A Square Peg in a Round Hole

The following is a guest post from Citadel Head Men’s Coach, Chuck Kriese, regarding the recent format and scoring changes in Division I college tennis. I would love to hear your thoughts in the Comments section below.

American College Tennis Coaches have been battling about scoring systems and formats for too many years.  The Solution might be quite manageable if two fundamental points were considered:

  1. Tennis is: ‘An individual sport that has some team opportunities; whereas, we have wrongfully approached tennis as ‘A team sport looking for individual opportunities.’  We have not made significant headway in either team or individual areas.  We have therefore become a ‘Tweener’ as administrators do not see our relevance and player development has become secondary.  Potential has been missed.
  2. Scoring System and Format are two completely different issuesEach of these should be addressed with unique perspective and considered separately. The Scoring system is a world-wide sacred tradition of our sport and should be honored as such! Formats don’t need to be;   Modifications are easily agreed upon.

 

“In matters of Principle, stand like a rock; In matters of method, flow with the stream”  Thomas Jefferson

It has always been about ‘Education vs. Entertainment’ – The Battle is between Education and Entertainment priority.  Differences of perspective run much deeper than just a quick-fix to get more people in the stands.  This is a great battle of the Ideologies between ‘traditions vs. trends.’  Catering to trends for the sake of mere excitement will not sustain interest nor promote the excellence that is sought for the longevity of our sport.  It is only in the honoring of its heritage and its educational intangibles that will ultimately build interest that will last.  Educators see the sport of tennis for its great depth and teaching opportunities.  Another focus sees the potential to promote through trends of entertainment.  These two ideologies do not have to be exclusive and can hopefully be inclusive.  However, when both cannot be achieved, a decision has to be made! Each and every coach should have the right to interpret what the best approach for his/her school’s own interests and needs to be relevant.  The recent overreach by USTA and ITA causes great concern.  The heritage of tennis and time honored traditions of our sport need to be honored and protected.  We ask them to do this first and foremost.

Opposing points of view have now come to a head as mandates and directives have been pushed by ITA. Transparency to their decision making process has come into question. It is known that the Power 5 conferences of; the SEC, the ACC ,the Big 10, the PAC 12 and the Big 12 (only 6 men’s teams are in the Big 12) now have conference TV stations.  This provides great opportunity for these tennis programs.  Their priorities are quite different from those schools without such promotional tools.  The ITA has forcefully presumed the power to push forward a format and scoring system that is a widely different from the traditional/educational scoring system of tennis that has been used world-wide for years.  Opposition to its implementation is large and continues to grow.  The USTA has also been in knee-jerk mode in reaction to the loss of tennis popularity in the U.S.A.  The USTA has also leveraged the ITA toward entertainment objectives of the abbreviated formats while attempting to persuade everyone that education will be a natural byproduct.  In their overreach, both organizations have not honored the traditions of our sport!  The mandates and directives to force abbreviated scoring systems forward are extremely dangerous to the core fundamentals of tennis.  Both education and entertainment objectives are in danger of being dismantled in the process.

The disregard for the educational opportunity and the depth of our sport is troubling.  Also wrong are the skewed results for multiple matches that experimental formats cause.  Immediate parity which is not based on skill-set is a wrong approach for any sport if learning and longevity are the goals. It remains puzzling why a simple TV format for special televised matches could not be used as a compromise for all. This question should be asked.

  Let’s Unite and Become Relevant”

 

              “An unjust law is no law at all”      St. Augustine

 

There is absolutely no excuse for the ITA’s ongoing disregard for coach’s and player’s points of view.  A planned agenda has been pushed is being pushed through.  The ITA is a voluntary, dues paying, coach’s organization.   Their mission is to advise and serve coaches and to present recommendations to make a good learning environment for our players. It is their duty to listen to all concerns and points of views of all; especially when that view is different than theirs!  They have acted inappropriately.
Please Consider:

  • In 2012, nearly 10,000 signatures were expressed on-line against a format change that was initiated after 2012 NCAA Tournament scheduling problems. Time issues had nothing to do with scoring systems. There were simply too many teams being at the final site.  The unprecedented pushback by players, coaches and fans was temporarily acknowledged; however, USTA/ITA morphed their approach and presented it again.
  • In December 2013, the men coaches at the ITA convention voted 21-19 after 5 hours of discussion. The final vote favored keeping traditional scoring with simple adjustments for the 2014 winter season.  This vote was ignored by ITA board and different course of action was drawn up in private meeting that same evening.  That non-debated format was forced on teams and mandated to be used for the first 6 weeks of the 2014 season.   Many skewed results occurred with impact to several teams and coaches.
  • In ITA’s own poll of 2014 spring, 81% of college tennis players voted to not change singles and 85% voted to not change doubles. These votes were ignored. The significance of this poll was not acknowledged.
  • One of the Top Players of college tennis conducted an independent petition of collegiate players in fall of 2014. There were 1347 signatures to oppose scoring changes.  This was ignored.
  • A petition was sent out to women’s coaches by a well-respected and veteran coach of 40+ years in late summer of 2014. In response, 194 women’s coaches voted to require ITA to have 2/3 majority to make fundamental changes that significantly impact collegiate tennis. The importance of this petition was opposed by ITA.  This well-respected coach received strong criticism from ITA board members.
  • An MDTA poll was conducted in summer of 2014. The vote was 67-11 in favor traditional scoring and to not change to abbreviated format.   This vote was ignored.
  • After tremendous pushback from coaches and players in summer of 2014, the NCAA cabinet tabled the ITA/USTA move to abbreviate the format. The ITA director sent out 3 emails within an 8-day period with directives to all coaches to use abbreviated format for fall events anyway.
  • ITA has recently promoted that their coaches are unanimous for abbreviated scoring. This is an inaccurate assessment. It is based on ITA’s own board vote and their promotions.  Multiple coaches were not involved and there were many abstentions to their board’s vote. ITA has recently sent out a latest directive to use abbreviated format for non-conference play.  This goes against a long-standing procedure used for years in non-conference play:   “When two coaches agree, they can choose to play an experimental format.” For 6 weeks in spring 2014; The fall 2014 and now in the spring of 2015, the ITA has treated their abbreviated format as the norm and traditional scoring as the novel.  This is a slight-of-hand and should not be accepted.  Their non-conference directive actually has taken it a step further.
  • At this time, the results of the NCAA poll sent out by NCAA in the fall of 2014 have not been circulated..

‘Let’s Unite and Become Relevant’

 

As Coaches, we should note the following:

  1. The ITA is a voluntary coach’s organization! Expensive Dues are required for their services.  They are a reference for college tennis information and conduct tournaments and polls. Their power is implied. It is not absolute! Mandates should not be made by ITA and a minimum 2/3 support from coaches should be required for such fundamental changes in tennis legislation.  ITA has acted inappropriately.
  2. Just as the NCAA does not have the right nor the power to directly influence decisions made by the USTA, the USTA does not have the right nor power to directly influence the direction of NCAA sports and welfare of Student-Athletes who participate in the sport of tennis.
  3. The USTA is a greatly respected organization that is of great service to our youth; however, their finances to the ITA and the pressure (presumed or actual) to push forward their own agendas is a wrong thing to do.

