Letter from a Young Player

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I know there are many people out there who don’t feel cheating is a problem in junior tennis . . . or at least they don’t feel it’s a widespread problem that needs to be discussed. I disagree, and since this is my website, I will continue to facilitate a discussion around what we can do to eliminate this added stressor on our young players.

The following letter was sent to me by the child’s mom who also gave me permission to print it here. I have removed the child’s name but have left the rest of the letter in its original form. Please note that the letter was sent to Martin Blackman, the new General Manager of USTA Player Development, and Martin did reply very quickly that USTA is working on this issue and change is coming. I was very pleased to hear that! However, cheating and gamesmanship are issues that likely come under the purview of the Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee rather than PD, so I’m hoping some of those committee members will see this letter and respond.

Dear USTA,

My name is Junior Tennis Player. I am 9 years old. I love tennis. I am pretty good at it. I am #1 in my state, #2 in the Southern section and TennisRecruiting says I’m top 20 for my age in the country. I just made it to the semifinals of a Level 1A U12 tournament. I am very happy about this. But I went home crying. I said to my mom “Why do I always have to play cheaters? When is it going to stop?” My mom said, “It probably will never stop”. So I told her I wanted to write USTA a letter. She said that was a smart idea. So here it is (my parents helped me put my words on paper):

  • I play soccer. At every soccer game since I was 3 years old there has been a referee on the field. If someone fouled me, someone was there to give me a free kick. Sometimes the ref was a high school kid. It didn’t matter. Someone was there to keep the game fair. Why is someone (anyone!) not required to be on the court during junior tennis matches?
  • This past weekend, I played a girl I have played before and knew she was a big cheater. Before my match, my mom and I told a court monitor what happened last time I played her and kindly asked of the monitor could stay close by. The court monitor overruled 2 of her calls in the first set and then walked away. After he walked away, the cheating got so bad I had to go get a different monitor. That monitor overruled 2 more bad calls and gave her 2 ball abuse warnings. (4 overruled calls by officials – and this girl got no code violation). I told the court monitor before I started the trouble I had with her in the past, then two court monitors see with this own two eyes her horrible behavior on the court YET EVERYBODY WALKED AWAY AND NOBODY DID ANYTHING ABOUT THIS GIRL. Even though I won the match, the feeling is so rotten with these cheaters I wish I could have just lost and been done with the tournament.
  • Then two matches later I experience the very same thing with another girl. When the trouble started, there were no court monitors anywhere in sight. When a monitor finally came, she also overruled two of her calls, gave her a warning and then walked away.
  • A friend of mine playing in this same tournament quit her match and left the tournament because the girl she was playing was cheating so badly. And when my friend left to get a court monitor the father of the opponent started yelling at my friend’s father.
  • This tournament is no different than any other tournament I have played across 5 different states in the past 18 months. These situations have happened at almost every tournament I have ever played!
  • My parents have told me that the reason kids aren’t given much help is to teach them life lessons. During any given match, I have to know how to set goals and strategy, how to fight back from being down, how to keep a positive attitude and not show emotions, how to be sportsmanlike and respectful, how to deal with the heat and the wind, how to have teamwork with my doubles partners – and how to handle losses. Is this not enough? My school doesn’t tolerate bullying and my parents would get fired if they cheated, lied or stole at work…yet you expect 9, 12, 14 and 16 year olds to have to take bullying, cheating and stealing on a tennis court?
  • Someone told me recently that there are no monitors in junior tennis because it is a “gentlemen’s sport”. I am not a man. I am a child. My dad is a man. He and his USTA buddies should be “gentlemen” and ref their own matches. I should be supported and given a fair, clean match from now until I play in college.
  • My younger brother also plays competitive tennis. I watched one of his matches the other day and he had a big cheater to deal with. It was so hard and sad to watch. He went to get help. After a few points the court monitor said to my brother “His ball calls are perfect. I don’t see what the problem is.” Seriously?? Of course they are perfect when you are there.

