Clay Courts Wild Card Selections

Image courtesy of www.douglasbeaton.com
Image courtesy of www.douglasbeaton.com

The wild card selections have been made for the various age groups at the upcoming National Clay Court tournaments around the US. I emailed Lew Brewer (Director of Junior Competition for USTA) to find out how the players were chosen and to get a list of all the wild cards since a “WC” designation isn’t indicated on the competitor lists. Here’s what Lew shared with me . . .

The criteria for selecting wild cards is published in the 2014 Friend at Court.  It lives in USTA Regulation IX.A.9.l. (2014 FAC page 183).  The actual criteria is in FAC Comment IX.A-8 which is on page 184.  I’ve inserted the text below.

FAC Comment IX.A-8: The Wild Card Committee shall use the following criteria to select wild cards:

  • No player that is under suspension by the USTA, a Sectional Association, the ITF, the ITA, the WTA, or the ATP may be awarded a  wild card.
  • No player who has a national standing below the standing of the first alternate may be awarded a wild card unless, in the opinion of the Wild Card Committee, the player will improve the overall strength of field of the tournament.
  • No player who submits a late wild card application may be considered.  Timely entries into the tournament are recommended, but are not required.
  • A player with an established record in international, professional, or collegiate competition may be considered.
  • A player whose ability to qualify has been affected by injury, illness, or other personal circumstance may be considered.
  • A player with a high standing in a younger age division of the event may be considered.
  • A player with a high standing in the division of the event who was not endorsed by their Sectional Association may be considered, provided that the player has been recommended for a wild card by their Sectional Association.
  • A player who has been recommended for a wild card by the USTA National Coaching Staff may be considered.

Although 2014 is the first year that the criteria has appeared in the FAC, it is the same criteria that has been used for many years.

And, now, a list of the 2014 National Clay Court Championship wild cards:

Boys 18

Belga, Jordan

Marinescu, Andrei

Seelig, Kyle

Ray, Pally

Boys 16

Bellamy, Roscoe

Kirkov, Vasil

Boys 14

Bicknell, Blais

Fenty, Adrian

Boys 12

Andre, Michael

Boulais, Justin

Girls 18

Haffey, Mary

Lampl, Caroline

Oosterhout, Erica

Smith, Stephanie

Girls 16

Kulikov, Angela

McKenzie, Kylie

Riley, Sydney

Scotty, Elizabth

Girls 14

Blake, Angelica

Conard, Nicole

Elhom, Anna

Mandilk, Elli

Thomas, Katelyn

Girls 12

Eades, Elizabeth

Gauff, Cori

Smith, Kelsey

As you can see, USTA did not award all 8/age division permitted wild cards for this tournament. I’ve asked Lew why and am awaiting his response. I will update this article as soon as I hear back from him.

50 Comments on “Clay Courts Wild Card Selections”

  1. Where are all the USTA haters now. They had to have messed up somewhere with the selections? Probably some reason why they didn’t award all of the WCs…maybe because some “PD” kid was next in line for each draw? Did Antonio get his WC request in on time? I saw that was a requirement.

    Everyone should go read Courtney Donaldson’s reply to the misinformation on Colletes page. It was great to hear that PD isn’t so bad after all.

  2. I will defend the critics on the point of wildcards. I think the discussion here has tempered the use of WCs. That said, I think the identifiable top players should get the WCs and if they don’t apply then make sure the alternate lists facilitate the possibly missing entries.

    Mr. Donaldson’s reply and clarification of how USTA PD works with a player is definitely a must read. It is a description of the change in USTA PD approach that Colette Lewis has been covering on PD at ZooTennis of late.

    No, I did not write both posts here.

  3. Also, additional note on WCs. My charge applied for a WC to the Team championships in Mobile. I consulted with my section on how to best represent information to increase chance for selection. I followed the instructions. I ended up having a substantial conversation with “someone”. Basically, while my kid is improving, he’s not good enough or ranked near high enough to get a WC, yet. WCs are for elite players who have been out of competition because of injury or other mitigating circumstances. BTW – no WCs where awarded for that competition.

