Being Parent-Advocate Again

Photo courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com/artzeechris/for-holland-moms-and-dads/
Photo courtesy of http://www.pinterest.com/artzeechris/for-holland-moms-and-dads/

 

I’ve already written about the importance of advocating for our kids (click here and here to read my prior posts), but this past weekend’s events have prompted me to address this topic yet 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.

 

 

57 Comments on “Being Parent-Advocate Again”

  1. Lisa, I’m not clear on what happened to “Bob.” He was defaulted without the referee/official using the Point Penalty System? My understanding is that the tournament director cannot default him, unless he is also the tournament referee. Anyway, that needs further explanation.

    1. Colette, since I wasn’t at the match in question, I really don’t know the particulars behind the default. Maybe someone with USTA will see your comment and offer further explanation. But, really, the point of my article is that parents/players sometimes need to question the “why” behind a particular rule, especially in circumstances where the player is an innocent victim of a rule being implemented where it doesn’t apply.

      1. What bugs me is that roving officials will not stay on courts sometimes even whenthe player requests it. What is the Southern rule about this Lisa. ? If you know where it is printed I would love to know. I have seen instances like your friends happen several times in tens matches last year.

  2. The elephant in the room – cheating. I truly believe the only way this is going to change is by having more officials at tournaments (how much more would this cost us?) or by naming names.

  3. So glad you pursued this Match Code issue for your son.

    As you well know it’s not about who is correct but what is correct

    This issue resulted in some positive outcomes as well.

    1. Allowing Southern to identify a possible weakness in the codes used during a DQ condition
    2. Demonstrating for your son that pursuing the correct outcome is worth the time and effort. (E-mails, Phone Calls, etc)
    3. Above all I now know about your parentingaces.com website and will visit it frequently. 🙂

    We are all striving for the same core goal and it’s to improve our children’s lives by giving them the sport of tennis they can excel in.

    Our children and junior players in general learn valuable lessons through competition, social interaction, respecting authority, and receiving positive results from their time and effort while possibly earning a college scholarship or being a better person from knowing the importance of having a good character and high integrity.

  4. My point is his parents could advocate for him on the way this was handled. Not being there either, or even having any eyewitness accounts, I don’t know if his transgression would/should have resulted in the “single, flagrant violation” that Friend at Court describes, but in any case the implications for him are much greater, with suspension points, etc.

  5. Very true Lisa, parents have to be on the ball. My girl was playing a tournament and it started to rain so suddenly and so hard that her match was called on match point! The TD told them to check the website that night for when the match would resume. We went to bed at midnight, no update from the TD. Next morning at 7:30 am I checked and he had her on at 8 am. No way we could make it as we lived an hour a way. His phone went to voice mail.

    The girl she was to play went to his academy. He gave her the win and put QUIT on my daughter’s record! Seriously, he actually gave her a loss and put the word quit in capital letters next to it. I can not imagine that would thrill a college coach either. Needless to say, I had a nice talk with him and he changed it.

  6. Lisa,

    I feel for you. The problem with these small frustrations in junior tennis is there so many of them, so many injustices, that either the kids quit or the parents get sick of the whole thing, and refuse to pay for it.

    Personally, what is so beyond frustrating for me in the Eastern Section is the disparity between tournament sizes ( sectional tournaments that are national points) and other sections, and no one cares at the USTA how these new rules are affecting juniors.

    Eastern has the most punitive reductions at the beginning of 2014. I have complained to the woman who runs it, Julie, that every other section has a draw size of 64. When does Eastern have the 64 draw? June 2014.

    So, if you didn’t play a lot of tournaments in 2013 in the next age group, when 2014 rolled around, you couldn’t get into the Super Six ( new name for a small size sectional). And you have to wait till June. Too late for Clay courts and KZoo.

    Plus, Eastern ran one of the their two Super Six at the same time as Easter Bowl for the 18’s. So, you had to choose. And Eastern only counts two of the National tournaments for their sectional ranking.

    Compare that to California.
    Did California run a sectional during EB? Nope.
    Plus California counts everything, and Eastern counts two…..

    Beyond frustrating.

  7. Thanks Lisa for a great post. Take tennis out of the article and it is teaches our kids to go through proper channels and advocate for themselves. Proper advocacy is not an inherent skill and kids learn it from parents. Once again you demonstrate that junior tennis lessons are also life lessons.

