The Curtis Consolation Draw

It is mid-April, and I have just become aware of a change to the junior competition protocol for the Southern section that I want to share with the rest of you. Historically, the Southern section has been a testing ground for several rule changes in junior tennis, so even if your junior doesn’t live or compete in the South, you should familiarize yourself with this latest tweak. It’s probably coming to your section very soon!

The change I’m referring to is in the way the consolation draw is handled in Southern Level 2 events, specifically the addition of a second backdraw called the Curtis Draw. Here’s how it works . . .

If a player loses in the first or second round of a Southern L2 tournament (these tournaments use a 64-player draw), then they feed into the regular consolation draw. However, if a player loses in the Round of 16 or Quarterfinals, then they feed into the Curtis Draw. Neither of these two draws plays the Finals match though both draws do have matches on the final day of the tournament, typically Monday, requiring players to miss a day of school.

So why do the L2s need two separate consolation draws? According to USTA Southern, previously the Round of 16 losers on Sunday morning did not play again until Monday thus having only one match on Sunday.  Use of the Curtis consolation where the Round of 16 losers and Quarterfinal losers are in one draw provides for a consolation match on Sunday afternoon for the Round of 16 losers (the Quarterfinal losers will have played that Quarters match on Sunday afternoon) and then two more matches in that draw on Monday.

In theory, the Curtis draw looks good since it allows the regular consolation draw to continue moving without having to wait for R16 and QF players to feed in on Sunday. Ideally it will allow for faster play overall and not hamper the tournament director with timing challenges.

However, I am hearing some concern about the point tables for the L2 regular consolation draws in terms of the maximum number of ranking points available. If a player loses in either the first or 2nd round in the main draw, then the maximum number of points possible is either 100 or 135 depending on in which round the loss occurs. The small number of ranking points may not be worth the cost of sticking around the tournament – both in terms of money and missed school – for some families. USTA Southern assured me that they are evaluating the point table for the consolation draw to see if some adjustments are warranted.

NOTE from Maria Cercone at USTA Southern (April 20, 2017): Just wanted to let you know that the committee approved a point change for the Curtis Level 2 tournament. The 1st and 2nd rd losers (1st Consolation) will receive 40 points per win , instead of 25. We saw an issue and we fixed it! It will be retroactive for all the players that played last week.

In the most recent L2 held in Alabama, there were three backdraw walkovers in the Boys 14s and three in the Girls 14s while there were three backdraw walkovers in the Boys 18s and seven in the Girls 18s which would be expected in the older age group due to the fact that these players are typically in high school and missing school is much more significant at that age. (Whew! That was a long sentence – sorry!) Out of 32 players in a backdraw these are not huge numbers but still worth the USTA looking into moving forward.

In contrast to the regular consolation draw, the Curtis draw offers much more significant ranking points, 60 points for each match won in the Curtis draw versus 25 for each match won in the regular consies, again with neither draw playing out the Final round. In real terms, that means a player who loses in the R16 of the main draw still has the potential to earn a total of 324 ranking points, 360 if they lose in the Quarters. Again, to compare, a player who loses in the first round of the main draw then feeds into the regular backdraw has the potential to earn 100 ranking points, 135 points if they lose in the 2nd round. Just to reiterate, that means a player in the regular backdraw has the potential to earn only 50 additional ranking points by staying through Monday and missing an extra day of school (not to mention paying for an additional night in a hotel) while a player in the Curtis draw could earn 120 additional ranking points. That’s a pretty significant difference, especially when you look at the ranking lists and study the point spreads between the players.

Interestingly, this past weekend’s L2 was the first of 2017 to utilize the Curtis Draw even though there have already been two L2s this year. One parent told me they had no idea the new backdraw was being used until they arrived at the tournament. I looked at the tournament website on TennisLink, and there is no mention of the Curtis Draw in the Important Info area (click here).

I asked the folks at USTA Southern why they decided to change things mid-year and how they notified participants of the change. They told me that the changes had been discussed earlier but weren’t finalized until right before this latest L2. Participants were not notified directly (still one of my pet peeves since the tournament director collects email addresses for participants when they register for the tournament!) but the information was posted on the USTA Southern website (see links in the next paragraph). I think it was also supposed to be included on the tournament website as well though, as I mentioned above, I can’t find any mention of it there.

