amount anyway. Who knows?

    But, baseball is not tennis, and the costs involved with the two sports as a junior are night and day.

    =========================================

    Sasamm – you state, “Everyone needs to put their arms around the concept that tennis is a global sport and the US is currently behind in this competition.”

    My state university funded with my tax dollar should now grasp the concept that they need to provide all foreign tennis players with a free education because they are better tennis players?

    If you told me that foreign boy was an engineering student or pre med or spent his weekends in a research lab looking for a cure for ALS or cancer, sure, I would love to support him while learning for free at my state university.

    Bottom line that everyone is glossing over less American parents in the future will pay for this expensive sport when they understand that their kid might not have a spot on the state university team.

    Remember the uproar when Maryland cut their mens tennis team, an all foreign team….
    Yeah, there was no uproar.

    ————————————————————-

    Lisa, suggestion for another article. You might want to do one on recruiting and steps taken to visit colleges. I was disheartened to see a parent taking their kid around in 8th grade, and I think parents need to know it is best to send their kids by themselves on the informal recruiting trips in 11th grade as it is the junior playing, and they will get a better feel for the team dynamics without mom or dad there.

  35. Tennis5 – No you took from the article what you wanted to make your point. An American pro-athlete objected to the Size in Dollars that the contract paid, and alluded to the fact US players are being put in a second class.

    “It’s not right that a Cuban 19yr old gets paid 30m and the best 19yr old in the entire USA gets prob 1/6th of that,”

    The fact that a US player gets 1/6th that atest to the fact that US player is not as GOOD! There is no SALARY CAP and that US 19 year old could get paid that sum.

    Market forces drive this all, and a good percentage of the best Tennis players are Foreign. Face that fact and the rest follows.

    Look at the % of fellowships, and academic scholarships going to foreigners……

    I’d agree to a process that states the % of athletic scholarships to foreigners be EQUAL to the number of academic ones.

  36. As we discuss US vs international players on college rosters, we also need to discuss what is a sustainable model for college tennis to survive as a nonrevenue sport at public universities. Many have said a team has to win to survive. In the future, it may be the teams with the lowest budget that survive or teams that have the best budget over attendance ratio.

    I doubt 10 years from now there will be many public funded universities with 100% foreign teams. Those teams will probably be cut. Every few months there is a new study related to student fees subsizing athletic costs. Here are some quotes from a Forbes 11/20/14 article:

    “The Ridpath team surveyed several thousand students at almost all of the MAC schools. While readers will have to wait the Journal of Sport winter 2015 comes out to get the juicy details, after reading a draft of the study it is fair to say that, in general, students are being hoodwinked about the burden they are incurring to pay for colleges—and are not particularly happy about it. They would far prefer more of their fees to be used on other extracurricular activities, such as campus concerts. Earlier research that Matt Denhart, Dave Ridpath and I did at Ohio University showed that the typical student attends perhaps two or three athletic events a year —and is incensed when he or she hears that several hundred dollars annually of his/her fees are spent to subsidize these lightly attended sporting events.”
    http://www.forbes.com/sites/ccap/2014/11/20/athletic-spending-alert-how-students-are-subsidizing-wannabe-power-house-schools/

    Some articles state that the athletic subsidy each student pays for athletics is over $1000 per student. Students have been ignorant of these costs, but the news is getting out, and students and their parents are going to argue for reduction in those student fees. There is even an organization The Center for College Affordability and Productivity that is looking into athletic costs as one way to reduce costs. That group is not asking for sports to be eliminated but rather to reduce football coach’s salaries, reduce intercollegiate travel, spend less money on expensive facilities, etc. Here is another interesting quote;” Among the more than 100 top athletic powers (the football bowl subdivision), which enroll more than 3 million students, inflation-adjusted academic spending per student rose a modest 8 percent from 2005 to 2011. Meanwhile, “athletic spending per athlete” rose by more than 38 percent” http://collegeinsurrection.com/2014/01/richard-vedder-colleges-wage-athletics-arms-race-at-expense-of-academics/

    If we want to tennis to be kept as an intercollegiate sport rather than as a club sport, there are viable models to field competitive teams while reducing costs. If coaches recruit smart in state talented players, they can possibly reduce their scholarship budget. Many private schools manage to field tennis teams while only funding half the scholarships allowed Many teams save expenses by having one coach for the men’s and women’s teams. In the future, some teams that flew to matches may have to drive. Indoor courts are great, but if this trend continues, those courts may only be built by donor funds vs student fees. Giving full rides to international students is not going to fly in this new environment. The golden goose is going to be laying less eggs. The silver lining to US juniors is they may become more attractive to coaches, especially to in state schools because they are cheaper. Tell your players to keep hitting the books as well as the courts as the athletic piece of the scholarship may decline.

