I’m Back . . .

I’m not sure anyone even noticed, but I’ve been out of town all week on a Girls Trip with my daughters.  My middle daughter and I were visiting her big sister in Los Angeles.  Yes, the Indian Wells tournament was in full swing.  No, we did not attend.  Sometimes hiking and shopping and Disneyland trump tennis.  Sometimes.

Anyway, I have been following all the comments posted on my article about our options regarding the 2014 calendar.  Wow!  A lot of emotion coming through.  Obviously, I have many passionate readers here who fall on both sides of the 2014 changes.  That’s a good thing.  And unexpected.  At least, I don’t think USTA had any inkling that all this passion would emerge a year ago when it announced the changes.

There’s another big meeting this weekend down in Florida.  I have no idea how all of this is going to shake out.  I just hope, whatever happens, that junior tennis in the US continues to grow and to thrive.  I think – despite our differences of opinion on just how that should look – that’s what everyone hopes.

2014: What Are Our Options?

There seems to be some (a lot!) confusion about USTA’s governance procedure as it relates to the 2014 changes.  After reading through the USTA by-laws in their entirety, I can tell you that I’m not any closer to understanding the intricacies of how this terribly complicated organization operates.  I have asked some people who have been involved with USTA for way longer than I have to please explain to me what our options are moving forward.  Here’s what they have told me.

At next week’s meeting (see my email exchange with Lew Brewer for more info), the Sections will discuss then vote on whether to approve the Proposed Changes to the already-approved 2014 Junior Competition Calendar.

  1. If approved, the Board will vote on the Proposed Changes at its April meeting.  If approved by the Board at that meeting, the Proposed Changes will go into effect January 1, 2014.
  2. If not approved, the original 2014 Junior Competition Calendar will go into effect January 1, 2014.

However, a third possible scenario – one that has not been mentioned by the Commenters on my previous posts – is that the Sections can combine efforts to garner at least 30% of the vote and can propose a “call item” to ask for a pause on the 2014 changes.  This “call item” would then go to a Board vote, I’m assuming at the April meeting.  If approved, we could see the Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee go back to work to develop a world class junior competition schedule with a competitive structure that:

  • Is fair to all the sections
  • Allows for a logical progression from sectional to national to super-national play
  • Results in the best players competing against the best players in the country
  • Is accessible, easy to understand, and cost-effective
  • Provides choices to families and parents in allowing them to build a tennis schedule that suits their individual needs
  • Most importantly, promotes true earned advancement

I have spoken to someone in my section’s (Southern) leadership and am hopeful that they will work with some of the other sections to harness enough support for a “call item” to be proposed.  If you are in favor of a pause, I urge you to speak with your section leadership as well to gauge their stance.  Each section should vote in such a way that benefits its own junior players – that’s why these sections exist, after all.  However, I suspect there is some political pressure from the National office for the sections to support the stance of the President and Board, so it’s important that we constituents put some pressure on our representatives to support what’s in the best interest of our kids.

Quota Comparison Between 2012 & 2014

The link below is to an Excel spreadsheet comparing Boys 18 entries by section between the actual 2012 Winter Nationals tournament and what the numbers will look like if the proposed 2014 changes are approved.  The numbers for SoCal and NorCal may be off by one or two as there was some confusion as to which of the two sections certain players were from.  Please take some time to read and understand the differences and feel free to comment below.

2012 Winter National Boys 18 Compared to Proposed New Quotas

Amended 2014 Changes – Just A Proposal At This Point

Please refer to my post from earlier today to understand how the process will work going forward.  In the meantime, here’s the 28-page document outlining the changes to the 2014 Junior Competition Schedule as well as the shorter 5-page summary version along with the new proposed national schedule.  I haven’t taken the time yet to analyze it fully but I plan to do so over the next couple of days.  If any of you would like to offer your opinion, the Comments box below is open!

Changes to 2014 Jr Comp Structure

Summary of 2014 National Jr Comp Structure

2014 Proposed National Schedule By Month

March 6th Official Statement from USTA

Today is March 6th, the day USTA said we would hear something from the work done by the Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee last week in Dallas.  I emailed Lew Brewer this morning for an update.  The following is my email to him along with his reply.  I hope it lends clarity about the process. . .

Lisa to Lew:

“Good morning, Lew! From previous communications, it seems like today’s the day for USTA to reveal publicly the changes made to the 2014 schedule during last week’s JCSC meeting. If that’s the case, can you please include me on any releases sent out? Thank you.”

Lew to Lisa:

“Thanks for the email.  Yes, today is the day of days.

I’m sorry that I could not tell you more earlier but we really had to inform our USTA leadership about the proposed changes before we released it to the public.  There are two versions of the changes.  There is a 28-page version which is very detailed and a 6-page version which is more of a layperson’s description.  I assume you will want both.

We want people to know about the proposed changes and the Sections will weigh-in on them at the USTA Annual Meeting.  It is important to note that the proposed changes were approved unanimously by the new Committee.

The process moving forward will be as follows:

We’ll release the information to everyone today.