  8. Lisa,

    Cheating is a problem in tennis. I think a lot of it has to do with the lack of consequences. This would be a good idea for a new article. I was at a southern level 3 last year in Rome, GA. My son’s friend was playing a third set tie breaker against a player who is know for not having the best line calls…. During the tie breaker the official was there and over ruled 3-4 points on bad calls against the other player. My friend’s son lost the match. After the match I asked the official how many times does a person have to be over ruled before having a penalty like losing a point? He said it was up to the official but the line calls were close. My comment to him was well they were out enough for you to over rule them. I did say all of that nicely and not in front of the kids. Since there was no penalty given the other player had no reason to stop. I think after two over rules on lines a penalty should be given there after.

  9. I have posted about this before…..line calls will not dertermine a match at this level of tennis….line officials and referees need to step up to the plate and make the tough calls……in/out foot fault…ball abuse. racquet abuse…equipment abuse…whatever…go onto the courts…explain to the player what is not right…explain to the parents certain conduct is not acceptable…. however, more referees is not an option in my opinion…as this will mean less tournaments… officials need to step up to the plate and make tough decisions and tough calls.

    In Lisa’s situation with the doubles partner…first of all that sucks! second I am going to tell my son what he does in singles may effect his doubles partner…..and last…i have said this to parents…your commitment to your doubles partner is most important! it doesnt matter if you have lost in singles and want to go home…you have to play doubles!….”i forgot to sign up for singles and only signed up to play doubles” then you are a doubles specialist and need to go play.. you are committed to playing doubles and the family is obligated to play! the player assumes the responsibility of playing doubles with his parter regardless of any scenario..

    Doubles is another opportunity to improve tennis skills…but the most important consideration is playing your best for your partner…any other scenario is not acceptable…

    to Lisa’s point……the condcut of a singles player may effect other players and families….to improve tennis…play doubles! and respect your partner at all times during a tournament!…..

  10. sasamm, line calls absolutely can determine a match, at any level where there is not a ref. The cheating is getting more frequent. Its very easy to pick out a few key points to cheat on which can change the outcome of a set and a match. It also has the double effect of the players being cheated not going for shots and leaving more easy balls well inside the lines to be hit back for winner. The combined effect of the actual line calls and the increased distance inside the lines can easily determine a match. Thats why junior tennis will not be an accurate determination of the best players until it addresses the cheating issue.

  11. It’s a slippery slope. The assumption is a bad line call is always malicious. How about honest mistakes? To me the solution is have the referee make the line calls. Let the kids play without worry of being cheated.

  12. Lisa, is the USTA aware of this cheating and bad line calling?
    Why isn’t more emphasis placed on good sportsmanship?
    Who here was embarrassed by Ryan Harrison at the Olympics?
    Of course, USTA said he was passionate….

    1. Randy, the answer to your first question is YES, USTA is absolutely aware. Like I said in an earlier comment, “cheating” is a topic for a separate post which I promise to get to in the next week or so! 🙂

  13. Hi Guys,

    Cheating won’t change for a few simple reasons:

    1) Clubs need to make money – Events are held at clubs who need to make a profit from the event. The club has to buy balls, staff registration desks, pay for officials, etc. Its not a high margin business and the biggest expense is the officials. Because of this, the clubs will never staff above the minimum number of officials mandated by the USTA.

    2) Officials are low paid – The Officials make $12-14 per hour and most of them see this as nothing but a job. A lot of times they are working on days when it is hot and uncomfortable and have to deal with passionate kids and parents who put a ton of hard work into tennis and struggle to deal with a the low level of officiating provided.

    3) Parents don’t complaint – Tennis Parents are probably the most dedicated and well behaved of any sport. Can you image what would happen in a junior baseball or soccer game if they had one ref for every six fields. In other sports, if a league is poorly run, you just move on to another league. In tennis there is one game in town – the USTA. Most parents think if they complain to the USTA they will be blackballed from opportunities (which may be true).

    Since if won’t change, you need to have a “cheating strategy” for dealing with cheating. This may involve calling referees over (if you can find them) or making a statement to your opponent that cheating won’t be tolerated.