  4. Lisa,

    I appreciate the effort. However, the WC process is broken.

    As predicted; Lew threw out pablum, and cited ambiguous guidelines, but failed to reveal an angstrom of the process behind the curtain. All he provided was the framework for who would be excluded and included for consideration. Nothing about the process that results in awarding the WC. Who makes the decisions? (Note – I did find a list of the titles of the decision makers, and put it below) What is the weighted criteria used? Are the decision makers recused for conflicts of interest such as being the player’s coach, or having a personal relationship with the family? Do they use any criteria other than tennis ability to determine who receives them? The fact that someone at PD really likes a kid does not suffice.

    My next question is about the lengths these shadow decision makers will go to insure that their WC picks are validated. If they choose someone based on a relationship, and that player doesn’t do very well, they will look bad. I know for a fact – as TD’s have told me – that the draws are not entirely random. A draw can be manually altered prior to release and no one would be the wiser. It would be interesting to chart the average rank of opponent that questionable WC recipients face in the early rounds to see if they are on par with other non-seeds.

    In the case of a some players, there is no doubt that they warrant the WC. Their record speaks for itself. But a quick check of some of the WCs (over all divisions so as not to single out anyone by name) shows a 4-Star with a 2-9 record against Blue Chips, 7-10 against 5-Star, and 18-9 against 4-Star, another with a 1-7 record against Blue Chips and 4-4 against 5-Star, and yet a third with a 0-5 record against Blue Chips, 10-16 against 5-Star, and 24-8 against 4-Star. I would not have considered them contenders for a WC into the National Championships.

    I am also left to wonder at the lack of WC’s for this year’s Clay Courts. The Competitor lists have now filled all spots except the Qualies. Does that mean that there were only 2-5 WC applicants per division? That is the only explanation I can think of that would result in this outcome.

    And the Boy’s 12, 14, 16s divisions with only 2 WCs? Really? The boys usually have much more overflow than the girls, so it defies logic that they would only have two applicants each in all three divisions. Something doesn’t smell right.

    I dug around and found the 1st revision of the Jr. Comp Changes as posted on Lisa’s site. Below is some interesting data:

    open quote

    R1. Proposed by Junior Competition and Sportsmanship Committee
    Andrea Norman, Chairman

    Pg 27 of 28
    Part II: Amend USTA Regulation IX.C.4. as follows:

    Wild Cards
    Our constituents believe that USTA National Championship wild cards are effectively USTA Player Development wild cards that are awarded primarily to players working with our national coaches. While the members of the Committee that have served on National Championship Wild Card Committees attest that this is not the case, the Committee is sensitive to this perception and has proposed the following:
    • Criteria used to select wild cards will be published as an FAC Comment in the USTA Regulations.
    • When wild cards for the USTA National Sweet Sixteen are selected by USTA Player Development, the same criteria shall be used.
    • A reduction in wild cards at the summer USTA National Championships has been proposed in the BG18 Divisions from 16 to 8.
    • In the BG16/14 Divisions Clays, the number has gone from 4 to 8, but because 16 USTA National Sweet Sixteen participants (which include 4 wild cards), are no longer automatically accepted, the number of non-quota acceptances has been reduced.
    This same criteria will be used when selecting wild cards for the USTA National Sweet Sixteen and the USTA National Spring Team Championships.

    Wild Card Committee.
    The Wild Card Committee shall be comprised of:
    Coordinator of Junior Rankings,
    Chairperson of the Junior Competition and Sportsmanship Committee,
    Director of Junior Competition,
    Director of Player Development or the Director’s designee,
    Tournament Director of the applicable USTA National Championship.
    The Wild Card Committee shall consult with USTA Player Development staff and the player’s Sectional Association before granting a wild card.

    close quote

    While they say they will post the criteria in the USTA Regulations, the “criteria” is it exactly what Lew Brewer sent Lisa. Obfuscatory crap. The language is designed to be vague and allow virtually any selection they want. How about identifying specific factors that are considered, and assigning a % weight to each that will total 100%? Maybe 35% for wins over top 100 NSL ranked players in their age division, 35% for wins over top 200 ITF ranked players, 25% for wins over top 25 Sectionally ranked players, and 5% for intangibles. nothing other than tennis competency should enter into the conversation.

