Let’s See How This Is Playing Out

About a year ago, I published an article titled Quota Insanity written by well-known journalist/broadcaster Antonio Mora. In that piece, Antonio predicted that the quota-only system of entry into national tournaments would lead to meaningless events with meaningless outcomes because the draws would leave out many of the country’s top-ranked players. Turns out, Antonio is a pretty good prognosticator. Just take a look at what’s happening in next weekend’s Closed Regional tournaments around the US and how these level 4 selections are predictive of what’s going to happen for the summer super nationals. How can you call these credible national events when a kid ranked 1736 is getting in at the expense of a kid ranked in the 200’s?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

In case those numbers aren’t enough for you, here’s a breakdown of all 4 Closed Regionals showing the rankings of the last players gaining direct entry alongside the rankings of the first alternates in each age group (12s weren’t included since many of the draws didn’t fill). This information came from looking at the selection process tab on TennisLink for each age group. Those kids accepted off their sectional list have an [Age Group] SEL next to their names, and alternates have a yellow dot next to theirs. In some cases it appears sections had aging up allowances and so some very low ranked kids got in from the age group below, but I ignored those kids and only counted ones who gained acceptance from their natural age group.

Last AcceptedFirst Alternates
Boys 141575234
1536297
1485351
1415376
Boys 161874329
1370365
1306423
1248433
Boys 181990384
1941406
1732430
1678440
Girls 141510368
1404382
1379405
1304491
Girls 161609381
1449389
1432391
1412438
Girls 181706358
1552360
1530397
1450440

These are now National tournaments with no credibility whatsoever. We are going to see the same thing this summer for our national championship events. Maybe not quite this extreme, but the lists are going to look ridiculous and the kids left out are going to have a fit, and rightly so – this will have a huge impact on the Tennis Recruiting rankings as well as those from USTA.

Let me add that my son decided NOT to enter our Closed Regional because, looking at his current ranking, he didn’t think he had a chance of getting into the draw. Turns out he definitely would have gotten in and had the opportunity to gain some significant ranking points. How are parents and coaches supposed to guide these young players appropriately when the selections seem so random?

I have reached out to Lew Brewer and Andrea Norman at USTA asking for a comment but haven’t received anything yet. Once I do hear something, I’ll update this post so please check back later today. I’m hoping they can shed some light for us.

UPDATE 10:07pm 2/11/14 I received the following from Lew Brewer, USTA Director of Junior Competition: “It’s a bit too soon to make any sort of judgment about these events.  The Junior Competition Committee will be doing a full analysis of these events and will be discussing this at the USTA Annual Meeting in the next few weeks.” I still haven’t heard back from Andrea Norman.

 

 

 

213 Comments on “Let’s See How This Is Playing Out”

  1. The system is a mess. Point chasing isn’t going away any time soon, and the cost to families will continue to increase as travel is the only way to get ahead. The quota system absolutely needs to be abolished. And for the record, I’m not a whining parent whose child didn’t get accepted – my daughter is actually playing in one of this coming weekend’s open nationals (USTA level 2 as compared to the USTA level 4 closed regional described in the article).

  2. Hi Lisa! Brett Attebery here. Hope you are well. I experienced personally exactly what you are talking about. My son Sean was 5th alternate on the National Selection tournament list B14, yet ended up also being the first alternate on the Closed Regional list. Then, he made it in to the Closed Regional off of the alternate list but is now the 6th seed. That is just strange!!

  3. Lisa,

    This is only the tip of the iceberg…..

    My predictions is that Kalamazoo is going to be a very weak event.

    My son played Kalamazoo as a young man who just finished his first year of college.
    ( Fall birthday -= turned 19 in October of his sophomore year).

    Now, under the new system, those 1st year college players will not be in Kalamazoo.
    Under the new rules, he would have had to ask his college coach if he could not play in a college match in order to come home and play his sectional ( across the country flight btw).

    Shouldn’t Kalamazoo be the best players competing?
    Isn’t it a great opportunity when a 4 star got to play against a great player, and maybe get an upset?

    This was all possible with the larger draws. All the opportunity gone.
    Please what is the USTA’s thinking?

  4. Can we stop calling us whining parents btw, even in jest……

    That term was coined by folks who are somewhat affiliated with the USTA.

    Juniors, coaches, and parents are allowed to complain.

    We are allowed to point out mistakes and flaws in a system that rolls on regardless of whether it made sense to do it to begin with…..

    That being said, the complaining has to lead to a different alternate, a different solution for junior tennis to thrive. The current system is just taking away cross play and opportunities.

    1. Well I’ll raise my hand. I, Marty Collins used the term whining specifically at Zoo tennis. And when I used that term it was specifically on the topic discussed at Zoo tennis regarding the complaint of kids playing each other over and over again. Nothing more. I don’t work for USTA, nor am I affiliated other than I love my section, the junior leadership, the kids, most parents. I am blessed to be a NorCal tennis parent. I hear they argue like crazy at the local norcal meetings. I’m not there.

  5. The premise was more emphasis on sectional play. More play opportunities even with smaller draws for all kids overall. I never got the sense a truly representative National Ranking system, was a goal. It would have been very easy for USTA to use the current data and apply the QUOTA system to simulate results. So I in no way believe they did not know this was going to happen.

    I honestly believed and was told that the increased # of wildcards would allow the USTA to “fix” any anomalies in the rankings for the highest level events. Best solution would be to have a “Sliding” QUOTA scale that would change depending on how that player did and award better performing sections with more selectees. BUT would that leave some SECTIONS out in the cold?

    So in this post the player would have been able to get into the event, and seems with this “Freeze Deadline” most kids entered the Level 2 and Level 4. I agree it is just not fair to expect folks to plan to travel to 2 different cities, 2 sets Hotel reservations, 2 Sets Rental Cars, until you cancel and chose which event to enter. Just CRAZY……. No other travel SPORT is even close to this madness, and yet USTA continues to compare itself to the other sports.

  6. I see how on the surface it seems unfair, but the entire ranking system is highly flawed. A kid is from a section like ours, in SE. FL, can play tournaments within an hours drive every weekend. He can quickly gain tournament experience which is a big help, collect lots of points, some from no shows, or easy matches. I see well ranked kids with less than stellar overall records.

    A kid from Montana does not have the opportunity to rack up experience and points. He may be a better player yet only ranked 1500. The quota system is flawed but so is the entire structure that allows a kid to gather lots of experience and points by playing every weekend and obtain a ranking much higher than his skill level deserves.

    I have been to boat loads of these tournaments, the rankings are a joke anyway. The fact is once you are outside the top 20 or so, its a crap shoot. Lots of mediocre players with high rankings. Sorry, but I am not concerned that a 440th ranked boy got left off and a 1500th ranked boy included because frankly in many cases their skill levels are not any different.

    Its a trade off. Living in a section with more opportunities, and/or having parents willing to spend the money to travel, getting cut off from some tournaments, vs having less opportunities and getting included. And whats the damage? Its not like college coaches are filling their rosters with these 1500 ranked players or the 440th ranked kid. So the 440th ranked boy will still have a good junior tennis experience since he lives in a better section than the kid from Montana.

  7. The biggest inconsistency in the quota system in my opinion, is that one of the main justifications for reducing the draws sizes of the national tournaments was to raise the overall level of competition. This quota system seems to be insuring that the overall level of competition will not rise..the best 128 kids in the country will likely not being playing in these tournaments. I just wish the USTA would figure out what the goals actually are and then institute a systematic approach to achieving them.

  8. Jon… The opposite of what you’re saying is true. Kids from weaker sections are the ones likely to be over-ranked because they can rack up points in sectional play, while kids in tougher sections face deeper and tougher competition (not a bad thing, except for rankings purposes) and thus get under-ranked (I showed numbers proving that to USTA Florida folks when the 2014 changes were being discussed).

    The changes make the problem far worse: with four closed level 4s and two closed level 3s in each section, kids can now get ranked in the top 50 (!!!!) in the country without ever winning a match outside their sections.

    And, I’m sorry to say, it’s an issue of fairness. What do you tell the kid ranked in the 200s that he can’t play when a kid ranked in the 1500s can? What kind of life lesson is that?

    I agree the entire system is flawed, but is the solution just to accept it, allow it to be made worse and not offer solutions? (By the way, plenty of detailed solutions have been offered.)

  9. Jon – your implication that it’s ok for the system to select a kid ranking 1500 from Montana at the expense of a kid ranked 231 to compensate for his lack of sectional opportunities seems a little short sighted. The notion that the USTA should be socially engineering the draws in this way doesn’t make a lot of sense to me. The kid ranked 231 may or may not be from a big section. It actually takes quite a lot of effort to get to that ranking and i think a lot of kids in that range are aspiring to play college tennis at some level so to dismiss that effort seems a little inappropriate. I imagine you might feel differently if it was your kid involved.

    The reality is that we will see these sort of distortions at the super national level this summer and our national championship events will be severely compromised. Imagine if the USTA decided to populate the US Open on the basis of random national quotas. How credible would that be?

    There is no perfect system but the one we have now is the worst of all worlds in my opinion.

  10. Geoff, I guess we will disagree on this one. I have attended tournaments for 20 years now. I simply do not see the skill level of these players outside the top 20. I can not even count the number of times I have seen a kid ranked in the 200s and they are just not very good. So I have no worries about who gets in because 200, 400, 1000 means very little. The ‘effort’ is many times from parents willing to spend money to chase points. I am 100% convinced from my experience is about 5 kids in any age group each year are true talents, another 15 or so are darn good, the rest its pretty much flip a coin. The USTA tournaments are a cesspool of cheating and gamesmanship and point chasing so I put zero credibility into rankings past the top 20.

  11. Antonio, there are always going to be tradeoffs. Kids in Florida or Texas or Atlanta or Cali have huge advantages. They can gain tons of experience, play decent players every weekend, attend great tennis camps close by run college coaches. The remote kid has none of those advantages. So he gets into a nice higher level tournaments. That is his incentive to play tennis as his day to day tennis experience stinks compared to the kids in better sections.

  12. Anne, I have been going to Kalamazoo for years. Always a treasured event with the 1000 volunteers, chair judges:)))))))))
    and amazing players. I totally agree the best 128 players in the country will not be playing this anymore.

    On a different note in the small sections, the great players have left are not coming back up North to play the sectionals. Period.

    The USTA has DOOMED the small sections to have the same 4 decent kids to play each other over and over again.
    In the small sections, in about two – three years, you will see a lot of players quit due to the boredom factor.

  13. Of all the bad ideas in the rule changes, Close L4 Regionals are in contention for one of the worst. I never really understood why somebody go out of their way to play them. Everyone so far has discussed the ranking of the players who were selected, so I won’t go into anymore other than to say that without cross sectional play national rankings are meaningless. But what about the quotas then, how do the entrants align with the quotas? Lets look at one event : G14 in Tucson.

    Quotas for this event :

    SW 3
    IM 4
    SO CAL 13
    NO CAL 8
    PNW 3
    HPS 1

    Selected Players

    SW 11
    IM 8
    SO CAL 12
    NO CAL 0
    PNW 1
    HPS 0

    Obviously, very few people decided it was worth there effort to go out of the way to play. It seems the entrants are primarily made up of players who live close by, didn’t have anything better to do that weekend, and/or were friends and family of the tournament director.

  14. Jon – no disrespect to your 20 years of tournament experience but you and the USTA have lost sight of the forest for the trees. The USTA has a stated objective of building out the competitive base but then installs a system designed to kill off aspiration at the base of the pyramid. The USTA seems to agree with you that only the top 20 kids matter! I respectfully disagree. One of the great things about competitive tennis is that it is aspirational on so many levels and tournament access is central to that aspiration. Of the 128 players in Kalamazoo or in the US Open for that matter only maybe 8-10 have a realistic chance of winning the event. For a lot of kids getting in is the goal in and of itself. For a kid ranked 600 getting to 300 and gaining access to a level 3 or level 2 national event is the goal for that kid. For another kid it might be winning the level 2. You cant build the base without retaining and strengthening that aspirational element. Sure the rankings are flawed but at the end of the day they are what we have to work with. Sean Attebery(see comment #12) worked hard for his national ranking and he deserved to be rewarded for that with a place in the tournament and not on the alternate list. This system is going to demoralize the Sean’s of the world and any hope of building the base will fly out the window.

  15. I couldn’t agree more with Geoff Grant. Jon is following the USTA’s clearly schizophrenic position that only the top 20 matter, while trying to grow the base of the game. If someone can explain to me how that will work, please do.

    It’s also shortsighted. I’ve been around tournament tennis my whole life, not just 20 years. How many times have I seen, in my personal experience, my brother’s experience (once a touring pro) and my son’s experience how kids who struggled at one point then ended up being terrific players? John Isner was on nobody’s radar… Jack Sock was great in the 12s, then never cracked the top 20 in the 14s… should he have been discouraged?

    And hundreds of kids every year go on to play college tennis. Should they be ignored because they aren’t top 20?

    If tennis is going to stop its relative decline (it’s growing, but not as fast as the U.S. population) it needs to broaden its appeal, not narrow it, and, like all sports, it has to be fair. I have yet, in what are now more than two years of arguing against these changes, had even one person tell me how you explain to the kid ranked in the 200s that it’s fair that he or she not get into a tournament while a kid ranked 1500 does.

  16. Antonio, you are not being realistic. Rec tennis is just fine, plenty of balls sold, the sport is growing on the rec level. It is an expensive sport so less kids will play it. Add in the fact that there are many more outlets today competing for kids that were not around even 10 years ago, let alone 40 years ago.

    Pulling out Jack Sock is not accurate as we all know his story. He loved his high school buddies and stuck with them. So he let his USTA ranking drop. Everyone coach I know KNEW he was a big talent.

    Fact is our best boy athletes play other sports. Once you get outside the top 20 in an age group, its not very good tennis for the most part.

  17. Jack Sock played every single national championship and other national tournaments in the year he turned 15 and never cracked the top 20 in the 14s. You don’t address John Isner and the many others who were not seen as great talents and then managed to get on the pro tour.
    And I guess I’m just not as negative about the quality of tennis I’m seeing. Not one kid in Florida who’s played in the recent sectionals and designateds in the boys’ 14s is in the top 20 in the country and there was lots of good tennis.
    What I do agree with you on is that most of our top athletes don’t play tennis and the changes by the USTA are going to help guarantee that remains the case.

  18. Antonio,

    Don’t you get it – Lew will send you a T-Shirt.:-)

    Look, if the elitist snobs who run the USTA ran the NFL, their would be 4 teams and and only the players on the team that win would get paid.

    Hint to the USTA: If you want to grow the sport, and get more ‘real athletes’ to play it, try to mask you disdain for people who do choose to play it.

    Jon – at least you comments are very revealing of the huge chasm that exists between the USTA Junior competition team and the parents of Junior players in just agreeing on what the basic purpose of the system is. You seem to think its some sort of minor league that exists to identify the next American Grand Slam champion. It’s not, it’s a childhood sport, where the end game for 99.9% of them is college.

  19. Jon – basically you are advocating that we should be subsidizing kids in sections that don’t have as much talent as they don’t have the same opportunities to compete against strong talent? Should we also have tall kids getting only 1 serve as opposed to 2? There have been great players that come from all over the country. David Wheaton found a way out of a section that wasn’t Florida, So Cal or Texas. Kids can hit on ball machines, backboards and they can play adults. This system has been severely fractured by committee after committee filled with political appointee after political appointee. There is no justification for a kid getting into a tournament who is ranked 1600 places below a kid who did not get in.

  20. Can someone please explain to my how this happened? Every single junior, parent & coach I have ever spoken to has said that they were adamantly opposed to these new junior circuit changes. There was a listening tour and at the one I attended, there was only 1 person who was for the changes and there were seemingly about 100 who were against it. Was it a listening tour or was it a placating tour? At our listening tour stop, a parent in the audience stated that this new format was going to cause kids ranked 800 to get in tournaments when kids who are ranked 300 would not. The USTA representative flippantly said “Well that’s not going to happen!” We were assured that there wouldn’t be something as drastic as a 500 ranking inequity. But the reality is that we are looking 1500 ranking spreads in virtually every age group in every tournament. That is 300% worse than what we were worried about. How many great kids aren’t even going to get to play now? How many points are not going to be won by the kids who have worked hard enough to deserve them?

  21. Between all the USTA staff and committee members, I truly hope that there is someone who is a big enough person to say we made a mistake. We have been trying to plan our daughters next 6 months of tennis and it is significantly worse in so many areas. We are not playing one of these regionals this weekend because we didn’t think we’d get in. We know these players very well and it is comical the talented girls who aren’t in anywhere and advanced novice girls that have gotten in numerous events. There are so many easy wins for these upcoming events because so many good girls are out and so many girls with very poor records are in. The rankings are going to be very inaccurate. It used to be where these regionals were very strong in some sections and weaker in others, but still the range of level was tighter. Now it seems like there is going to be way more travel and points chasing as there are way more easy wins. Are people going to travel to a tournament because there are 10 kids ranked below 800 as opposed to one where there are only 5?

  22. Per AJT –
    “…. it’s a childhood sport, where the end game for 99.9% of them is college.”

    Unless, you choose your state school that is 100% foreign,
    and then the end game is high school.

  23. Agree with Tennis Mom. Dave Haggerty had the courage to force a re-think on Tim Russell’s original plan but unfortunately we ended up with a very bad compromise. I think almost everyone is in agreement that we have a badly flawed structure in place. We need Dave or his successor to have the courage to order a complete do over with a fresh mandate and a blank slate. Tweeting a bad plan which is what happened after the listening tour is not the answer.

  24. To College Tennis,

    I am from a small section, so I do feel qualified to talk about it.

    First, I do NOT believe in quotas.

    But, I do have to correct you on a very interesting misperception.

    You state , ” Kids can hit on ball machines, backboards and they can play adults.”

    Most bubbles in cold climates now go ten months a year.
    They make more money.

    So, you can’t hit on a ball machine, back board or play an adult
    unless you have the court time, and that is very difficult to get in a cold climate.

  25. Tennis Mom… there were a lot of people who knew this was a mistake before the changes were implemented, but USTA politics took priority. I wrote that “quota insanity” piece before the changes were final. I spoke at a USTA meeting in Florida and pointed out the crazy unfairness under the OLD system’s quotas and said it would be worse under the new system’s. Officials from two USTA sections told me they agreed with me but that there was no way to fight it. A top official involved in the adoption of the changes from another section said we’d have to see what happens and adjust later. Now we know what happens but I’m not going to hold my breath that anything will be adjusted.

    Also, to your point about figuring out what to play and what not to play, this is the problem with what Geoff Grant dubbed the “double pathway.” Selection into open level 3s, level 2s, the 1-As (Easter Bowl and Junior Orange Bowl), the qualifiers in the 16s and 18s for the level 1s, and the new “boutique” events (Masters, Sweet Sixteens, Spring Team championship) is made from the National Standings List. But that list is irrelevant for the Level 1s and the closed regionals, where you need to make your section’s quota. So, if you want to play everything, you have got to play more tournaments than what I have ever heard any pro recommend that a kid play, because you have to play every national available while making sure you keep your sectional ranking up, so you have to play every closed level 3, 4 and 5 in your section.