  37. Javier – Your first post is base stereotyping. There are certainly American parents who coddle their kids and believe they should play #1 just because of who they are, not how they play. However, there are also parents who raise their children to work for what they get and not act entitled.

    The coach you spoke to sounds like she has already determined that recruiting foreigners is the way she wants to go, and is generating a rationalization to continue to do so. What if I said that Russian girls cheat all the time and no coach should recruit them? I have personally witnessed many instances of Russian junior girls who cheat as if they are paid for stolen points. I have also personally witnessed Russian junior girls who are paragons of fair play and always give the benefit of the doubt to their opponent.

    My daughter has been recruited by a D1 program whose coach has clearly stated that he chooses to focus his recruitment efforts on American players, and he is able to fill his roster with them. This is a top 20 program, so I guess you could say they get to cull the cream. However, his predecessor focused on foreigners, so I am not seeing the parallels between the necessity your coach referenced and the success of my daughter’s program.

    Maybe you, and others, should stop justifying the proliferation of foreign players in our state athletic programs, and focus on the inequity of allowing 20+ year old “pro” foreigners to compete with our 17 year old juniors for tax subsidized scholarships.

  38. SeminoleG – Not sure where the military link becomes relevant. I am a former Marine, and raise my kids with the mindset that they are entitled to exactly what they earn, and no more. However, that is predicated on the presumption that we are competing in an equitable system. The current system is impossibly slanted toward foreigners. It would be like interviewing for a federal or state government position where American applicants are limited to fresh High School graduates, while foreigners can apply after several years in management positions. Who would you hire?

    It’s not entitlement that I advocate for, but rather operating under the same regulatory restrictions. Don’t allow foreigners to play pro for a year, and once they decide they can’t make it on tour, they can compete with our juniors for scholarships.

    The view the tax dollars are more directed toward security and infrastructure, is missing the fact that hundreds of dollars of each college students tuition is directed toward sports programs. While that is not technically “tax” dollars, it is placed in the general funds pool and is fungible, so it can be used to reduce the direct application of tax funds. If I have a pool of $1MM, as long as the pool is not mandated to be spent in a specific manner, I can say only $1.00 of tax dollars is used for sports, but not mention that I am charging every student a fee to cover those costs, while I redirect the balance to whatever programs I choose..

  39. Your view on entitlement is where I draw the military link. Yes I see your point and the NCAA eligibility rules do allow this loophole for foreign players. This is a separate case to what I see as kids that are not competitive believing they deserve something. NCAA Tennis is not littered with foreign kids that are that superior, but they do have a work ethic and expectation of performance they more than often meet. As a coach I can recruit a player and hopefully not have to do it again in four years for that position, or a player who honestly may have been home schooled (not a negative), coddled and gets everything slanted his/her way. I ask you who would you recruit?

    As for how college spends revenue, well that is their choice and when they were in the business of education this wasn’t an issue. Far more education $$$ is given for Academic than athletic scholarships and operating cost for teams don’t let this cloud that issue. Non-revenue sports are the low hanging fruit, and with such a small group easy targets.

    My personal feeling is the USTA and ITF system develop Jrs in very different ways. Yes the USTA system churns out Top kids but the average player isn’t competitive in this system. That along with the NCAA rule is where the energy should be spent. Improve the sausage making process, the meat, ingredients, casing and then there is no need to load it up with ketchup and mustard for it to taste good.

    The Process is the problem, and the approach for the Average US player isn’t good enough because of the system.

    Lets be honest a National Championship that allows kids from sections ranked in the 400s to get in over a kid in the 80s is flawed beyond repair. Then you have a Star system that ranks kids based on class, when some years you may have 50 Bluechip others 5 and the same number of Bluechips graduate????? A Bluechip from 1995 should be the same as a one from 2015 not based on class size, that is a ridiculous system. BUT we expect college coaches to use these systems when the ITF, Tennis Europe system is so straight forward and accurate.

    I just see this topic being approached from the wrong end.

  40. SeminoleG – OK… I am with you on the system needing to be reinvented. The USTA has made a system that caters to an elite few in the hopes of the “next great thing” sprouting organically. Then when a talented junior does appear, they swoop in and woo them away from the very environment that birthed them and try to impose “player development” on them. Just as doing the same thing and expecting a different result is insanity, so is removing something from the environment that created success, and expecting more success.