    How about codifying language that recuses any decision-maker with a personal or professional relationship with an applicant or their family?

    Or how about making the process a lottery, and limiting the applicants by setting base standards for consideration such as is already done for the set-aside of next younger divisions in the current Regional events?

    If you say that only players – for example – in the top 100 of the next lower age division and top 200 or the relevant division from the current NSL can apply for a WC, at least you eliminate those with no chance of success. Then picking names by a random computer program will eliminate the impression of cronyism.

    The current process is opaque and results in rife speculation regarding the factors that go into selecting them. I have asked many parents of junior players who have not received WCs, and they all say they have no idea how WCs are selected, but fully believe it is political, and chosen by the old-boy’s network.

    I have also asked parents of players who have been selected, and they have given vague and non-committal answers, which only adds to the frustration of those who wish to at least know how players are selected.

    Lots of bloggers have posted that the goal of even having WCs is to put more power into the hands of those who make the selections, and allow them to favor players with whom they have relationships, or wish to promote for social engineering. As long as the process is shrouded in secrecy, this conspiracy dialogue will gain acceptance. If it is untrue, why not pull back the curtain, and put the lie to their theory?

    In July 2011 I was told by White Plains me that “The wild cards are chosen by a Committee and the details of those decisions are confidential. Simply stated, a wild card can be given to ANY player who is otherwise eligible for the event.” While that is certainly the easiest answer, it does nothing to change the impression that IT’S WHO YOU KNOW, NOT HOW YOU PLAY, that will get you a WC.

    I have seen players who are only moderately successful in their own age division, receive WCs to National Championships for the next division up. How does that make sense? It is merely padding their point accumulation in the higher division to make the transition easier as they age up. If they win one round they get more points than a month’s worth of local events that they would actually qualify for. Again, seemingly favoritism.

    It is simply amazing that the USTA will acknowledge the perception of their membership that the WC process is biased, and then do nothing to alleviate those concerns. Even then they limit the perception to PD bias, and do not bother to address the rest.

  5. WC analyzer, I’ll put it simply: you’re an misinformed ass for attacking me personally and bringing my child into it. Typical behavior from some of the more unpleasant USTA apologists on this blog and elsewhere. For your information, no wild card was requested by me or needed. You can’t defend things on the substance, so you make it personal or distract from the issue at hand with other topics,

    Bottom line: very few of the top USTA kids, especially in the older categories, are playing, so no WCs were needed. What does that say about the importance of our top tournaments?

    Some of the WCs were issued to kids who have not played sectionally, proving the point that the “push play to the sections” rule is meant for everyone but not for USTA PD kids.

    During the debate over the new system, we were promised wild card choices would be made public. They have not lived up to that promise.

    Ironically, by using relatively few wild cards, selection reverts to the NSL, so some of the most egregious cases of kids ranked in the top 50 not getting in will be taken care of because they get in under the NSL.

    That begs a question that’s been raised before: the new system still encourages “chasing points” because, if you don’t get in through your sectional quota, you can still get in off the NSL.

    1. Antonio, great points, especially about the point chasing. But, I think this whole process begs a bigger question which is what does this whole thing with next month’s National Clay Courts say about the value of the USTA junior competition system as a whole if the country’s top players aren’t playing and aren’t even applying (whether through normal channels or through WCs)? To me, this is a sad statement and one which USTA needs to look at closely and evaluate carefully if it hopes to attract our top juniors (never mind top athletes) to its tournament system. That said, my son is still very excited by the opportunity to compete in Delray because, in his PERSONAL TENNIS JOURNEY, this is a big next step and one which he’s worked hard to attain. We will continue to take pleasure in the progress he’s continuing to make as he works toward his goal of playing D1 college tennis.