    The new system was supposed to reduce travel and save us money. It’s saving me money, because we decided to forget nationals (other than the level 1s) and just focus on sectional play. Of course, that has the terribly detrimental effect of having the kids play the same kids over and over and over again.

  26. Their doesn’t appear to be anyone at USTA who seems to care about or the vast majority of Competitive Junior tennis players. These are not the elite top 10-20, its the next 200+, the ones that should be filling roster spots on college teams. Unfortunately many people in USTA management seem to agree with Jon’s view that if you are not top 20 in the country, you are a “rec” player and your tennis is just not very good.

    I have nothing against “rec” players such as most high school players or JTT programs, but there is a huge difference between 3, 4 and 5 stars and your average rec player. No, they will never be pros, but they dont deserve the disdain.

    The sad thing is, if they have not already, the real elite players who are going to be the future pros are just going to leave the USTA system completely. Once they hit 14 they will stick just stick with ITF and junior slams and futures events.

    Nothing is going to change until their is an advocate for these players at the national level.

  27. Et Al – I’ve complied a few thoughts as father of a New entrant who has qualified for various events from Level 1s and used this year to do my own listening and learning tour.
    – First it cost (just tournament/travel) $10-15k to compete on the Jr. Schedule. Sectional, Regional, National events from my area SoFla
    – USTA initiated a change and DID NOT involve ALL the various level of stakeholders (from players, parents, TD’s, Sponsors etc…), only after much protest and possible revolt did it modify its stance
    – USTA either did not know or didn’t care that the results are as we see them today (they should and could have known) PROBLEMATIC
    – USTA National has a communication problem – Websites/Tables were not ready 1 Jan 2014 as the Level 2s/4s were accepting applicants.

    As of TODAY right NOW one of the USTAs NEW signature events, Spring Team National DOES NOT HAVE SELECTION list posted as stated ON TIME.

    So it is 11 Feb 2014, 42 DAYS into this NEW structure

    As a consumer would you PAY to be part of an organization that treats you this way!

    And yes, we have a National in Atlanta with a State of Emergency being declared by the Governor and it has NOT been cancelled!

    Yes Crazy, but maybe were the ones behind the gates.

  28. Lastly where are all the USTA folks that kept DEFENDING the changes, kept DEFENDING the TAUT, kept DEFENDING the Quota system.

    Yes the Ranking system, and Tournament structure can be debated,

    BUT as of 11 February 2014, the System and Changes are HORRIBLE

    1. I’m here and will respond, but after the Level 2 this weekend. Rest assured I will read each reply here to get a comprehensive understanding of the grievances. the reply should exceed 100 by Monday.

      I will say that for the weekend national selection tournaments coming up it was clear in the schedule that there would be concurrent higher level events occurring on the same weekend. For example in NorCal traditionally local high level events will be occurring this weekend. In addition to these events high-level NorCal players had a choice to make regarding going to either level four events in Tucson or playing level 2 in the Los Angeles area. With the number of high-level events on the same weekend more opportunities are created for players who otherwise are regarded as low ranked or unworthy of such a selection compared to the system in the past.

  29. There is a vast resource of NCAA money available for USTA (US junior players outside the top 20). but it may not be in their home state. NCAA college coaches need to be encouraged that they can make a difference! and US tennis families need to encourage their children to play tennis at universities that are not their first choice…..lets have a debate on this one!

  30. Lew Brewer has had 2 years to deal with these issues with his committees when is enough enough? Lets have some resignations and get some new blood in the usta? as i always say “your going to lose the point anyway, do something different”

  31. Folks, we just have to live in reality. The level of tennis has risen substantially in just the last 10 years of global competition. We have a D-1 player that hits with our juniors. Great guy, great size, 21 years old, works hard, was a top 20 ranked USTA junior. He is on scholarship. Many would consider him the cover boy for USTA junior tennis. He is the ONLY American born player on the entire roster. BUT, he is bottom of the roster, practices every day but never plays. The foreign boys are just much, much better. Sorry, its just a fact.

    You are missing the bigger point. The level of USTA junior tennis is BAD outside the top 20 boys in any age group. The foreign boys I am seeing are improving much faster and the gap is growing.

    And this entire discussion is the very reason its so bad. You are so worried about rankings and getting into this tournament and that tournament. Worried that its unfair the 1400th ranked boy gets in and the 240th does not. But the fact is the 240th ranked boy is not very good!

    Do you not see that the very thing you are worried about is what is causing the level to drop compared to the rest of the world? American kids and parents are obsessed with points and rankings and plastic trophies and who can get into which tournament. Some posters even miss the ranked 10s for goodness sakes!! Meanwhile the foreign boys are concentrating on technique and strategy and fitness.

    We have our top boys who do great at the Orange Bowl and other international tournaments. Our top 5 boys are world class, our top 20 boys are dang good. But then the drop off is like a cliff.

    The problem is not which ranked boy can get into which tournament. The problem is the entire USTA tournament culture favors the cheating, the point chasing, the gamesmanship. So many boys move up rankings based on being better at managing the nonsense of a typical USTA tournament better than others. Some great athletes try tennis, see that their are no adults enforcing the rules like other sports they play, then go back to baseball, soccer, basketball, football.

    You are focused on the wrong thing. The USTA could go back to the old system that you like better tomorrow. And the level difference between our non top 20 boys and the rest of the world will continue to grow fast. There will be less and less US boys on college rosters.

    The answer is not in the tournament structure. Its in a change in mindset of parents and kids. A willingness to pay attention to fundamentals, hit 10000 balls from a ball machine a week, do plyometrics, crazy fitness routines, work on the mental side of the game, paying skilled grown men to hit with the boys. No cell phones, no video games, no worrying about prom dates, no worrying about avoiding that boy because it may hurt the rankings. Thats what the foreign boys are doing. Is anyone really willing to do that? Not many.

    And thats why this is all a moot point. It does not matter which big name USTA tournament your boy gets in because the way things are going, almost none will get scholarships anyway, especially 10 years from now if the current trends continue. So if that is the case, might as well just play local and not make a big deal out of his tennis. Thats why I say the non top 20 boys might as well be rec players….nothing wrong with rec players, playing for fun and the love of the game. But if the goal is a college scholarship, better change the approach. Because the way things are going the foreign boys will take every one of them except for our top 20 guys.

    1. Jon is correct a thousand percent, except on ROG, where he is of course mistaken in my opinion. As for college scholarship’s once the SEC leaves the NCAA forget scholarships, save the team. Play tennis because it is a great game, not for a scholarship.

  32. As expected “Wait and See” this is troubling. Consider we will have 25% of the events involving QUOTAS done in a few days. So will they wait until 50%, 75%……

    What should be happening is their Computer Modeled simulations should be compared with the actual data gathered from the events this weekend. They should be waiting for the Tournaments results and then… Someone from the USTA might have said:

    “The Selected and Alternate applicants for these events fit within the sample set we predicted, we are now awaiting the results of the tournaments to compare the competitiveness of these events against past events and our desired results. We will meet in the next few weeks to report our findings……..”

    I do remember the discussion on the changes centered around NON-Competitive early round matches. So I am guessing we should see more 6-4 vice 6-0 sets?

  33. ****Jon King Wrote “The answer is not in the tournament structure. Its in a change in mindset of parents and kids. A willingness to pay attention to fundamentals, hit 10000 balls from a ball machine a week, do plyometrics, crazy fitness routines, work on the mental side of the game, paying skilled grown men to hit with the boys. ”

    Jon – I’ve got to Disagree on one point!
    The answer is in the tournament structure. If the USTA adopted a “Circuit” where a kid could train knowing his competitive schedule for say 6 months at a time, YES he could hit 10000 balls. But I argue that it is the Structure that is the Disease killing these kids. If you removed the chasing and provide firm schedule with BUILT in pauses for training. You could then develop, train, practice. With increased SECTIONAL requirements and current Natl Sched it just cant work.

  34. seminoleG, I do not agree simply because the mindset starts at the very beginning. Most every American parent wants to start tournaments once the kid can maintain a rally. The Russian system for example, the kids can not even enter a tournament for 3 years. Those 3 years are spent shadow swinging, fitness, fundamentals, repetition after repetition. American parents want trophies for 6 year olds hitting foam balls.

    You are still worried about the wrong thing, you want the USTA schedule to allow more training time. But who cares? The USTA tournaments should not even matter. Focus on what the Russian kids do and the results will take care of themselves. Jack Sock played high school tennis…do you really think there was a danger no college coach would have known about him because he did not worship at the USTA rankings altar as a 14??

  35. To Jon King’s post, please answer three questions(and another at the end):

    1) as you sing the praises of what’s happening in tennis abroad, what country, anywhere in the world, has quotas?

    2) developmentally, which seems to be your focus, shouldn’t the best available kids play the best available kids in order to develop strong players? (In fact, that was the basic philosophy behind the 2014 changes; the USTA then created a system that guaranteed that would not happen).

    3) how do you explain to the kids ranked in the 200s that they cannot play when kids in the 1500s can? I have asked that a million times an not one person has given an answer. You keep writing about the cancers of gamesmanship and cheating in USTA play, but don’t you think this is an is greater unfairness? How does a sport accept such basic unfairness? How does a sport that allows that unfairness inspire kids?

    Please stop blaming kids who work damn hard going to school and training hard as if they’re the problem. Please stop blaming kids who want to play tournaments they’ve earned their way into. Please stop ignoring the fact that it’s a sport and a tournament structure that shouldn’t just cater to the top 20. And please don’t exempt the national federation’s choices from responsibility. If parents and kids are so unhappy with the system, do you really think we’ll reemerge as a then is power any time soon?

  36. Jon – you are correct – European players are dominating global tennis. Tennis Europe which is the pan European umbrella organization for junior tennis runs 175 unique Pan European events each year in the boys 12’s ,14’s and 16’s handing off the ITF for the 18’s. There are often 5 events a week spread out over the continent – each event has a qualifying draw as well as first round consolation. On top of this each national federation runs there own regional and national events. Compare that to the situation here in the States. We have 10 unique national events with mostly draw sizes of 32 outside of the super nationals. There are no shortages of explanations for the decline of US tennis but the lack of competitive opportunities in this country might be a good place to start looking. Tennis Europe is not worried about kids chasing points or whether a particular tournament is strong or weak – they are just throwing opportunity and choice at their customers and letting the rest take care of itself. The US has roughly half the population if Europe and I’m not suggesting we can support 175 national events at this point but I think the philosophy of delivering as much choice and as much opportunity and as much accessibility as the market will bear will ultimately drive down the cost of junior tennis and make it a more attractive offering compared to other sports. One of the big selling point of competitive tennis for parents should be the schedule flexibility it offers. The current schedule offers no flexibility , very little choice and very little opportunity outside of the chosen few.

  37. Very interesting. The thing that I always found most annoying is people traipsing to far away states to enter nationals where they thought their kids had a better chance at getting into

  38. Geoff, great stuff. I think the Euro structure is superior in several ways. The have a geographical advantage, lots of high level tennis within a short distance. They also have a club system where skilled men will hit with junior boys. Different culture than here. Our local tennis center is booming, 15 clay courts, building 5 more, crowded. But the adults do their thing, cardio tennis, socialize, segregated tournaments, never involved with the juniors. Euro clubs totally different, tournaments based on skill not age, adults slug it out with juniors as a normal daily routine.

    I maintain that our biggest issue is not the tournaments and who can get in to which one. That may be a secondary issue. The primary issue is many of our boys and their parents are more worried about points and rankings from an early age at the expense of truly developing their physical skills, mental skills, and fitness levels.

    1. Can’t generate the necessary energy to fight this un-winnable battle again – especially since there are so so many problems with junior tennis & even more especially since nothing has or will change – but I think Geoff’s last paragraph says it all.

  39. Jon – it is hard to quantity of instances where you are wrong in your postings because there are so many. The boy from California who won Kalamazoo this year, Colin Altimirano was barely in the top 10 in his own section for a lot of his junior career. Francis Tiafoe just won the Orange Bowl. There are 6 kids at his level in his class including Stefan Kozlov who is basically a 15 year old pro at 145 lbs. Taylor Townsend, Gabby Andrews, Cici Bellis and numerous others who are American kids have been succeeding on the worlds stage. The boys and girls who just went to Europe for Petit As basically all came back with results putting them at the top of the worlds stage. There are at least 50 juniors playing today who have had significant results on the worlds stage. If you believe that junior tennis is filled with points chasers and plastic trophy junkies, then you are very out of touch with junior tennis. Does Europe have a better junior tournament system? Yes and if you believe what this group is saying, then that distance is going to grow. But our kids are succeeding in spite of how sub par our system is compared to Europes.

  40. Jon – yes I agree on most of what you are saying. My daughter trained for 3 years before steeping into a Tournament, then did 3 and back for another year. Then Soccer/Tennis so @ 11 she has very lively little body with little Tennis ware and tear and Competes in Lvl 1s and holds her own.

    She also has spent a summer abroad, and has a passport form her moms country. We will be leaving the USTA system in a few years so I guess this is moot for us, but I view Tennis Europe as a Circuit a way to PLAN and I guess that is what is missing.

    I see week after week the same kids event after event, I can’t say its the PARENTS fault. The system forces this upon them, otherwise they would play weak local events.

    If we just trained for 1 year (we did for 8 months) no events you’d end up in weak events, weak opponents, a WASTE of time.

    We did that and went from 3000 to ~150 National, and 900 ~20 Florida in 8 months, Most of this a WASTE and the opponents weak.

    So in YOUR view when should we DROP back into USTA events? after all this training, and at that point WHAT events would be able to play?

    I can answer that the weakest lowest events, and once again a waste of time.

    So the USTA STRUCTURE you say we can’t worry about puts a wall around the best kids so how to we get better, playing weak events?

    Answer to all this QUALIES? this is what I like about the EU system.

  41. Antonio. You and I are obviously on totally different pages. You keep mentioning rankings and tournaments like they are the problem or the solution. If your interest in this matter is because of college opportunities, you are barking up the wrong tree. The foreign players for the most part are working harder, smarter, and willing to focus more on fundamentals over early trophies. That matters much more than how the USTA sets up its tournaments. Kids develop during the day to day grind, not because they play a few better tournaments. Our top 5 and top 20 kids do just fine competing in the global junior tennis market.

    If your interest has nothing to do with college then I miss your point. What does it then matter which tournaments they play? It should just be about the love of the game at that point.

    To answer your question about what to tell kids in the 200s they can not play a certain tournament and 1500s can….you will not like my answer. Tell them thats the way the system works. Just like it sometimes works in their favor when they can sneak points vs inexperienced kids, when they live in a section that allows them to dodge some players and collect points in easier draws, when their parents can afford to travel and pay for lessons and other kids can’t. You know, tell them life is not always fair. Remind them that they are upper middle class, blessed with health, blessed with supportive families, playing a great game. And sometimes even blessed as they are, they will get the short end of the stick, it happens.

  42. FYI Closed Regionals in Mobile has openings for 18s. If any players from Florida and Southern did not register because they did not think they would get in, they may want to contact Lorraine Novak in Mobile.

    Here is what is posted on the site:
    WE HAVE OPENINGS IN THE BOYS 18s. PLEASE EMAIL IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO PLAY. Here is Lorraine’s Email: Director Email:
    tennismobile@gmail.com

    1. And, that, right there, is a prime example of what’s so flawed here, Diane. Seriously, an opening in Mobile for the B18s? Do you know how many B18s players there are in our region (Southern, FL, Caribbean)??? And they couldn’t fill a 32-draw tournament? Speaks volumes about the value parents, players, and coaches have placed on these new closed regional events. So, now, the kids who do decide to play these events and win a few matches will receive an enormous number of ranking points, will skew entries and seeding for the next events, and the joke continues to play out . . . so sad . . .

  43. The beauty of tennis is there are a lot of right ways to do it. Sampras always played up , Jock rarely did. The Williams sisters rarely played junior events. Everyone is free to do what works for them. The USTA should be in the business of providing as much opportunity and choice as possible and not trying to socially engineer tournament selection. I assume we would all agree that a fair system of logical earned advancement should be one of the goals of any tournament structure. The current structure falls short of that.

  44. Jon… your response is exactly why you and the player development folks are so out of touch and have had such a poor development record.
    First, to tell anyone, not just a kid, that unfairness is OK because “that’s how the system works” is about as un-American a statement as I’ve ever heard. I hope our teachers don’t tell kids in school to accept injustice and unfairness “because that’s how the system works.”
    Second, you preach about how great the rest of the world is, but don’t acknowledge that they don’t have quotas. Please explain how “the best playing the best” (the philosophy behind the changes), an important developmental tool, works in the context of quotas. Even some of the architects of the 2014 changes have admitted, to my face, that it doesn’t but that USTA politics demanded they exist.
    Third, you preach about how the USTA system sucks because of gamesmanship and cheating, but the unfairness of the quotas is fine?
    Fourth, American tennis simply cannot thrive if parents and kids don’t love the game. When the national federation makes decision after decision that alienates them, how exactly will your goal of creating great players come about? One small example: Florida just virtually eliminated doubles from its junior schedule. Parents and kids aren’t happy because that makes tournaments less fun and they don’t have a chance to develop the skills that doubles allows: how does that encourage play or development? Alienate competitive kids and their parents and US tennis’ goose is cooked.

  45. Once again Antonio, I have to say you and I are polar opposites on this. You speak like American tennis kids are so put upon. The same entitled attitude I see at every USTA tournament. Down in SE FL we see visiting foreign kids and American kids in every tournament. Most of the foreign parents sit and politely watch, the kids work very hard and have great fundamentals. The American parents are filming and cheering and protesting every call. The kids act like brats. (some of the Russian parents do coach in Russian, so yes, some foreign parents are problems too).

    The typical American tennis kid is upper middle class or even better off, healthy, well supported, lives in a safe area. I would hardly dare consider it an “injustice” if the system does not allow them to go to every fancy tournament they desire to. They have every blessing in life compared to many other kids around the world.

    As far as development people being out of touch? The only thing out of touch is the notion that the USTA or anyone can hand pick champions. The USTA should concentrate on more refs at the tournaments so the cheaters do not advance so much. They should forget about player development, the cream will rise anyway.

    If you are even implying that the current tournament system is responsible for the lack of great American players than you are really missing it. Great players can develop hitting at a broken court at Spartak Russia or hitting in empty swimming pools using broken equipment.

    The reason US tennis developing lacks is our best athletes play other sports, period. Whether some 220th ranked kid plays or does not play in a certain tournament is not remotely the reason he is not good enough to beat out a foreign boy for a scholarship.

  46. First, your lack of respect for American parents and kids is appalling. And, in fact, what you are saying is patently untrue. There is bad behavior on all sides at tournaments, and I suspect some people in South Florida will laugh out loud at your saintly portrayal of foreign kids and their parents.

