Being Parent-Advocate Again
My son played in our section’s Level 1A tournament (also a national Level 4) in the B18s singles and doubles. The doubles started Friday evening, and my son and his partner had two very solid wins, taking out the 3 seeds in their second match. The following morning, singles began. My son played his two matches as scheduled, no drama. His doubles partner, though, was a different story.
My son’s partner – let’s call him Bob to make things easier to follow – faced an opponent in his second round match who has a reputation for questionable line calls, so Bob called for an on-court official several times throughout the match. As I understand it (though I was not there watching), the official over-ruled Bob’s opponent more than once but chose not to stay on the court for the duration of the match. At some point in the match, after another questionable call and no official there to overrule it, Bob lost his cool and let go some profanities directed at his opponent. Bob’s outburst was reported to the tournament director, and Bob was disqualified from the remainder of the tournament. That meant Bob and my son were not allowed to continue in the doubles draw though they were now in the quarterfinals.
When I checked the doubles draw online that evening, I saw that it showed my son and Bob losing their quarterfinal match with the designation “Def (DQ)” which stands for “Default (Disqualified)”. Let me say that again . . . the draw showed MY SON being disqualified from the match even though Bob’s DQ happened during his singles match and had absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with any action on my son’s part!
After having a little verbal explosion in the privacy of my hotel room, I emailed the tournament referee to ask if he could change the designation in the doubles draw to something that wouldn’t reflect negatively on my son. I shared that, while Bob is a graduating senior who is not planning to play college tennis, my son is a high school junior with one more year of junior tennis and is in the throes of college recruiting. After a couple of emails back and forth, the referee agreed that it was unfair to my son to have the DQ next to his name when he was not responsible for Bob’s behavior in a singles match. He changed the designation to Tournament Administration Decision.
Fast forward to the Tuesday after the tournament. I received a voicemail from the tournament referee letting me know that the head of junior competition for our section insisted the designation be returned to Def (DQ), that the rules stated that was the appropriate designation in these circumstances. I called the head of junior comp and explained the situation in detail to him. He again insisted the Def (DQ) designation was appropriate. At that point, I asked him who I could appeal to in our section to have the designation changed, and he gave me the contact info for the section’s Grievance Committee.
I sent a detailed email to the head of the Committee with copies going to the head of junior comp and the director of player development for our section. I explained that I was certain that the rule was not intended to punish a player in my son’s situation and that USTA could find some other designation to use that wouldn’t reflect negatively on my son when college coaches were looking at his player record online.
The next day, I received an email from the head of the Committee letting me know that the designation had been changed to “Walkover/Personal Circumstance”, a designation we can all live with.
I urge all of you to keep a close eye on your child’s player record in TennisLink. Make sure results are being reported accurately and that no errant designations appear next to your child’s name.
Would a college coach pass on a player simply because of one DQ on his/her record? Maybe not. But, all things being equal, when a coach is deciding which of two players to bring on the team, my guess is he or she would choose the player with a clean record, behavior-wise. Neither my son nor I are willing to chance it, and, thankfully, USTA was willing to take a deeper look into the rules and find a solution that works in this situation. I am very grateful to them for that.