  6. Good point Lisa – Pre 2010 the USTA National structure was a viable competitive pathway for elite players. Some elected to follow the ITF path but an equal number of the top kids played mostly USTA national events. Sadly the current USTA national structure is not a viable alternative for the elite kids who are voting with their feet. Most will want to play for the WC at KZOO but that’s about it. I can’t see how anyone at the USTA thinks this is a good outcome.

  7. Top kids are not playing clay courts.

    I can’t speak for the other age groups, but boy’s 16’s backdraws last year 2013 were a disgrace. Probably too kind of a word. Due to rain and bad planning, there were 3 single matches a day, but the first set started at 2-2………

    2) Then, we have the summer of Clay 2012 – where and you can’t make this stuff up, they flipped the coin for the Boy’s 18’s winner.

    Who wants to play this disorganized mess anymore.
    And now,the good elite kids are gone……

    This is a national tournament, I don’t think so if no one good shows up to play.

  8. Exactly, Jeff. And why “WC Analyzer” somehow thinks the wildcard selections somehow show they system works, is beyond my comprehension. Instead of personal, gutless anonymous attacks, he should answer the substantive questions we’ve asked and that defenders of the changes don’t seem to want to answer:

    Should there be large quotas?

    Should the #3 kid in the country not get in through the initial selection process while #500 does?

    Should sections that have fewer top players get more kids into the level 1s than sections that have more top players?

    Should quotas be fixed in a way that even within a section, strong classes get as many players into level 1s as weak classes?

    Is any of this fair?

    How exactly is the current system better than what we had in 2010?

    Shouldn’t sports be about fairness and sportsmanship?

  9. Antonio, yes there are bigger issues than just the WCs, but that single component is indicative of the USTA’s mindset. They generate WC’s in the dark and refuse to justify any of the wildly questionable choices they have made over the years. You will always get “we don’t discuss individual players” or “the process is confidential”. Of course the process is confidential. Can you imagine them revealing how they actually decide who gets a WC? Then people would be able tor raise valid questions, which they are not prepared to answer. As to individual player discussions; every WC decision is about an individual player. So if they refuse to address any player by name, they now have nothing specific to defend.

    The WC process is another example of the USTA telling all their members to “shut up and take it” just like the Jr. Comp changes. The difference is that the Jr. Comp changes affected the vast majority of players and their paying parents, and were so egregious and that the uproar was impossible to ignore. But even then, they cut it back only enough to quiet the shouts of outrage to a manageable degree, and went forward with everything they could still shove down our throats.

    The WC issue really doesn’t impact that many people, so they are not in danger of getting inundated like with the Comp changes. So…. business as usual BOHICA – Bend Over Here It Comes Again.

    Just for grins, why not write White Plains and ask for the weighted criteria used to decide WCs? I would love to hear if you guys get the same brush-off I did.

  10. Lisa, very good article on wc process, but having gone through the process, it is much more subjective than most realize, and a bit of “who knows who” sadly.
    Having been to other countries, though, the wc process is pretty subjective too, so maybe that is the standard of the wc system?

    In regards to the clay courts, I have to believe the USTA is a bit embarrassed by the lack of good players coming to Clays. They figured we can do whatever we want to the USTA junior membership, and they will keep on taking. Well, guess not. Seems players, parents and coaches have had it with all the cuts, changes and cheating. Clay courts was never well run and the bad calls there are legendary, although… sorry florida people on board, many would attribute the cheating to the florida section too.

    It use to be exciting to play the big national tournaments as so many juniors were playing, but by these strange, arbitrary “play in your own section” new rules and even odder quotas,
    I think the kids just gave up.

    Tennis is an individual sport, and the parents fund it. You can’t cookie cutter tennis in the US and expect everyone to abide.

    So, now the best US players have left the majority of the USTA tournaments.
    How in the world does that help anyone?