    Second, you parrot the “entitled” mantra that has come out of the USTA for years. Who’s entitled? All that’s being argued is that a kid ranked 200 should get into a tournament before a kid ranked 1500. Fairness, Jon. Fairness which should be a goal in sports and in life. I shudder to think of what the world would be like if the answer to everything is your “that’s how the system works.” Injustices should be addressed and corrected. It’s irrelevant how rich a kid is: if they’ve earned their way into a tournament, they should get in.

    I Agree with you that the tournament structure is not the only problem with American tennis. I agree that most of our best athletes don’t play tennis and that needs to be addressed in all sorts of different ways.

    But the multiple layers of unfairness in the system and the USTA’s frequent high-handedness are alienating parents and kids. If you don’t want to acknowledge that, you’re living in Lalaland or, more likely, in Boca.

  47. Jon,

    In all your ranting about Americans tennis – the kid’s dont practice enough or work hard enough, there is too much cheating, the parents are rude compared the angelic foreigners, everyone outside the top 20 is not very good – I fail to see how supporting a incoherent, illogical and unfair junior competition system is going to positively affect any of those problems.

    You say the Euro structure is great, but these tournament changes are a move 180 degrees away from the European structure. Where are their quotas ?

    Please make a specific logical connection for me – how does this new tournament structure – with it’s quotas – address what you see as the problems with American tennis ?

    I’m am sorry, but your comments just read like you don’t like American tennis, American junior tennis players, and especially not their parents, so anything they don’t like must be good.

  48. The problem is not which ranked boy can get into which tournament. The problem is the entire USTA tournament culture favors the cheating, the point chasing, the gamesmanship. So many boys move up rankings based on being better at managing the nonsense of a typical USTA tournament better than others. Some great athletes try tennis, see that their are no adults enforcing the rules like other sports they play, then go back to baseball, soccer, basketball, football.

  49. Hit the reply button too soon.

    This comment is from Jon explaining one of the problems in jr. tennis.

    I don’t like his overall premise ( sorry Jon), but thought this was insightful… Very insightful.

    ( Lisa Stone – if you could pass this onto Mr. Brewer, must obliged.

    Jon, please understand. We are just paying the tournament fees for these tournaments. And they are RIDICULOUSLY EXPENSIVE!!!!!!!

    When I tell non tennis people what a tournament fee cost, their eyes pop out of their head. Not joking.

    And what do we get for this?

    Really badly run tournaments. Refs that are not existent.
    Two refs, but the other one is always eating pizza or in the bathroom.
    The other ref is on their phone. “HEY WAS THAT BALL OUT”
    Who knows, no ref is watching.

    I have seen the same kid cheat at every tournament.
    Over and over and over again.
    Everyone has complained and occasionally, he will get a code.

    I have seen many juniors just get fed up and leave the sport.
    GOOD ATHLETES, BTW.
    Can’t stand the cheating.

    I have seen parents who said sorry, done.
    I paid all this $ for my kid to go to a tournament, and they lost due to cheating.

    Why doesn’t the USTA care?
    Why don’t they realize kids are leaving the game for that reason.

    Jon’s words –
    “The problem is not which ranked boy can get into which tournament. The problem is the entire USTA tournament culture favors the cheating, the point chasing, the gamesmanship. So many boys move up rankings based on being better at managing the nonsense of a typical USTA tournament better than others. Some great athletes try tennis, see that their are no adults enforcing the rules like other sports they play, then go back to baseball, soccer, basketball, football.”

  50. Tennis 5, I think we all agree that the awful cheating and gamesmanship (especially from repeat offenders) are something the USTA should do more about, but the main point here is that the USTA itself is “cheating” by using quotas that prevent play by kids who have earned their way into tournaments.

  51. Jon, I have to disagree and wonder how many national tournaments you have attended??????

    I have seen 85% of the parents behaving well, and 15% not behaving well.

    Who are the 15%?

    a) 10% – Russian parents and their kids.
    Coaching out loud and loudly in Russian.

    I also have had Russian dads yell at my son when he goes to get a ref, that my son should just stay on the court and play tennis.

    When I have complained to the ref for example that while my son is serving, the Russian dad is yelling instructions, the ref will say, “But, I don’t know what he is saying?”, when really shouldn’t he or she just say to the Russian dad, “Stop yelling.”

    I see Russian dads intimidate woman refs……

    b) 5% – The coaches of the PD kids.
    They seem to speak Spanish and have no problem yelling instructions and advice to their kids, even though everyone knows what they are saying….. Again, refs do zip.

    Per Jon –
    Once again Antonio, I have to say you and I are polar opposites on this. You speak like American tennis kids are so put upon. The same entitled attitude I see at every USTA tournament. Down in SE FL we see visiting foreign kids and American kids in every tournament. Most of the foreign parents sit and politely watch, the kids work very hard and have great fundamentals. The American parents are filming and cheering and protesting every call. The kids act like brats. (some of the Russian parents do coach in Russian, so yes, some foreign parents are problems too).

  52. Lisa,

    Thanks for posting this article. You really provide a great forum in terms of information, ideas, and the ability to correspond among tennis parents and the USTA.

    So far, as a parent whose daughter is playing an L2 and of a son whose is playing an L4, the biggest criticism that I have and would love for the folks at the USTA to know about is the communication of this President’s Day weekend tournaments on their website.

    Many parents were utterly confused about what to sign up for, and how the selection process was going to work.

    The USTA had barebones information on their USTA website.
    While I am sure it was clear to them how these two tournaments worked, it was really confusing to the parents. I can’t tell you how many parents said they didn’t understand the process.

    The USTA has to realize that we, the parents, are signing the kids up for these events, and we have full time jobs at work. I am a single dad, my job is from 9 am – 7 pm, and I can’t spend hours trying to interpret how the tournament system works. And it would have been so much easier, for everyone, parents, coaches and juniors, if they just laid out all the details on their website.

    Thank you,
    Richard

  53. Jon (ha ha) – score is Antonio and friends 6-0, 5-0. You should become more family with what is actually happening at all of these tournaments, especially the Florida ones which you could not be more wrong about. While there are all types of hard working kids and all kinds of misbehaving kids, your characterization of what is going down with the Florida is exactly opposite of reality. The amount of US kids who are coded, spoiled and lazy is little to none. And the amount of crazy situations that come from non-US kids is very high. That is a fact!

  54. I don’t know why the tennis industry does not place any value in the desires of its players, parents and coaches. In unison, the entire body of people supporting these tournaments stated that they didn’t want these changes. They didn’t want any of them. We wanted more, larger tournaments. Instead we got less smaller tournaments and deciphering the entry process is impossible. And that is on top of the wrong people getting in them.

    While it is nice that they didn’t cut all the tournaments, it doesn’t change the fact that we are left with a mess. Nothing makes any sense. Nothing! From top to bottom it is a confusing bundle of $&%#.

    Assuming these ranking tables are accurate, this should be the final straw. People voted for a system that hadn’t been to a junior tournament in 20 years and didn’t even understand what they were voting for. There was no consulting of any experts. There was no consulting of any people deeply involved. Just another change that impacts us all in a very detrimental way.

    Why would a kid want to play a sport where #1900 gets to participate, while #400 does not solely based on zip code? I am a person who embraces change. But this is a change that is headed in the exact wrong direction. Please change it back to the way it was!

  55. “The reason US tennis developing lacks is our best athletes play other sports, period.”

    This sums it up nicely. Unless the USTA gets rid of the NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL and Golf, this will not change. In Europe, the only competition tennis has is Soccer. During the heyday of American Tennis check how much the professional leagues above paid as average salaries. Check it now. Kershaw just signed a contract that will pay him 30 million a year. That’s a million dollars per start if he pitches 30 games and approximately 10K dollars per pitch if he pitches 100 pitches a game. Now why would an elite athlete want to pick tennis as his sport where he has to reach top 100 as a pro to make a decent living?

    Even Agassi’s dad said that if he was living during this time, he would steer Agassi towards baseball or golf! More money and longer playing career.

  56. The problems all started when they added the regional tournaments and got rid of all those great bowls and large draw tournaments in 2012. That is when people started points chasing and ducking competition. The last two years have seen draws in one section that are not nearly as hard as draws in another section, yet they are worth the same amount of points. So wealthy people could just fly to some other part of the country and have a cakewalk to the semi’s while in other sections you had kids who could win any of the other regional tournaments playing each other in the first round.

    I guess this was done to save people money, but the reality is that all these regional events are more expensive and an awful experience for the players. I know more kids who have gotten injured because they were on court for 10 hours on a Saturday and then had to play a semi or a final on Sunday. I know one child who was out of tennis for 2 months because of this situation.

    As much as I cannot stand the 2014 changes and as many holes as they have in them, the 2012 changes were as or more detrimental to junior tennis. Those changes and cutting of great events really squeezed the soul and spirit out of junior tennis for those of us supporting it.

    Why would our organization make those changes, which resulted in virtually 100% of their players and parents screaming about how wrong they were, and then continue to go in same direction with the 2014 changes? Why would they not want to give the families playing the sport exactly what they needed to continue to support it?

    When you have a tournament director soliciting entrants (by the way great job for doing so) on a blog, there is something wrong. People are choosing not to play because of the system. LIsa Stone’s child is not playing when as stated her boy or girl could have gotten in.

  57. Last year Regionals were a national level 3 event. This year Closed Regionals are a national level 4 event. While the level 2 National Selections had long alternate lists, a lot of players in the South did not even apply to the Closed Regional in Mobile. Per our quota, the southern section was allowed 19 endorsed applicants. Around 16 players in the top 100 in the South for 16s got in the National Selection tournaments because their NSL ranking was high enough. You might expect that the 19 for Regionals would be in the top 50 in the South-wrong. The last two players in were about 150 in the South. The majority of the players who chose to play the tournament were #50-100 in the South. Around a dozen players in the 16s who could have gotten in the Closed Regional chose to play a midlevel southern tournament in South Carolina instead including several ranked in the top 30 in the South. In the southern section, we have already had 2 events with national points-a sectional tournament with level 3 nationals in January and a tournament with level 4 nationals just last weekend. Either USTA made the entry process too confusing or players decided it was worth not traveling this weekend unless they got in the level 2 National Selection. With 6 sectional tournaments a year earning national level 3 or 4 points, players may ignore national tournaments with less than national level 3 points. if both a southern and national tournament earn national level 4 points, players will chose the southern tournament as they will earn more southern points and the same national points. Players chose the southern 1A in Jackson MS last weekend over the Closed Regional in Mobile this weekend. A handful of players are playing both.

    Last year the Regionals were held in January. The National Selection is only about 1 week earlier than the National Opens held last year so players looking for the National open would find the National Selection tourneys. It could be players did not realize there was a lower level Regional in February. USTA did delay registration one week. The selection process on the some Regional tournament websites was changed 3-4 different times in January-first it listed a selection process based on NSL, then the right quota, then a wrong quota, and then finaly back to the correct quota. No wonder parents may have assume their players would not get in the tournament if they looked at the websites on a day when the wrong selection process was posted. The October Regional will give a truer picture; maybe the players who just miss getting in National Selections will chose to play the Closed Regionals and the draws will be more even. More parents will understand the selection process.

    A lot of the players with the ridiculously low national rankings are probably players who just aged up. They may have played up 6-9 months in their section and thus had a high sectional ranking but have not played national tourneys in their current age.

    I agree with all the posters who say the best athletes play other sports. Tennis is too costly and time consuming to attract the best. Unlike other sports, parents cant take turns taking players to tournaments. Even if players are the same age, they could play at 6 different sites plus some players are out of tournaments a day or two before others. With team sports, all the players are at the same place at the same time. I used to beg my son to stay with a team sport which is cheaper but he gave up his other sport for tennis. Tennis is a great and fairly cheap 2nd sport. It is cheap to play at the neighborhood rec level, and it is a very social sport for adults. However, to pursue the sport beyond the rec level, the costs grow exponentially. I spend more in a month than I used to spend a year when my son just played rec.Thank goodness he didnt start playing out of town tournaments until he was 11 and not every month until he was 12. I cant believe the kids who did all the traveling starting at 8; some of those kids already have had major knee or elbow injuries. However, once parents and players get on the tennis treadmill, it is hard to get off. If someone had told me 5 years ago, our family would split up at every holiday so our son could travel with one parent to play a tennis tournament, I would have laughed in their face, but somehow here we are. We were not tennis players ourselves; we signed him up for the neighborhood soccer and tennis leagues because it was convenient and kept an active kid busy. Little did we know we had opened Pandora’s box.

  58. Diane said:
    “players may ignore national tournaments with less than national level 3 points. if both a southern and national tournament earn national level 4 points, players will chose the southern tournament as they will earn more southern points and the same national points”

    Yes in Florida this is the case. Florida endorsement requires we play our Level 3,4, or 5 in the 3 months preceding a National event and with Natl Points + Florida points tied to them I can’t see why you’d travel for the Natl Level 4. We just had our Level 3 and several of players that did not even make the Level 3 are Seeded for the Level 4 REGIONAL! How is this possible.

    So a very realistic schedule is to Play the Florida Level 3s (2), the Level 4s/5s and the National Level 1s, slip in One NSL Level 2 played in Florida (Florida points also) that’s it. I would guess this is the plan for those in the Top 25 or so, while the rest (all way down to 100 in Florida) will go to these Regionals and earn Level 4 National Points.

    This is a HOT MESS!!!!

  59. Seminole G, that’s exactly what we decided and what I’ve recommended to people who have asked. But, if many people do that, as I suspect they will, imagine how even more irrelevant that will make the national rankings. My son will miss seeing his friends from around the country and miss the more varied competition, but what’s the point? And it’s something we also predicted: the “double pathway” of tournaments is a mess.

  60. For tennis professionals and organizers that seek to serve the game and youth tennis, the situation continues to be very sad and discouraging. There is no problem with the kids. The failing is ours. The issue continues to be trying to run junior tennis by committee. In a letter sent to the USTA president I called upon him to create a national junior tennis commissioner and end the reign of the national JCC. Although well intended, the decisions coming out of this body have damaged the junior game for nearly a decade. Yes, there are many fine people involved but they have been swayed or have been cowed to political agendas. Having been a coach that tried to raise the alarm several years ago, I’m not vindicated. Instead, all predictions are coming true and am woefully sorry that I and others were not persuasive enough to stop it. This is only the beginning, the creation of the modern regional is a road to nowhere. Unless you are one of the top 10 players the events are meaningless. That is because there is no National selection list for any of the major championships. This is not lost on the players or parents . The only players in the regionals will be the ones with enough disposable income to play meaningless events.

    We have lost one of the most important pathways of development. ( a meaningful national schedule) The next thing that will fall is motivation. This will occur since we have removed the ability for many kids to dream and or aspire toward something better. The correction for all of this mess is a very easy. Implementation due to all the committee rules and nonsense is maybe impossible. Our only way out is to call for a special panel of long time developers from each section( not controlled by the sectional offices) give them wide latitude. and allow them to reconstruct the system. Then install a junior tennis commissioner to protect the integrity of the system. Unfortunately, the blame game, arrogance and the unwillingness to be personally accountable will not allow this to occur. Our problem is we have no power to remedy the situation. We can’t even send them to a corner for a time out. How refreshing would it be for them to resign and say sorry we were wrong.

  61. Everybody having fun ???
    Anyway, I find it amazing how every conversation on this subject inevitably devolves into two things : American’s Men’s tennis sucks, and point chasers are scum of the earth.
    On the first point, everyone eventually finds common ground that the National Junior system competition has little or has nothing to with it, the real problem is tennis attracts out of shape, lazy kids with sub-optimal genetics who couldn’t cut in other sports, with overbearing parents to boot, and until we attract these top athletes, American tennis is screwed. Hardly anybody refers to the fact that American women are doing much better, and are victims of the same system, but let’s not dwell on that.
    Some advocates of the changes have tried to connect A to B by saying that these changes will reduce the cost of tennis and now Star Athletes with the proper parentage will choose tennis instead, but there is about as much evidence of that as there is that Amanda Knox killed Meredith Kercher. (Marty, it would not surprise me at all if you thought Amanda and Rafeal were guilty).
    All I can say this is why MLNB is not allowed to run little league, NFL doesn’t run high school football etc.
    On the second point, for everyone complaining about point chasers, and point chasing, and rich people, all I have to say is : be careful what you wish for. Thanks to your petty envy, you have provided all the schmucks who run USTA the political cover they needed to push through their agenda, these changes. I’m sorry, but for the last several years, you have been nothing but useful idiots.
    Generally the self-righteous point chase haters complain about point chasers going to weaker geogrpahies to get points they were not good enough to earn in their own geography, and therefore are not worthy of the points they earn. This is of course bad and makes them worthy of scorn. However, if they do go point chasing to another geography and get points by winning(because you do have to win to get points) they are taking points that otherwise would have gone to someone else, which they have demonstrated on the court they are better than. If they don’t go, that somebody else gets the points, the points don’t just disappear. They go to some other player from the weaker geography. Now however instead of the rich kid from down the street passing your kids in the rankings, it some kid from far away, so that’s cool ? I mean, I thought it was all about the best players getting in?
    I’m sorry but all the hatred of point chasers is just nonsense and the current system is partly a result of a reaction to that nonsense. Can’t help myself: To paraphrase Gordon Gecko : “point chasing, for lack of a better word, is good”. Point chasing helps distribute the competition and makes every event more competitive. Instead of petty complaints like “they shouldn’t be ranked so high because he flew to East Armpit to get his points” wake up and see what’s happening – if he doesn’t fly to East Armpit to get those points, somebody from East armpit is going to get them. There is a fixed supply of points. But I guess people are not going to be happy about that either, but that’s better than that rich kids down the block who has the nerve to spend money traipsing all over the place.
    I am sure I will be flamed as point chaser, but sorry, we are not. Aside from Zonals and L1’s, we have never been to a L2 or regional L3. May never go. As a parent in a small section where every tournament has that Ground Hog Day feel to it, it was always good when “point chasers” came to town. We didn’t call them point chasers, we call them guests, or visitors (as long as they don’t hook to much), our kids get to play against new player and make new friends. And the best part – It doesn’t cost me anything! Free market at work! They spend their money to come to me and play my kids, instead of me spending my money to go to them. See how that works? People voluntary spend their own money in a way they deem best for themselves, and the net result is talent is more evenly distributed and tournaments more fair and competitive than they otherwise would be. And it doesn’t cost you anything.
    This next section contains Math so Marty, you may want to just skip it. For members of the USTA Junior competition committee tuning in, I suggest you go http://www.khanacademy.com if you need help following along:
    Some people have questioned why didn’t the USTA due mathematical models or computer simulations? Why ? The mathematical flaws in this debacle are patently obvious to anyone with more than tennis player’s education and are irreparable : Sections vary in number of players enormously, with the largest section having 50 times the Number of Junior Payers(NJP) as the smallest. C percent of players in any given section are competitive. There are a fixed number of meaningful points, MP, per section, regardless of the size of the section. Therefore when you evaluate national rankings (which is essentially national point per player, let’s call it NPP) NPP =MP/C*NJP, as NJP gets larger, NPP gets, well to use a mathematical term, crappy. Small sections Rule!
    Anyway that’s all for tonite. For anyone I have offended, sorry, for everyone else, my apologies, I’ll get to you another time.