 

………………….Here are suggestions to consider that will help to keep unity in our coaching ranks: (it is understood that all collegiate coaches have similar suggestions!)

  • Make a simply TV format for college tennis when someone actually does get on TV.
  • We could split our season into a ‘Team Season’ and an ‘Individual Season’. Our sport would again be a developmental situation for players and administrators would have two sports for the price of one.  (See Coach Randy Bloemendaal’s position paper listed below)
  • Format and scoring system are two completely different issues!!! Appropriate team format changes could easily be acceptable if traditional scoring is honored and not placed in jeopardy.
  • ITA needs to be completely transparent. They should honor and respect their position of being a service organization first-and- foremost.  Politics and policy making should be secondary and only done when 2/3 majority of coaches agree on an action.
  • Although the USTA’s support of our collegiate programs is appreciated, they need to stay out of the legislative business of college tennis. They should not lobby for influence.

For the Love of our sport,

Chuck Kriese       Randy Bloemendaal        Gene Orlando

 

 

“All that it takes for evil to prosper is for good men to do nothing”  Edmund Burke

 

 

Dear Fellow Coaches:

Here are the Email Addresses for NCAA Cabinet Members.  We need your help now more than ever.  The implementation of abbreviated scoring into college tennis will greatly impact the future and the very fiber of our sport for years to come.  We now enjoy the same scoring that is used for championship tennis around the world.  Our doubles traditions have also served as great building blocks for American Champions in an arena where every country in the world gets a big head-start in advanced development.  The elimination of these important learning tools will soon be acceptable compromises in our junior ranks if nothing is done.  What is most upsetting however is that so much is being dismantled for such vague and unsubstantiated payoffs.

The Cabinet’s meeting is February 11.  Please write to them …..

Chuck Kriese        Randy Bloemendaal             Gene Orlando

 

 

v.housebrowning@csuohio.edu; brenda.vogel@csulb.edu; douple@thesummitleague.org; jhurd@wac.org; sluadmay@slu.edu; leykam@up.edu; scott.lazenby@tamucc.edu; robert.corran@uvm.edu; rcole@iona.edu; mmoccia@siu.edu; Kavanagh@fgcu.edu; amycrosbie@weber.edu; dedeauxr@themac.com; njg24@drexel.edu; bkrimmel@francis.edu; dartmouth.athletics@dartmouth.edu;allen.ward@murraystate.edu;athleticdirector@colgate.edu; ksrecord@uncg.edu; deritar@uab.edu; jm2y@virginia.edu; appelbau@ath.msu.edu; deborah.corum@uconn.edu; casavantk@wsu.edu; ccoll@themw.com; tforeman@astate.edu; mbarn@uky.edu; athleticdirector@georgetown.edu

 

 

 

 

……………Coach Randy Bloemendaal’s Position Paper is below:

 

 

               “Let’s Unite and Become Relevant”

 

A Vision….. A Solution….                                      By Randy Bloemendaal

Fellow Coaches, Please take a moment to read and consider:

Collegiate Tennis as an Individual Sport and Collegiate Tennis as a Team Sport….

 

The talk for some kind of change has been ongoing.  The ITA contends that this should include the abbreviation of both Dual-Mach format and the traditional scoring system. Both are designed to save time.  The claim is that both changes are needed to save our sport.  Factual or not, the claim has been stated as the reason for more than 400 teams to have been dropped over the past 25years. Coaches are looking for answers.  The question becomes:  ‘Just what are the answers”?

  1. The Format for Collegiate Matches is a completely different issue than the ‘scoring system’ and should be dealt with as such.   The scoring system is part of the great heritage of tennis and is used inclusively world-wide as the standard of measurement of players skill sets against one another. It is a constant to the game at multiple levels and should be protected as such.  The Format of a collegiate match is not as much of a constant; therefore, these two should be treated independently for progress of some type to be made.
  2. The Sport of College Tennis should be treated as an Individual Sport with Team opportunity instead of a Team Sport with Individual Opportunity: Much like sports such as Golf, Track and Field or Swimming and Diving, Tennis is an individual sport; however, our sport of tennis has been marketed for many years as a team sport.  This approach has made its packaging and marketing difficult.  Whereas other individual sports have been marketed as individual sports with team scoring opportunity, tennis has been marketed as a team sport with individual opportunity. This is the source of the marketing problem with collegiate tennis. Team tennis is most often used as a participation event and not a performance event at other levels.  At the college level, this has made popularity and marketing opportunities random and frustrating.   Could it be that greater opportunity might be available if the sport made a simple adjustment in its presentation and not by making a dramatic change in scoring fundamentals.
  • Splitting the Seasons could benefit Players, Coaches, Athletic Departments, Communities and present many Marketing opportunities :(note: It could be best to play the team format of the season in the fall, using excellent weather and football crowd opportunities to promote an 8 to 10 week team season.  Winter and spring might best support an individual season as coaches could balance weather and travel with those opportunities needed for their players.  However, this issue of whether the team should be in the fall or in the spring should not be the sticking point nor a stumbling block to the need to split the sport into two distinct seasons.)  
  1. Consider the Following:

 

  1. Benefits for Players:
  2. Benefits for Coaches;
  3. Benefits for Schools Athletic Programs – Why athletic directors would like this
  4. Benefits for Community
  5. Marketing Opportunities

Summary and Conclusion:    We have many dedicated people working together in collegiate tennis to save our sport and to make it prosper.  We also have a disconnect.  It is not on purpose, and it is not necessary to have this division in our ranks.  It is my submission that the disconnect is not with each other as much as the paradigm that we have developed for our sport by trying to market it into something that it is not.  We need to market it as an individual sport with a team opportunity instead of a team sport with individual opportunities.  Splitting the season to put emphasis on each in their own unique ways would do this.

The future for our great sport is quite bright if we can see this and act now.  The changes would be relatively simple to implement and would not risk serious disruption of our time honored fundamentals of our game.

Sincerely, Randy Bloemendaal 

We Must #SaveCollegeTennis

I’d be willing to bet that, for most of our kids, college tennis is the goal. Maybe not The Dream, but definitely The Goal. But what will college tennis look like by the time our kids get there? For my kid, that’s only one year from now. Let’s take a look at what’s there as of today and what’s coming down the pike . . .