  11. When Jim K writes that he has seen several of the players who received wild cards compete and opines that they are not very good, I hope he remembers he is writing about CHILDREN and not professional athletes. Why would anyone write on a public forum about any child? For WC Analyzer, at least Mora, Grant, Steadman, and Collins have the temerity to post with their real names. Anonymous posts weaken the debate. It’s too bad that they are allowed on this site. As a point of personal protest I am leaving this site and will not return. 🙁

    1. George, while I hate to see you leave the site, I agree with you that it would be better if commenters would use their real names. However, I also understand that some parents fear – whether substantiated or not – retribution directed toward their child from USTA if they speak out publicly against a USTA policy or tournament. That is why I decided to allow anonymous or pseudonymic (is that even a word?) comments. I hope you’ll reconsider and stick around.

  12. Clay courts are getting some of the best junior players, but certainly not all of them, and in the opinion of most people here, not enough of them.

    It never will. Nor will the Winter Nationals. Until USTA funds the creation of 1000 clay courts in the western United States, and cancels Eddie Herr, the Orange Bowl, and changes the date of Christmas, this will always be the case.

    The tournament levels should really reflect this. There should be only 1 level, the National Hard Courts.

  13. George has a point. Jim K’s comment was not appropriate,. The flip side of allowing Anonymous posters(like me) is a little moderating when they cross the line. One of those lines is personal attacks in children. You should delete Jim K’s post when you get a moment.

  14. The criteria for wildcards are a farce. They make a mockery of the fundamental of a non-profit organization, transparency and accountability, but how is that different from anything else the USTA does ?

    “No player who has a national standing below the standing of the first alternate may be awarded a wild card unless, in the opinion of the Wild Card Committee, the player will improve the overall strength of field of the tournament” could be more concisely stated as “anybody we want”.

    A player who has been recommended for a wild card by the USTA National Coaching Staff may be considered “could be more concisely stated as “anybody we want”.

    There will be far fewer spots available for Hard Courts via the NSL (there will be far fewer unused sectional quota spots) so we will be having this conversation again in several weeks.

  15. Bellamy hit the bulls-eye. Anonymity and pseudonyms eliminate credibility from either side of the debate, and eventually people tire and walk away. It’s a town hall meeting without any moderators.

    Retribution for speaking out against USTA? That’s exactly why real names should be used here. The use of a real name will demand a cause for pause and a more carefully constructed response. What you say is important, but “how you say it” is the key for a message to have a real impact to the discussion.

  16. Why not fund or at least subsidize travel? I bet you all the top players will go to national tournaments if this is the case. Have 2 national events rotating between east and west coast sites. Fund travel for the player and 1 guardian and I guarantee you all the top players will show up. Doesn’t even have to be all divisions. You can have a sliding scale – 100% for 18s and 16s, 50% for 14s and 12s for example.

    If funding is the problem, then solicit sponsorships. Make Southwest your official airline and Hilton your official hotel. They don’t need to give money. Just vouchers for travel and accommodation.

  17. I was reading all the posts and I it occurred to me that USTA leadership is acting in a way as a tennis parent, and if we can agree many tennis parents tend to be a little bit on the crazy side, apologies to those who are not. I am not implying that tennis parents are any more crazy than dance parents and other activities and sports parents, maybe less maybe more. The USTA decision makers are trying this and trying that, but won’t listen to other’s opinions just like any parent won’t listen to something he doesn’t want to hear about their child. What is the right way to manage junior competition in a country? I don’t know, but just as a junior starts resenting crazy tennis parent it is the same way many of us are resenting USTA and their heavy hand.

  18. That’s really a preposterous idea. The US Open only makes +/- $140 Million a year in Net Profit, you can’t really expect them to pay their gargantuan administrative staffs & offices and huge contracts for insiders like MacEnroe and still have the funds to support junior tennis ? hell our section expends exactly $0 net dollars on junior tennis and actually runs it as a profit center!