  62. Terrific post, AJT. You showed mathematically what I said earlier: “The changes make the problem far worse: with four closed level 4s and two closed level 3s in each section, kids can now get ranked in the top 50 (!!!!) in the country without ever winning a match outside their sections.” I just noticed that I understated the problem. Even under the OLD system kids from small sections could get into the top 50 without winning virtually any matches outside their sections. I found two examples in the first category I looked at on today’s NSL. Both kids, ranked in the top 50 and neither ever made past the second round at a regional or national open. How can that make sense? And, as I said, this will get FAR worse under the new system because of the far greater points available. Its conceivable that a kid who wins everything in his section (as some do in smaller sections), could get into the top 25 without ever winning a match outside their section. Again, what does that make the national standing list? Almost worthless.

  63. AJT

    You are very accurate with your rant that will undoubtedly have its detractors. Points chasers are the fertilizer helping a small tree grow in a crowded forest with the system the way it is now. Without points chasers, the rankings would be substantial worse. Rank beginners would end up getting reasonable rankings in many situations. A better system would be to simply weight the points according to the level of the participants. And an even better system would be to just have lots of tournaments with big draws. But only have one at a time forcing everyone to have more of an equal chance in an equal playing field. I.e. the way that it used to be when no one complained at all.

  64. Antonio, to be fair we have had kids, under the old system who had 6 first place finishes, 1 L3, 3 L4’s and 2 L6’s, and generally wound up just inside the top 100. To get any higher, you needed to start getting more L2, L3, and L1 scores in the mix. But as Inspector Clouseau, designer of the new point system would say, “Not anymore”.

  65. I’m being fair, AJT. I hate to names names, especially because the kids I’m referring to are nice boys and nice players, but they are ranked 45 and 49 in their age group and neither has made it past a second round in a regional or a national open in the last 12 months. They made it to the top 50 nationally on sectional points.

    And I know there are great players in small sections. But the system was unfair to begin with and the new system will be more unfair.

  66. I was referring to previous to 2014. It also may depend some on the particular age group and sex, etc. I am sure you are right if you are looking at the current lists that have a combination of points from last years tables as well as the new tables, in which the new points have been converted into Argentinean pesos, and the two added together, which is not really a thing you can do if you believe in things like Math, but they seem to be OK doing this anyhow.

    I any case, the I think it doesn’t relay matter the point is really the same..

    Btw… because of the conversion of points into Peso’s and the instability of the Argentine currency, the USTA has announced that they will be updating the point table daily…

  67. “Hardly anybody refers to the fact that American women are doing much better, and are victims of the same system, but let’s not dwell on that.”

    There’s not much competition for women athletes if you want to go pro. It’s only Tennis or Golf. Of the two, I think tennis is more accessible. So parents (especially the crazier ones), when they see any semblance of athleticism in their daughters get them to play tennis.

    By the way, love your take on point chasers. Spot on!

  68. I agree with Antonio Mora and AJT way more than Jon, whose argument seems to be: “Europe is great, America sucks, so let’s employ a system of junior tournaments that is the OPPOSITE of what Europe does and decrease the “base” of tennis even further in the off chance that it will make our top juniors more competitive with Europe’s juniors when they all go pro”

    Jon argues like a politician – trashes a policy for its imperfections, gives phony “straw men” analysis (European tennis parents are angels, American tennis parents are the worst), and then uses this faulty reasoning to offer a worse policy which only serves a small number of people and has the opposite of the desired effect (i.e. getting more American athletes to choose tennis instead of some other sport) – and then trashes the old policy some more. If “not getting great athletes to choose tennis instead of some other sport” is the problem, how is making competition even MORE restricted going to solve that problem? If Europe is so great, why not adopt their junior tournament structure? If we want to get LeBron James to choose tennis over basketball, how is limiting his competitive opportunities going to make that happen?

  69. Antonio said:
    ” They made it to the top 50 nationally on sectional points.”

    Isn’t that the goal of every Section! I figured this is how the Sections validate “their” programs. Award vast majority of National Points to get their kids in Top 50-100 and thus entry into most of the National Level events. So is it possible the Sections lobbied for the ability to do this, and keep the $$ and players @ home.

    Bravo to them, and I would expect nothing less, I’d argue give us more National Points by adding Section Bonus points and I’d never leave the state.

    Given the large bureaucracy with no centralized control this is what you end up with, a Decentralized mess of individual Sections that feed into a National system.

  70. My story could be the two roads of two sons.
    One plays tennis and the other baseball.

    For tennis, I find it odd that we are so desperate for information that parents are turning to a blog to figure out how the new system works. Lisa, why didn’t the USTA post all of these new changes and how the system would actually work with point tables in the fall of 2013? Even December 2013.
    Instead it was done in January and many parents just couldn’t figure out how the whole thing worked. I guess I am wondering does the USTA have a limited communications staff? Why leave this all to the last moment. Parents are so frustrated. MAXIMUM CONFUSION.

    My other son plays baseball. The National Baseball league has nothing to do with my son’s playing schedule.It cost $250 a season, and my other costs are a new metal bat every year. Glove has been with him for years. Games have two umpires. Nothing ever changes schedule wise. ZERO CONFUSION.

    1. Devin, if USTA had better communication skills, ParentingAces wouldn’t need to exist. Period. I’ve been asking – no, begging – them to amp up their website, email communications, parent education resources, etc. since my son first started playing tourneys almost 8 years ago. Very little has changed. TennisLink captures email addresses of every tournament applicant – there is no excuse for the lack of email communication around tournaments. Most tennis families now have smartphones – there is no excuse for NOT using Facebook and/or Twitter to communicate updates. ParentingAces was born out of confusion and frustration. It continues to grow because that same confusion and frustration is shared by so many.

  71. “Hardly anybody refers to the fact that American women are doing much better, and are victims of the same system, but let’s not dwell on that.”

    Interesting quote from a poster, but…..

    Think about a country like Egypt, do woman play tennis?
    Are woman even allowed out of the house?
    ( one could argue it is a safety issue too).

    Our American women face less international competition because in many countries woman are still regulated to the kitchen and marriage.
    They are not valued like the sons.

    On the men’s side internationally, there is no baseball, football, lacrosse, ice hockey, or basketball in their countries pulling athletes away. It is just soccer or tennis.

    For men, America may never see those great days of tennis again.
    The sport is too expensive for most parents, even without the travel.
    And the allure of professional money in basketball, football or baseball is significantly greater at a lower level.

    And there is more $ in college scholarships for:
    Basketball
    Baseball
    Football
    Lacrosse

    Tennis is an individual sport and the tournaments are poorly run.
    Either the tournaments are underfunded and can’t afford more refs, and/or the refs are underpaid and don’t want to work.
    THE USTA HAS TO KICK BACK $ to the tournaments.

    The refs that work seem to be on their phone the entire time.
    If I texted nonstop at my job, I would be fired.

    Rampant cheating by the same few individuals that the sections ignore ( Does the head of the USTA even realize that the sectional heads know who are the main cheaters and just do nothing about them?. Why even pay them a salary?)

    We don’t live in a socialist state where everything is paid for by the government. There are many good reasons why tennis is not affiliated with the best athletes. Until professional $ is spread among lower ranked tennis players ( top 200-800) and scholarship $ is opened up for Americans at their own state schools, nothing will change.

    I am sure the USTA had the best intentions, but they did a terrible job of implementing them and communicating them.
    It’s almost like they were being charged a dollar a word to put information on their website. They need to spend some $ here too and hire a better communication director, I have never seen such confusion at how the L2 and L4 would work.

  72. Marty… You criticize AJT for not using his or her real name, but your main (only?) ally in this discussion is “Jon King” from Florida, which is almost surely a fake name (I’d like to be proven wrong). Sadly, people are legitimately scared of USTA retaliation (you know that) and also not willing to take some of the personal attacks that some of us were subjected to when the changes were still being debated. Some people are still being trashed. Did you not see Barry Buss’ rant against Wayne Bryan and Sean Hannity?

    1. Antonio I spent my childhood and my adulthood speaking my mind and paying the consequences for it. So I give no quarter to those who live in fear.

      Barry is a private coach, not affiliated with the USTA. He happened to write a great Essay summing up the issues at hand. http://barrybuss.com/hey-ustakeep-your-hands-off-my-tennis-part-1/
      http://barrybuss.com/part-2-usta/

      He didn’t trash anyone. He surely satirized some of the players but he presented a very challenging thesis to the discussion.

  73. Tennis5, excellent post. The main problem with junior tennis is the lack of supervision. Junior tennis is the only sport where it is 100% different than the pros. In every other sport the kids have adults to enforce the rules. Yet in tennis, kids are expected to call their own lines and scores, while grown up, experienced professional adults have lines people and scorekeepers. Its a bizarro world….how can you have pro tennis with one set of rules and junior tennis with another??

    When we introduce great athletes to tennis they are shocked when they realize that at tournaments they have to do it all. They are shocked to see that experienced cheaters and gamesmanship and bullying can beat kids with superior talent. We have a VERY talented 10 year old player, I am talking the kind of athletic talent that coaches like Saviano and Macci have seen and their jaws dropped. She might have that it factor to be a great player. But she is so shy. I bet she will grow out of it but she gets owned by the bullies at tournaments. Its a good possibility she will take her immense athletic ability into another sport where there is supervision. And she is not alone, I know of many kids that have talent but not the personality to handle the current junior system.

    The USTA spends millions and millions on high performance, high salaries, and other waste. They need to totally revamp the tournament system in regards to adult supervision. They should spend the millions staffing every tournament with trained adults who will be available on EVERY court for every match. Make junior tennis all about which kids are the most skilled players, not who develops the most pushy personality first. “Are you sure” is utter folly, officials should call the matches not kids!!! Don’t tell me about the costs when you have spent $100 million on high performance the past 10 years with zero results.

    Thats a huge problem with junior tennis. Many times the best players are not able to beat the cheaters. Thats why the most talented players many times leave the game and the rankings are garbage in many cases.

  74. Marty, everyone is real, but that doesn’t mean they are using their real names. I know who AJT is, what small section AJT lives in and who his/her children are. I’d prefer that everyone use real names, but I understand why people won’t.

    1. I found Jon. that is as direct as I can be. As for AJT keep it on the issues and I’m cool. Call me out behind a fake name and I’m just not going to be cool with it.

  75. Marty

    I have seen what happens to critics when they they their real names. My utmost respect to Antonio for using his, but I am not interested going there. If I did, all you #classy people will first you look up the records my kids and try to drag that into it. The they will look up my bio and see if they can discredit that, as that always the strategy when you can’t attack someones arguments.

    You keep it classy too Esq. Keep calling us whiners like you did at the Zoo, or Tennis Parent Rioters like you did Twitter.

    1. stop feeling sorry for yourself. The Blog post generating this discussion has kids names all over it. and I will say this also, you better believe I try to be classy. I don’t use children’s names, unless I am praising them. I will also say that yes I have looked up names of players in junior tennis. Some of these players may have parents that have commented. I have generally been very impressed with these children and their accomplishments. I also wonder if they have been affected by these changes . that is have they not gotten into a tournament thet otherwise would have gotten into?

      my kid is nowhere near rankEd or ratedr as some of the children that I’ve had opportunity to take a look at. That said he could care less about the system and its led to his earning a level 2 this weekend to which I’m very proud. He is the player that “should” be the example of perhaps losing by 6-4 rather than 6-0 in this weekend’s Level 2. You know my name look him up. Detractors of the jr comp changes now have a live test case to monitor anecdotally.

      1. AJT I explained earlier why I used that term at ZooTennis, but point taken. The twitter comment was funny. Can’t ban funny. Also what is so harsh about the description as a “riot”? A tennis coach even figured out my reference to Sly and the Family Stone. point taken on the whiner comment. I wont to just apologize to those who “may” have been offended. I’ll just apologize. I’m sorry.

  76. Martennis, I do not think the honor rule would work. I think it is very simple, make junior tennis like junior basketball, soccer, every other junior action sport. The score keeping and rules should be enforced by an official, just like in every other sport, just like in pro tennis. Kids should only worry about what they worry in other sports, playing the game, not having to also enforce the rules.

    USTA sanctioned tournaments should never have ever been played with kids enforcing their own rules. From the very beginning the system should have been that a ref kept the score and the lines. I never understand how the system was allowed to develop at all this way.

    Refs will miss some calls but there should be a no arguing rule by kids or parents. One warning, then a point penalty. Parents who do not comply would be made to leave. Refs miss calls in every sport but the that is built into the game and acceptable at the junior level. But it would be vastly superior to the current system.

    Whatever the entry fees have to be, whatever the USTA has to contribute, it is what it is. The tournaments will be real competitions of skill, the sport would grow, the level of tennis would improve dramatically over time as the many, many, many current kids who achieve rankings by cheating and gamesmanship would be culled out. Most of the current rankings are skewed because of the fact that the pushiest kids who are willing to bully and cheat win.

    If I see one more of these little pit bull kids with little ability cheat and bully their way to one more tournament trophy, I think I will go crazy!! Seems like 3 out of 4 tournaments the most talented kids lose due to cheating. And I am supposed to put any thought as to whether the 240th or the 1400th kid goes to a national tournament?? Heck, the rankings are pretty much worthless with this current system.

  77. During USTA listening tour I sent in a suggestion. Basically modeled after Military Officers school. Peer evaluations! Have every player after every match submitt an electronic evaluation of the match their opponent and the official. Questions would center around fairness, competitiveness, communication etc. Each match had an official assigned so no more than 2 courts per official for National Points level events. Knowing these peer evaluations were coming prevented a lot of issues and if enough negative reports were submitted a informal conversation would be used to reinforce the rules. After that a trend could be spotted and action taken.
    Just knowing these evaluations were coming CHANGED behavior inmost, for the others that 2% they would be dealt with. Yes you’d have sour grapes but as the sample size increased it was easy to weed out those that were not going to follow the rules. So would a parent use that opportunity to throw PEER SPEARS? I’m sure they would but along with a USTA education campaign “No Doubt, to call it out” would turn the tide and at least start to correct a basic and systemic problem.

  78. SeminoleG,

    In my section, about 10% of the kids are cheating, badly.
    2 feet in balls are being called out. Scores are being changed.
    You lost 5-2, uh… know, you won 5-2
    By 17 year olds.

    The section heads know this.
    We had a kid who changed the score in two different matches in the same tournament. The TD told the section head.

    Next tournament, guess who is playing again.

  79. Let’s try to keep this discussion on point please. I totally understand why some commenters choose to use an alias – I made a decision early on to allow anonymous or alias posts because I want everyone to feel like they can participate in the discussions here without fear – real or otherwise – of recourse from the USTA. So while some of you are comfortable posting using your real name, let’s try to be understanding of those who aren’t – it doesn’t make their contributions any less valuable.

  80. Seriously, he didn’t trash anyone in that article? By this do you mean, “he didn’t trash anyone except the long list of people who happen to disagree with him” – Bryan. Lewis, Landsrop, and of course the real boogeyman – Hannity. Instead of taking on Bryan’s point on the merits, he instead realys an anecdotal story from when he played one of his kids ? I mean things like “They argue that God should strike dead any person who would even suggest any type of mandate”. Really, Bryan and Hannity have a knack for rhetorical flourishes but I must have missed that one. Best of all he saves most of his scorn for Hannity for attacking the ROG/TAUT changes, when in fact Hannity criticism’s were 99% about the junior competition changes, not about TAUT.

    And the worst things about that article is that he completely forgot to attack Antonio. I find that really disrespectful. Antonio has done so much and is just as worthy of Barry’s scorn as those other guys.

  81. Back on Topic – I am not as familiar with some of the details listed on USTAs listening tour for the addition of the Concurrent Closed/Open Level 4s. Other than “more emphasis on regional play, and increased play opportunities for all.” (hope I am correct)

    For those of you that are very Familiar with the intended purpose, looking at the SEEDs for the Level4s for this weekend

    Did the USTA meet its objective (based on what they said)?

  82. LOL AJT. Maybe I SHOULD feel offended that Barry didn’t insult me.

    And Marty, I’m with AJT. Barry Buss referred to Hannity as “vicious” and spent two paragraphs attacking him on other fronts. He showed his disdain for Bob Bryan by referring to him as “the left-handed one,” as a cheater “quick serving me,” and generally a horrible person who launched “a stream of epithets” at him. He also accused Wayne of screaming at him during a match. By my count, he wrote 19 paragraphs attacking Sean and the Bryans PERSONALLY. He somehow justified that by saying that it somehow reflects on their beliefs about tennis. Huh?

    Unfortunately, these discussions often degenerate into personal attacks when the actual policies can’t be defended on the merits. Kids were repeatedly attacked when the changes were being debated. So it’s easy to understand why people choose to stay anonymous. Not my preference, but understandable.

    The problem is that the ad hominem attacks distract from the substance of the discussion, as they have here. What began as a substantive discussion about the quotas and what they and the new structure are doing to junior competitive tennis quickly degenerated to our kids being called “brats,” “entitled,” and implying that they are spoiled and don’t work hard, and expressly saying that kids beyond the top 20 aren’t very good, implying that their needs and their interest in playing national tournaments are irrelevant. US kids and their parents were insulted by comparing their behavior and their work ethic to foreign kids and their parents (clearly, they didn’t attend the Junior Orange Bowl this year).

    Back to substance: the only answer I have gotten in support of the quotas is “that’s how the system works.” And, in fact, that is what high-ranking officials of the USTA told me last year, that USTA politics would not allow for anything else and that the quota system was the best they could do even if it’s unfair to many. Politics trumping the best interests of kids and fairness. That’s not a good recipe if you’re hoping to promote junior tennis. Again, can somebody please explain to me why we need quotas? Is there nobody in sectional leadership to stand up to a system that is patently unfair?

  83. I hope the JCC, which is apparently meeting in a few weeks, will have the courage to order a do over of the whole structure and not tweak it around the edges. Of the over 100 comments so far there has not been a single one praising the current structure. Even Jon and Marty haven’t really mounted a vigorous defense of the status quo. I hope the USTA and the committee take on board the very strong feelings here and move quickly to undo the damage this is causing to junior tennis.

    Concur with Lisa – lets keep in civil and on topic!

  84. Well once again “increasing play opportunities” and “renewed emphasis on sectional play”, seems that looking @ the Regionals that has happened.

    Don’t see where the JCC will do much other than maybe adjusting the Quotas using data from the first event? or possibly adding a minimum rank provision for accepting section endorsement.

    I’d Bet that we will see a Ranking FLOOR so that you would need to be Better than xxx to qualify for a Level 4, xxy for Level 2, xxz for a Level 1.

    Id say that with past data easy to see what number that would be, and for those that fit outside that number, wildcard applications.

    Lots of folks cannot compete in the Olympics because they do not meet the olympic standard even though they have WON their countries National Championship.

  85. Marty, my apologies. I promise to stay civil and on-topic.I bookmarked the Barry Buss article, so If I feel myself tempted stray outsides the bounds of civil discourse, I will just refer back to it as a example of what is acceptable.