I do think the Curtis Draw has the potential to be a positive addition to the L2s and even some of the other higher-level tournaments. That said, there needs to be some tweaking, especially in the area of available points for each backdraw. It looks like USTA may agree and may be making those tweaks before the next Southern L2.

To read more about the Curtis Draw on the USTA Southern website click here and here.

Please let me know what you think of this latest change. If you were at the Southern L2 in Alabama, I would love to hear how it went for your player.

NOTE: I have added a page to this website with links and contact information for USTA staff and departments that are relevant to the Junior Tennis Journey. Click here or on the link in the menu bar on the left side of the page.

Little Mo Announces K-Swiss As Official Shoe & Clothing Sponsor

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation announces K-Swiss as the “Official Apparel” and “Official Footwear” of the “Road to the Little Mo Nationals” in addition to the “Little Mo” Internationals in California, New York and Florida.

“K-Swiss is proud and excited to be the Official Apparel and Footwear partner for the ‘Little Mo’ and to be involved with the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation,” remarked Mike Miringoff, Global Director of K-Swiss Tennis. “Little Mo is well-respected and important as it is the first entry point for kids into tournament tennis building a foundation for their future and the sport. At K-Swiss, we are known as a strong tennis brand that is passionate about the sport and our product reflects this with its high quality and performance. We look forward to participating in the Little Mo and meeting the players and parents!”

“The Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation is absolutely delighted to have K-Swiss as our Official Apparel and Footwear Sponsor for our ‘Road to the Little Mo Nationals’ yearlong circuit and for our three international tournaments,” said Cindy Brinker Simmons, daughter of “Little Mo” and President of the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. “This stylish and iconic footwear company has been setting a standard of excellence in the tennis shoe and apparel industry for over 50 years. Just as our elite and talented young competitors are the future champions of tennis, our esteemed collaboration with K-Swiss continues to partner us with the best-in-class and most reputable sports brands in the world. We are just thrilled with our new relationship with K-Swiss!”

What does this mean for Little Mo players? According to Miringoff, starting at the end of April 2017, K-Swiss will be providing a player gift for each Little Mo Sectionals event. For the Regionals, Nationals, and Internationals K-Swiss will provide each player with a t-shirt. Also at the Regionals and Nationals K-Swiss will provide gifts to the Sportsmanship Award winners, most likely a pair of tennis shoes. An added bonus is that all Little Mo players will have the opportunity to buy K-Swiss clothing and shoes at a special discounted rate throughout the year.

Named in memory of tennis champion Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly, the “Little Mo” circuit of tournaments is the premier challenge for juniors ages 8-12 to compete against others who are the same age at the sectional, regional, national, and international level. The mission of the “Little Mo” tournaments is to further the development of junior tennis worldwide by providing players with an opportunity to: a) progress in tennis – a healthy sport for a lifetime; b) build strong values and character; c) learn good sportsmanship; and d) meet new friends from across the country and world. The youngest and brightest stars in junior tennis will be competing in the “Road to the Little Mo Nationals” and the “Little Mo” Internationals.

This year, MCB is celebrating the 20th Anniversary of its “Road to the Little Mo Nationals”. It is a yearlong circuit that begins in the spring with “Little Mo” sectional tournaments held in 18 different cities throughout the United States. The quarterfinalists (top 8) from the sectional tournaments will advance to the four “Little Mo” regionals held in the summer. The semifinalists (top 4) from the regional tournaments will advance to the prestigious ‘Little Mo” Nationals, which features the top 160 boys and girls from across the United States competing at the Austin Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas from October 14-17.

The “Little Mo” Internationals were created in 2006 to allow young juniors to see different styles of play from around the world. The three international tournaments include the 4th Annual “Little Mo” Internationals in California to be hosted by the Tennis Club at Newport Beach Tennis Club (June 30-July 4), the 6th Annual “Little Mo” Internationals in New York to be held at the historic West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills (August 21-26) and the 10th Annual “Little Mo” Internationals in Florida to be held at the PGA National Resort & Spa in Palm Beach Gardens (December 2-7), both of which are open to any player worldwide. Last year, 450 players from 50 different countries competed in the “Little Mo” Internationals in Florida. K-Swiss will have a presence at the “Little Mo” Sectionals, Regionals, Nationals, and Internationals where players and parents will be able to demo new K-Swiss apparel, footwear and other products.