    The solution to cheating won’t come from the clubs and tournament directors (they are in business to make money), the officials (its just a low paid job to them), or the USTA (they find it easier to put on seminars on sportsmanship). It has to COME FROM THE PARENTS AND PLAYERS.

  14. I agree SoCal tennis. We have adopted a strategy of just using USTAs for development, without much regard to wins and losses. Down in SE FL, the tournaments are populated by academy kids under enormous pressure. They cheat routinely while their coaches and parents watch and say nothing. The kids at academies teach each other how to cheat,

    At first our kid would engage in the find a ref and 3 hour arguing deal. It got old fast. So now we just go into a match with a few key things to work on and let the cheaters win if they must. But anyone who actually thinks the USTA standings are valid is fooling themselves. One of the top ranked kids is all over social media conversing with other tennis kids, and freely admits that she cheats and that its the “only way to win these days”.

    I saw where SeminoleG, who used to say cheating was not a big factor at higher levels, said the big tournament in FL. for the top 8 12s was a cheat fest. So it is what it is, we have no idea who is ranked on merit and who is ranked on cheating expertise.

  15. NewTennisDad,

    Everyone makes bad calls. Usually these even out during a match. However many kids establish a pattern of behavior over a number of matches that make it clear it is cheating.

    There is one kid in SoCal (top 5 player) that routinely steals a game every match. He knows if the score is 3-2 and he says its 3-1, the official will have to play it at 3-1 (the last agreed upon score). I have seen him do it in 3 of his last 4 big matches.

    Everyone plays tennis for different reasons. Some kid and parents play sporadically and some play it every day for 3 hours with tournaments on the weekend. For those who are shooting for the top this is a huge issue. Many top players quit because of this.

    Its really time for Parents to stop making excuses and admit how ridiculous it is to have a sport like this played without officials. Lets not let the USTA ruin what is a great sport for kids to play.

  16. Lisa, at many matches, coaches,juniors and parents have observed USTA coaches openly coaching their players instructions on how to beat their opponent (our player). They do it in Spanish, and sometimes English. ( Are they so arrogant, they don’t realize most people speak Spanish???). If you go up to them and ask them to stop coaching, they tell you to mind your own business.
    The USTA is ruining junior tennis for any player that is not their player.

  17. This thread is getting crazy….focusing once again on “cheating” “coaching” etc….emphasis should always be on your own player and how they can improve. my point is this….if one bad line call actually decides a match, there are other mistakes the player has made to get them into that situation. it is hard to take….it is wrong….but there has never been a junior player who has cheated their way to the top….doesnt happen…..

  18. sasamm, just not true. My daughter’s older friend is on social media and showed us the posts from a top girl. She explains how she “has to cheat” to win, choosing key points, forcing the other girls to hit further inside the lines. We went to visit an academy in SE FL. and the girls told us how they do it, which points they choose, how they can change the percentages in their favor without being to obvious. They have a very detailed process that has been developed.

    Its well known among the kids, they talk about it on social media like they are talking about going to the prom. Like anything, what parents know and what kids ages 11-15 actually do can be two very different things.

  19. Jim K…I would suggest to stop focusing on this issue. Things will pan out and the girls squeezing the lines will eventually have to figure out a different tactic to win matches against better players…..I agree this goes on.. but do not let it be a distraction to becoming a better player. Eventually the best players always rise to the top. A lot to overcome but this is the way junior tennis has been for over 30 years.

  20. Sasamm, agree 100%. Thats why I said we do not worry about wins and losses and only focus on development. The cheaters will crash land someday once the matches are officiated. I think most know that the rankings in 12s-14s do not always indicate who the best players are.

  21. First we pay membership fees. We pay tournament fees. Those who take our $$$ owe us at minimum a neutral ear for our voices.

    Yes we need to advocate and honestly since they are minors I laugh @ folks that just sit back and do nothing.

    Here is how I advocate for my daughter.
    1 – I inform the TD if they put the cheater in my daughters QTR we will withdraw and I will get my fees refunded from AMEX.
    2 – IF a girl is DELIBERATELY calling balls out I inform my daughter she needs to get an official OR pack her stuff and leave the court. I do this OUT LOUD at the fence.
    3 – I inform the TD that there is an issue that needs to be resolved, and I expect it to be fixed ASAP

    I’ve written 2 letters about unfair play, and reported 1 tournament director.