  86. I suspect there might be a little bit of deck chair rearranging at the JCC meeting, but more likely they will just say “too soon” to tell “need to let it play out”, “bad weather was the reason”, etc. But no amounts of tweaks is going to make it work. It’s rotten at the core, its fundamentally flawed in so many ways…

  87. The JCC needs to budget and then hire a communication staff for the website.
    Most of the complaints are about how confusing this is for the masses.

  88. SeminoleG – what you are proposing would in practice take us back to the old level 1 acceptance process where half the draw was filled off sectional quotas and the balance from the NSL or Nat Opens. One of the ironies of all this is that SoCal has eliminated all tournament specific endorsement requirements and all national events wherever they are held count towards SoCal ranking so a top player doesn’t really need to play a single sectional event to qualify for the level 1’s. In not sure that’s what they intended.

  89. Dan, the new system is not just confusing for the masses, it has been proven that confusion reigns even for for the authors of the 2014 changes, for the Boca folks, and for the sections.

    Points tables weren’t in on time, some as late as February in some sections (and, in some cases have to be revamped because of confusion); the points tables are almost absurd (650 points for winning a level 3 when you only got 200 last year and 350 for national opens, making last year’s regionals and opens almost worthless rankings-wise); national tournament schedules were in late (they weren’t even finished last time I looked); sections didn’t fully schedule the level 3s and 4s they were entitled to; when they did schedule them, the scheduling is so erratic that some sections will have big advantages for the summer level 1s by front-loading them; and people don’t understand how to deal with the weekends where level 2s and 4s overlap (in fact many didn’t even know about the new level 4 nationals).

    Maybe most important are the HUGE differences among the sections in endorsement procedures and in what tournaments count for sectional rankings. As Geoff pointed out, SoCal apparently has an “anything goes” policy, where you could be #1 in SoCal and never have played a SoCal tournament (totally the contrary of what the changes intended). I was told NorCal also counts all national tournaments for NorCal rankings. Florida, on the other hand, is on the other extreme, counting only three nationals, and only nationals played IN Florida, with only three exceptions: the summer and winter level 1s.

    So, as you can imagine, SoCal kids have a HUGE incentive to play nationals and Florida kids don’t (forcing kids to stay in their sections is probably what the authors of the changes intended). Already, Florida kids, including mine, who used to play a lot of nationals, are choosing not to. How is that good for their tennis, to play a lesser variety of kids, on fewer surfaces and with little change in the environment in which they play? How is it good for national tournaments, to have some kids encouraged to play nationally by their sections and others not? How are national rankings even remotely relevant in that environment?

    And please don’t give me a speech about focusing too much on rankings. They are an integral part of the system. They affect the choices parents and kids make, the choices Boca makes, the choices coaches make, and the choices racket companies make, which all have significant financial and other impacts on the sport in general. If you are going to have them (and I don’t know anyone arguing that they shouldn’t exist in some form), make them work as rationally as possible.

  90. GOOD POINT Section Autonomy – Just told by a friend of mine that for the Spring National Team Event, Florida will NOT give Florida points wondering if any of the other sections will award section points for this Level 1 event. Florida does honor the rest of the Level 1s, and only Regionals/Nationals played in Florida. This event is in Mobile and seems Top Florida players took a pass. Several other sections seem to have jumped at it.

    When I see clusters of kids from other Sections surpassing Florida kids by 2 and 3 to 1 something is up.

  91. Florida will not count the Easter Bowl (now a 1-A, not a 1), it will not count the level 1 spring team tournament, it will not count the level 1 intersectionals or any other of the new level 1s unless they are played in Florida. And, at this point, the Florida points table does not account for what would happen if any of those IS played in Florida (I haven’t looked to see if any of them is). Only zonals and winter, clay court and hard court level 1s will count, in addition to level 2s, 3s, and 4s played IN Florida.

  92. Many small sections don’t count national events in sectional rankings at all. Good reasons both for an against it.
    Yes, counting national events in sectional rankings really undermines the whole stated purpose of the changes. Remember ‘earned advancement’ ‘through the section’…. I thought I saw NorCal doing this but then decided I must have been mistaken, couldn’t be, not NorCal, not Andrea Norman’s home section…really makes a mockery of the whole thing.

  93. Do USTA national rankings even matter? Do our kids have to play national tourneys to get in the college of their choice?I have heard about 4 star players (not just blue chip/5 star) that received scholarships from Div 1 schools in the top 20 of recruiting classes primarily playing the top sectional tournaments.Maybe they will sit on the bench, but they are on the team. One guy who recently got a scholarship only played one national tournament over the last 12 months; it was a level 3 Regional in our section.I have seen Div 1 coaches of top programs at our State Qualifier.

    Most of our kids are not planning to go pro. They play for two reasons: because they love the sport and they want to play college tennis. If the colleges that interest your child recruits mainly from your section, maybe there is no need to play any nationals hosted outside his/her section. My son is 4 star so he hopes to play mid major Div 1 or Div 2. He knows American kids already playing for several of the schools that interest him. In our state, kids with a B+ average get mostly free tuition at state public schools. The coaches can get a lot of players on their budget if they recruit in state. Since our state accounts for a third of the top players in our large section, it is a win win for coaches and players. I think there are 4-5 Div 1 public schools in our state. The top two mainly draw blue chips and 5 stars, but there are some 2 and 3 stars on the other teams.

    Some players only play the nationals that are hosted in their section or nearby sections; they have strong sectional rankings but weaker national rankings. They may choose not to play in California or Arizona or Zonals which would cost about $1000 for 6 days of play. Luckily college coaches have TRN which seems to be a fair ranking system to compare players across sections. When I look at the comparative rankings, they make sense. If a player earns easy sectional points by playing tourneys in a state with weak draws or national tourneys in weak section, they move up on USTA rankings. However, for TRN they have to beat a strong competitive player to move up.

    With all these changes, maybe players with limited resources should play within section and attend a college in that section. The strong and/or big sections host plenty of competitive tournaments within their section. Players in smaller sections or players who hope to play college tennis outside their section have more of a reason to spend money to travel to Nationals.

    USTA must have a lot of stakeholders besides parents. The locations and dates chosen for high level tournaments defy logic. Frontloading high level tournaments without indoor courts in the winter when the weather is bad, hosting top sectional tournaments in states and or/locations with the fewest top players so the majority of players have to drive 7 hours or more and the host state only has 3 out of 64 accepted applicants.in each gender and age division… the list could go on. Having different rules and rankings for state, sectional, and national tournaments so players have to play separate tournaments for each. Spending over 12 months to make changes for 2014 but waiting until the last minute to load the revised selection processes for the first tournaments of the new schedule.

  94. Under the old system you had to play 4 sectional designated tournaments in SoCal and only instate nationals counted for your SoCal ranking. Now you have to play no designated events and all nationals count. Forcing the top players to play in our big sectional tournaments was one of the big reasons we apparently supported the changes and the quota system. Hard to understand the logic. Would be interested to hear what other sections do.

  95. I live in a section that benefits by quotas and I will say as wel that it is silly the kids who are going to get in now compared to the better kids in other sections who wont. It is just plain unfair and my section will be the biggest villain in regards to that. But please don’t lose sight of the fact that the quota’s are just one part of the problem with this new system. The points tables are not great. The fact that in July, 1/2 of kids points will be from the old system while the other 1/2 is from the new system, is simply absurd.

    But that is just the start. How about the amount of tennis that kids have to play in these regionals over the course of 3 days? How about the amount of opportunity that got taken away because it was going to be pushed back into the section? How many sections actually added opportunity? Was there a coordinated plan? Our section didn’t add any more tournaments. I haven’t heard of anyone who’s section added the opportunity back locally. That was whole premise. They were going to have us all save money because the play was pushed back to the section and we didn’t have to buy so many airline tickets, hotel rooms and rent a cars.

    Since all the choice has been taken away from us, we now have to play pretty much everything we can no matter what the cost is. And we don’t have any new local tournaments. We are already seeing higher expenses and the year is just starting. I cannot for the life of me figure out why they made all these changes? We are almost through the system, but I hope for future families, they start over and do it right.

  96. A lot of good points. In talking about all the confusion on the USTA’s part, I forgot to mention that the selection process for clay courts and hard courts has yet to be updated.

    Diane, the new system may actually create some problems for TRN because the more limited amount of inter-sectional play will make it tougher to evaluate players. Probably not a huge deal, but not insignificant.

    Allison, I’d ove to know if any section has added opportunity. As I pointed out last year to the USTA, Florida has actively CUT opportunity. In 2011, there were 522 tournaments in the boys’ 14s. In 2013, there were 450. This year, there are only 360 (I assume that’s because they haven’t finished the schedule, but there will not be more than 450). On top of that, they have virtually eliminated doubles tournaments. Last year, there were about 140 opportunities, depending on age group. The original plan for this year was to have only 5. They have just changed that to make it 10 tournaments because they had not included one of the two level 3 doubles or the four level 4 doubles that, under the 2014 changes, would allow kids to earn national points. From 140 to 10.

    Part of me has trouble blaming them because it is all so ridiculously confusing. But, if they insisted on doing this despite such overwhelming opposition, they should have gotten it right.

  97. Eastern section has only two nationals count for total sectional points.
    Originally, it was just going to be one national, but they decided to keep it at two.
    Also, the super six tournament ( our sectional – only 6 a year) is the same weekend as the qualifier for Easter Bowl..Doesn’t anyone look at a calendar anymore?

    Lisa……. do you think Lew should know the sectionals are making this whole process BIZARRE by having such different rules?
    This is so unfair, it is really off the charts.
    If So Cal player can have 6 nationals and no sectionals, and Eastern only allows you two nationals and 4 sectionals, who do you think ends up the better player?

  98. Diane says –

    “I have heard about 4 star players (not just blue chip/5 star) that received scholarships from Div 1 schools in the top 20 of recruiting classes primarily playing the top sectional tournaments.Maybe they will sit on the bench, but they are on the team. ”

    Diane, sometimes the 4 star player is:
    1) A super smart student with great gpa and great SATS.
    He brings up the AI for the team.
    He also gets a free ride based on academics.
    He might get more $$$$ than the best player on the team,
    but his money comes from a different source.

    2) He is a legacy.

    3) He is the professor’s son.

    Most likely, he will not be playing though.

    —————-

    “Luckily college coaches have TRN which seems to be a fair ranking system to compare players across sections. When I look at the comparative rankings, they make sense.”

    TRN fought these changes as hard as everyone else did.
    Their rankings make sense ONLY if there is cross play.
    Without cross play, it’s not going to be meaningful anymore.
    Forget the USTA rankings, they are off the charts with the crazy point values.

    Videotape your son ( no music) playing a competitive match and have him send that off to the coaches.

  99. Antonio you are correct. ~300+ events lost in Florida that aren’t coming back. Several great TDs lost events and had others go away. Reason was too many un filled draws and kids dashing across state gobbling up points. Level 6 used be 2-3 month different weekends but then Went to 1 month same week last year. Now back to 1-2 in months with no higher level events going on. With the elimination of DBLS roughly 25% less sectional play options. Also consider draw sizes were also reduced.

  100. This is astounding to read about the way different sections are making different rules on how players will populate their sectional standing list…
    You are going to hear a huge blowback if this is all true.

  101. Sections have always had almost complete Autonomy in how they calculate their sectional standing. And policies have been quite different for some time, there is nothing new about that.

    The dumbfounding thing though is that the intent of the changes was to make sectional play more important and national less important, but sections appear to be making changes to their ranking polices that promote the exact opposite of this.

    Always keep in mind that many thing are significantly different between sections. And they have to be becuase things that work for a large sections don’t work for smaller sections.

    Part of this crisis is brought on by a lot of assuming by people that things are the same in all sections.

  102. What is the USTA’s comment on the fact that there has been no sectional opportunity added to replace the National opportunity that was taken away?

  103. Agreed, AJT, but the 2014 changes exacerbate, big time, the consequences of the differences between sections. Here are two examples that will get very dense because the whole system is so unnecessarily complicated:

    1) Sections that encourage national play by counting all points from all national tournaments, will, almost certainly, have a higher proportion of kids in the top 150 than sections such as Eastern and Florida, that discourage national play by counting few nationals. Why does that matter? The more kids a section has in the top 150, the greater that section’s quota will be (the section’s “strength” element of the quota equation will grow). Of course, both make the national rankings even more worthless.

    2) Because of the much greater national points that kids can now earn in their sections, any disparities in scheduling among sections can make a big difference, further messing up the rankings and the selection process. If Florida had kept to its original decision not to schedule five of the six sectional doubles tournaments that give national points, Florida kids would have had, approximately, an 11% handicap compared to kids in sections that fully scheduled all allowed tournaments. I haven’t checked recently, but, earlier this year, there were a couple of other sections that hadn’t fully scheduled. Again, this matters because any handicap means fewer kids from your section will get into the top 150 and that means your section’s quota will decline.

  104. I am surprised about everyone’s anger against quotas. All our pro and college sports use quotas! Doesn’t the NBA, MLB, NFL have quotas on who gets to the playoffs? In the NBA it’s the top 8 teams in the Eastern and the Western Conference that advance regardless of their records. They don’t pick the top 16 teams league wide to play don’t they? Doesn’t the NFL do the same and MLB as well? Should we tell them to stop awarding the winner of their divisions spots in the playoffs because they don’t have better win-loss records than another team from another division? The most exciting month of basketball — March Madness — is largely based on quotas. Whoever win their conferences regardless of how small and “weak” they are get a chance to play. Sure the 1 vs 8 seeds are 99% pretty bad matchups, but don’t we get the periodic upsets too, with Cinderella teams making the Final Four? Are those teams any less deserving than the bigger schools who had a better record and did not make it?

    Lastly, don’t we elect our president based on quotas? 😉

    I think it has been explained a lot here already that the USTA’s goal is to drive play back in to the sections. They can’t control it if their top seeds decide not to play and the spot gets awarded to the next players in the list. The reality is, these are the rules now and someone would always be left out. That’s just how it is. Is it really that bad for the player ranked 200 that he missed this tournament? In the whole scheme of things, would it stunt his development? Maybe instead of shouting “injustice” a better alternative for him is to work on his game and get his rankings up by beating the 199 players in front of him.

    My daughter is a beneficiary of this quota system. She was lucky that the top players in our section all decided to play the National L2. She’s ranked higher than 500 in the NSL because she hasn’t played that many national tournaments. However, looking at the draw, there are 4 girls there that she has beat before that are ranked much higher than her. So like what was said many times here already, don’t put too much stock on the ranking system. It’s funny how people bash it as inaccurate but want it to be followed when deciding who gets to play where.

    There is no perfect system out there. I’m sure even the much-hyped European system has its flaws. And I am sure there are parents over there complaining about it too if it doesn’t work in their favor.

    Bottom line is, provide your children the best path to be successful. Not everything will work in their favor every time. It doesn’t matter what tournaments they get to play in or not. The cream always rises to the top. To the 200th ranked player that did not get in, use this as motivation to work on your game so you can beat the 199 players in front of you so this situation doesn’t happen again — remember, it’s only 1 tournament.

    1. For a New Tennis Dad, NewTennisDad sure makes a lot of sense to me! 🙂 All this fighting seems pretty pointless anyway…Haven’t we seen this movie before? Wish we could all try to make the best of what is arguably not the best of situations since who gets in to what tournament is just one of the zillions of problems with junior tennis. 🙁

  105. “What is the USTA’s comment on the fact that there has been no sectional opportunity added to replace the National opportunity that was taken away?”

    I asked this very question @ a PD Camp. “We can only ask, we cannot force the sections to follow suit!”

    This is why the vote on these changes was made by Sections knowing they had a Plan for THEIR membership. I do not fault them at all, frankly with all the negative response they were getting from their members I applaud the sections for using this system.

    Florida had more, but has enuff Natl Level events and Sectional/Regional events to keep players in Top 150.

    You can see very few players come to the state when we have Regionals, you have a SoFla kid in the 100s dusting off kids 50 -75 places higher. Last Regional we played my daughter played someone ~80 won 0,2 when she was in the 200s Natl (~25 Fla)

    So yes Florida has a chest full of solid players many will never crack the TOP 150 because they don’t have to, Florida Section knows it because the strongest will with Natl point Florida events remain in the Top 50.

  106. SeminoleG

    But they didn’t tell people at the listening tour that they were going to ASK to have play added back to the sections. They told people that they were definitively going push play back into the sections. People didn’t know enough to ask if it was possible or not. They just assumed that when a USTA leader is saying that play will be pushed back, they actually have the ability to do so.

  107. These events are L4s and that should moderate the ranking skew.

    I believe the under-subscription this time may be because many did not understand that these closed regionals were an option open to their kid.

  108. NewtennisDad excellent post. American tennis would be much better off if parents and kids focused 100 times more on self improvement rather than rankings.

    Hightechtennis also nice post. There are lots of issues with junior tennis, the biggest one is the fact that the junior tournament system greatly favors aggressive personalities over less confrontational kids. Amazing how many timid yet talented kids are run out of tournaments by the less talented bullies.

    Lisa, the NBA is not earned advancement as far as who gets into the playoffs, its a quota. 8 teams from each conference make the playoffs, no matter if other teams are better. This year the west has almost all the best teams, but will get only half the playoff slots. Teams from the east will be in the playoffs at the expense of superior western teams.

  109. “American tennis would be much better off if parents and kids focused 100 times more on self improvement rather than rankings.”

    How do you improve without playing solid kids? Thus the need for competition, and how do you determine who gets in those competitions?

    Drill for 1-2-3-4 …… Years? You need a system, a Circuit would be nice with fixed schedule but we don’t have that.

  110. New Tennis Dad – In a perfect world with every kid about the *****same relative***** ability everything you said is correct.

    The QUOTA systems you refer to in TEAM sports is very different. You should have argued that EVERY fighter will eventually get a chance at fighting the CHAMP in Boxing, or MMA.

    That doesn’t happen because EVERYONE in MLB/NBA etc are on the SAME relative Playing level.

    The first place MLB team is much better than the last place team but MUCH MUCH MUCH better than a Triple A team. Same with the NBA or the D league.

    Tennis and Junior Tennis has VASTLY different skill levels. In your analogy a 40 year old Tour pro should get into the US OPEN.

    The FIX to make your argument Correct would be for the USTA to evaluate every kid, separate them into Groups A,B,C,D and have Circuit style events with Round Robins. The D Level kid would move up after conquering the D kids and them move to C.

    Much like they do in the EUROPEAN soccer leagues.

    But until you have a base level of playing QUOTAs will never be fair/representative/ or reflect true ability to compete Peer to Peer

  111. SeminoleG, I see so many terrible serves from high ranked players at these tournaments. I see terrible volleys. I see poor footwork and anticipation skills. All of these things can be and should have been worked on BEFORE any tournaments were played. And they can be worked on without a partner even. How can kids go to tournaments with bad serves when they could hit basket after basket at the local court all by themselves with no need for outside help??