For more information about the “Road to the Little Mo Nationals, please visit www.mcbtennis.org.
For more information about the “Little Mo” Internationals in California, please visit www.littlemosocal.com.
For more information about the “Little Mo” Internationals in New York, please visit www.littlemoforesthills.com.
For more information about the “Little Mo” Internationals in Florida, please visit www.littlemoflorida.com

If you have any questions, please email cartennis@aol.com.

ABOUT K-SWISS
K-Swiss is a heritage American tennis brand. During its 50-year history, the company has been making some of the most innovative, high quality, comfortable tennis footwear in the sport. K-Swiss is 100% invested in the sport of Tennis and committed to helping players play their very best and win at every level; from a competitive junior player or adult player, to the greatest doubles team of all-time, Mike and Bob Bryan.

ABOUT MCB
In 1953, Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly was the first woman to capture the elusive Grand Slam by winning the Australian Championships, the French Championships, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Championships in one calendar year. She is still the only American woman and the youngest person at age 18 to have accomplished this magnificent feat. Maureen was known as the incomparable “Little Mo.” Her powerful strokes were compared to the USS Missouri battleship nicknamed “Big Mo.” She won Wimbledon three years in a row (1952-54) and was voted “Woman Athlete of the Year” by the Associated Press for three consecutive years (1951-53). In July 1954, “Little Mo’s” brilliant tennis career abruptly ended with a leg injury suffered from a horseback riding accident. Her competitive days now behind her, Maureen focused on promoting her beloved sport and, in 1968, she joined her dear friend Nancy Jeffett to establish the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation. She was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1968. Her untimely death to cancer occurred on the eve of Wimbledon in 1969. She was 34 years of age.

The “Little Mo” tournaments are sponsored by the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation in memory of its tennis champion namesake Maureen “Little Mo” Connolly. Known by her nickname “Little Mo”, she was the first woman to win the Grand Slam of tennis at only 18 years of age in 1953. Maureen Connolly is still the youngest and the only American woman to have accomplished this magnificent feat. Today, the Maureen Connolly Brinker Tennis Foundation continues to benefit talented boys and girls throughout the country and around the world. In its 49th year, the foundation is involved in a myriad of activities including, but not limited to, the “Little Mo” national and international tennis tournament circuit, the “Mini Mo,” (ages 5-8), the “Big Mo,” (ages 13 and 14), the National Junior Tennis League (inner-city youth program), wheelchair tennis, international team competitions, and distributing travel grants and sportsmanship awards to deserving players.

Familiarize Yourself With the 2017 Junior Competition Changes

Note from Lisa: I am reposting this article with the addition of information on changes to doubles format in national tournaments. Please read this entire article and click on the links to see the USTA documents detailing the changes. Be informed!

A tournament director, a coach, and a Tennis Parent walk into a room . . .

What happens when you get a group of tennis folks together and charge them with coming up with a world-class junior competition structure? Two years and countless meetings later, you get the 2017 USTA Junior Competitive Structure (click here)!

USTA’s Junior Competition Committee is staffed by Bill Mountford and consists of members from a range of tennis backgrounds and involvement. The list includes at least one tennis parent, a couple of long-time tournament directors, several coaches, and others who have a lifetime of experience in the sport. They have worked long and hard to come up with a system of tournaments to meet the needs of junior players of all ages and levels.

It’s crucial that parents (and coaches) understand these changes and what they mean in terms of planning your junior’s training and tournament blocks in the coming year.

One major change that has been a source of debate for many years now is the dilemma juniors face when aging up to the next age group. Prior to January 1, 2017, when a player aged up, all of his/her ranking points in the lower age group just went away. The only way a player could age up AND maintain a ranking in the higher age group was to play up and win matches. Now, though, USTA has made a provision for the lower-age-group ranking points to count at a rate of 20% in the higher age group which should allow players aging up to qualify into higher-level tournaments as soon as they reach the new age division. While some committee members fought for a higher percentage based on what’s allowed in other federations, the 20% seems to be a decent compromise that will take care of most juniors as they move through the various age groups. For more on this new policy, click here. I haven’t been able to find the Points Per Round table for 2017 but will add the link as soon as it is available.