    I feel it would be better to funnel monies to the coaches, and facilities that produce top junior players, so the coach that built that top player can continue to develop the player they already know so well. Maybe even throw in some funding for plyometrics and agility with a qualified fitness trainer. My wife is a master trainer with more than 20-years of training and certification. She sees many “budget” trainers at tennis academies doing things that are not suited to young players, and many that could cause serious injury. The USTA could easily fund this initiative and use the variety and diversified methods of 10,000 coaches, instead of the small cadre of “experts” that has been in place for the past 10-years. I would rather have 1% of 10,000 coaches, than 100% of ten.

    To your point about the entitlement attitude, I would agree that Americans as a whole are more likely to default to that attitude. However, I don’t believe it is so prevalent that it should preclude a coach actively striving to recruit American players first. They can tell pretty quickly if the recruit is pampered, and move on. I would also posit that a 17-year old American will almost always be less mature than a 20-year old foreigner, or 20-year old American for that matter. So the coaches’ who prefer a mature player will gravitate toward that attribute. Again, it comes down to having rules that favor the foreign market over the domestic. For the same reason we don’t allow foreign car makers to “dump” vehicles into the US market at a loss to get market-share, we shouldn’t allow our US tennis products (juniors) to have to fight uphill in the scholarship marketplace.

  41. Valid points, Considering what a Pain in the A… recruiting can be with Commits/De-Committs etc a more mature kid who’s had 2-3 years of LIFE is easy. What is Easy may not be best but makes the process easy and thus better for those Coach’s.

    When I look at some of the Top US talent that went the ITF route they “seem” more mature and in control. Could be a chicken egg argument, but did playing ITFs and traveling to Europe and beyond help? I know some players @ one academy 14-15yo are very mature, and I’ve seen their before trip meetings. They discuss the logistics of the upcoming event and kids are engaged and in charge.

    I’d argue that getting in a car having mom/dad drive to site, pick hotel, meals etc may be part of maturing that our kids are missing…..Obviously they need our support but just maybe the planning from soup to nuts is something we need to turnover to them. I’ll be in Mobile @ Spring National and will still be shocked seeing the 16s and 18s parents carrying their bags/lunch etc…..Maybe maturation is something we unconsciously delay with our “help.”

  42. Two separate conversations going on for me – state versus private. And just to clarify, my son is playing D1 next year, but for a private school, and I would say that 1/3 of the team is foreigner.
    I have an older daughter who currently play D1 tennis too. But, it is such a dramatically different world for tennis with girls and title 9, and honestly the playing level is much lower in womens.

    A 17 year old boy versus a 20 year old young man is two different species. One can not compare, and unfortunately those 3 years are huge in terms of maturity. So, I understand why a coach would want an older player. However, having met many young foreign tennis parents over the years, I didn’t find them harder working than Americans. I found them more polite. No kidding. Americans are so hooked into their phones, they can barely look up nowadays to grunt hello. The foreign young men are more into eye contact and speaking sentences. And that gives a better appearance. So, I would say to parents speak to your sons about their communication skills ( girls anywhere seem to have no problem talking and talking….).

    Lin I agree with you about the USTA. And I do believe that many problems with the US lie in their funding policies, or better yet how they fund themselves at the expense of other American coaches who have had better success in producing players.

    Seminole – I didn’t cherry pick that conversation. I think you will see the rules changing for the draft going forward and their bonus system.

    However, this is a parent site, and one of the issues for a parent is cost….
    Raising a baseball player versus a tennis player cost wise is drastically different, and the payoff scholarship money is different too for boys as the 19 year old Cuban did not play college ball and therefore did not take scholarship money away from an American….

    Seminole – excellent comment here – “Lets be honest a National Championship that allows kids from sections ranked in the 400s to get in over a kid in the 80s is flawed beyond repair.”
    The USTA has done zero to make the sections have the same rules.

    Anyone see the new quota systems for Kalamazoo, and the number of spots that Southern got?
    ( sorry, Lisa, to pick on your section).
    This is how you get a kid who is ranked TOP 100 NATIONAL but can’t get into the national tournament and a kid who is TOP 400 NATIONAL gets in. This is beyond a travesty. Our national tennis body doesn’t care that the system makes zero sense to anyone.

    Diane – there is always more money in academic scholarships versus athletic scholarships, and the silver lining is that the brain never gets injured.

  43. SeminoleG – Agree fully, about the experiences that accelerate maturity. Great point. The ITF circuit separates a lot of players from their helicopter parents, and allows them to grow up. I try to push my kids, a little at a time, to reach beyond their comfort zones. I vividly remember the anxiety my 8-year old daughter felt the first time I told her to check herself in at the registration desk while I parked the car. Hearing “You’re not going with me?” and the fear in her voice over such a simple thing, made me sure I had to push her to it. That being said, I then positioned myself so I could see her every step of the way. I want independent kids, not easy prey.