  • Right now, as a result of Title IX, a fully-funded Division I women’s tennis team has 8 scholarships to distribute; a fully-funded men’s team has 4 1/2. That means, if you’re the parent of a tennis-playing-boy, the likelihood that he’ll get a full ride to college is pretty much zero – if he’s a top 20 player, the odds go up, but, otherwise, he may or may not get a small percentage of the overall cost to attend. Given that most private and out-of-state tuitions are now topping $50,000 PER YEAR, your ROI for the years of lessons, drills, equipment, tournaments, etc. is pretty negligible. And, let’s not forget that our children are competing against players from the international tennis community for those few coveted spots and scholarship dollars. At present, in Divisions I, II, and III, there is no limit on the number of international players who can be on a team or receive scholarship money. Junior colleges, on the other hand, limit the number of non-Americans to 1/4 of the team’s allotment of scholarship players.
  • The current scoring system for a college dual match (a match played against another college team) is as follows: (1) Teams simultaneously play three lines of doubles matches that are played as an 8-game pro-set with a 7-point tiebreaker at 7-all. Whichever school wins 2 of the 3 matches earns 1 point in the overall dual match score. All three matches are played to completion. (2) Teams simultaneously play 6 lines of singles matches, 2 out of 3 sets with a 7-point tiebreaker at 6-all. Each match win earns 1 point in the overall dual match score. In men’s matches, there are no service lets – if a serve touches the net and lands inside the service box, it is considered in play. Whichever school accumulates 4 points overall (3 singles points plus the doubles point OR 4 singles points) wins the dual match. All six singles matches are played to completion except during tournaments where it is clinch/clinch. At the end of the dual match season (which occurs during the Spring semester), the top 64 teams compete in the NCAA tournament for a spot in the coveted Sweet 16 in May and a chance to be National Champions.
  • Last year, the ITA and NCAA agreed to test out a format during the Fall (individual) season and the National Indoor Tournament (held in February before the start of the dual match season) which used no-ad scoring. The decision to test the format came out of discussions between the ITA, USTA, and NCAA on ways to shorten the overall match time in order to increase fan support and, supposedly, to increase the chances of garnering television contracts. I watched several of the matches on livestreaming – I was not impressed. After the Men’s Indoor Tournament, a player poll was conducted regarding the scoring experiment. The result: 80% of players who played singles in the tournament were against no-ad scoring and 85% of players who played doubles were against it. I would call that an overwhelming mandate opposing no-ad!
  • Now, ITA has announced the use of no-ad scoring in all matches during the Fall and Spring seasons (click here to read the announcement), and is hoping for it to be approved for use during the NCAA tournament as well. The stated reason for this scoring change is to get more fans in the stands for the matches in order to help the teams become self-funding (tennis is a non-revenue sport in Division I). Several women’s DI coaches, led by Indiana University’s Lin Loring, have signed a petition opposing the process by which no-ad was adopted (click here to read more on this topic from ZooTennis). On the men’s side, The Citadel’s head coach, Chuck Kriese, has taken the lead role (click on the link below to read Coach Kriese’s letter).

On Monday, August 11th, I will devote the ParentingAces radio show (the podcast is now online and posted below) to a discussion of these changes and their potential impact on both college tennis and junior tennis. Bill Mountford, USTA’s Director of Junior Tournaments, flat out told me during the 2014 NCAA Tournament that however the scoring system goes in college tennis, junior tournaments are likely follow, so this thing has great implications for all of us. While I haven’t had a chance to speak with Bill directly since the ITA announcement, I did get a voicemail from him last night saying that USTA is considering experimenting with no-ad scoring in entry- and intermediate-level tournaments in the name of shortening events. I urge you to tune in at Noon ET on Monday and/or to listen to the recorded podcast which will be online later that day.

As of now, none of these organizations has asked for input from the players themselves which is in direct opposition to NCAA’s recent actions putting student-athlete welfare front and center. To quote NCAA President Mark Emmert, “Today, the student-athlete voice is an essential part of our processes. Who better to consult on student-athlete welfare than student-athletes?”

We Tennis Parents need to understand what’s happening and to voice our opinion – either individually or as a group – to the ITA, USTA, and NCAA. I’m hoping we can help effect a change and that our governing bodies will fulfill their stated purpose of preserving and growing the beautiful game of college tennis while standing up for the student-athletes who make it possible. To that end, I encourage each of you to contact Mark Emmert, NCAA President, via telephone at 317/917-6222 or via email at memmert@ncaa.org and to add your thoughts in the Comments below. Maybe a parent petition is in order as well? It’s time to rally. Together, we can save college tennis.

Coach Chuck Kriese’s Men’s Division I Tennis Association (MDTA) update letter (Click link to read)

NCAA President’s letter – Spring 2014 (Click link to read)

 

 

Reporting from Kalamazoo

kalamazoo2013

I feel very lucky to have fellow Tennis Parent, Melanie Rubin, reporting from the 2013 USTA National Hardcourts in Kalamazoo. She is interviewing players, parents, coaches, and tournament personnel on various topics that I hope will be of interest to ParentingAces readers. Bookmark this post and check back over the next week – I will add interviews as Melanie sends them to me.  She will be joining me on the ParentingAces Radio Show on Monday, August 12th, at Noon ET as well.

Just click on the names below to download the audio files then click on the downloaded file to hear the brief interviews in your designated audio software (iTunes, Windows Media Player, etc.).  The interviews are listed in the order in which I received them from Melanie.

If you or your child is at the Kalamazoo tournament this week, please seek out Melanie and ask her to interview you, too!  It’s great hearing from everyone about their experiences at one of the country’s most prestigious junior tennis events.  If you have photos you’d like to share, please email them to me so I can upload them – scroll down to see the ones I’ve gotten so far.

And, for detailed daily coverage of Kalamazoo, as well as the other national hardcourt events, be sure to subscribe to Colette Lewis’s ZooTennis.com blog.  A new Facebook group, US Tennis, is also reporting results and other related information.  To see the draws and follow the action, go to the tournament’s website.  For a wrap-up of the week in Kalamazoo, be sure to listen to the ParentingAces Radio Show podcast from August 12, 2013 (click here to listen).

Players                              

Emil Reinberg & Sam Edwards – Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

Nick Crystal – New York (uploaded 8/2/13)

Alex Diaz – Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

John Mee – Texas (uploaded 8/3/13)

Jason Seidman – Connecticut (uploaded 8/3/13 – dual interview with dad)

Josh Pompan – Northern California (uploaded 8/3/13 – dual interview with dad)

Stefan Kozlov – Florida & Henrik Wiersholm – Washington (uploaded 8/3/13)

McClain Kessler – Georgia (uploaded 8/5/13)

Christopher Eubanks – Georgia (uploaded 8/5/13)

Alexander Lebedev – New York (uploaded 8/5/13)

Tyler Schick – New Jersey (uploaded 8/5/13)

Abhin Sharma & Alex Phillips – Georgia (uploaded 8/6/13)

Terrell Whitehurst & Terrance Whitehurst – Florida (uploaded 8/6/13)

Luca Corintelli – Virginia & Jared Donaldson – Rhode Island (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Parents/Family

Diane Crystal, Nick’s mom (uploaded 8/2/13)

Sue Goodman, Trey Daniel’s grandmother (uploaded 8/3/13)

David Seidman, Jason’s dad (uploaded 8/3/13 -dual interview with Jason)

Masumi Hamanaka, Taiyo’s mom (uploaded 8/3/13)

Jeff & Kathy Johnston, parents to Connor (uploaded 8/3/13)

Don Pompan, Josh’s dad (uploaded 8/3/13)

Beata Redlicki, Martin’s mom (uploaded 8/3/13)

Zaza Corintelli, Luca’s dad, & Igor Kerznerman, Daniel’s dad (uploaded 8/4/13)

Christine & Brad Baughmann, Deiton’s parents (uploaded 8/4/13)

Anita Wilczynski, David’s mom (uploaded 8/4/13)