It’s important to understand this new “points counting up” policy in order to fully understand how selection will work for national tournaments moving forward. According to USTA, “the first National Standings Lists of 2017 will look significantly different than the last lists of 2016 because all of the next-younger division players will be appearing on the next-older division lists with 20% of their points. This also means that next-younger division results will be a part of the selection process for all national junior tournaments that use National Standing Lists, including for the first time all USTA National Championships.” The link above shows an example of how the points system will work – I encourage you to do the math for your child(ren) before year-end so you can plan accordingly.

USTA is also introducing additional national tournaments in 2017 to give more juniors the opportunity to play at this high level. These include:

◊ USTA National Indoor Championships, to be held in late November, in support of the vast number of players that play and train indoors during the winter months and in recognition of the prevalence and importance of indoor play. It also will expose players who play less frequently on this surface to one that is widely used in college tennis and provide a college recruiting opportunity just after the mid-November signing deadline when coaches learn whether they have openings in their lineups.

◊ USTA National Spring Championships as a National Level 1 Gold Ball tournament. For many years the “Easter Bowl” has been one of the strongest tournaments on the national schedule, and this designation returns the event to the highest-level national ranking status. The BG18 tournament will continue to be an ITF tournament, governed by ITF Regulations, but the top finishers will receive Gold, Silver, and Bronze Balls.

◊ USTA National Level 3 Tournaments which will be sanctioned up to 6 times per year in each division. One or more tournaments will be held in these date blocks with up to 192 total draw spot offerings in each division.

◊ Split of USTA National Spring Team Championships, creating a separate tournament for 18/16/14 division players and 12 division players. The split will create a more age-appropriate event for 12 division players that includes more in this division able to compete (96 boys and 96 girls). It will also permit both events to have a tournament format that mirrors the college tennis dual match format.

With the addition of these events, USTA has decided to eliminate the Level 4 regional tournaments and to replace them with National Level 3 Tournaments that are held on weekends that have no other concurrent national tournaments. The USTA’s reasoning behind eliminating the L4s is explained here: “While concurrent National Selection and Regional Tournaments were intended to give players that could not make it into the National Selection Tournaments an opportunity to earn their way to a higher level, the pathway wasn’t perceived as a reality and introduced one of the most complex aspects of the previous structure – entering multiple tournaments and the Freeze Deadline – the date by which a player must decide whether to remain on the alternate list of the higher-level tournament, or commit to the lower level tournament.”

The 2017 National Junior Tournament Schedule offers more date blocks on which national tournaments are held, particularly National Level 3 Ranking Tournaments. The Committee has concluded that more options for play on the calendar will permit players to choose a schedule of national tournaments that best meets the varying academic demands, work schedules, and Sectional requirements that are different for every player and family. The intent is to provide a menu of options that allows players to make customized decisions about their development. I urge you all to study the new schedule below and make the appropriate choices for your junior.

Beginning on Page 3 of the document located here, you can learn about the format, selection criteria, section quotas, and various levels of national tournaments being presented in 2017. Take a close look at the selection process for each level of tournament – they are different, and you need to have a clear understanding of how players will be chosen to participate.

USTA has also taken this opportunity to make some recommendations to Sections on how to create and run junior tournaments. I was most excited to read the last bullet point about educating parents, an issue I’ve been asking – begging! – for since my son started playing tournaments. I’m hopeful the sections will take advantage of the resources available and put on more parent-education events. Let me go on record that they are welcome to use anything I have posted or published on ParentingAces (as long as they ask me first)!

• Commit to fully adopting the alignment principles of the USTA’s Youth Player Progression, entry-level tournaments that are non-elimination and non-ranking and permit non-members to participate, and all aspects of competition (tournaments, USTA Junior Team Tennis, and Play Days) that utilize right-sized equipment, courts and balls.

• Sanction more tournaments, with an emphasis on increasingly localized play at the lower levels in all age divisions.

• Experiment with different tournament formats for younger players and lower level tournaments, including most importantly events that can take place during one day and a half-day periods.