    No technical improvement happens at a tournament. Playing an hour match then sitting around for 3 hours. Improvement happens in practice. Tournaments are valuable for other reasons, learning to compete, etc. But the problem is many USTA kids are experts at managing tournaments but lousy at the basics such as serves.

    And it starts early. The G10 green dot this weekend in Coral Springs has 42 boys and girls entered ages 8-11, all fighting for a trophy with parents cheering. And I guarantee you 40 of them have no idea how to serve properly. And most will start on the circuit, rankings, points, etc. and never take the time to learn a proper serve. Some will bully their way up the rankings, others will use early size to win, others may hit a great forehand enough to win.

    And they will get passed by down the line by foreign players who focused way more on fundamentals at that early age over plastic trinkets. And 5 years from now the parents will complain about no college scholarships for Americans and their 240th ranked kid did not get into a certain tournament. Wash, rinse, repeat.

  112. The arguments that “we should focus on improvement” (are you serious? do you think we’re not doing that? most kids spend far more time training and focusing on improvement than kids in any other American sport) and that “there are lots of other problems in junior tennis” are distractions from the issue. I’m happy to discuss the other problems (I have, ad nauseam, for the past two years) but quotas are a big issue and issue that’s affecting kids directly THIS WEEK.

    It’s silly to get distracted and let the USTA get away with something that nobody, even the USTA, even tries to seriously defend.

  113. Antonio, please stop trying to bully us. We have a right to discuss what we feel is important also. These topics are all related. The very fact so many American tennis parents worry about quotas and rankings is the entire problem.

    No, we do NOT focus on improvement nearly enough. I am in the trenches and have been for 20 plus years now. I see the TAUT kids and parents, the 10s, the 12s, the 14s. I have also traveled and see numerous foreign training methods, Russians, Spanish, Bosnian, French. I just spent yesterday afternoon with a top French junior coach.

    The American attitude is different. The parents bring in kid after kid 6-7-8-9. Once they can rally they want to compete. Practice matches with beginning kids the parents act like its the Open. They then jump into these Orange and Green ball tournaments worrying from day 1 about who plays who, who beat who. Then its on to the 12s and rankings.

    Thats what is in the older tournaments. Mostly kids who got into competing long before they should have, with lousy fundamentals. They have no clue how to construct a point. And that is why the rankings of 240 or 1440 are meaningless. And thats also why you and others who worry about it at the expense of truly teaching the game like the foreign coaches do are not part of the solution.

  114. Oh please, Jon. Keep your mantra going about how foreign kids and foreign training are so much better. Keep believing that kids at Spartak play “shadow tennis for three years. Keep believing that American kids will be encouraged to stick with a sport if there isn’t any competition. Kids everywhere compete and compete early.

    And while practice is more important for development than tournaments there are HUGE developmental and learning aspects to tournament play. In fact, in some cases you can learn more about what a kid needs to work on, physically and mentally, from tournament play than from practice.

    But what I find most offensive is how you continually blame American kids and American parents for what ails American tennis, giving a free pass to the USTA. I don’t know who you are, but this is a lot of what we’ve heard USTA-affiliated folks say for a while now and why people are very legitimately upset.

  115. I’m trying to bully? People have tried to keep this discussion on point, but you have called American kids “brats,” them and their parents “entitled,” trashed their behavior, said kids don’t work hard, implied our coaches are worthless because they don’t have our kids playing “shadow tennis” for three years (I’m sure Sampras and Agassi did), said foreign parents and kids are virtually saintly, and I’m the bully?

  116. Antonio, we will just have to disagree on this one. I think you are approaching the problem totally backwards. I just went to both the junior Orange Bowl and the 16s-18s Orange Bowl. The American kids past the top few are BAD. It is what it is, they can not serve, they can not construct a point.

    Once you get past the top 5 world class kids, and the top 20 really good kids, the rest are not good players. And that is because they compete at the expense of developing the game.

    This is not a mystery. Many stories have been written on how American male soccer focuses on early competition and other countries do not. How the Russian tennis focuses on technique over early competition. Our culture stresses plastic trophies for 5 year olds.

    In many ways our early competition model works great….in tennis not so much. Tennis requires lots and lots of boring hours working on ones game alone, serving alone, volleys on a wall, watching and shadowing players on Tennis Channel.

    Just go down to the Russian academy in Deerfield Beach, FL. Watch the 6 year olds hitting volleys for an hour vs a ball machine. Watch the kids spend hour after hour drilling. Then go up the street to the American academy and see the difference, all competition, must win using bad technique. The American kids roll their eyes if the drill lasts more than 10 minutes.

  117. New Tennis Dad

    if you really are a new tennis dad, then you are too new to understand how wrong you are. Junior tennis is hanging in a precarious balance. There are so few kids picking up this sport now that we can’t afford to lose any because we made a confusing or unfair system. And that is what we have done here with this new system. From top to bottom it doesn’t make any sense. There is a reason that nearly every parent, tournament director and coach at every tournament complain about it. Because those are the people who understand the system as they are directly involved in it. Their lives are controlled by it as it decides where they spend their weekends. Saying that even 5% of the tennis playing populous supports this new system, would be a stretch.

    It is one thing when a kid gets cheated out of a point in a match. It is another thing when a kid gets cheated out of being able to even play an event because of a faulty system. Those kids who deserve to play, but can’t, are the ones who will quit the game.

    And Jon to your comment about “kids focusing 100 times more on self improvement than on rankings.” it is the rankings that drive everything. Rankings decide where and who you get to play. Rankings decide if you get free rackets or you have to pay for them. Rankings largely decide where you can get into college. if done right, rankings are the thing that keep everyone fighting to get better. And do we have a good rankings system. Even before this mess, probably less than 10% of the players even look at our rankings. Everyone goes to Tennis Recruiting because they took the exact same data, but made a good system instead of a bad one.

    And contrary to all of the detractor statements, there can easily be a system that works. How many complaints does the ATP or WTA get about the rankings, the system, the entry or the points tables? Everyone is happy and has been for a decade and even with millions of dollars at stake. But if you tried to add a single wild card and take away an entry spot, there would be bedlam. We made a system where someone ranked 1900 gets in while someone 300 does not? Why don’t we call up the ATP and ask them if they would like to use our new system if it is so good. ‘The #7 player in Italy can get in the Australian Open but she can’t get in the Italian open.’ We have a system where there are seeded players who have lost 6-0, 6-0 to non-seeded players.

    And this cavalier attitude of “oh its fine, stop your whining” is complete BS and isn’t coming from people who really know anything about junior tennis. We and they aren’t whining because the courts are bad, there aren’t towels, the umpires are blind or the bathrooms are far away. We are whining because the system is a complete blunder when it doesn’t have to be and the system will be one of the main reasons we lose kids to other sports. Consumers will choose the sport they play based on how satisfied they are.

    Talk to a few parents on the weekends and see how many of the ones impacted by this silliness are contemplating getting out of the sport.

  118. Hi SeminoleG. If you think the Memphis Grizzlies who currently has a 29-23 record in the Western Conference is on the same relative ability as the Charlotte Bobcats who has a record of 23-30 and will make the playoffs for the Eastern Conference, then you haven’t been watching much basketball. Charlotte will get beat 8 or 9 out of 10 times! But you know what? the NBA has a QUOTA of 8 teams per conference to go to the playoffs and so Memphis has to live with that.

    By the way, I did not mention the D-League/Triple A getting playoff spots in the NBA or MLB to make my case. You know why? Because it’s not in their rules. But if it was, then they deserve to play if they qualify!

    Regarding your comment on a 40 year old playing in the US Open. You indirectly made my case, don’t we do this with the Wild Cards we hand out? Every year we have a QUOTA on how many players we can send to the US Open who otherwise wouldn’t qualify because they are not ranked high enough or they are juniors. Why are you not complaining about that? Aren’t we taking the spot of a qualified European player because he is ranked higher?

    And to your point about “how do you improve without playing solid kids?” As a new tennis dad, I may just be naive but I thought there are other ways of doing this besides getting to play in a Closed Regional? Play up maybe (I don’t think there’s a rule against that or maybe there should be because a 10 year old shouldn’t be playing against a 14 year old by virtue of age) Setting up a match with better players in your city? Etc. etc. I think more experienced coaches can help me here.

    Bottom line is, I agree with the other posters here. Instead of focusing attention on who gets chosen to play where, why don’t we focus on making matches better for kids. I agree wholeheartedly with having a referee in every match!!! I think it should start there. Also, educating parents on the rules of tennis and how to behave to make the experience better for our players. We should make it fun and fulfilling for kids to play the game to attract the best athletes out there. If you think removing QUOTAS in National/Regional tournaments is the solution for this, then I just don’t see it.

  119. I’m not trying to drown out viewpoints. In fact that’s what you’re doing by:
    1) changing the topic, when you can only defend the current system other than to say “that’s how the system work;)
    2) insulting kids by calling them ” brats” and “entitled.”
    3) insulting parents for their behavior and for not following what you believe is the right developmental road.
    4) calling me a bully because I ask that we return to substance and point out these tactics, used throughout the debate over the changes, where the defenders anonymously insult people.
    And I do say anonymously, because nobody I’ve talked to knows a “Jon King” in South Florida with your credentials. Please prove me wrong on that point.

  120. Tennis Dad – QUOTA starts with the basic premis that the groups are relatively equal. You’d say that Harvard letting in a 2.5 vice someone who didn’t even go to HS is the same? NBA teams are RELATIVELY equal QUTOA and WILDCARDS aren’t even close to the same. Actually you make my point that WILDCARDS are USTAs answer to the injustice of QUOTAs.

    Yes the Bobocats and Miami Heat are relatively Equal, and 8 playoff spots is not a QUOTA it is a sample size taken from like entities.

    As a new Tennis Dad 5 years with a 11 year old, anyone that tells you playing up gets you better quality play is a fool. It may/may not. Playing up may just be the worst thing for your kid, if they tend to stay back lack aggression because opponents are bigger stronger. You will have to judge.

    But in now way are Team playoff spots QUOTAs. THen why doesn’t DIV III schools get NCAA BIDS? They are not the same and thus are different products.

    My argument is kid 1700 and kid 200 are probably not the same product.

    As for QUTOAs I’m all for it ONCE the level of a kid is determined, that kid from a small section who cannot play like talent SHOULD get a QUTOA but if he passes how far down the list should one go? 1100, 1500, 1900, 2000……..

    As the father of a Kid that has Traveled and played #1000 IT IS A WASTE for all and was very very frustrating for the parent. They had no idea the level, and even said WE WERE NOT READY for this.

    I completely agree TRAIN TRAIN TRAIN. We went 3 years played 3 events, then 1.5 years and now play ~8-9 year. BUT you need competition @ all levels, but to TRAVEL for very weak competition. NOT all QUTOAs produce weak matches but many do when the Hi ranked kids pass.

  121. SeminoleG. If your 11 year old is truly that much better than the competition you can find, then go outside the box. The USTA is not going to be your thing anyway. I think you already said you are leaving it. Same thing goes for others with talented kids.

    We have a guy from France in our area. His 10 year old is a talent. They troll the area courts and find grown men to work their kid. They wait at the local colleges and after practice pay the college men to bash with their kid. When the kid is older they will have to go the ITF route.

    Outside the top 20 USTA you will not find any competition for a true talent anyway so who gets into what tournament is meaningless for you.

  122. Jon I wouldn’t go that FAR this is a L O N G journey that may end up with a 15 year old following a Surfer dude trying to get her to quit school. Thanks anyway.

    I just hate seeing a system that has predicated issues keeping MEMBERS from getting the product we all deserve at every level. To see parents BAG DRAG and not know their kid needs a bit more work isn’t fun for anyone. This same system lets them down.

  123. seminoleG, I hear you. But I think the system that lets them down starts at the very beginning, long before kids and parents have to worry about the new quota system. When you have a system where kids call their own lines and scores it leads to the rankings being totally suspect.

    Imagine a fantasy world where junior tennis tournaments had refs and scorekeepers. A shy kid, a non confrontational kid, would have the same exact chance as anyone else. The results would be totally based on skill. No energy wasted on arguing over scores and lines. No taking 5 minutes to walk to get the balls. All the focus on actually playing the game. Being able to go for great shots without worrying about them being called out. Having to run to every ball because you can not just call any ball out that you can not reach.

    Such a scenario would lead to a huge improvement in the level of American tennis over time. The best players would win and advance. Shy but talented kids would have the time to mature and not be run out of the game. Academies could go to tournaments and actually choose who to offer a scholarship based on skill not gamesmanship. Spend the money there USTA, not on high performance centers.

    By the way, this is a huge issue. It is estimated almost half of kids are shy between the ages of 7-12. Just run the numbers knowing at any early tournament half the kids are at a large disadvantage because they will not be able to stand up to the other more aggressive half. Now think about how that can skew the number of talented tennis kids that never even get off the ground.

    Heck just having refs and scorekeepers in the 12s might allow some shy talents to get a foothold in the game.

  124. I think we should try and stay on topic. Jon if I am reading you correctly you are of the opinion that tournaments are irrelevant as a player development tool. I respect that view but the purpose of this discussion is the tournament structure we have. Is love to hear a defense outside of “it doesn’t matter ” or ” it’s the way it is”.

    Quotas are almost by definition an ineffective and inefficient way to allocate scare resources – in this case tournament spots. They can be justified to right a wrong or correct an injustice. I don’t see the application here. The USOpen aspires to have the best players in the world in the event. They don’t allocate spots by national quota. The limited WC’s are a little bonus for the host nation. Quotas are a structural problem with the current and the distortions are not justified. The second structural problem and it’s a big one is the multiple pathways. The level 4’s don’t lead to the level 3’s to the level 2’s to the level 1’s. It could work if all the sections were aligned in terms of tournament structure but they are not. Would love Jon or Marty or New tennis dad to articulate the benefits of the current structure and what justifies the inevitable distortions. The small sections in theory benefit but they have been shouting loudly against.

  125. Wow, So much for inclusion. If you don’t like the USTA leave it!.That really doesn’t sound like a very healthy statement. The purpose of competition is to create the drive and skills to better one’s self and teach life skills.These are the lessons we are suppose to be nurturing. Having the best play and others brushing wings with them improves everyone. By the way ….having traveled on my own dime to Spartek, France and Spain to see what was going on…..It was simply good coaches left alone to work with the kids. Funny they were jealous of our kids fighting spirit! They have build a simple system where kids look up to those above them. Kids are kids, Our problem continues to be segments of a logical playing system were removed by well intended novices. Convene developmental coaches to rebuild a proper system. Remove the power of the bureaucrats.

  126. The other thing I learned in economics 101 outside of the fact that quotas are a bad way to allocate resources is that reducing supply increases cost or reduces demand. The USTA has dramatically reduced the supply of competitive tennis both sectionally and nationally. The rest will follow.

  127. This post below by Antonio Mora is spot on. Please Jon, Marty or New Tennis Dad address what Antonio has said here. And then please tell us why you are defending this system? Because nothing that I have read from any of you makes that point.

    Here is Antonio’s post.

    I’m not trying to drown out viewpoints. In fact that’s what you’re doing by:

    1) changing the topic, when you can only defend the current system other than to say “that’s how the system work;)
    2) insulting kids by calling them ” brats” and “entitled.”
    3) insulting parents for their behavior and for not following what you believe is the right developmental road.
    4) calling me a bully because I ask that we return to substance and point out these tactics, used throughout the debate over the changes, where the defenders anonymously insult people.
    And I do say anonymously, because nobody I’ve talked to knows a “Jon King” in South Florida with your credentials. Please prove me wrong on that point.

  128. Heres how you fix American Tennis : one step at a time, with attention to detail at every step.

    One of those steps is having rationale competition system that at least tries to be fair, while recognizing we will never all completely agree on what is fair.

    It’s needs to be well though out, i’e, based on sound math, accommodating the realities of the world : huge variations on sections sizes, aging up opportunities,etc.

    Recognizing that’s rankings can never be perfectly accurate, it should error on the side of inclusion rather exclusion, and quotas as a floor, a minimum, not a limit, have always been a way to accomplish that.

    Much of what Jon says is perfectly valid criticism, others are just insults, but also off topic, I think symptomatic of what happened with the JCC – when tasked revamping the junior competition system , they seem to have lost there way and instead tried to fix American tennis, and nobody paid any attention to the real task at hand and call it’s messy details.

  129. What about the Texas section that doesn’t count ANY national tournaments?(with the exception of one level 3 that was played in Austin in July… random and no one knew they would award sectional points because they normally don’t). We moved from the Eastern section to TX a couple of years ago and the disparity between sections is vast. I don’t think people realize how different things are, but now I have the unfortunate experience to be living it. How this is fair or makes any sense is beyond me. The Eastern section encouraged national play and the TX section does not. Since my son is a national level player, I wish we could move back.

  130. QUOTAS to me are not created to correct an injustice. QUOTAS to me are there to provide opportunity to those who otherwise won’t get them because of age, race, resources or circumstances. In this case, it’s for those who did well enough in their section to get endorsed and eventually qualified because the better players ahead of them decided not to play.

    Seminole, you give extreme examples of Harvard taking someone who did not go to high school. They do have QUOTAS for minorities and underprivileged kids who may not have the best pedigree but at least showed they belong. Is that wrong?

    In this case, Player 1500 was endorsed by his section and got in because of the rule instituted by the USTA that now provide an opportunity for kids who normally won’t get a chance to play in such a tournament but the Section deemed deserving enough so he was added to the endorsement list. As I mentioned, my daughter doesn’t have a very high raking in NSL but was good enough in our section to be endorsed and she got in. I’ll let you know how she does after this weekend. Against kids who are ranked way higher than her.

    Maybe it’s just the “minority” in me speaking. But QUOTAS to me have their benefit in that it gives opportunity for those who otherwise won’t get them. They are not inherently bad and should not be generalized as something completely dumb or not thought of, etc. This is really a commentary on someone asking to defend a QUOTA system. I think it has it’s place.

    At the end of the day, my daughter and I will enjoy this weekend experience. She’s ten and we dream together and laugh about how she already started her path to becoming a pro because we are travelling for a tournament. We get a good giggle out of that.

    Happy President’s Day!

  131. Actually, NewTennisDad, with endorsement a section isn’t saying you “deserve” to play in a tournament, it’s just saying that you are “allowed” to play in a tournament. There’s a big difference. Florida’s endorsement list in the boys’ 14s has 261 players. Do you really think the section thinks #261 should be one of the 11 players in our quota that are allowed to play level 1s?

    It’s perfectly possible that a kid ranked 1900, as some are, will do great this weekend (it could be a kid who hasn’t aged up and hasn’t developed a ranking yet in the older caregory will do very well; I hope your daughter is among them). But that doesn’t deal with the issue of fairness or earned advancement (a BIG part of what the USTA used to push the 2014 changes).

    In fact, you don’t seem to be defending it yourself… all you say is that it’s a rule instituted by the USTA. Our point is that the new quota rules are hugely unfair (the old system already allowed for representation from around the country with its smaller quotas) and that rules that are unfair and that have tremendous consequences should be repealed.