    Here is what I’m doing for future. 3 overrules penalty is default. I will ensure officials hold her opponents to this, by ensuring the referee keeps track. We have had 3 instances of this in the past few weeks. As the level of event increases the penalties need to be enforced

  22. Seminole G…..your intent may be good but you yourself are acting outside of the rules if you conduct yourself in the manner that you explained. Your #1 and #2 are not acceptable resolutions to the problem. You can be an advocate for your child but you can not try and manipulate draws and you can not give instructions to your child while they are on the court. The child needs to handle the situation themselves on the court. Again, a lot to overcome but as the child becomes more accustomed to handling these situations the better the outcomes will be.

  23. I can’t really comment on Seminole’s style, but it is very interesting about pulling back his Amex. ( You know what, as I reread this for grammar mistakes, Seminole, I am going to give you some advice. I understand your intent and you are justifiably angry by the lack of action taken by the ref, TD and probably sectional head.. But…………. the USTA will label you as a trouble maker and your kid will be X’ed out of tournaments. You won’t be punished, your junior will be. It has happened before to frustrated parents and the USTA takes it out on the kid. It is a very vindictive organization.)

    Tonight, I was having a conversation with a parent whose daughter is 14 and aging up, and she has to play a TON OF TOURNAMENTS to get those points for sectionals. And she commented that her daughter now has to play more tournaments, and that means more tournament fees….

    The new system which was devised so juniors weren’t chasing points,
    has instead turned into a crazy system where there is only one pathway and that pathway is leading to the same kids over and over again, and more $.

  24. Seminole’s behavior is what is encouraged by having no referees in each match. He is just putting his daughter in a better position to win. I personally don’t like it and always tell my daughter that if she loses to a cheater because of few strategically bad calls, then tough luck. She has to work harder so she can overcome them and be a better player.

    Regarding having to point chase — If you can’t beat the players in your own backyard to get the points to qualify for a big tournament, then you don’t deserve to play in that big tournament. Those players you can’t beat will be in that tournament anyway and will still beat you. Parents just need to be honest with themselves regarding how good their kids are.

  25. To, New Tennis Dad,
    THIS IS NOT TRUE –
    Regarding having to point chase — If you can’t beat the players in your own backyard to get the points to qualify for a big tournament, then you don’t deserve to play in that big tournament. Those players you can’t beat will be in that tournament anyway and will still beat you. Parents just need to be honest with themselves regarding how good their kids are.
    ——————————————————————————————-
    I am not a new dad to tennis,
    I have been a tennis dad for many years and was a D1 player –

    What will happen this summer of 2014?
    The crummy sections are sending crappy players to Kalamazoo, and the good sections have half of the missing good kids not there. And the great players just gave up on the USTA and left it. Kalamazoo this year will be TERRIBLE.

    Summer of 2013 and before ( who was at Kalamazoo) when we didn’t have this quota system –

    1) COLLEGE PLAYERS GOING INTO THEIR SOPHOMORE YEAR.
    Great players who have a late birthday.
    Can they do it this year? No.
    What are they suppose to say to their college coach, “Sorry, coach, I have to go home and play my sectional instead of my college match.
    DUMB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    2) Future players/ITF players – Not enough wild cards for them.
    AND I AM NOT A FAN OF WILD CARDS, but come on………
    The USTA just shot itself in the foot. Now, because they SHRUNK the tournament size from 192 to 128, there are not enough wild cards for all the great players who are in college and who don’t play sectionals.
    ( And sure initially they doubled their wild cards, and everyone complained because at that point they had shrunk the tournament beyond a ridiculous size and increased the wild cards from 8 to 16, anyone remember that????)

    Last year:
    Collin Altamirano v Jared Donaldson (2013 Kalamazoo 18s Final)

    Collin – never played a sectional, just nationals and mens events
    ( that is why he was not seeded)
    Jared – doesn’t even live in this COUNTRY.

    SO, NEW TENNIS DAD – YOU STILL THERE?????

    ” If you can’t beat the players in your own backyard to get the points to qualify for a big tournament, then you don’t deserve to play in that big tournament.”

    These kids didn’t play in their own backyard…………,
    they didn’t play the same kids over and over again,
    they played in the world, and they won.
    So, your analogy and the USTA ( interesting) doesn’t work.