• Experiment with ROG match formats at entry-level Yellow Ball and higher tournaments. • Incorporate and emphasize team competitions, not just in the USTA Junior Team Tennis arena. This includes promotion of participation on Zonals teams, sanctioning inter- and intra-sectional team competitions that model a collegiate dual match and count for rankings, and holding competitions on college campuses.

• With the assistance of USTA Player Development and USTA Youth Play, educate parents and coaches on the pathway, as well as the optimum amount of match play, training, participation in other sports, and rest.

The final change I want to point out is the relocation of several national tournaments. Winter nationals for the boys and girls 16s and 18s will move to the new USTA mega-facility at Lake Nona (FL) beginning in 2017. And rather than splitting the boys 12s and 14s national hardcourts between Texas and Arkansas, they will now both take place in Mobile, AL. There have been rumors about moving other major tournaments to Lake Nona as well, but there have been no official announcements so far other than these.

I know this is a lot to digest, but I really do encourage you to take some time and read through all the information carefully. You might be able to avoid some unnecessary travel and spending if you plan well and mix in some of the new UTR events along the way (click here for their schedule of tournaments). Please remember that this is a journey, one that needs to be mapped out well in order to steer clear of roadblocks. If you have any questions or need clarification on any of these changes, please post them in the Comments below, and I will do my best to address them.

NOTE: There has also been a change to the doubles format used in many national tournaments – they will now be echoing the format used in Division I college tennis matches, one 6-game set using no-ad scoring. This is a change that many predicted when the NCAA and ITA approved the doubles format modification in 2015. I fear this will have a negative impact on doubles development for our juniors. Click here to see the entire document (doubles changes are in Table 2 on Page 6): NtlJrTournRegulations-asof01012017

Editor’s note: Here is a list of the 2017-18 USTA Junior Competition Committee members

Baron, Ivan S. (tournament director)Florida
Bey, Mark (coach)Midwest
Boyer, Christopher (parent)Southern California
Boyer, ScottNorthern
Chamberlain, Michael PeelSouthern
Ehlers, Ellen (tournament director)Southern California
Grant, Geofrey (parent)Florida
Lawson, TracySouthwest
Lebedevs, Peter (Chair) (parent, tourney director)Southern
MacDonald, Paul (coach)Midwest
Minihan, LisaMissouri Valley
Notis, Brian Eric (coach)Texas
Pant, AjayMid-Atlantic
Roth, Claire (long-time USTA volunteer)Intermountain
Rothstein, JeffEastern
Sasseville, Robert (tournament director)Southern
Walker, Thomas S (tournament director)Midwest

Editor’s Note: For those interested, here is a list of the people who served as volunteers on the Junior Competition Committee in 2015-16, the one responsible for creating the current (2017) Junior Competition structure (with their tennis role in parenthesis):

  • Andrea Norman (Committee Chair, tournament director & long-time USTA volunteer)
  • Peter Lebedevs (Committee Vice-Chair, tournament director)
  • Robert Sasseville (tournament director)
  • Geoff Grant (tennis parent)
  • Mitch Alpert (long-time USTA volunteer)
  • Ellen Ehlers (tournament director & long-time USTA volunteer)
  • Paul MacDonald (former college & pro player, current coach)
  • Maria Cercone (tennis parent, coach)
  • Rick Meyers (former college & pro player, coach, USTA volunteer)
  • Claire Roth (long-time USTA volunteer, long-time ITA volunteer)
  • Sally Grabham (tournament director)
  • Ignacio Hirigoyen (former college & pro player, college coach)
  • Larry Newton (coach)
  • Andi Brandi (coach)
  • Mark Bey (coach)

Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championship – Powered by UTR

Here is another article, reprinted with permission, from Universal Tennis. I’m so excited to see this series of events on the 2016 junior calendar! Y’all have heard me say it a million times: without a strong junior development competition system, college tennis cannot survive as a viable pathway for US players. Oracle, ITA, and UTR are doing their part to ensure the future and to #SaveCollegeTennis. Thank you to these partners for thinking outside the box and providing a wonderful series of tournaments (scroll down to see the schedule of regional events) for our junior players.