    ITF events in the worldwide provide hospitality for main draw participants and we can’t even do it for our national championships. As far as I am concerned organizations like USTA are why they created RICO statutes.

  19. We’ll since I personally know 2 of the WC recipients, I’d say they saved several $100s of expenses. I’ve been told WC are worth ~$2000 and up (minimum) as a start considering what events you skip if you get one. Pretty smart economics for the parents I know.

    So as most of you discuss the fairness, and decisions made by PD, I’m looking at the bottom line financially. Every event I skip I can use that $$$ for training etc OR ITFs as I continue to preach.

    So that’s what I consider a bit unfair especially those that train “outside” their sections and DON’T participate in the required events for endorsement. Save time and $$$, so that on paper is a bit of an advantage. All the changes were to drive section play, and you award WC for some that did just the opposite. Good for them but highlights cracks in system.

    1. If the system were to get an overhaul, I guarantee there will be another town hall meeting next year because it’s impossible to please everyone.

      There are flaws in every system and that’s why human intervention is necessary. If you are in favor of the best players playing the national championships than you can’t rely on 100% automated selection process because we have disparate systems in which the juniors compete. March Madness effectively uses a selection committee to keep the draw competitive after the automatic bids have been filled. Even then, there are still teams that feel slighted by the selection committee each year.

    2. Well you seem to be someone that just likes to talk and stop acting as if you know others finances and sacrifices. I know several of the WC recipients and their records and rankings speak for themselves.

  20. I don’t understand the WC. I do believe my son Asher Hirsch should have received one into the main draw for the Clays. Hes had great results on clay, a couple of national titles including doubles, quarterfinals of National Clays for the 14s,beat Rybakov to go into round of.32 at Kalamazoo National Hardcourts last year. his ranking is low due to highschool tennis, so his draw is always challenging.

    Ohio is the only state out of 50. where you cannot play any USTA or ITF tuorneys. It hurts him every year in terms of rankings, and now with the new system even more.

    He will be a great team player and kids like him. He will be okay. Some college team will be lucky to have him.

    Worried about my girls and the absolute random/political decision making with the USTA.

  21. A fellow parent was quoted by a USTA PD person that a full national schedule (including sectional events required for endorsement) was close to $15,000. Now I never validated this but consider those outside Florida or California and we did only ~1/3 the L1,2,3s (this year) and could drive or stay pretty local for our section that may be a pretty good estimate.

    I’m sure the Engineers in group could figure a better number. Winter NATs for us with Airfare/Rental/Hotel was over $2,500! Yes we used miles points so paid substantially less but that’s a conservative number. Easter Bowl would have topped that so 2 events I’m @$5,000.

    So consider the savings a WC gives that family! We could not spend $1 until Winter NATs claim injury, hardship if the ranking fell and save??? I’ve just decided to reduce the travel substantially, but considering the NSL is a bit off, point is now to get in the events not seek Top XX.

    Hopefully there is a correction that disallows a ranking below xxx to qualify via quota. Like Olympics that require a player OBTAIN THE STANDARD to compete.

    Look @ history Ranking below xxx doesn’t qualify! That’s it then that slots goes to the next highest ranked person on NSL.

    WC should be reserved for return from injury, and younger age division. That’s it.
    If sectional endorsement was not given, tough luck blame YOUR section.

    1. Again disagree it’s called a WC and that alone means there are numerous reasons to give some make more sense than others. A WC should not be given to someone who forgets to register when you have literally months to register online. It should be given to the best applicants based on their ability to make the tournament stronger period. There are tournaments every weekend near the majority of the players …..win those have a good record or beat the higher ranked folks in your area.

      Isn’t a National tournament supposed to see who the best player is for that tournament ?

  22. Lots of strong points, SeminoleG. I had not thought of the huge savings a WC brings. I could not agree with you more as to who should merit a WC.

    To the Hirsch family: I just don’t get it. I’m sorry.