    Show me in Spain or France, where the kids get promoted on quotas.
    Actually, show me anywhere where quotas work.
    The most idiotic thing the USTA has ever done, and that’s saying something.

  26. Seminole may seem radical but I agree with him 100%. He is in FL. like we are, it is different here. We have academies teaching cheating, players under huge pressure. The cheating in S. FL is epic and worse than when you travel just a bit to N. FL.

    It is accelerating with each passing month. Russians have purchased tennis resorts and opened academies, they cheat a ton, and the rest of the kids are starting to cheat more and more to keep up. The choices are to either lose every match to a cheater, or stay out their arguing for 3 hours in 90 degree sun.

    The cheating, combined with overcrowded tournaments and 2 plus hour wait times for courts, is making junior tennis ridiculous down here. USTA Florida needs to address the S. FL problem as it is spiraling out of control very fast.

    And they need to recognize the HUGE opportunity down here. The level of competition, foreign and domestic, is also increasing fast. So get on top of it with more funds, more refs, and they can have a great incubator for future US talent.

  27. NewTennisDad – Not in position to win but for a fair fight. I will not and do not advocate TAKING points back. Many parents do, BUT I will not let her (and she will not let herself Cheat back). Consider the GOAL of Junior tennis. Yes adjust but when kids are taught to hit certain shots and their opponent Blatantly CHEATs what does a kid do? Waste time playing a style they don’t even know? Folks say back off the lines. OK how does a kid that trains 12-13 hrs a week to hit a certain ball to a specific spot CHANGE all that in 15 minutes. Your asking your kid to do a lot, rather than deal with the issue CHEATERs. Stop Cheating or we just go home and practice.

    Tennis5 – No advice needed. We have received Grants/Wildcards and attended USTA Camps so if they are angry at me they have a nice way of showing it. Honestly I have had 2 TDs pull me aside and say THANKS! Official said if more parents addressed the problem directly THIS would stop.

    Sasamm – Manipulating the DRAW! ARE you serious, how many folks have Academy Playing partners, or Siblings, or DBLS partners, even Academy directors that somehow have their student playing only kids they have beat and every other kid on opposite side of draws!

    So I can’t to avoid a KNOWN cheater! What if every parent that KNOWS this kid did the same thing? Maybe that is the statement that is needed.

    When the Governing Body does nothing and doesn’t enforce the RULES then because I pay $$$, I act. So yes when I walk to the Fence and tell my kid that is being cheated (Get a Ref or Pack your stuff) I’m sending a CLEAR message.
    – Her Opponent a Cheater is a Cheater you want the Match its yours (have fun)
    – Her Opponents parents SHAME on YOU!
    – The TD, Get Officials and apply the rules
    – The Officials Do your job or I will embarrass you
    – Most important to my young daughter WHO IS UNSURE if those CALLS are correct. NO THEY ARE NOT, YOU are playing a cheater, What you going to do about it?

    – Understand this is a last resort and I’m 100% sure that this is an instance of cheating.
    – Understand in EVERY case the kid has been overruled at least twice
    – Understand that THEIR parent has come to me making excuses, nerves, new at tennis, tired.etc….. NO if your kid is obviously making bad calls YOU can pull them off the court!

    So yes this may not be the best approach and yes it is outside the RULES, but RULES that are not enforced are mere WORDs, nothing more. I know 2 people suspended by the USTA and neither was a case of shining a SPOT LIGHT on cheaters.

  28. Seminole, great post!!! This is exactly what we have found. Our kids work hard and hit some great shots. But every dang time it is within 4 inches of the line it is called out. So tournaments become silly because they do not emulate practice or how the pros hit. What is the point of playing a tournament that has no relation to how the same game is played in the pros?

    I never get how all kid’s sports have adult supervision, all professional sports have officials, but junior tennis the kids are expected to enforce all the rules themselves. Why is that? Why is junior tennis the only athletic event in existence where there is no one there to help enforce the rules?

  29. Jim K and Seminole G…..both of you are way off of the mark and are actually contributing to the problem….until you get a better perspective you will always think “you got cheated”….i wish both of you luck.

  30. sasamm, that is not a fair post at all. Do you have a kid that plays SPECIFICALLY in SE FL? If not, you have no idea what you are talking about.