(Source: ITA, Tempe, Ariz.– Oracle and the Intercollegiate Tennis Association announced a partnership that will include Oracle’s continued sponsorship of the Oracle/ITA Masters, Oracle/ITA Collegiate Tennis Rankings, and the Oracle/ITA Arthur Ashe Jr./All-Star Outing, and add an innovative new series of level-based events for American junior tennis players.

“Oracle is committed to helping grow the game and interest of tennis in America,” said Oracle CEO Mark Hurd. “We’re proud to continue our support of the ITA in competitive intercollegiate tennis and now expanding the program to reach junior players.”

The first step in Oracle and the ITA’s plan to help strengthen American tennis is the announcement of the inaugural Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championships, which will take place during the summer and fall of 2016.

In announcing the inaugural Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Championship, ITA Chief Executive Officer, Timothy Russell, said: “In expanding our partnership with Oracle, we are excited to add a series of tournaments for American junior tennis players that progress from regional level-based play to a high-level national championship in Malibu, California. We are also pleased to be working with Universal Tennis, with selections for the regional events to be made using the Universal Tennis Ratings, and the tournaments being administered by Universal Tennis atevents.universaltennis.com.”

Harvard Men’s Tennis Coach Dave Fish, a member of the current ITA Board, and a long-standing advocate for level-based play, commented: “What a wonderful new opportunity, an enhancement to the world of junior tennis, building on college varsity tennis as level-based play and the ITA’s vision of what the future of tennis in America might look like.”

Eric Butorac, ATP Player Council president, accomplished doubles specialist and former Division III star at Gustavus Adolphus College, says, “I’m a huge fan of level-based play and UTR. I am thrilled that the ITA, in partnership with Oracle, has expanded the reach of the Oracle/ITA Masters into the world of American juniors. I hope that large numbers of junior players will enter the regional events, with the hope of earning their way to Malibu.”

The regional Oracle/ITA Junior Masters events, for girls and boys, will take place at 12 sites around the United States and will be held in August and September of 2016. The top 16 UTR-rated boys and girls who register in each region will participate in compass draws in those regional events with the winner of both the girl’s and boy’s events progressing to the October 13-16, 2016 Oracle/ITA Masters in Malibu, California – hosted by both the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University. The regional winners will receive up to a $750 travel/hotel stipend to play in the Masters Championships in Malibu.

Austin Tennis Academy
The Austin Tennis Academy in Austin, Texas will be the host location for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Austin Regional tournament that takes place August 20-21, 2016. For more details on the regional tournaments click here.

Russell added: “For college tennis to thrive, American junior tennis must grow and thrive. As the ITA continues to serve college tennis, we must expand our reach in the junior competition arena even more, building on the success of the ITA Summer Circuit. In doing so we will continue to return the leaders of tomorrow.”

The Oracle/ITA Junior Masters will utilize no-ad scoring, the scoring format utilized by ITA Division I programs. The dates and host sites for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Regional tournaments are listed at the UTR Events site, events.universaltennis.com. Entries open June 1, 2016.

Last year’s inaugural Oracle/ITA Masters was an overwhelming success. The men’s singles and women’s doubles final were broadcast live on Tennis Channel from the Malibu Racquet Club in Malibu, California. In 2016, the Oracle/ITA Masters will be hosted by the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University, and will undergo some modifications that will allow more players from across all Division I conferences to participate.

The 2016 event, to be held October 13-16, will invite one woman and one man from each Division I Conference to the championships to compete in both their respective singles as well as a mixed doubles competition.

The draw for men’s and women’s singles has been expanded from 16 to 32, while the doubles shifts to a 32-draw mixed doubles event. Players will be chosen based upon conference representation (similar to the NCAA Tournament). Oracle will receive wildcard selections as they did in 2015.

Oracle will also become the presenting sponsor for the events on the ITA Fall 2016 schedule, including all ITA Regional Championships.

In addition, one of the ITA’s National Championships will undergo a name change thanks to the Oracle partnership, as the National Small College Championships will now be known as the 2016 ITA Oracle Cup. The 2016 ITA Oracle Cup will feature players from Divisions II, III, NAIA and JUCO, who each compete in division-specific singles and doubles national championship tournaments. The winners of each division’s national championship then advance to a “Grand Championship” draw, and the winners of the “Grand Championship” earn a spot in the 2016 USTA/ITA National Indoor Intercollegiate Championships.