    It wasn’t long before she was insisting that I drop her off, and leave her to it. Now she’s 17 and I am confident she can navigate life better than most of her contemporaries.

    Tennis5 – For your son’s team, do you happen to know how they divided up the scholarship %?
    Specifically; did the foreign players secure a higher %? Also, are they from a defined region, or different geographies? I have seen several coaches that prefer to recruit from countries that share the same language or scouting connections as the coach.

  44. can someone please explain to me how how student fees or going to foreign tennis players? as opposed to the male football programs, the male basketball programs..the female soccer programs….the female gymnastics programs..the swimming programs…..the NCAA structure is one of the greatest international competitions in the world and i support that with my own tax payer dollars….the NCAA is much more than tennis….

  45. Sasamm, the student fees go to cover all athletics expenses that are not covered by revenues. You are correct they dont just cover tennis. However tennis is the sport with the highest percentage of international players. If budgets and rosters are examined in an attempt to reduce costs, if the tennis team is 100% international, it is more likely to be cut as there will not be parents, US alumni, etc protesting the cuts. Another article said that some of the conferences that attract lower income students actual have the highest student fees-up to $1500 per student. The Big South conference student fees average over $1500 per student, and a significant % of those students receive Pell loans which are for low income students.
    http://www.unionleader.com/article/20130622/OPINION02/130629730 I checked a couple of rosters at those schools and they were about 70% international students. I dont think the nonathletic US students would be happy if they realized how much they were going in debt over 4 years to subsidize athletics costs which include scholarships for international players.

    If an athletic director has to choose between cutting two sports and one is 100% international and the other team in 20% international, which one do you think he is going to choose to cut?
    My daughter (non tennis player) is a senior at UAB which just cut its football program; they also cut two other men’s sports-I dont remember which ones (not tennis). The football program was cut in spite of protests and a rise in attendance this past year, so I realize tennis programs with majority US players and with alumni support are not guaranteed to survive, but I think their chances are higher than teams that are majority international students. Program cutting decisions can be as much politically as financially motivated (if you read any of the articles on the conflicts between UAB and UAT on their board you know what I mean). Having a 100% international team could make tennis an easy political and financial target at a school.

  46. Sasamm – Diane is correct… As a Booster and Varsity Club Member from my University I can tell you that Tennis because of the team makeup of foreign players IS low hanging fruit. Any dollar I donate to a university that is loosing revenue wold have o answer that question, Why keep this non-revenue sport dominated by foreign players?

    As I have said more dollars go to Foreigners in the form of Academic scholarships so I don’t think this is fair, but Tennis as a sport that has been seen as one of the privileged class is an easy target. Most folks would say that Parents that can afford tennis can afford to pay for their kids tuition. Not fair, but that is the perceptions.

  47. Lin: I am sure you would agree that we all don’t have to think alike. I respect your views but don’t agree with them. In general terms I think when a coach is more inclined to pick a foreigner it is for a multitude of reasons, not stereotyping. Just as when you write implying that all foreigners are older than the high school kids, which is of course stereotyping as this may be the case I some school not all.

    You then make a point for the taxes being used for foreigners. The majority of the funding comes from student fees, not taxes. Take any school of any number of students 5000.
    5000 kids pay student fees ( normally between $500-1500). Now tell me how many kids actually play sports? maybe 15%. SO why should the 85% pay for others to play? foreigner or not? this is where the argument you propose is so flawed.

    Lastly, i am not advocating for foreigners, I just have a different point of view than you. Next time you are in a college match, look who is there? the handpicked relatives of the kids and a few tennis buffs. To make sure it is not a stereotype, I am sure there is a school where a few more people show up. But the state of tennis is quite poor. Also please then look at a tennis tournament, Indian wells, Miami, Delay. Most of the audience there is over 50. Look a a final in doubles anywhere, stands are empty.

    Tennis is a game, not a professional career. Other than for those extraordinary athletes that have all those ingredients who we like to see, and quite frankly I like to see the best and could care less about their nationality.

  48. Lin – overall I would say that the foreigners might be getting more scholarship money, but the American kids are able to get state and federal grants.

    Javier – good points about the student fees, as it is not well know to many students where their money is going. As it becomes more public knowledge, I think there will be a backlash about why not a concert instead. But, fees don’t support a team. State tax dollars contribute to the bricks and mortar of an institution.