Lauren Levine, Robert’s mom (uploaded 8/5/13)

Mark Nardella, Matthew’s dad (uploaded 8/5/13)

Roochi Sharma, Abhin’s mom (uploaded 8/6/13)

Courtney Farren – Connor’s sister (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Coaches

Brett Masi – University of San Diego (uploaded 8/2/13)

Nick Carless – Cal Poly (uploaded 8/2/13)

Ryan Sachire – Notre Dame (uploaded 8/2/13)

Brett Ross – Wake Forest (uploaded 8/2/13)

Manny Diaz – University of Georgia (uploaded 8/2/13)

Drew Barrett – Davidson College (uploaded 8/3/13)

Clancy Shields – Utah State University (uploaded 8/4/13)

David Geatz – University of Pennsylvania & Dave Morin – Western Michigan University (uploaded 8/4/13)

Bob McKinley – Texas A&M (uploaded 8/5/13)

Chris Cooprider – Junior coach (uploaded 8/5/13)

Bruce Berque – University of Michigan (uploaded 8/5/13)

John Roddick – University of Oklahoma (uploaded 8/5/13)

Mark Dickson – University of Miami (uploaded 8/5/13)

Greg Patton – Boise State University (Part 1) (uploaded 8/6/13)

Greg Patton – Boise State University (Part 2) (uploaded 8/6/13)

Chuck Kriese – The Citadel, Part 1 (uploaded 8/7/13)

Chuck Kriese – The Citadel, Part 2 (uploaded 8/7/13)

Sam Paul – University of North Carolina (uploaded 8/9/13)

 

Tournament Personnel & Vendors

Bob Wood – Volunteer (uploaded 8/2/13)

Rick Buckles – Transportation Volunteer (uploaded 8/2/13)

Mark Riley – Tournament Director (uploaded 8/5/13)

Darrell Davies – The Referee (uploaded 8/5/13)

Bill Kallenberg – Captured In Action Photograph (uploaded 8/6/13)

Lloyd & Melissa Clayton – Your Game Face photographers (uploaded 8/6/13)

 

 

College Tennis Due Diligence

college rankings

Men’s Collegiate Development Report (Click on the report name to open the Excel spreadsheet)

One of my son’s over-reaching tennis goals is to play at a Division 1 school where he can continue to develop his game.  He realizes that he is a stereotypical “late-bloomer” and that he’ll probably keep growing for at least the first couple of years of college, and he wants to play for a coach who can help him keep growing tennis-wise, too. So, Type A Tennis Parent that I am, I have been doing some research into programs and coaches, both those that are realistic schools for him and those that would be considered “reach” schools, to see what I could learn about player development at the collegiate level.  Luckily for me, I came across the spreadsheet in the link at the top of this article, which has been a great jumping-off point for my research.

It is the Men’s Collegiate Development Report, and it attempts to track how top US junior tennis players develop at the college level.  The purpose is to give new recruits an objective tool to see how previous top US recruits have or haven’t developed at schools they are considering and to provide college athletic departments another tool for evaluating their tennis programs. The report is by necessity overly simplistic.  First, the report tracks the top recruits based on Tennis Recruiting and includes any finishers in Kalamazoo’s quarterfinals should they not be included in the Tennis Recruiting list.  It includes information over 5 years beginning in 2004.  The report identifies the schools at which each player began their collegiate careers.  Then, it tracks their final collegiate rank at graduation time.  If the player ranked anywhere in the top 30 final ITF ranking in their last year of eligibility, then they are deemed to have continued developing their tennis skills during college.  If they transfer to another school, that results in a No Ranking score.  The transferred player is again scored at the school they finally graduate from.  Should a player turn pro prior to graduation, that is separately marked but considered a success since the player developed enough to allow that player to believe they should turn pro. Results were only considered sufficiently meaningful for ranking a school’s results if the school attracted 4 or more top US recruits during 2004 through 2008.  Obviously, the results are less meaningful to the extent a coaching change has occurred during this period.  Also, foreign players were not considered, which eliminates a large percentage of collegiate tennis players.  The results also ignore injuries in a player’s final year of eligibility. I’m hoping the creators of the report will eventually expand it to include 4- and 5-star players as well as the Blue Chippers already evaluated.  If they do, I will be sure to post the updated information for you.

If your junior player is planning to play at the collegiate level, I urge you to take a look at this report and to start doing your own research into the programs and coaches that might be best-suited for your child.  There are so many programs out there, and each one will have its own pluses and minuses depending on your child’s academic, social, and tennis goals (notice I put tennis last!).  I have been talking with Coach Chuck Kriese, who coached the Clemson Men’s Tennis Team for years, about creating a step-by-step list for parents to help their kids through the college recruiting process.  He and coach Kyle Bailey came up with the College Recruiting Timeline (click here to go to the page and download the pdf file), a To-Do list for parents and players through their high school years.  Tennis Recruiting also has a great guide on the Recruiting 101 area of its website – click here for the link.  Take a look and let me know what you think!

Tweet

Mens Collegiate Tennis Development Report
Ranked Based on Players Reaching Top 30
        Based on More Than 3 Players
# of Top USTurned Pro
RecruitsOr Top 30
Ohio state4375.00%
Georgia4250.00%
USC5240.00%
Texas A&M5240.00%
Florida6233.33%
UCLA4125.00%
Duke5120.00%
Stanford6116.67%
Illinois7114.29%
Ranked Based on Players Reaching Top 100
        Based on More Than 3 Players
# of Top USTurned Pro
RecruitsOr Top 100
Ohio state44100.00%
Georgia4375.00%
Texas A&M5360.00%
Illinois7457.14%
Florida6350.00%
Stanford6350.00%
Duke5240.00%
USC5240.00%
UCLA4125.00%
SCHOOLTop RecruitsTop 30 FinishTurned ProTop 100 Finish
Virginia30.00%133.33%
Tennessee20.00%150.00%
Texas A&M5240.00%360.00%
South Carolina10.00%1100.00%
Florida61133.33%250.00%
Texas30.00%133.33%
Georgia4250.00%375.00%
Illinois7114.29%457.14%
Notre Dame3133.33%133.33%
Pennsylvania10.00%0.00%
USC5240.00%240.00%
LSU11100.00%1100.00%
Stanford6116.67%350.00%
Boise State11100.00%1100.00%
Maryand10.00%0.00%
Harvard20.00%0.00%
Ohio State4375.00%4100.00%
Clemson10.00%0.00%
Wake Forest2150.00%150.00%
NC State10.00%1100.00%
Rice20.00%0.00%
California30.00%0.00%
UCLA4125.00%125.00%
Duke5120.00%240.00%
Baylor20.00%0.00%
Vanderbilt10.00%0.00%
Florida State20.00%0.00%
Columbia10.00%0.00%
Michigan3133.33%166.67%
Hawaii20.00%0.00%
Kentucky2150.00%150.00%
North Carolina20.00%150.00%
Mississippi11100.00%100.00%
Cal-Poly10.00%1100.00%
Mississippi State11100.00%1100.00%
Georgia Tech11100.00%1100.00%
Pepperdine10.00%1100.00%
UC Irvine10.00%0.00%
Sacramento State10.00%0.00%
San Fransisco10.00%0.00%
Princeton10.00%0.00%