  • The Sections will discuss within their Junior Competition structure between now and the USTA Annual Meeting (March 16-18, 2013).  All the Sections have been informed that this information is coming so they should be ready to discuss it internally.
  • The USTA Leadership (Section Presidents, Section Delegates, Section Executive Directors) will discuss this on March 16, 2013.  These are the key voting groups in the USTA (except the Section Executive Directors).
  • We will have an open forum for all the attendees during the meeting and the Executive Committee will take a straw vote during the Annual Meeting.  Technically it is not an official vote because of some technical governance issues but we have asked the Sections to treat this as if it were an official vote.
  • Assuming the Sections give it their approval, the USTA Board will vote on the plan at its next meeting in April.
  • In mid-April we will notify folks of the result and announce that bids are open for those who would like to host a 2014 event.
  • I’m confident that the revised plan will be approved.  I expect that people on both sides of the issue will not be completely happy, but the new plan reflects what we heard on our listening tours and through other means while remaining consistent with the principles of the currently approved plan.

The information will be released in the afternoon and I’ll send it to you as soon as it is available.  I’m sure you will get it from someone else before I send it to you.

Thanks.”

As I interpret Lew’s email, the Sections still have to approve the proposal before it goes to a full Board vote in April.  Therefore, it is crucial that we all continue to communicate with our Section Leadership (click here for the list of 2013 Section Presidents with email addresses) and voice our opinions on the changes once we see what comes out later today.  We’ve all worked so diligently on behalf of our junior players – let’s stick with it and see this thing through!

Official Statement from USTA

I just received the following via email from Lew Brewer:

The Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee of the USTA had a positive and productive meeting in Dallas from February 26 to February 28 regarding the 2014 National Junior Competitive Structure.
 
During this meeting the committee reviewed feedback received at the Listening Sessions and the Letusknow.com e-mail address. This included comments from key stakeholders including parents, coaches and players, tournament directors, teaching professionals, college coaches, USTA sections and other tennis constituents.
 
The proposed changes developed during this meeting were unanimously approved by the committee and will be presented to USTA National and Section Leadership on or about March 6, 2013.
 
These proposed changes will be vetted by USTA Leadership at the USTA Annual Meeting, March 16-18, 2013, and then presented to the USTA Board shortly thereafter.

The statement can be found online at http://www.usta.com/Youth-Tennis/Junior-Competition/usta_junior_competition_and_sportsmanship_committee_update/

I have some very strong thoughts on this statement, but I will keep them to myself for now.  In the meantime, please know that I have emailed Lew to ask him for more information on exactly what the proposed changes entail.  Stay tuned . . .

The Curse of Passion

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For the past several weeks, my son has decided to become a Full-Fledged Teenager.  Those of you who have been-there-done-that know exactly what I mean . . . snarky attitude, disinterested facial expression, limited eye contact.  And, it’s mostly been directed at me.  I guess because I’m the one around him the majority of the time.

I’ve been through the Snarky Teenager thing twice before, so you’d think I’d have it down pat.  You’d be wrong.

When you have a passionate personality, your passion doesn’t just limit itself to the things where it can be beneficial.  Oh no!  Your passion permeates pretty much everything you do, including your child-rearing methods.  It would be so much easier on ALL of us if I could just chalk my son’s sass (can you use the word “sass” when describing a male???) up to his age, shrug my shoulders, and get on with things.  If I could just calmly call him out on his attitude, calmly demand an apology, then calmly walk away.  If I could just sit down with him a la June Cleaver and sweetly discuss the benefits of a smile and a nice disposition.  If I could just channel Dr. Freud and ask him leading questions to get him to look inside himself and discover the WHY behind his snarkiness.  If I could just NOT take it so damn personally.

I can’t.  It just isn’t who I am, try though I may.  I respond with hurt and anger and frustration and sometimes even tears.  Yes, I know in the adult, rational sliver of my brain that my son is behaving EXACTLY as is expected of someone his age, and I know I shouldn’t take it as a personal affront.  I’m constantly telling myself to stay cool, calm, and collected.  I do yoga, for goodness sake – I should be able to stay cool, calm, and collected by now, right???

Every now and then, I’m successful and I glom onto that success and try to channel it the next time around.  Every now and then, I do.  But, every now and then, I do not, and I find myself hurt and angry and frustrated all over again, more at my lack of ability to respond to my son in the way I WANT to rather than at my son’s behavior itself.

Unfortunately (!), my passionate personality made its way to our three children in some way, shape, or form.  They have each chosen (or maybe they didn’t have a choice?) to express their passion in different ways . . . the performing arts, animals, sports.  And they have each chosen to pursue their own passion to the best of their ability which makes me so happy and so proud.  But, when their passion spills out in the form of anger or frustration or snarkiness, it’s tough for me to watch because it’s like they’re simply holding up a mirror to my own behavior.

Because when you’re passionate about something, you aren’t willing to accept anything less from yourself than 100%.  And, more times than not, you hold others to that same high standard, justified or not.  And, that can often lead to anger or frustration or snarkiness.  At yourself.  At others.

Every time I go to my yoga class, my instructor asks us to dedicate our yoga practice to a single intention, something we hope to accomplish.  Pretty much every time, my intention is to be able to let go, to be able to step back, to be able to breathe deeply and stay calm.  I can honestly say that I now have fleeting moments of clarity where those things happen, where I’m able to rein in my passion just enough to avoid a firestorm.  Baby steps, right?