  23. Thanks Antonio for your comments. At the end of day, Asher has 2 state titles and a chance for a 3rd next year. He’s had the opportunity to be a leader on a team that won state. Almost every kid is going to end up in the same spot, and that’s college tennis. So I feel that his experience in high school tennis will be beneficial, despite being dinged for living in Ohio and the USTA.

  24. To clarify, my definition Injury includes issues that would allow a parent to take a FMLA. So this would include a wide range of family issues that kept a kid from competing in the necessary events that would otherwise allow them to qualify.

    Hirsch family’s issue is one that USTA national needs to address and a change of rule should be placed on the agenda by the section. If Ohio feels it necessary to be 1 of 50 why play HS tennis, and why should USTA grant money go to public schools? I’m sure it does.

  25. SeminoleG. Its not a USTA issue regarding restriction in participating in non scholastic events. This rests with the Ohio State High School Association. It’s run by a group of unyielding dinosaurs, that don’t bend for anything. Many kids choose not to play HS tennis. The reality is, it hurts them. Missing 3 to 4 national tournaments, leading up to the summer nationals is tough to make up.
    Too bad because its a wonderful experience, affords the kids a chance to take leadership, and ultimately, that’s what the college experience will look like.

    I’m not sure about public funding from the USTA for high schools.

  26. Some other states have issues too with combining HS with USTA, although none that I know of as extreme as Ohio’s. Florida’s isn’t terrible, but spring nationals overlap with with the district and sectional championships, so you have to pick one or the other.

  27. The USTA has put into place a very limited one size fits all tournament structure which resulted in Asher Hirsch’s exclusion from the main draw of the Clay Courts in spite of his strong results and the fact that his national ranking is higher than 25% of the players accepted into the main draw. Asher’s situation aside – the structure fits no one and frankly Asher seems like the poster child for a WC…

  28. Thanks Geoff. Agree with your comments. Apart from the logistical nightmare of coming back from zonals in Kzoo and Philly with girls, and having to leave for qualifying 10 hours later to Delray, I think it may be positive. Asher has few people to play with here in cincy, so may be a good good tune up for main draw if he makes it in.

    He just made verbal commitment to University of Illinois. He will do well there, and his best tennis is yet to come, despite any roadblocks thrown his way.

  29. Thanks Lisa. I know your son is on a similar pathway and its nice knowing they will be in a good spot with good people:)))

  30. I’d going to jump on the George Bellamy bandwagon and reiterate that IMO it’s an absolute disgrace when a parent singles out a JUNIOR player by name or even inference of not being worthy to receive a wild card. If you have a beef with the system, beef away but it’s wrong to make any mention of a junior play by name.

  31. True. And apologies. Have used my name and I do think the system is flawed.it doesn’t really matter because I’m not in bed with USTA, and they have demonstrated that they will not help my kids out despite big wins over PD players.. Correct George?

  32. Slightly off topic, but was wondering if anyone knows how the seeding for the Clay Courts will be determined. The USTA came out with a new process for 2013 that created separate Singles and Doubles seeding lists that were supposed to be published at least once per month. I remember seeing several of them, but not recently. Have they stopped?

  33. I agree the wild card process is opaque and subjective – to put it charitably. My son is #1 in his section, he will be the #1 seed at clay courts in the younger age division, has a gold ball, 2 silvers, and a bronze, plays a full national schedule and has done extremely well in the younger age division this year, yet he curiously did not receive one into the older age division. Interesting, isn’t it?

  34. 2 years ago, after attending a USTA PD camp I was told “we want athletic kids, and athletes need to cross train, So KEEP her in her travel Soccer club.” So we took a 9 month tournament hiatus and in Late Spring AFTER soccer season I asked for a WC. Got the form email that ended “No Good luck with your tennis!” Wait didn’t you tell me……. So we hit the road chasing points, ZONALs, alternate clays (asked for WC again told no again) got in…… It’s been exactly one year she will be seeded in LEVEL 1s and make MD in rest of them. Top 50 so the climb from 1000+ to 50 took (90) matches including lots DBLS and no WCs. Got 14 months left in this age.