Russell concluded by saying: “We’re thrilled to have Oracle intersecting with all levels of college tennis, as well as with American junior tennis, a lifeline for the future of our sport. The expansion of the Oracle/ITA Masters, the addition of the Oracle/ITA Fall Junior regional events, the branding of the Oracle/ITA Cup, and the branding of college tennis’s fall season, all bring tremendous value to our sport from Oracle and for which we are extremely grateful. We are honored and proud to share a vision match with Oracle, a forward-thinking, innovative company and one of America’s great corporate citizens, the Oracle corporation. Both Oracle and the ITA are committed to raising the profile of our great sport.”

About the ITA

The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) is the governing body of college tennis, overseeing women’s and men’s varsity tennis at NCAA Divisions I, II and III, NAIA and Junior/Community College. The ITA serve all of college tennis, and returns leaders of tomorrow, by administering a comprehensive awards and rankings program for men’s and women’s varsity players, coaches and teams in all divisions, providing recognition for their accomplishments on and off the court. For more information on the ITA, visit the ITA website at www.itatennis.com, like the ITA on Facebook or follow @ITAtennis on Twitter.

About Oracle

Oracle offers a comprehensive and fully integrated stack of cloud applications, platform services, and engineered systems. With more than 420,000 customers—including 100 of the Fortune 100—in more than 145 countries, Oracle provides a complete technology stack both in the cloud and in the data center. Oracle’s industry-leading cloud-based and on-premises solutions give customers complete deployment flexibility and unmatched benefits including application integration, advanced security, high availability, scalability, energy efficiency, powerful performance, and low total cost of ownership. For more information about Oracle (NYSE:ORCL), visit www.oracle.com.

About Universal Tennis

Universal Tennis Ratings provide tennis players worldwide a common scale to determine their level of play. The 16-level scale (from beginners to elite world-class professionals), precisely and reliably determines individual players’ ratings based on actual match results without regard for age, gender or where the matches are played. The Universal Tennis website allows visitors to view more than three million tennis results. College Tennis coaches utilize UTR ratings for recruiting, for scouting opponents, and also to track the levels of their current players. The ITA currently uses UTR ratings to assist with selections and seedings for select regional and national events. www.universaltennis.com.

West Hills Racquet Club
The West Hills Racquet Club in Portland, Oregon will be the host location for the Oracle/ITA Junior Masters Portland Regional tournament that takes place August 20-21, 2016.
2016 Oracle/ITA Junior Masters – Powered by UTR

Feature photo: The 2016 Oracle/ITA Masters takes place October 13-16, in Malibu, California – hosted by both the Malibu Racquet Club and Pepperdine University, pictured here. (Credit: B Waschuk)

USTA Jr Comp Committee Releases 2017 National Junior Competition Structure

usta_jt_logo

I received the following document yesterday. I haven’t had a chance to review it in detail just yet, but I wanted to share it with y’all ASAP so you can start planning your junior’s competition schedule for 2017 and beyond. Thank you to the USTA Junior Competition Committee and Bill Mountford for their hard work. Please be sure to share this post via email and social media so as many Tennis Parents and junior coaches as possible are aware of what’s going on. As always, I welcome your thoughts and other input in the Comments box below!

To Waiver or Not To Waiver: That Is the Question

mechanics-lien-waiver

This year, for the first time, the Georgia Qualifier included the option for the top 8 players in the state to waiver out of competition. Please understand that playing the Qualifier has always been mandatory in order to get endorsed into the Southern Closed, the tournament that awards a spot into the National Hardcourts for the winners of each division.

Before you formulate an opinion on this year’s new waiver policy, let me provide a little background . . .

Historically, many of the top players in the state would come to Macon, Georgia in late May, play one round – and sometimes only one point! – of the tournament to satisfy the endorsement requirement, then withdraw. If you look at weather reports of Macon in May, you will understand why – it’s incredibly hot and humid this time of year, and, typically, there is a lot of rain, too, making this event last even longer than it should for a 64-draw tournament. On top of that, there are usually multiple cases of severe dehydration and cramping – players as well as spectators – requiring trips to the ER for treatment. The state’s best players don’t want to risk illness or injury unnecessarily before the sectional closed, so they do the minimum to ensure a spot in Southerns. Coming up with the waiver policy seemed like a good way to prevent these early withdrawals, save the families of the top 8 the expense of travelling to Macon, and create a more competitive tournament overall.