    We have played events in N FL, PA, OH, GA, NC, and SC. Not one time did we ever even notice cheating. Se FL is totally different. Within a few miles you have foreign owned academies, US academies, entitled wealthy kids, etc. A tournament can have kids from US, Canada, Egypt, Russia, Serbia, Australia, Spain, etc. and 10 different US states. Where else do you find locals like that??? The kids are under huge pressure with parents paying $50000/year at full time academies.

    The cheating in this one specific region is off the charts. Its passed from kid to kid at academies. We have coaches lining the fences speaking in various languages. We have 120 kid draws where TDs are overwhelmed. Matches past the first of the day are routinely delayed 2 plus hours as the arguing takes so long.

    And since the Russian academies have recently opened, the problems have accelerated in just the past 3-4 months. So unless you are speaking from experience in SE FL within the last few months, with all due respect, you are not speaking from any relevant experience.

  31. trust me Jim K…..the experience I have is relevant…i hope you can take a look at the bigger picture and give your situation time to play out. i repeat….players do not cheat their way to the top and the cream always rise to the top. one call, one match, one tournament nor 3 tournaments will ever keep a great player from moving up the rankings.

  32. Sasamm – So at what point and what level do you endorse parent Advocacy in Jr. Tennis? I approach this from the point of observing a Wrong and seeing its addressed or corrected?

    In the situation Lisa posted I’d do it right there at the Tournament Desk if I was present.

    Lack of enforcement of the Rules? Or is that OK with you? Changing the Score, multiple Bathroom breaks, Fowl Language. At what point would you say enough is enough?

    Understand my point we have NEVER lost a match to or because of a CHEATER, we have come very close to walking off while WINNING!

    So I ask again at what point would you say “ENOUGH!”

    We were at Nationals in AZ, leaves all over the courts, would you let your kid play? How about a slick surface? You want to stand by and let them decide. NO WAY that is a parents JOB.

  33. Seminole G i agree with the parent taking control in regards to the court conditions…that point is in regards to safety which is a very different issue than the opponent “cheating”. “Parent Advocacy” comes into play by educating the jr. player how to handle those situations on the court. The jr. player most know how to handle a player who calls “tight lines”. If the opponent chooses to call tight lines one consideration is to tell your child to tell the opponent “I want to play a fair match…i think you are calling the lines tight and I would like to get a line official just to make sure the match is fair.” On the flip side….as the your jr. player gets higher in the rankings and the level of play improves he/she will have to make tough calls. If the opponent doesnt agree with the calls. Tell the opponent the same thing “I want to play a fair match please call a line official if you need to.” Emphasize to the opponent you want to play a fair match and operate within the rules to do so.

    The jr. player has to initiate the action in regards to using the line officials. The jr. player should tell the line official “I want to play a fair match and my opponent is calling tight lines. I am requesting an official to supervise.”

    All that being said…..the officials need to step up to the plate and also make the tough calls and I would never let them off of the hook. If an official is necessary then dont play a point until an official is on the court after requesting one. Again, this is always done with the attitude of playing the fairest match possible.

    I hope this helps.

  34. Sasamm – Agree BUT your last statement validates your point Officials making the calls. I don’t consider them tough. 3 overrules Default! Period

    Until that happens everything you said is moot. I have no issue with the kid his parent or the Jr tennis environment. I have a problem with apathetic officials. Until they enforce the most basic rule (benefit to ball being in) all else falls short. So I will if needed Advocate in my direct obtrusive way.

  35. randy – so from your logic, players like Colin Altamirano and Jared Donaldson won’t make it to Kalamazoo? Were they given wildcards 9 – 16? or whatever cutoff there is? Is Kalamazoo the only pathway to be a great player?

    Do you think Player 129-196 will make a difference in the tournament or will they all be gone by the 2nd round?

    Draw was set, pathway determined. Win your sectional. If you can’t then you don’t deserve to be there because more than likely, the player who beat you out of the spot will beat you again. What’s the point of letting you play in the tournament?

  36. You sound like a USTA shill that doesn’t listen or in this case read –

    “Draw was set, pathway determined. Win your sectional. If you can’t then you don’t deserve to be there because more than likely, the player who beat you out of the spot will beat you again. What’s the point of letting you play in the tournament?”