Social Media In Action

Tom Walker (you’ll recognize his name as the one who wrote the Call to Action on the Junior Competition changes in March 2012) has created a Facebook page entitled USTA – Stop 2014 National Junior Tennis Tournament Changes (click here to see it).  His mission is reprinted in its entirety below.  I encourage you to visit the page, “like” it, then share it with your tennis friends via email, Facebook, Twitter, or whatever other means you have available.  There is definitely strength in numbers, and Tom’s goal is to show USTA in no uncertain terms that a critical mass of its constituents are opposed to these changes and want to see the Junior Competition Committee go back to the drawing board:

This page is dedicated to spotlighting the insane 2014 changes to the USTA National Junior Tournament Calendar and hopefully to motivate Dave Haggerty, Kurt Kamperman, the new Junior Tournament Competition Committee, the 17 Sections and the new USTA Board of Directors to permanently pause these changes and devise a new plan that is thoroughly vetted, transparent, and agreed upon by the tennis industry at large.

Background:

Last year the USTA sections passed a sweeping new National Junior Tournament Plan that was to take effect in 2013 and 2014. This plan involved shrinking the opportunities to play National tournaments for US juniors by a significant margin.

The goal of the changes as stated by the USTA was to address three major concerns:

• The rising costs of competing at the national level for juniors and their families;
• The desire to reduce the amount of time juniors would be absent from school;
• The creation of a logical progression of earned advancement from local play to sectionals to nationals to ensure that the best players move on to nationals (the best have earned the right to play) – not the players from families with more economic flexibility.

While those stated goals are noble on the surface, many in the industry question if those were the actual goals and anyone with the slightest knowledge of junior tournament tennis quickly realized that the 2014 plan did exactly opposite of these stated goals for the overwhelming majority of players.

Cost – under the 2014 plan, players will have 9 chances to play National tournaments during the course of the year. If a player was going to play 9 national events in the year, they would now be completely wed to this schedule. You could likely poll first graders and realize that if a player had 9 chances to 9 events, it is going to cost more than if they had 30 or 40 chances to play 9 events.

School – school breaks and testing schedules have never been more fragmented. Again when choice is taken away, the homeschooled kids with flexible schedules or the lucky kids whose breaks and test schedules match up with the USTA schedule will be fine while the rest of the kids will be left missing more school and will have more balancing of tests and tournaments.

Earned Advancement – this is nothing more than propaganda to pretend like there are a bunch of rich kids flying around in private jets chasing points and unfairly advantaging themselves against the kids of lesser financial means. There has always been earned advancement. The 2014 plan doesn’t change any of the earned advancement for the rank and file junior tennis player, but it does give the USTA more wild cards so that their own players are not subject to have to play in their sections. So this plan of earned advancement not only doesn’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist, it creates a pathway for a few of the chosen ones to completely avoid earning their advancement.

So on all three stated goals, these changes completely fail any reasonable smell test.

The 2014 plan has been universally panned by an overwhelming majority of parents, coaches, junior players, college players, professional players, famous ex-pro players and virtually every person of significance in the tennis industry.

To the credit of some of the USTA brass in October of 2012, a group: Jon Vegosen (past USTA President,) Kurt Kamperman (USTA CEO of Community Tennis,) Dave Haggerty (USTA President,) Gordon Smith (USTA GM) and Bill Mountford (USTA rep) met with a resistance group of tennis parents and industry figures including: Antonio Mora (father of a junior,) Robert Sasseville (tournament director,) Steve Bellamy (father of 4 juniors and founder of Tennis Channel,) Sean Hannity (father of 2 juniors) and Kevin Kempin (father of 2 juniors and the CEO of Head.) From that meeting, the USTA agreed to “pause” the 2013 changes and have a “listening tour” in various parts of the country.

Right now as stated by the USTA President Dave Haggerty in the Atlanta meeting, “the 2014 changes will not go forward as they are now and there will likely be some sort of a compromise that puts some opportunity back on the table.”

The history of the changes are that Jon Vegosen (former President) enlisted Tim Russell (music professor no longer involved with the junior comp committee) and his committee of 20 (of whom virtually none were parents or coaches of junior players and 1/2 of whom are no longer on the committee) to come up with a new plan. That plan was then given to player development (which is no longer involved in the process) who supposedly were the ones who cut all the opportunity and gave themselves more wildcards.

This plan was then pushed around the USTA sections under the guise of cutting costs, upping school attendance, criminalizing the supposed points chasers and giving the sections back all their talent who were now playing Nationally. Although the plan was passed by a margin of 16 to 1, rampant were reports of anyone speaking out against the changes being ostracized, bullied to get on board and even fired. Many section leaders who voted for the changes now say that they would not have voted the way they did had they understood what they were voting for. Others have said they received substantial political pressure to vote for the changes. Basically an election in a country with a dictator took place to slam the changes through while Vegosen’s administration was in place.

Virtually no parent, coach, college coach or person in tennis was apprised of these changes prior to them being passed and there were specific directives from USTA managers not to let the tennis industry know about the changes until after they had passed.

Additionally, little foresight was given to the impact of the changes to college coaches. The changes will directly push a large portion of college coaches out of using their recruiting travel budgets for USTA events and move them to ITF events, therefore creating even fewer US players getting seen by college coaches which is the driving reason that many US kids play junior tennis.

We believe that these changes are going to be some of the most detrimental in the history of the sport and will basically do the following:

· Make junior tennis cost more

· Significantly detract from some kids’ school

· Overly benefit kids who can get wildcarded in

· Push more foreign players into college tennis by more exposure to college coaches

· Make kids quit tennis because so many kids will be playing the same kids week after week in their same section

There are many other negatives as well.

The goal of this page is to mobilize the tennis industry to push the USTA to get this process permanently paused and a new plan put in place that is transparent, smart and vetted by all the parties impacted in junior tennis.

In lay terms, WE DON’T WANT A COMPROMISE BY ADDING BACK OPPORTUNITY TO AN UNVETTED, BROKEN PLAN. WE WANT A NEW PLAN AND THE ABILITY TO WORK WITH THE USTA TO GET THE PLAN THAT IS BEST FOR U.S. JUNIOR TENNIS.

I again urge everyone to attend one of the remaining “listening” meetings and/or to email LetUsKnow@usta.com with your thoughts regarding the 2014 Junior Competition changes.  If you need a refresher on the exact changes or dates of the meetings, please click on the 2014 Jr Comp Info tab above.

Notes From 6th Listening Meeting in Atlanta

It was an interesting day yesterday, to say the least!  I had spent the previous several days preparing my talking points for Sunday’s “listening” meeting as well as for my pre-meeting meeting with Lew Brewer and Andrea Norman, the new chair of the Junior Competition Committee (Andrea was a member of the JCC that created the 2014 changes and is now chairing that same group).  Peter Lebedevs, also a member of the current JCC  – and an active USTA volunteer, coach, and tournament director at both the junior and professional level – joined us, too.