  132. NewTennisDad – I hope you have a great weekend and your daughter does great. I don’t disagree that quotas have a place in certain circumstances and i agree they are appropriate to include someone who otherwise would not have been a fair opportunity. I am not sure how long you have been following this debate which has been raging on for the better part of two years with no signs of abating but what the USTA did was slash opportunity. At the stroke of a pen they eliminated literally hundreds, if not thousands of tournament opportunities – opportunities for your daughter to get a fair shake at getting into a national event if she’s good enough. Having slashed the opportunity set they then turned to quotas to allocate the resources that they themselves made scare. What most of us i think are saying is lets go back and throw as much opportunity at the market as it will bear and let the chips fall where they may. More opportunity means more choice and it means less cost in the long run. The cost is a few points chasers…

  133. I guess because I’m new to it that’s why I don’t see anything wrong. Change is always tough for people who are used to the way things were. Especially if it worked for them. My thinking is, if your kid is really any good, it doesn’t matter what tournament structure is put in front of him, he will thrive and he will get invited to all the prestigious tournaments.

    I do talk to a lot of parents. Some who are new, some who have been around the block. Honestly, this topic never comes up. What we talk about 100% though is the cheating that takes place and the crazy parents who treat their kids like crap. This is what turns me off. To me, that is what the USTA needs to address first and foremost. Fixing quotas to me is way down the priority list.

    The only place I hear this “outrage” from is here in Parenting Aces. Which I appreciate because it always is nice to see what other tennis parents are thinking. This is why I’m a big fan of this site.

  134. These are excellent points below and quite frankly written in a way that really makes you consider that all kids are not equal in terms of social expressions.

    You said it really well, and I would have to say upon reflection, this is probably the driving force that pushes kids back to team sports.

    I will add that usually overbearing, nasty, cheating kids learn it from their parents, and these parents are clapping for double faults, clapping when kids fall and basically trying to intimidate the opponent. Would Roger Feder’s coach be allowed to yell during the middle of Nadal serving? Then why is it allowed at junior tournaments?

    But, Jon, I will disagree with you in that American kids under the system do not have enough cross play, and our country has never ever done well with quotas.

    The better kids are now leaving the USTA and flocking to ITF’s.
    College coaches are now valuing that over the USTA and TRN rankings.
    And the ITF ranking has values the doubles rankings more…

    So, in a sense, the USTA shot itself in the foot.

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

    Jon says –

    SeminoleG, I hear you. But I think the system that lets them down starts at the very beginning, long before kids and parents have to worry about the new quota system. When you have a system where kids call their own lines and scores it leads to the rankings being totally suspect.

    Imagine a fantasy world where junior tennis tournaments had refs and scorekeepers. A shy kid, a non confrontational kid, would have the same exact chance as anyone else. The results would be totally based on skill. No energy wasted on arguing over scores and lines. No taking 5 minutes to walk to get the balls. All the focus on actually playing the game. Being able to go for great shots without worrying about them being called out. Having to run to every ball because you can not just call any ball out that you can not reach.

    Such a scenario would lead to a huge improvement in the level of American tennis over time. The best players would win and advance. Shy but talented kids would have the time to mature and not be run out of the game. Academies could go to tournaments and actually choose who to offer a scholarship based on skill not gamesmanship. Spend the money there USTA, not on high performance centers.

    By the way, this is a huge issue. It is estimated almost half of kids are shy between the ages of 7-12. Just run the numbers knowing at any early tournament half the kids are at a large disadvantage because they will not be able to stand up to the other more aggressive half. Now think about how that can skew the number of talented tennis kids that never even get off the ground.

    Heck just having refs and scorekeepers in the 12s might allow some shy talents to get a foothold in the game.

  135. Tennis Dad after you attend a few National Level events I would like to get your perspective. I do agree poorly run events and lack of supervision are root causes for a lot of issues.

  136. To New Tennis Dad,

    If you are new, then how many tournaments have you been to?
    What do you have to compare it too?

    How do you compare a small 32 tournament with no fanfare to
    the two weeks of Winter Nationals with the Copper Bowl following.

    If you are new how do you know how incredible Kalamazoo is or was when it had the large draw?

    In addressing your issue about quotas, I understand you are for them.

    Some schools might have quotas, but do they take kids who don’t belong? Who are going to fail their first year?

    Should a medical school have a quota? What about an engineering school?

    Do you want your daughter to be operated on a heart surgeon who got into school on a quota?

    Quotas just don’t work.

  137. So, you have been to how many tournaments?
    You played D1 tennis and now you are following your 4th child through the rounds of all the tournaments and now see them slashed or eliminated and you feel how?

    Oh no, none of the above………
    Good G-d, you are at the beginning of this with a ten year old and this is your advice to tennis parents that quotas in junior tennis are a good thing? Show me any other country in the world with quotas for tennis?

  138. There are a lot of new tennis dads out there who don’t have a frame of reference – something the USTA is counting on. I’m on my 5th kid going back 10 years. Doesn’t mean my views are any more valid than new tennis dad’s but I think it’s fair to say the perspective is broader. I went through the old pre 2009 structure , the 2010 -2013 and now I’m contemplating the brave new world. I try and be objective. I see an awful lot of losers under this system and not many winners. And even the winners seem to feel like losers. There is no doubt the 2014 structure is wildly unpopular. That in and of itself is an indictment. I just hope someone at the USTA is listening.

  139. Now I get where you guys are coming from. You’ve invested a lot of time and money and you feel like you’re about to reach the finish line and the rug has been pulled from under you. I get that.

    I am giving you the perspective of someone who has been in this thing for only 1 full year. I’m sorry that I don’t share your sentiment. For us newbies, we don’t know any better. Probably the USTA should have just started this on a gradual basis. Introduce the changes to 12 and under this year, then 14 and under in a couple of years, and so on. That way, you guys who have played D1, who are coaches for 20 years, who have kids that are about to be recruited by colleges can finish off what you’ve started. Did anyone recommend this?

    To Shawn who is borderline getting personal…Yes I would let my daughter be operated by a heart surgeon who was a product of a quota. It’s not about how he got accepted but rather what he did when he got in. Thanks for giving my daughter heart disease, by the way.

    I’m starting to feel like I’m in a tennis tournament and I served from the wrong side of the court. Parents sneering and jeering all around.

    I am not saying quotas are perfect. All I’m saying is they serve a purpose — opportunity and diversity being the top. Right now, there’s a bigger issue pervading in tennis – cheating and crazy parents. I think that’s where the focus should be if we want to build a better tennis pool in the future.

    That’s it for me. It’s tennis time.

    1. NewTennisDad, you say, “Probably the USTA should have just started this on a gradual basis. Introduce the changes to 12 and under this year, then 14 and under in a couple of years, and so on. That way, you guys who have played D1, who are coaches for 20 years, who have kids that are about to be recruited by colleges can finish off what you’ve started. Did anyone recommend this?”

      The answer is YES, many times by many different people, and it fell on deaf ears.

  140. NewTennisDad, I understand if you’re not aware of the debate because your daughter is young and you are possibly in an environment where few kids play nationally. But you would NEVER say that this is a battle just being waged on Parenting Aces, if you were remotely aware of what happened two years ago. You might have wanted to educate yourself before dismissing this conversation. I’ll give you some context.

    The opposition to the 2014 changes was so overwhelming that the USTA even sent out Patrick McEnroe, Tom Gullickson and other top USTA officials to meet with parents and kids at various summer national championships to fend off the criticism. Patrick started the meeting I attended in Little Rock, with about a hundred others, by saying: “Did you see the sign on the door?” Why? Because the sign on the door said “no guns allowed” and he knew what he was in for from that audience. Again, these are parents, coaches and kids at our national championships, people who were living the national system and who were objecting loudly and passionately, so please don’t equate them on this topic to people you might talk to at local 10s tournaments.

    The meetings went so poorly for the USTA and the criticism went so viral (thousands of people weighed in, there were massive petitions, a website sprung up with thousands of people calling for the USTA to stop the changes and national newspaper articles addressed the issue) that the USTA’s top brass flew some of the most vocal opponents (including the President of Head, the founder of The Tennis Channel, one of the country’s top tournament directors, Sean Hannity and me) to Chicago. They agreed to postpone the changes and they later accepted some minor compromises that made virtually nobody happy, as you can see from this conversation. By the way, our objections to their revised changes were made very clear back then.

    The issue is that now we are seeing, on many levels (not just the quotas), that much of what the opponents predicted back then is becoming reality. It certainly does not help that the USTA has botched the rollout of the changes.

    Thousands of playing opportunities have been lost, limiting the sport’s appeal to many and making it harder for kids to compete outside their sections (which many of us think hurts them developmentally and in their possible exposure to college coaches). And while your comment that “if your kid is really any good, it doesn’t matter what tournament structure is put in front of him,” might be true, do you really want a tournament schedule that discourages play? That might discourage a real gem of a player from staying with the sport? What will you tell your daughter, after she’s trained hard, stayed up late do homework because she was training while her friends played video games, who has sacrificed socially (as so many kids do) to compete in the sport they love, that she can’t play a national tournament because something called a “quota” means that somebody ranked a thousand points behind her is allowed to play and she’s not?

    As I and others have said, the quotas and the “double pathway” created by the 2014 changes (see Geoff Grant’s post below), have created a schizophrenic system that makes no sense on a myriad of levels and that will have enormous consequences that will affect your pocketbook and your life if your daughter competes on a national level. There are many other big challenges, including cheating, but please don’t dismiss this discussion as having little relevance, if you’re not fully informed.

    I understand that you might not get all of this, because it’s so damn complicated that the USTA and the sections don’t understand it all themselves (as they’ve amply proven throughout the rollout of the changes).

    But please don’t patronize us by saying that “change is always tough.” Change can be good, but, if this change if opposed by the overwhelming number of parents, coaches and kids who have lived through it, you might do well do study the changes and their consequences before preaching to us and dismissing our concerns.

  141. NewTennisDad. I can assure you I am not trying to preserve some unfair advantage my kids enjoyed under the old system.

  142. NewTennisDad,

    I think you had a key insight and are very right about one thing, and that is the USTA does not care what the parents of players currently in the national junior tournament system think. Patrick McEnroe said as much during a “listening session” in Alpharetta, GA in August of last 2012.

    He basically said that the real purpose of the changes was to make tennis more appealing to parents of Top Athletes who are at key decision points where they need to choose between tennis, and other sports like football, etc. They believed that these changes where critical to make right away to keep of the hoards of super talented TAUT stars from leaving tennis. They are really convinced that this next generation of kids, the TAUT kids are the only ones that matter, and like Jon believe most of the kids playing now are Junk, so screw’em if they can’t take joke.

    I am sure Antonio will correct me if I am wrong, but I believe only like something like only 2 of them members of the 26 member JCC. Actually had children who were playing competitive junior tennis.

    How about this : How about all us junior tennis parents, especially all the ones who don’t play tennis, take over the Adult Leagues committees. Then lets just change all the rules. Cancel or there national tournaments, change there rating so they have to play higher (or at least at their real level). Let’s have some fun, make up nonsensical rules until they are foaming at the mouth. And then when they complain, say or sorry, why should you have any say in how adult tennis is run ? If you don’t like go play somewhere else. And one more thing, you really suck at tennis.

    Sorry, you are absolutely right about that NewTennisDad – to the USTA, parents are just a transient nuisance…

  143. The USTA didn’t make all the changes in one day, they started in 2010, then 2012 and 2014. Cuts to the National schedule were done every two years, that is why it is so staggering now. The 2010 to 2014
    Our family has had a great time at all the Bowls, but most are gone.

    Your idea of the gradual decrease by 12’s, 14’s etc.is a good one,
    but the USTA didn’t go for it.

  144. ajt, never said the kids outside the top 20 are “junk”. I said they are not good tennis players for the most part and the reason is the entire system is messed up starting from the very beginning.

    I also gave the reasons. American parents focus on trophies from the time a kid can rally and the system where aggressive kids and parents can win tournaments over less confrontational kids.

    The entire ranking system is flawed because the vast majority of them are based on personality type and not tennis ability. Anyone that deals with school aged kids sees the dynamic every day. The current junior tournament free for all environment puts the personality differences under a magnifying glass. Forceful personalities win in junior tennis once you get past the super talents in the top 5-20. And some years 20 is stretching it as maybe 10 kids in the 14s can actually play the game.

    Who gets in what tournament ranked 240 or 1400 is meaningless as the rankings are based on nothing real in regards to measuring tennis ability.

  145. By the way, if any posters who keep saying their motivation is to ‘make it fair’ or ‘help future generations’ or ‘improvement in tennis so more Americans get scholarships’ they would stop worrying about the quota and start worrying about the 2 points I keep making.

    Less early focus on competition and more on fundamentals, along with pushing hard for a ref for every match in the 12s, would result in all the things you say you are interested in way more than worrying about what tournament a 340th ranked kid gets into.

  146. Jon (or whatever your real name is), rankings are not meaningless. Your points about cheating are valid and you can argue about how much competition is needed early (although try motivating a hyper-competitive 10 year old without competition and rankings).

    But to keep saying rankings are irrelevant is simply not true. Kids who are highly-ranked early get massive long-term advantages as spelled out below by me and others (ironically, some from the USTA itself). You can also read Malcolm Gladwell’s “Outliers.”

    1. Rankings are not worthless but they are not always indicative of future performance. Instead they are a barometer which someone can measure their improvement. This was always the intent. Yes it’s true that many of the 12’s rankings breakdown over time. But at the
      same time if you look at the children that are playing the national championships 18’s or the high-level sectional play they are actually in the hunt in the 12’s. This included came Smecheck, Isner, sock Harrison and others and others.

      Any fishermen knows you cast at fish with a white net. This is why the destruction of pathways at sectional regional and national levels in the youngest age groups is such a misguided boondoggle.

    1. Lol. Linesman for every 12’s match? Are you insane? Have our social values collapsed to the point we expect others to give our children the moral compass to compete fairly. Where are the parents values? This is what learning to compete is all about.way to much coddling of our kids and solving all there problems for them. How about parents pulling there kids off the court and default the matches in this situations. That’s how real role models do it.
      By the way.. Who was actually going to pay for that?

  147. Two of the most memorable posts (for me) from days gone by when the changes were hotly debated– I read them and reread them it keeps me sane. #StaySaneAndPlay…maybe or not

    They don’t really care about getting the best 128. They really only care about the top 64 or so. So a draw of 128 will get them that, and “pacify” the small sections. Just look at all the new events, if you are top 64, the a mount of events you can play increased, not decreases. Apparently, not missing school and periodization is for the little people. For all of those concerned about intersectional squabbles about whether then 12th player from Large Section X is better than 5th best player from small section Y, here’s a head’s up : THEY DON’T CARE. Unless you are top 5 from a large section or 2 from a small one they don’t care about you. Typical tennis elitism. Remember, this is a sport where most fans think there are only three decent men’s players in the world, that Murray kid might turn out to be good one day, it’s a shame that Roddick guy never amounted to anything, and, btw, all the women suck.

    Junior tennis in the US is really not a big deal compared to overall recreational play and the
    USTA’s ownership of the US Open. The tennis industry in the US is in steep decline and the major industry players are the ones to blame. The junior tennis issues are just a symptom of a general failure to properly handle important industry issues. The USTA gets bailed out of its mistakes by the profitability of the US Open, which is driven by the INTERNATIONAL POPULARITY OF TENNIS not by American prowess. So now the USTA rides the coat tails of international tennis. Frankly it appears that the powers that be do not need to please their own constituents because no matter what they do they will still be successful because of our nation’s Major Championship. In the US player development will simply continue to splinter and fragment until everybody is doing it their way and tennis will be ungovernable.

  148. My question is why did the top kids enter the National Selection Tournament in Altamonte springs ? Then pull out at last minute to play qualies Futures Boyton beach? Which had some top 60 in the country Florida kids have to travel out of state to get into and play another National Selection…… Which will not give them Florida State points?? Costing more money etc… It’s impossible to schedule anything….. And I’m talking kids who are top 20 in Florida and top 60 in the country?… 24 hours ago…. That tournaments entry list was all the top kids in the country…Now….. It looks like the L5 played 6 days ago ….

  149. Regarding cheating : I’ve never really posted on this before, or responded to other posts about it, largely for the sake of trying to keep the thread on topic but there is one thing about cheating that I find very relevant. One of thing things I have addressed before is part of what got us into this mess is people making an awful lot of assumptions about what goes on everywhere, based on their experience in their section. They then want to create national rules where every match has a ref, as if tournaments didn’t cost enough.

    So, to be honest, cheating is just not a huge issue our section. Their are occasional problems, especially in the 12’s, but it gets sorted out. We could do better addressing the problem cases.

    So Jon, now, I am not arguing with you about what goes on in your section, or at nationals. I wouldn’t presume to do that. Based on what I read here about Florida just sounds like a cesspool of degenerates and every tournament ends with knife fights and paddy wagons full of parents, with the exception of the foreign players and parents, of course, who are all just sitting nicely and behaving as model citizens. I’m not sure I should let my daughter play there without a bulletproof vest. But that’s just the impression I get. In any case, I really think the section should do something about it.

    I’m sorry though, your experience is not universal. It may be too common, but not universal. Now our section may be the exception and yours the rule, but I doubt it. I bet you are on one end of the spectrum and we are probably on the other, with lots of point in between.

    National Championships could have more and better officiating. Its not like we don’t pay enough to play them. In fact, if you asked most people they would pay an extra to get more officials out their Otherwise, this is a sectional problem and your section should be dealing with it. If they can’t, or won’t, the problem is your section.

  150. My daughter is playing in the G14 regional in St. Louis. All 8 alternates got in two have no TRN stars and one has just one. Because only 31 girls signed up for doubles they let someone who just happened to be hanging out at the tennis court, who was never entered be in the blind draw for girls who didn’t have partners. My daughter ended up with her – a fifth grader who has competed less than a year and who my 13 year regularly beats. If it weren’t for getting suspension points I would have pulled her. What a joke!

  151. Just a quick note on refs — they not only curb cheating, but they also help limit gamesmanship, control parents and move the match quicker. Here are the numbers:

    In a single elimination round, there will be 1 less match than the number of participants. If there are 32 participants, there will be 31 matches.

    So essentially, you can add the cost of a referee to the entry fee. How much that is, I don’t know — 10 to 20 bucks to referee a match? I’ll pay that but maybe a lot of people won’t. But that’s the numbers. Obviously there will be more matches when there’s a consolation draw, if it’s a compass draw, etc.

    I’ll try and propose this as a differentiator for our tennis club when they host a tournament. Maybe it can generate more entrants for their tournaments.

  152. In order to provide a fair and balanced report on the outcome of this weekend’s L2s and L4s, I would love to hear from anyone who is having a positive experience at these events. Since we chose to skip them, I don’t have any direct experience to report and will rely on those of you willing to reach out to inform my article. You can reach me at lisa@parentingaces.com.

  153. ajt, ha SE FL. is a wild and crazy junior tournament situation. So I get that it is not like other sections.