We still saw a couple of cases of early withdrawals in the main draw by top seeds and even more cases when the seeds were relegated to the backdraw – seeded players have an automatic berth into the Southern Closed so maybe they didn’t feel the need to finish the tournament in Macon because of the reasons stated above.

FYI, Georgia gets 37 quota spots into the Southern Closed: the 8 waivered players plus the 16 players who reach the Round of 16 at the Georgia Qualifier plus any remaining players who played the Qualifier and are next in line according to the latest Georgia Standings List. All players must apply to the Southern Closed in order to be considered for selection – there are no automatic entries.

I’m sharing this information because I’d love to hear from you on this whole idea of waivers. The pros and the cons. Are they good for player development? Are they good for junior tennis? Are they good for tennis families? Why or why not?

Please post your thoughts in the Comments below.

A New Way to Get Into B&G18s National Hardcourts

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USTA recently announced it is holding a Wildcard Playoff tournament for a spot in the Boys (Kalamazoo) and Girls (San Diego) 18s Hardcourt Championships. When I first heard about the event, I thought it was something being held in each USTA section, but that is not the case. There is one site – Arlington, Texas – for this 64-draw tournament (click here for the TennisLink page).

Per a recent communication from USTA:

One boys’ wild card and one girls’ wild card will be awarded to the winners of this tournament.  The tournament will be held at the Arlington Tennis Center in Arlington, Texas.  The site is 26 minutes from the Dallas/Fort Worth Airport (DFW).

The tournament will be played July 20-23, 2015 and is open to all age-eligible players who are not already accepted into the B18 National Championships in Kalamazoo or the G18 National Championships in San Diego.  Entries will OPEN on Thursday, May 14, 2015 [the TennisLink site says entries will open May 21] and will CLOSE at 11:59 a.m. EDT on Thursday, July 9, 2015.  This singles only, single-elimination tournament will have a draw size of up to 64 players.  Up to 16 wild cards may be awarded.  We will publish an acceptance list no later than Monday, July 13, 2015.  As you know we cannot publish an acceptance list until the wild cards for the National Championships have been awarded, which we hope to do by Friday, July 10, 2015.

If you’re a bit confused by all this, you’re not alone! The first sentence in the quote above says that one WC will be awarded but says further down that up to 16 WCs may be awarded. I’ve reached out to the national office and my section’s Jr Comp folks for some clarification. Here’s what I found out . . .

The 16 wild cards mentioned above are into the actual wild card event. In other words, there will be 48 direct acceptance and up to 16 wild cards for the 64 draw. The winner of this event gets a wild card (one of the eight given by Player Development) into the National Championship.

Here’s what else I found out from the National office:

  • Players accepted into a younger division of a concurrent USTA National Championship are eligible for selection into the wild card playoff tournament and if such a player wins a wild card, they shall be withdrawn from the younger division without penalty.
  • Selection will take place after selection of wild cards allocated to each Division.
  • Up to 16 wild cards may be awarded into the wild card playoff tournament.  Remaining players shall be selected and the alternate lists shall be ordered using the most recently published National Standings Lists of the 18 Divisions.
  • Ratings shall be used to seed players.
  • No ranking points shall be earned for participation in the wild card playoff tournament.
  • Best-of-3 tiebreak set match format.
  • The finals will be chaired and the one official for four courts standard for all national junior tournaments must be met.
  • Entry fee will be $54.25.
  • The tournament shall be held on July 20-23, 2015, and corresponding calendar dates in future years
  • The tournament will take place at the Arlington Tennis Center in Arlington, TX.

I think this is a great addition to the national junior calendar. It offers yet another way into the most prestigious event in the 18s age group – much like the wildcard series held for the Australian and French Open at the pro level – without cutting into quotas or other entry criteria, and it rewards those players who have played a national tournament schedule and done well throughout the year.

Be sure to check the event website over the coming few days for additional details.

For the most recent information on the National Junior Competitive Structure, including draw sizes and quotas for the various events, click here.