    And, I think you miss the overall point. If a state university has two spots this year for their tennis team, and both spots go to foreigners, then that young man from that state either goes to that school and doesn’t play tennis or goes to another school, out of state and ends up paying more money. Why is it a given that an entire team is foreign? How does that help American tennis when you can’t get on the team? Why would American parents pay for such an expensive sport where the payoff is low to play in college? These are real questions, and you can justify it anyway you want, but it is an expensive sport with very little return for boys.

  49. First..can we all agree that the tax argument is bricks and mortar of the institutions themselves? i am still waiting to hear how my tax dollars go to foreign tennis players at the public university1 mile from my house..

  50. There are 2 sports that generate revenue for the NCAA….football and basketball…..why not baseball? NCAA Tennis can and should generate TV revenue without altering the free market system of the world market place. When this happens..tennis will again boom..it is the greatest game.

  51. Sassam Wrote”
    “i am still waiting to hear how my tax dollars go to foreign tennis players at the public university1 mile from my house.

    Well assuming you are a US tax paying Citizen (a big assumption), then you clealry don’t understand how marginal taxes work but Ill give it a shot:
    :
    1. Non-US Citizen players(actually all players) are playing at a Tax Exempt Institutions (private and public) (99,99% of colleges). To the extent that any organization operates on a tax exempt basis, it ‘steals’ funds from tax paying organizations. YOU CANNOT TAKE WATER OUT OF HALF OF A CUP.
    2. For example, To the extent they are using capital facilities that are constructed and/or operated Tax Free at either public or private facilities, they are using your US citizen tax dollars. Even in the most generous analysis, US citizens either paid for the court(public) or subsidized the construction of it via tax free bonds, etxx (private).
    3. This I just the minimal case. You need to understand that all college are essentially tax exempt and any taxes they they don’t pay are additional tax burden on the economy at large.
    4. Most colleges take money from students in the form of ‘fees’ who are getting government funds ‘pell grants, etc’ and funneling it to athletic budgets.
    5. To the extent that G&A or Operating expenses are not divided by International vs American. Just because funds do not directly to the banks account of international player does not matter. In fact, international players are basically taking advantage of an economic situation known as ”free loading” or “’free Riding”.
    6. And lastly, to all the non US posters, here, or anywhere: Really ?? I mean really ??? Shut the f*** up. Stop lecturing us about entitlement. You bitch about US kids entitlement, but you think that fact that your kid plays tennis really well “entitles” your kid to a US taxpayer subsidized college education??? No, really, that’s not where I see my taxes going. Sorry to break it to you but there is no such thing as a college education in the US that doesn’t have some marginal impact in US tax payers. Harvard, SUNY, UAB, any college. Top to bottom. I and most other parents, tennis parents, AKA TAXPAYERS, are frankly aghast at your tone deaf attempts to free ride off us. I love you, really, I am not a xenophobe redneck, I love having some of your players playing on our teams ON MY DIME but I would be in a much better mood if you just said something like “Thank you for subsidizing my kids education” instead of “f** you I am taking your money because my kid hits a freaking yellow ball better than yours”. Your arrogance and ingratitude is beyond the pale. Entitled ?? GMAFB
    7. This does not end well for anyone in particular, or tennis as a whole, US Tennis in particular. Unless reasonable limits are placed on international players, and soon, things are going to accelrae in a bad way.

  52. The charts on the USTA fact sheet listed above were based on numbers from the 2006-7 year. Per the USTA, 38.4% of Div 1 male tennis players were international and only 30.9% of D2 males were international. In 8 years of USTA standing on the sidelines, these percentages have probably flipped. I doubt there are 30% Americans now on D2 teams-at least not at the public universities.Actually in my state there are 34% US players at D2 schools but they are almost all at 2 schools (80-100% US) which probably don’t fund athletic scholarships. The other 6 D2 public schools are only 15% US players. If we sit around another 8 years, there may be no college tennis except club tennis at D2 and midtier D1. There will be tennis at the top conferences, at D1 private schools, and DIII, and it will probably be club everywhere else. If your son is in the top 60-70 in the US, he will still get to play. The article above said the majority of US players in the top 300 were playing tennis. Cut 75% of those slots, and you may see college tennis for 2022-2023. It’s time for USTA to update their facts and maybe do further analysis looking at the percentages for public vs private schools.

  53. I need to point out that the USTA article doesn’t specify the amount of scholarship received. Parents need to understand, especially on the men’s side, that a small partial scholarship is very common as opposed to a full ride. Even for top (i.e. 5-star) players.

      1. the usta should have a section where this is easily found. who knows if they have updated versions.
        your service to parents lisa is wonderful keep it up.
        though the last article may be old
        the information is highly relevant for all to grasp.

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