The pre-meeting meeting was very informative.  We talked for almost 2 hours about the changes and the impetus for them (I’m still not 100% clear on the “why” behind them other than that USTA is trying to find a better way to develop our junior players), how I would like to see them change, and what USTA can do better.  We spoke at length about USTA coming up with some concrete ways of helping tennis families save money, like discounts on hotels and airlines and the like, rather than telling us that these new schedule changes will accomplish that goal.  I tried to explain to them how fewer opportunities drives up costs – basic supply and demand – but I’m still not sure Andrea understands what I was saying (more on that in a minute).  She told me that the schedule goes from 15 competition blocks to 12, that fewer blocks means families have to spend less money.  I took issue with that statement, explaining that fewer blocks means fewer options, and fewer options means potential additional expense, especially if those remaining options require further travel for families.

On the issue of smaller draw sizes at the 2 remaining national tournaments, Peter said that he is in favor of leaving the draws at 192, that going from 192 to 128 isn’t a significant change in the amount of work for tournament directors and that he feels giving more juniors the opportunity to compete at that level is a good thing.  I hope he sticks to his guns on that point when the JCC has its next meeting.  Andrea brought up the idea of holding a 64-draw qualifier before the Nationals.  I asked if the Qualifier would be “one-and-done” or would there be a backdraw?  And, would players earn ranking points in the Qualifier or would it be like the ITF qualies where no ranking points are awarded.  She said there would be a guarantee of 2 matches in the Qualifier but that a backdraw probably wouldn’t be played out, and, yes, ranking points would be awarded but USTA hasn’t created those point tables yet.

I emphasized how having the opportunity to compete at the national level and to see the country’s top players in action can be a huge motivating force for those players on the bubble.  I have to say, Lew was uncharacteristically quiet during the meeting, only getting involved when I started talking about my son’s ITF experience this past Fall.  He asked me if competing in our section’s top events wouldn’t provide the same motivating force as traveling to an ITF or Nationals.  I explained that, at least in my son’s case, he’s friends with all the boys at the top of our section and that there’s something different about watching your friends play versus watching top kids from the rest of the country (or world, in the case of the ITFs).  I think he understood what I was trying to say.  One thought I had after leaving the meeting is that if USTA is truly concerned about those players who get “rounded” at the National events, then why not use their resources to provide match-play opportunities and/or coaching to those players in hopes that they’ll be motivated to improve before their next tournament?  That way, if the family has had to fly to the tournament, they won’t necessarily have to change their return flight but can stay and receive free coaching for their player(s).

The “big” meeting started at 1:00pm and was led by Dave Haggerty (USTA President), Gordon Smith (USTA Executive Director and COO), and Scott Schultz (USTA Managing Director of Youth Tennis).  Also in attendance were current JCC members Andrea Norman (Chair), Peter Lebedevs (Vice-Chair), and Chuck Kriese, as well as previous JCC member Eddie Gonzalez.  The room was filled with some incredible tennis experience, and those folks didn’t hesitate to share their thoughts.  We heard from Walker Sahag, an incredible junior coach from Mandeville, Louisiana; Jerry Baskin, who has over 40 years of experience developing and coaching players at the junior, collegiate, and professional level; Chuck Kriese, former Clemson coach and current Senior Director of Competition and Coaching at USTA’s Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland; Jessica Amick, Junior Competition Coordinator at USTA Southern; Patricia Hy-Boulais, former collegiate and professional player who now coaches in Hilton Head; Amy Johnson, long-time USTA official; Julie Wrege, former Georgia Tech coach and creator of TennisRecruiting.net; Robert Sasseville, long-time tournament director; and Johan Kriek, former Australian Open champion and current junior coach.  All told, there were over 100 people in the room, including Manny Guillen, who has 40+ years of experience in the tennis world as an endorser and ranker for juniors; Lucy Garvin, past President of USTA; Doug Wrege, co-creator of TennisRecruiting.net; Julie Thiets of High-Tech Tennis; J.P. Weber, junior tennis coach and tournament director; Bill Ozaki, USTA Southern’s Director of Programs & Player Development; and Sam Kennedy, junior tennis coach, among others.

I think the simplest way for me to convey the points made is to do a bulleted list, so here goes . . . For those who were there, please pardon me if I’ve put any of the statements in the incorrect order – I was trying to listen and take notes (and keep those notes organized) all at the same time but may not have been successful.  And, for the record, the statements below are NOT direct quotes but rather paraphrasing or summaries of what I heard during the meeting.  The meeting was recorded by USTA Southern – I will make that recording available to you as soon as I get it.