    Please explain how a college player who turns 19 in the fall or winter or even the spring of their sophomore year can “win his sectional”? Should they tell their coach, “Sorry, coach, can’t play this weekend in my college match ( even though you gave me this great scholarship) because I have to play my sectional.”
    This is the first year that those kids won’t be able to play as the tournament has been cut.

    In the summer of August 2015:

    Henrik Wiersholm ( playing at Virginia) will be 18, he will be a boy who just finished his freshman year of college and will turn 19 in the spring of his sophomore year.

    Kenneth Tao and Jean Thirouin ( both Harvard) will be 18 that summer too.

    Alexander Knight ( Michigan) will be 18 that summer too going into his sophomore year.

    There are more……. But, will those 4 boys have to go home during the year to play their sectional…..

    Do you know the cutoffs anyway?

    “or whatever cutoff there is?”

    But, actually if I am going to quote you, this was the height of arrogance:

    “Do you think Player 129-196 will make a difference in the tournament or will they all be gone by the 2nd round?”

    Collin was not seeded last year, should he not have been it?
    This year, a “Collin” or a “Jared” will not be in it as they have not gone the “pathway”. A lot of the kids don’t even live in this country.

    Luckily, Collin having won it last year will be in and Jared too as they get bid in.

    But, there are other kids who are now playing only ITF’s as they live in tiny sections.

    Jared for example is from Rhode Island. I don’t think he has played a sectional in his state for many years. So, “Win your sectional” doesn’t apply to everyone, nor should it.

    This is an individual sport and parents pay for it.
    There is not one cookie cutter way to do it.

  37. The kids going into sophomore year of college can’t play this year as you need a sectional ranking to get into the tournament or a national ranking to play the qualifier. Its amazing that the kids that would have had the best shot of actually doing something with a main draw spot in the Open are being boxed out. A kid on the cusp of turning 19 is more physically mature and would have been a better bet. Not sure the USTA think this stuff out.

  38. We are starting to have the same problem in our section ( not Florida) with those kids, because the word sportsmanship has never been introduced to them.
    Its win at all costs, and cheating has no cost to them. And at 18 years old, we now have kids who don’t know how to keep score either. They have a “math problem” I was told when I complained to my section head, Julie.

  39. sasaam, with all due respect, your advice and experience is simply not relevant. Like I said, we have played in many different sections. What is happening in SE FL, starting about a year ago, is different than anything you know about. Its not the run of the mill cheating, its systemic and growing fast.

    No other section has 100 kid draws for locals, foreign coaches lining fences, 10 different languages spoken, 2 brand new foreign academies, 15 academies within an hour drive, and cheating that has escalated month by month.

    When SE FL gives kids 2 choices, cheat or lose match after match to lesser talents, it is a serious problem. Yes, we see the big picture and ignore the nonsense. But others just bail on tennis and thats not right.

    And like I also said, the USTA has a golden opportunity to turn this negative into a huge positive. If SE FL is now going to be a ultra competitive area, with tournaments filled with talented kids from all over the world and US, tournaments every weekend within an hours drive, wow!! What a tremendous opportunity to have an incubator for talent. Put money into it instead of high performance which produces little. SE FL is different, flood the tournaments with refs, make it fair, make it an incubator for talent, help pay for top US kids from all sections to come down and play. This could be a great thing instead of the huge mess it is now.

  40. Well Jim K. all I can say is that I wish you luck…you came into the conversation by endorsing Seminole G’s willingness to make his own rules to combat the problem. Im not denying there is a problem where you are at. But this isnt the first time a section, region, age group etc….has had this type of problem. It will work itself out…You can be an adovocate by implementing the existing rules not by encouraging someone to create their own new set of rules by also breaking the existing rules. If that course of action is pursued you will end up just like the others you are complaining about. On the sidelines.

  41. I read the article and then the comments, and it seems one of you should write about cheating as the article deals with other issues. Nonetheless, we were in Orlando a a 10U tournament and my son beat this Russian kid who cheated all specific points, almost like he were taught. Then after the match was over, he reported that he won the match that he just lost. Mom and coach, next to him not a word. I think we need to have referees in all those key tournaments where the air is so thick that it borders on insanity. Fact is kids for whatever reason will cheat and parents need to be advocates to influence and control it the best way it could be. Kids also need to be taught to avoid the lines as there is a 66% chance it will be called out.