    But it is not just cheating, its personalities. When you see kids that age there are forceful personalities and shy personalities. Like I said, almost half at young ages are shy. These shy kids do not do well without structure. They are intimidated by keeping the score, they are intimidated about calling balls out. They can not let their talents flow like if they were playing basketball with adults to handle the rules and scoring. Half the kids at a 12s tournament are handicapped by their personalities under the current system. Thats nuts to have such a system.

    I have seen time and time and time again a shyer kid with talent beaten by a lesser talent. Considering the 1000s of shy kids, just imagine how many falter with the current set up. The current system greatly favors the more forceful kids, no matter their talent level.

    It makes zero sense to make kids call lines and scores when they do not in any other action sport. Like newtennisdad says, the cost could be worked into the entry fee and the USTA could stop wasting money on nonsense and kick in.

    We are all wondering how to improve Americal tennis, develop better players, take back some of those scholarships. Well for starters quit handicapping almost half the kids that try tennis tournaments!!

  154. Thought I posted this, trying again –

    ************************************************************************************** THIS IS THE WINNER COMMENT*************************
    *************************************************************************

    Scott answered everyone’s questions, WHERE DID THEY GO?.

    6 PLAYER DEVELOPMENT kids ( names not named to be civil)
    signed up for the L2 in Florida. 18’s Boys. Great, right?
    The USTA is having their players play the tournaments.
    These Florida kids are playing the National L2.

    Not so great. They all pulled out.

    Just so you know folks, you are only allowed to pull out of a tournament for illness, injury and personal ( explained to me by my section head as death in the family) or you will get suspension points.

    Obviously, they are not injured or ill, so their personal emergency is to play a FUTURES?????

    So, they took up 6 valuable spots forcing other players down to the L4.

    It’s not like they are new to the game. They are part of the USTA.

    Scott says –

    My question is why did the top kids enter the National Selection Tournament in Altamonte springs ? Then pull out at last minute to play qualies Futures Boyton beach? Which had some top 60 in the country Florida kids have to travel out of state to get into and play another National Selection…… Which will not give them Florida State points?? Costing more money etc… It’s impossible to schedule anything….. And I’m talking kids who are top 20 in Florida and top 60 in the country?… 24 hours ago…. That tournaments entry list was all the top kids in the country…Now….. It looks like the L5 played 6 days ago ….

  155. Girls left too…………..

    Also from the Florida L2

    ‘GIRLS 18s seeding change please check draws !
    Due to withdrawal of high seeded players the seeds have changed per regualtions some matches and opponents may have changed ‘

  156. Sounds like they never really intended to play the tourney but took up spots anyway, maybe to keep other strong competition out of the game. Who knows?? At this point who can do anything about it? That maybe why it is best to figure out your own goals, the USTA certainly has theirs figured out.

    The USTA it appears will always have a trick up their sleeve regarding their players,ranking points, tournament structure and schedule. The worse part of it all is after all the “shell games” US tennis is no better off at the professional level and the USTA horse and pony shows at the junior level are gross examples of “con” and gamesmanship. It all ends up in college anyway where the games continue…remember Sabrina & Kaitlyn and the US Open wildcard they didn’t apply for after already “earning it.” Excuse my “French, but, “WTF.”

    So I believe for sure the USTA development programs are self serving for a few kids and leave much to be desired for the poor kids with the middle fighting for what??? Fairness. You got to get straightened out for you and your kid there is no help coming from the USTA as far as I can tell unless you call “screw you” help.

  157. http://assets.usta.com/assets/1/USTA_Import/images/sitecore_ustasections/USTA/Document%20Assets/DefaultsWDChart_May2009.pdf

    No Suspension Points are levied if the Withdrawal is due to injury, illness, or personal emergency or previously authorized entry into another tournament.

    It sounds like they were allowed to sign up for two tournaments at the same time, otherwise they would receive suspension points.

    Get over it, the USTA will always favor their own players and make special rules for them. You thought this was a fair system?

  158. The USTA PD is making their own statement that they value ITF’s and Futures more than USTA national tournaments..

    This does raise some eyebrows as the tournament date was closed and they pulled out after the date.

  159. Candy said – “Sounds like they never really intended to play the tourney but took up spots anyway, maybe to keep other strong competition out of the game. Who knows??”

    I know one that had to “put” it on their schedule but didn’t want to play it. I can only guess that someone else was able to enter concurrent events so they had no choice but to let whomever wanted also follow suit. I’m speculating, but do know before year their schedule was setup.

  160. “I know one that had to “put” it on their schedule but didn’t want to play it”

    The end result was the PD kids took away spots from kids who wanted to play it.

  161. Level 2 vs Level 4 event don’t see what they took away. I’d stay on alternate list for event I felt was best suited to play. I see it as they gave the spot up, that wasn’t wanted. If your kid was a Level 2 ability why would you enter a Level 4?

  162. Is anyone really surprised by the withdrawals, assuming everything reported below is true? It’s long been standard operating procedure for Player Development kids to drop out of back draws at every level, from Kalamazoo to sectional level 5s, so doing whatever is expedient for them, at the expense of others, should surprise nobody.

    Recently, a Boca coach again complained that Player Development didn’t have enough wildcards for nationals because that was forcing USTA kids to play tournaments they didn’t want to. Clearly, the coach didn’t know that the USTA had to compromise on wildcards because they tried to overreach so badly by expanding their wildcards in the original 2014 proposal, that just about everyone was infuriated.

    As we said back then, what’s good for the goose should be good for the gander. What Player Development wanted to do originally was impose the hugely unpopular rules on everybody else, but make sure they didn’t apply to Player Development. So, they preached about how important it was for U.S. tennis have play pushed back to the sections, but then made sure the new rules applied to everyone EXCEPT Player Development kids, by keeping a bunch of wildcards. Despite the compromise after the outcry, they kept fewer but still have plenty.

  163. Antonio – Do you believe the delay in posting National Spring Team selectees is a direct result of:
    A – Bonus point issue affecting who’s in
    B – Wildcards (4) per Div, USTA having internal debates
    C – Software issue as stated on site
    D – USTA wanting to get a peek @ how this L2/L4 weekend goes
    E – Poor staff planning with event closing same time as L2/L4 weekend

    Overall not as strong overall field for 32 draw Level 1 event

  164. With all due respect Lisa. My understanding of the closed regional is that the child didnt make the closed national event(s). I dont see the the importance of attending a closed 18s regional if the 18 doesnt qualify for the closed 18 national. I will predict your response. Another opportunity to improve national ranking? They are probably going to play the same opponents they have played against for the past 10 years. I can see the reason the 18s would not be interested.

  165. Richard, you are correct. I had no idea how to sign up my child for these events as well. I looked at it and said what the heck ill sign my kid up for both and let the usta figure out how to handle it. in regards to these situations, usta will get it right next year. why it takes them a year to figure these changes out i have no idea.

  166. yep….ive heard USTA wildcards withdrew from the backdraws after losing first round in closed nationals. this is an embarrassment for united states tennis. bottom line is that no usta issued wild cards should ever be given for the children. ever…….not only do the kids need to go through the backdraws for their own benefit but im sure the wildcard could have been given to another child who would have loved to just play the backdraw! this gets down to the core of what is wrong with USTA player development if it is true….and from the information i have….it is very probably true!

  167. Seminole, it looks like they’ve selected the players, just not announced the wildcards or set up the software for the alternates list. The tournament sites admit that confusion reigns.

    And you should see the mess they’ve made in Florida. Not only was the software not ready last weekend to deal with the new format of the L5s, until I pointed it out to them, they didn’t realize that their points table didn’t account for the format either! So now they’ve issued new rankings (two days later than what I believe the rules call for) with “adjusted points” totals that remain unexplained. A whole bunch of kids that went deep are getting fewer points than the existing table would indicate.

    As I’ve said, they’ve created a system they don’t understand and that parents and kids don’t understand. I would be willing to give them some slack because it is so complicated. But they imposed a terribly unpopular system, so they shouldn’t have made a mess of its execution.

  168. so here it goes antonio…..usta texas was aware of this problem 3 weeks ago and the ramifications it could play on national rankings…..again it was “the software” ….it is actually the hardware..meaning. the people responsible for “the change” have failed in the execution….from the bottom (TAUT) up (NCAA tennis) US tennis is a wreck…imagine if it was a professional team??? im sure things would be different

  169. Or, Lawrence, any kind of private company. I have a lot of respect for the volunteers who give so much of their time to the USTA. But too often, they lose sight of the forest for the trees. Nationally and in Florida the JCCs have been virtual parent-free zones (not sure if it’s the same elsewhere) and the committees have seemed mostly uninterested in running things past parents. As someone suggested below, not having parents involved is like having people like me who don’t play in adult leagues in charge of running determining what’s good for those leagues. Coaches and tournament directors undoubtedly have a lot to contribute, but so do parents… even if we’re not as good as foreign parents (sorry, couldn’t resist).

    1. Sorry to disagree with you Antonio. But parents or a very small number of them should be on the Sectional or National JCC’s. Few parents have the ability to see the big picture and not make decisions in the heat of the moment that benefit their own children. There are exceptions of course. There have been many examples of this including the rotating birthdate …that was instituted several years ago. I’m sorry but pick any date you want These kids should be moving up each year as a class. We are the only country that does this. Several sections have similar things that were voted in with good intentions by committees that were parent driven. The answer is a parents voice is nice to be represented but thats all. JCC’s should be comprised with a thought of knowledge, active coaching, and historical perspective and insight.

      I always believed that the JCC’s should be populated in the following manner. Each districts JCC committee chair is on the sectional committee. The national committee is made up of sectional chairs plus a few at large members. In this way the committees are accountable and in touch with their community.

      1. oMG I quasi agree with coach Tom Walker on a matter concerning tennis. Kids identified by their school class would be ideal. it also illustrates one of the issues we have as a community. We all have somewhat unique solutions for our Jr tennis nation. Just glad to find a point of agreement, even if in theory.

        Arthur, Althea and others have played USTA ball under less than ideal structures at the local and national level and somehow found some joy on the court. I’m going to roll this way. Help them find the joy and get better.

        That said, the boy got a lesson yesterday. He is competitive but both he and I got to see that lots of kids either have a bigger toolbox or enough grit, game and gamesmanship to deal with him. Hard to absorb but a good lesson if taken. He choked away first set after 5/2 lead. All credit to the kid that stayed locked in.

        As far as comparing results, I’m no expert so I don’t know how to compare. I can tell you what I saw. And I saw mostly highly competitive kids that appear to belong at level 2. a couple of NorCal kids that I consider better than my own charge got whooped. Including my son’s doubles partner, who I think is very competitive.

  170. I am sorry,
    I have to disagree with you I think the USTA is very interested in the role of parent in Junior Tennis(sarcasm alert). As proof, please follow the link here :

    http://www.usta.com/About-USTA/Player-Development/Coaching-Education/Role_Of_Parent/
    They conducted a study and in it hey did the following :

    1. Stage I was to evaluate player’s perceptions of the role parents play in tennis success

    2. Stage II involved a survey of 300 coaches to ensure the issues raised by the players are indicative of tennis as a whole.

    That right, I kid you not, they did a study of the Parents Role in Junior Tennis and they consulted players, coaches…but not parents…you can’t make this sh*t up….Lisa, does this sound familiar ???

    Whatever, it doesn’t matter becuase the role of Parents in Junior Tennis according to USTA is pretty straight forward….just STFU and keep writing the checks…

    Which you know makes perfect sense, becuase, from my understanding, most of the great American tennis players like Aggasi, the Williams’, Andy, really had very little contribution from the parents, I mean they barely paid any attention to there kids and let the USTA coaches handle the whole thing….

  171. Anyone who knows the levels of juniors players in the US will quickly understand that there is really only one word to describe these closed regionals going off this week – sad! Our draw has only one seeded player left in the final 8. There are seeds who are getting double rounded. There are very talented kids who didn’t even get in any of the draws. I know 3 personally. And there are some less talented kids who are at worst going to pick up quarter-final points. To make matters even worse, those quarter-final points will be worth significantly more than players who had the same success last year in similar events.

    It basically seems like we have created a system that many people just don’t want to play. And a system that also makes it challenging for certain talented kids who actually do want to play. It is the worst of many worlds all blended together.

  172. Antonio, Tom Walker is right, very few parents would have the ability not to skew things toward the benefit of their own kid. Not sure how you would include them in any reasonable dialogue when trying to propose changes. Same thing goes to the point I make about forceful kids and shyer kids. The parents of forceful kids LOVE the current system of no refs because their kids win more than they would if every match had a ref. So how on earth would parents with different goals, different geographical advantages or limitations, different skill levels, different personality with their kids, ever agree on how the tournament system should be set up?

    On this thread you pretty much only hear from the angry parents. But get around like I do and there are plenty who are happy with it because it worked out for their kids. All those lower ranked kids who Lisa lists in the table above, their parents and those like them are thrilled with the changes. They will say they do not chase points so are talented but lower ranked, do not have other advantages, their kids do not cheat, and on and on as the reasons the new system is better for them. With anything, the loudest voices are the angry ones. But other parents are happy with the changes.

    ajt, you pull out agassi, Williams as your parent examples. But come on now, they devoted every waking hour to their kid’s tennis. I know a few parents like that. Believe me they could not give a hoot about the USTA, let alone the tournament changes. They have pro goals only, perhaps thats crazy, but they do. So trying to correlate them to the typical parent worried that their 312th ranked kid missed out on a tournament is a stretch.

  173. Whats funny about this thread is the picking and choosing. When people say the top ranked kids are the most talented and matter more to American tennis other parents say no way, the lower ranked kids are important. Well I suppose just if they are ranked 200-400. Because those darn 1200 ranked kids who are getting in these tournaments are ‘less talented’. So if I have this right, the USTA is bad for catering to the top 20 ranked kids, and also wrong for anything that allows a lower ranked kid to get in. They need to come up with a system that just helps the parents of kids who are angry on this thread I suppose.

    Its all relative. A top 50 parent may like/not care about the changes, parents of kids who are lower ranked due to various reasons like the changes.

    Arizona tennis, the seeds have been mostly worthless forever. 15 years ago in most USTA tournaments at every level, the seeds were poor indicators of anything. Always have been, always will be. How could they not be? From a kid’s first low level tournament they can gain points by skill or by a multitude of other means. Point chasing, proper tournament choosing, cheating, gamesmanship, etc.

    Strange how just now people started noticing that seeds lose all the time because of these changes. Again, it is all relative. Now it bothers people whose kids or friends it effects. And other parents of these ‘less talented’ kids, as you call them, will say the changes were great. They will say their kids are not less talented, just need experience of these tournaments.

  174. Jon, your last comment, is again, completely uninformed. The opponents of the changes included the parents of ALL the boys who just played in Les Petit As, and the parents of at least one of the girls (I don’t know about the other girls). Some of the country’s top kids spoke out against them (hell, even Jack Sock did), signing their names to petitions. In the past week I have gotten personal notes from the parents of four recent or current Player Development kids. But parents and kids who aren’t top 100 in the country were just as vocal in their opposition. The opposition was across the board and nearly unanimous.

    Tom, you and I are on the same page more than 90% of the time! But I hate to see you take an anti-parent position. First, lose the parents and you lose the kids. Second, a lot of parents were serious tennis players themselves and, not infrequently, rival coaches in tennis knowledge. Third, parents are often MUCH more informed than coaches about tournament schedules, rankings points and the importance of TRN. Finally, I never argued that parents should dominate the JCCs, just that they should have representation. I believe the national JCC that adopted the changes had only one parent of a current player. Florida’s JCC has NONE. And “current” is important because the system has changed significantly every two years recently, so most parents whose kids have graduated will not be as familiar with the system.

    Also, Jon, it seems to me you’re the only one on this thread arguing that the top kids are the most important to U.S. tennis and that the rest are mostly worthless. What we’ve argued is that ALL kids are important to American tennis and that there should be an intelligent, graduated tournament structure that allows for all kids to play at their level and to progress as their level rises. The new tournament schedule does not fo that in ways that are impossible to count.

    For those who care to read about it, I will add a link to something I wrote last year that addressed a lot of what was in the initial changes. It was written way before the final changes were adopted, but it will give some context for those who want it. It might help you, “Jon.”

  175. Antonio, you are simply too closed minded on this issue to even have a rational conversation. I know LOTS of top kids parents. Sy Black has daughters who are top of 2 age groups and he trains other top kids and NONE of those parents have a care about the changes. Neither do any of the parents at any of the 11 tennis academies I have been to the past 18 months. Not a one could care less.

    The fact is it is GOOD that the lower ranked kids get in via quota. Because we need to cast a light on the worthlessness of the USTA ranking system. You are not showing integrity here. How can this system have any integrity when the rankings can be manipulated 100 ways??

    Yet you have zero concern that kids can cheat, forceful kids can win matches over more talented kids, parents can point chase, kids can win with bunted strokes and moon balling over kids who play the right way. All those ways the rankings can be manipulated from the very first day a kid entered his first entry level 12s match. You have zero clue if the 207th ranked kid is any better than the 1207th ranked kid because the ranking system is worthless.

    But none of that matters in the least to you. Never mind, the rest of us will go about our business of developing great players while you complain about false injustices in rankings that are arbitrary at best.

  176. In a series of dishonest posts, thus is your worst. I have NEVER said I’m not concerned about those other issues. It’s just that this post is focused on a different topic that you don’t like and you keep changing the topic.

    If I’m such a liar, why have the parents of four of the five Petit As players I mentioned spoken out publicly against the changes (the other one had done so privately)? You actually are right about the Blacks… But Hurricane and Tornado’s mom was the ONLY one to not care about the changes at a regional USTA camp I attended and she got an earful about it. I suspect parents who are getting tens of thousands of dollars (if not more) from the USTA might not care (but trust me, some who are do care and have talked to me just this past week). And the OVERWHELMING MAJORITY of parents opposed the changes and TOP USTA OFFICIALS ACKNOWLEDGED THAT PUBLICLY ON MANY OCCASIONS.

    And the great irony is that the new system is what will allow massive manipulation of the rankings.

    Finally, shame on you for attacking my integrity. I’m in the camp of fighting for ALL KIDS, not just the top five you care about. This from the man who doesn’t use his own name, who calls American kids “brats” and who ridicules their parents. Shame on you.

  177. It’s all about $…plain & simple. You can argue quotas all you want…the fact is it doesn’t matter. The usta is full and I mean full of parents/coaches in decision making capacities that have interest in their kids/players and could care less about the majority. The national L2 events on down are played in economically deprived areas (Stockton, Vegas, mobile on and on) to save $ on courts and to bring $ into those areas. The staffing from refs to site directors are terrible, minimal and most have no clue and worse no care….everything is “blame it on the parents.” Just look at D1 men’s tennis…well over 50% international because “American tennis has slipped.” Nonsense….jr tennis in this country is so poorly managed that $ talks and if you’ve got it….you’re kid can be somewhat respectable even if there’s no real talent. And I’m saying this as someone who does have it to travel and I’m still more than slightly disgusted. We are funding this nonsense and until people, including myself say enough is enough and bail out and slash the revenue…..trust me….it’ll continue.

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