  • Dave Haggerty: Welcome and thank you all for coming.  [He then introduced those on the stage and the committee members in the audience]  I would like to open the floor to anyone who would like to speak.
  • Walker Sahag: Reducing draws at the national events limits the chance for players to be seen by college coaches.  As the system stands now, if players don’t make the cut in the 12’s, they never catch up.  Grouping sections into larger regions creates additional sacrifices for those who will have to travel further in order to compete.  Particularly in the western part of the Southern Section, including Florida and the Caribbean exacerbates the travel and expense issue and will likely see the best tournaments migrate toward Atlanta.  Regarding international players taking college scholarships from American players, we’re being asked to pay for something [via our tax dollars] but are being excluded from it.
  • Dave Haggerty: College is the rainbow for 99.9% of junior players.  We’ve been hearing all of Walker’s points from others, too.  I understand that if a player doesn’t have visibility, it’s tough to be seen by the college coaches.
  • Lisa Stone: My son aspires to play more national events and needs to know that it is a realistic aspiration, that he can achieve it through hard work, that USTA hasn’t set up road-blocks to keep him away from the big events.  But the new 2014 schedule is extremely restrictive, decreasing the number of national calendar dates from 12 in 2012 (17-24 in 2010) to 7.  Having fewer opportunities for national play is not decreasing the cost of play – it will only make it more expensive.  USTA, why are you doing this?
  • Scott Schultz asked Andrea Norman to address the rationale behind the changes.
  • Andrea Norman:  We had a charge from our previous president (Jon Vegosen) to create a better pathway.  By going from 15 to 12 date blocks, the cost to compete is reduced.  Regarding the smaller draws, some kids don’t belong at that higher level; they should be playing Regionals instead.  The tournament sites are chosen by an application process and awarded to quality sites.  We try to distribute the sites geographically based on the size of the airport, ease of travel, number of courts, etc.  We  are trying to push play back to the Sections like in the “olden” days – the idea is to get back to Sectional play.  At the ITA “listening” meeting, there was concern about going from a 192 draw to 128, and Jon Vegosen brought up the idea of holding a 64 qualifying draw to be held over 2-3 days prior to the National Hardcourts.  The coaches there thought that was a good idea.
  • Jerry Baskin: Andrea, which college coach said he viewed 64 qualifiers on the same level as the 128 main draw players?  At least the USTA is now listening but every point Andrea makes can be debunked by coaches who develop collegiate players.  Memphis and Kalamazoo are the most influential tournaments for college recruiting.  High-level coaches come in now for the round of 16 anyway.  Other coaches are looking at players 96-192.  If you reduce the size of the draw, you reduce the exposure for these players.  Regarding the simultaneously-held Regional events, how can a coach be at 6-8 events at the same time?  They can’t!  So those players at those Regional tournaments won’t get seen.  Bill Ozaki [Director of Programs & Player Development, USTA Southern Section] has developed top players.  If you reduce the draw sizes at these events, you’ll kill college recruiting and will see half the number of coaches attending the tournaments.  The most exciting day of the year for me is sitting with my players on Signing Day and having my picture taken with them as they sign their NLI.  Do you know why the Thanksgiving indoor tournaments have been so important?  It’s because they come right after Signing Day so those coaches who didn’t get the players they thought they would get can go and see the next crop of players.  The top coaches are in panic mode if they didn’t get the players they expected!  And, what’s the purpose here – to develop world class players or to get college scholarships?  And, quotas being based on strength of the section?  That’s too subjective!  Basing them on size is a whole lot more objective.  It’s ridiculous to have people on the Junior Comp Committee who have never coached, never developed a player, making decisions for those of us who know what we’re doing.
  • Gordon Smith: I would like your feedback on the fact that junior competitive tennis hasn’t grown.  How do we change that?  USTA hasn’t been involved with the NCAA Tennis Committee, but I want us to be more active in that aspect.
  • Dave Haggerty: I believe strongly that the rainbow for 99.9% of kids is a college scholarship, but 40% of those scholarships are now going to foreign players.  We need to come up with a robust environment for juniors to aspire to that is better for our players.
  • Jerry Baskin: Thirteen years ago, I made a mistake when I gave a presentation in New York about the point system.  We need to go back to looking at wins and losses.  That would reduce costs because it would cut down on the number of tournaments a junior would need to play.  The last year that we had a group of men’s champions at Kalamazoo (Roddick, Ginepri, Reynolds, and Fish) was the last year before the point system went into effect.  The point system drives up costs because kids have to play so many events.
  • Scott Schultz: The STAR system gave players the opportunity to duck play.  Is it really a bad thing to have a couple of different systems?
  • Jerry Baskin: College coaches only care about TennisRecruiting ratings, not about USTA ranking.  USTA is looking in the wrong direction with PPR.
  • Eddie Gonzalez: I voted against the 2014 calendar because I know you need to talk to your customer before you make a change of this magnitude and we hadn’t done that.  Let’s do a formal survey on TennisLink for players, parents, junior coaches, and college coaches so we can get feedback from our customers!
  • Dave Haggerty: Please use LetUsKnow@USTA.com if you think of something after this meeting.
  • Amy Johnson: Why isn’t USTA establishing corporate relationships to help every single member?  Things like airline, hotel, and rental car discounts?
  • Scott Schwartz: The Sponsorship Department divvies up the money to various other departments within USTA.  Gordon will take that idea back to them to see what we can do better.
  • Julie Wrege: What’s the difference between having a 192 versus a 128 draw plus qualies?  Where would the qualifying spots come from?
  • Andrea Norman: 8 spots would come from the qualies and 8 from reducing the number of wildcards.
  • Julie Wrege: Why do smaller sections award the same number of national points as bigger sections?
  • Chuck Kriese: I never thought having too many opportunities would dumb down achievement, but I don’t think we should have draws bigger than 128 at Nationals.  That said, coaches should be able to coach however they feel is best.  Dave, your 40% number regarding international players receiving college scholarships is wrong – it’s closer to 65-70%.  We have to make college a viable training ground again.  The USTA needs to have an All-American Team made up of Americans and incentivize coaches for recruiting American players.  Title IX wasn’t set up to eliminate men’s sports but that’s what’s happened.  USTA must incentivize 15, 16, 17 year olds by making college a strong option.  By the way, no one has sued over Junior College’s 2-foreign-player limit!
  • Robert Sasseville: When you have an unreliable ranking system to select players into events, you don’t have an accurate predictor of champions.  The JCC should halt and start over.  Get a task force and re-examine.  You need the input of your customers.
  • Dave Haggerty: We don’t have any answers at this point but we have a lot of thoughts.  We’re hearing the same themes at these meetings.  You won’t see the changes as they are now going into effect in 2014.
  • Walker Sahag: When you streamline opportunities, you negatively impact players’ opportunity to develop.
  • Patricia Boulais: I suggest that USTA work some hotel and airline deals if you’re really serious about saving families money.
  • Scott Schultz: The small number of players competing at the national level make it not such a great deal for companies to offer a discount.  They don’t get much bang for their buck.  How many in this room think we need doubles at tournaments?  [Most hands went up] Should we keep the feed-in consolations?  [Most hands went up]
  • Chuck Kriese: If USTA did nothing to train and develop players, the tournaments should help players develop.  Hybrid scoring systems are crippling our children.  We should honor the scoring system of tennis.  Learning how to win 3 points in a row.  Backdraw kids are often the toughest kids!  These are the things that make players.  But backdraws are only valuable at big tournaments.  Experiencing the pain of losing is very important for development.  Playing pro sets in doubles is crap!  Full  doubles matches should take priority over backdraws.  The concept of winning 3 points in a row is sacred.  Those 3-minute or 10-minute set breaks kill momentum in a match.  Just let the kids play.  If a player is too tired, then he’ll lose and the match will be over soon enough.
  • Patricia Boulais: You have new players coming up but you’re streamlining opportunities for them.
  • Dave Haggerty: While there will be fewer national events, there will also be more local events.
  • A Dad: If I choose for my kid to miss school, it’s my choice!  If I choose to spend my money on tournaments, it’s my choice!  I’d like to see a show of hands of how many pros in this room have had a player outside the National Top 100 who got a college scholarship.  [Many, many hands were raised]
  • Jessica Amick: What about creating more sectional tournaments with national points?
  • Andrea Norman: Currently there are 12 sectional events with national points.  In 2014, there will be 2 Level 3s and some Level 4s with national points.  The Committee can discuss this the next time it meets.
  • Jerry Baskin: I’d be a lot happier if the people making these decisions were people who have been in the trenches and who know the pathway to success.
  • Dave Haggerty: A lot of thought and care went into the selection of the JCC.  It’s always difficult to reach perfection.  The Committee wants to do what is right for junior tennis.  One thing the Committee heard at the meetings held during Winter Nationals is that families want events where all the age groups play in the same city.
  • Johan Kriek: USTA is doing well to listen.  I am a former professional player who did pretty well on the tour.  I’m now coaching and learning as I go.  USTA needs to listen to folks like Eddie Gonzalez, Jerry Baskin, and Coach Kriese.
  • Jerry Baskin: If USTA could get together with NCAA and offer prize money to juniors to offset expenses, that would make our system comparable to the foreign system.
  • Chuck Kriese: In the late 1990’s, 86 international college players were ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of prize money they had won.  The NCAA gave them a 3-match penalty which enabled the teams to arrange their schedules so they could “duck” tough opponents while those players were benched.
  • Dave Haggerty: Thank you all for coming.  We are listening and will take back all we’ve heard here today.  Don’t forget to use the email address if you think of anything else after we leave.
  • Lisa Stone: Please, please don’t take away opportunities for our kids!