  42. WHERE IS THIS MYTHICAL PLACE WHERE YOU CAN GET A LINE JUDGE TO STAY?

    The jr. player has to initiate the action in regards to using the line officials. The jr. player should tell the line official “I want to play a fair match and my opponent is calling tight lines. I am requesting an official to supervise.”

    1. All I can tell you is that when my son has gone to the Referee before a match where he expected there to be conflict over line calls and calmly explained the situation, an official has stayed on court for the duration of the match. The Referees and other tournament staff typically know which kids have the potential to cause conflict and, in my experience, have been willing to do what they can to ensure a fair match takes place. Not always, but usually.

  43. frustrated too…review my previoius posts on this thread to get the big picture. If you dont get the big picture you will always be frustrated with this issue because tough line calls are a part of junior tennis. period.

  44. Agree with Lisa’s comments. The TDs for the most part know who the 1% are that create problems. As I said that is why Sasamm’s point about manipulating the draw to avoid a “problem” child is more common than some know.

    Tournaments create a good size sample set with independent variables, so when the SAME kid gets the SAME complaints, “Can they all be wrong?”

    We too have seen officials stay for matches, AND we have seen them stay OUTSIDE the fence when these kids play. BUT they are creating MORE work for themselves, 3 OVERRULES a warning or two then DEFAULT. That would stop it.

    As Parents that is something we should stress to the TDs.

    When I have 2 Separate officials tell me the TWO separate kids my daughter played are “Pieces of Work” as a parent I can fight the good fight, BUT what about all the other parents (one who told me about one of them) say nothing just complain.

    Sasamm – I’m assuming you have read “Friend of the Court” What is a TOUGH line call? Ball should be clearly OUT what is tough about that! After reading more of your post I’m getting the sense you would stand by and let the cheating occur.

    Question – Would you pull the Kids you are responsible for OFF the court (DEFAULT) if they were making repeated BAD calls?

  45. I am going to say my kid can’t get the line judge to stay either.
    He was once being cheated badly, and the line judge said he was only obligated to stay for a few points, and then he had to go watch other matches.
    In all fairness…. there was a tremendous amount of fighting at this tournament with twelve courts and only two refs. One of the courts ended up in a fist fight.
    But, why can’t the USTA spend more money on refs? That’s the real mystery.

  46. I would absolutely pull a kid off of the court for blatant bad line calls. Not a bad line call moment, but an example, and i may have broke the rules by interfering in a match. my son called a let because one of the balls on his side of the net came into play again. This was about the third time i had witnessed him doing this. I told my son that he lost the point and it was his opponents point. my son was pretty mad at me after the match. he said “nobody knows that rule” i said, “you do now.”

    i have also defaulted my child and pulled him off of the court when he was 9 for bad behavior. he wouldnt come off of the court so i defaulted him at the desk. when the next match came on the court he was forced to move.

    tough calls are close calls…..period…ive been consistent…if a player thinks an opponent is making tough or close calls then get a line official on the court to play a fair match. if you have to get a line official 3 times, 4 times or how many times it doesnt matter… but as i have said time after time on this thread…..rarely is one call going to decide an entire match in a junior match or for any match for that matter. especially in juniors…the better player is going to win the large majority of the time…and if the better player loses one match to a “cheater” it will not consistently happen …and get less frequent as their careers progress.

    I guess fight a strong fight but fight a fight that is within the established rules. it can be done and players can succeed.

  47. Unless it’s the last point, one bad call will not cost the match. However, three definitely could. In the 10’s and 12’s the cheating was ridiculous. In excess of 10 points per match. As cheaters get older, they are much more selective about which points to take. To say you should just keep getting refs also plays into their tactics. Every time you get momentum, the cheater will hook a point, or cause a ruckus. Then you have to stop, and go get a ref which breaks your momentum and takes you out of the game mentally. That’s a two-fer for the cheater; they get the point they stole, and disrupt your game.

    Usually, I let my player deal with the issue as she is quite good at managing her opponents. Twice I have called out “that’s OK. If she needs the point that bad, let her have it.” which puts the cheater on the spot and makes it clear that everyone knows she is cheating. It worked once, and the other time the player couldn’t care less, and continued to cheat.

    The bright spot is that the players who are pressured to cheat tend to leave the game by the 16s as they really aren’t having fun. We are in the 18s now and the number of known hookers is a fraction of what it was in the 12s.

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