    So where they right? I say no because alternate list, withdrawals are the only reason she got into the Level 1/2s last spring summer. PURE LUCK! If not for those I can’t say we’d be here.

    Should we have gotten at least one WC HELL YEA! Was I pissed, HELL YEA! But it was worth it because I started to study the whole PD/WC and the ad hoc methods applied by the USTA.

    So when she gets in Top 25 I will ask for a WC for every event in next age. I will not play any of the section events in that age just ask for WCs. I mean for every event. Let’s see what happens. Either they give her or she starts @ 0 points until we get one.

  35. SeminoleG; The current mindset at PD and many other academies, is that they can do more with a natural athlete, than they can with a technically sound player with good court-sense. I agree with them… as long as they can impart those missing components into the athlete before they are hard-wired to play in their personal comfort zone. Unfortunately they don’t seem to create what isn’t there.

    Tennis has become amazingly reliant on physical dominance to rise to the top. If you can’t run faster, change direction quicker, and outlast your opponent, you are in trouble. Unless of course you have a better understanding of how to hit the ball, when to defend / attack, how and when to transition to net, can duplicate your swing when being stressed by a power player, and can maintain composure when things go awry.

    If you are charging a bunch of money to attend your academy, or receiving a substantial paycheck for running a development program, you want achievements you can point at to justify your fees or salary, so you are going to look first, for the player who has the physical ability to win without all the skills that really take time, such as technically proficient stroke production, and willingness to learn the sport, not just play it.

    I, and two of our friends received the same speech you did from PD. I was annoyed at first, but grateful later, as the skills my player now has ingrained in her game would not have been inculcated at PD.

    I also have to ask where the “we want athletic kids” brush-off was for Madison Keys or Taylor Townsend. Taylor is a rare player with natural all-court skills and power, but not what you would call an “athletic kid”. Madison is not a good mover, but man can she hit the ball! Because of these exceptions (and other input from “those in the know”) I now believe PD thinks their brush-off is a kindness to those of us with kids who show great potential, but would require work from the staff. “Go home and get better. Come back to us when we really don’t have to do anything, and we’ll take another look” would be more honest.

  36. Lin – I must say you’ve cracked the code! So I ask do you believe we will see an “adjustment” to the USTA National schedule for 2015, or selection criteria?

  37. SeminoleG; Nope. Once the “experts” in White Plains finally got their changes in place, they breathed a great sigh of relief. I believe they will resist any call for modification with the line that they now have to observe and analyze the effect of the new structure over time. They will not define the metrics for analysis, nor will they indicate the time for review. Every release you will see for the next two years will be vague and non-committal. Kind of like it has been for the last several years. The only thing that could affect the selections would be if the Sections themselves took a hard line about participating in the events that are required for Endorsement.

    Every WC (according to the Code) is vetted through the nominated player’s Section. If the Section rep said “No way. We don’t endorse any player who doesn’t participate in our Section’s required events.” then the WC Committee would be hard pressed to issue the WC.

    Some blogs inferred that Sections were subject to bullying by White Plains during the process for the Jr. Comp. changes, so that could impact any Sectional involvement, if true.

  38. Seen on the ParentingAces Facebook page:

    Did anyone else notice that there is a section of the boys 16 clay court qualifiers tournament that has NO seed in it? And one section that has only one seed in it? Does this mean some qualifier seeds moved into the main draw and they replaced them with alternates?

  39. One observation now that qualies are done for this year’s clays . . . many of the boys who lost in either the second or third round of qualies are done with singles for this tournament (some may receive Lucky Loser spots in the main draw). If the larger draw size had remained, these boys would be playing in the backdraw with an opportunity to play additional matches and to be seen by the college coaches who didn’t come in for the qualies. Instead, they are out of the tournament though some are staying to play doubles. The same will hold true for the National Hardcourts. That’s a real shame in my opinion.

Share Your Thoughts