The opposition to the 2014 changes seemed to be unanimous, and I think the USTA folks recognized that fact.  After the meeting ended, several pow-wows were going on around the room.  I have heard that many of the attendees emailed those JCC members who were unable to attend with their thoughts and suggestions.  For what it’s worth, I left the meeting feeling hopeful.

I urge everyone to attend one of the remaining “listening” meetings and/or to email LetUsKnow@usta.com with your thoughts regarding the 2014 Junior Competition changes.  If you need a refresher on the exact changes or dates of the meetings, please click on the 2014 Jr Comp Info tab above.

Notes from First USTA Town Hall Listening Meeting Nov 17, 2012

The following information was emailed to me by a parent who was in attendance at the Reston, VA, “listening” meeting held by USTA.  I am reprinting it exactly as it was sent to me.  Please read and share with other tennis parents and coaches so our voices will be heard.  Thank you.

USTA Town Hall Meeting

11/17/2012

Mid-Atlantic Annual Meeting — Reston, VA

Representing the USTA:       Lew Brewer, Director Junior Competition

Scott Schultz, Managing Director, Youth Tennis

Scott Schultz (SS):            Introduction

wants to really listen and wants participants to leave feeling like they have listened

This is 1st town hall meeting

This is not about kids going pro.  These proposed changes affect critical group of kids:  those who devote the most time, energy, and money, and those with lots at stake — college, scholarships, etc.

Lew Brewer (LB):             effort is to serve vast majority of players competing

it is NOT about trying to make great players

the tournament structure is there:  if it works for you use it, if not, don’t

the junior tennis competition committee was asked to look at changes that would increase player development, increase affordability, and decrease missed school (and missed work for parents)

the vast majority of players are better served by playing locally

only changes that will happen in 2013:  new nat’l doubles tournament (to be played at us open series event) and new national grand masters tournament

in 2014 draw sizes for hard courts and clay courts will be reduced (assuming USTA approves committee’s recommendation to postpone this change for 2013)

Q (audience member):  why reduce draw size?

LB:          it used to be 128

the purpose of these tournaments is to crown a national champion and therefore they need the best players

Coach Chuck Kriese (CK):              I agree with the reduction.  The field at Kalamazoo has been diluted.  Recently, there were 51 defaults in the backdraw.  Lots of kids cramp the first day because they are not prepared to win, they are there just to have shown up.  But maybe there can be a qualifying tournament.

Q:           If there were 51 kids pulling out of the backdraw, the majority was actually those kids who came expecting to win and wanted only to be part of main draw.  It was not kids who were so excited just to get in.

Q:           There are amazing kids who are between 128 and 192, or even alternates who get in and have phenomenal tournaments.

It is also much better for college coaches to have larger draws.

If a parent doesn’t want to travel, they always have that option.

LB:          We could debate this issue all day and would still disagree.

Q:           Have you studied the impact of those kids between 128 and 192?

LB:          Yes, we studied players who lost 1st round to see how they did in backdraw but I don’t have the results with me.  There have been kids who have done very well, even a kid who made it to quarters of Kalamazoo.

But players will now qualify solely based on results in section and this will greatly change the complexion of who makes it.

Q:           But mid-atlantic is so strong, it will be impossible for all of the great players to get in.  Our number 8 kid could be top 100 in the country and not get in.

LB:          they will have to work hard and train hard and win.

Q:           There are other very valid reason for tournament besides crowing a national champion.  These tournaments give kids an incredible opportunity to learn and grow and improve.

Q:           Could you make some change so older kids don’t lose their last chance to play?

SS:          maybe  we could look at phasing it in with 12s first.

Q:           The proposed quota/endorsement system does not work for a section like the mid-atlantic.  Why is size relevant?  The 8th player in the 14s in the midatlantic is in the top 100 nationally but would not be allowed to play.  There are 16 midatlantic players in the 14s in the top 200 nationally.  Meanwhile, the top kids on different sections would get spots even though they could be in the 600s nationally.

LB:          Many people have argued it should just be the best players but the structure of the USTA demands that every section is represented.

SS:          There will never be traction on this issue.  Midatlantic has to make a proposal and fight that fight.

Bonnie Vona, mid-atlantic:          under the current structure these issues are addressed.  Every section gets endorsements, and others can get in off of the NSL.

Q:           much better for college coaches to have larger draw sizes.

If player is injured in summer out of luck unless they have Easter Bowl or winter nationals.

Q:           at NCAA division 1 tournament, only 22 of 128 players were american.

CK:         Very big and serious issue.

Only Americans in top 50 or 60 can easily play — otherwise competing against all international players.

$63 million in scholarships given to foreign players.

Q:           So can’t the uSTA address this issue and help US kids play tennis for US colleges?

SS:          this issue is incredibly upsetting and we have to do something.

Q:           If we are not competing well internationally, how do we improve kids beyond top 50?

LB:          Most kids better served by competing locally

CK:         kids should play with people of all different ages.  See universal tennis.com ratings.  Play should not be so age specific.

 Q:           Keeping kids playing in their sections limits playing styles and chance to play different types of players.

LB:          Lots of different playing styles in mid-atlantic.

SS:          88,000 kids play tournaments.  370,000 play in high school.  Tournaments don’t work for all kids.  It is very impt for kids to compete against different ages.

Q:           there are many reasons to compete in a national championship besides crowning the one national champion.

it is very important to college recruiting to have larger draw sizes.

The quotas are horrible.

LB:          explains how quotas will work.

Q:           in mid-atlantic, the top players don’t play sectionals — only nationals and ITF’s.  Won’t the quotas force them back into sectional play?

LB:          yes.

Q:           The quotas are the most disturbing proposal.  Will take away a kid’s chance to play and that will squash all enthusiasm.

LB:          quotas are good or bad depending on how you look at it.

Q:           There needs to be two means of entry:  quotas and NSL.  ANd no player should get in off of a quota unless they have a minimum ranking on the NSL.

SS:          New email address for comments:  letusknow@usta.com.  We are absolutely open to making adjustments.  We won’t be going back to the system as it is but we can make the changes better.

The proposed dates for the remaining “listening” meetings are as follows:

November 24: Boys & Girls 14s National Open, Rocky Hill, CT
December 16: ITA Convention (for convention attendees only), Naples FL
December 26: 16s & 18s Winter Nationals, Scottsdale, AZ
December 27: 12s & 14s Winter Nationals, Tucson, AZ
Jan. 10-13: Southern Section annual meeting, Atlanta, GA
Feb. 15-17: Texas Section annual meeting, Grapevine, TX

Okay, this is Lisa “talking” again.  It is crucial that parents and coaches take the time to educate themselves on the issues and attend these meetings.  If you can’t attend a meeting, then please use the new email address, letusknow@usta.com, to communicate your concerns.  I propose that we identify one or two parents in each USTA section to act as the voices for the section.  If you are interested in serving in that capacity, please contact me ASAP so we can get to work on compiling a list of speaking points.  Your ideas are welcome in the Comments section below.  If we present a united front to the USTA, letting them know that parents and coaches are on the same page and are only interested in what’s best for our junior players, I believe we stand a decent chance of being heard.  The onus is on us now.  USTA is providing the forum – we must seize the opportunity!