I need to know what USTA plans to do to about the horrible cheating in junior tennis. I have my own suggestions:

  • Starting January 1, 2016 require tournament directors to have volunteers or officials for every court. I recently played in the Southern 10’s Closed Championship in Nashville and the tournament director had volunteers on every court for every match. This is the only tournament I have ever played where I didn’t have any problems with an opponent. The tournament was a LOT of fun!
  • Put more money from tournament fees into hiring officials. I don’t need another tournament t-shirt.
  • Remind the USTA officials to follow the rules, penalize the unsportsmanlike players and give support to the players who are playing fair. Do not walk away.
  • Have harsher penalties for the cheaters. A player is overruled for 3 bad ball calls yet merely receive a code violation? How about after 2 overruled balls that player is sent home and all of their points/wins from that tournament are erased?
  • Although my parents pay enough money for my tennis already, I am sure they would pay more in USTA member fees or tournament fees to know that money went to have monitors on every court.

I need an answer on what you plan to do. I want to play tennis for a long time, but I cannot (and will not) play under these circumstances for much longer. My friend’s older brother (who is #1 in the state) just quit tennis because he couldn’t handle the cheating any more. Do I need to quit also and give more of my time to soccer where children aren’t having to referee themselves and each other? I deserve an answer. So do the thousands of other children who play tennis. We need change. And I would like to be part of it.

Sincerely,

Junior Tennis Player

Taking a Note from Youth Soccer

Image courtesy of Fair Play Movement
Image courtesy of Fair Play Movement

The past two guest posts from Bill Patton about what we can do to put an end to gamesmanship and cheating in junior tennis have sparked some passionate discussion.

I’m at the beach this week with my extended family and was talking with my sister-in-law about my niece and nephew’s youth soccer experiences. They are 7 and 9, respectively, and are just embarking on the Youth Sports Journey.

Earlier in the day, I was kicking around a soccer ball with Max and Sadie, trying to get the ball away from the two of them without twisting an ankle on the powdery sand (note: soccer is NOT my best sport!). Their foot skills and quickness were pretty impressive. When I was talking with their mom about what soccer looks like at their ages, she was telling me about the technical development and tactical lessons they are now learning on the field. The conversation turned to the Women’s World Cup and my lack of knowledge of the rules of the game despite the fact that all three of my kids played at some point in their early years.

My sister-in-law told me that she was forced to learn and understand the rules when she started volunteering as an official at her kids’ games. That got me thinking . . .

What if USTA developed a weekend class – it could be in-person or web-based – for parents to learn the rules of tennis inside and out, become certified as court monitors, then serve on a volunteer basis as supplemental help to the tournament officials? Instead of getting paid, these parent monitors would receive entry fee credits for their children’s tournaments, helping to offset the expense of junior competition. Monitors would not be permitted to work matches in their own child’s age/gender division, but since most tournaments have multiple divisions, that shouldn’t pose a problem.

It seems there is agreement over the fact that all the on-court antics in junior tennis are hurting our sport and even causing some kids to leave it all together after only one or two tournaments. There have been several efforts by families to use social media to bring attention to the problem in hopes of curtailing it – take a look at the Fair Play Movement and Players Against Cheating – but I’m not sure what kind of impact they’re having so far.

I haven’t thought this all the way through but wanted to put it out there for input and discussion from those of you in the trenches, too. What do you think? Could this be a workable step toward reducing or even eliminating cheating and gamesmanship? Please comment in the space below.

The Future of Junior Tournament Tennis in America

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Image provided by USTA

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to attend a very interesting session of USTA’s annual Tennis Development Workshop being held in Atlanta. The session was titled “The Future of Junior Tournament Tennis in America” and was led by Bill Mountford, USTA’s Director of Junior Tournaments. The format was more of a roundtable discussion with short breakout sessions between Bill’s presentation of information regarding the current state of the junior tournament landscape. About 50% of those in the room had run junior tournaments, so it was interesting to hear their take on things. Here are a few things that I noted during the 70-minute session . . .

  • When Bill asked the current tournament directors (TDs) why they run tournaments, their answers included providing accessibility to tennis to their community, tournaments are a revenue-builder for the club, they have a passion for tennis and want to share it with others, they want to be the one controlling the quality of junior competition, filling a need in their community, providing a fun environment for juniors to enjoy tennis.
  • When Bill asked the others in the room why they don’t run tournaments, their answers included it’s too time consuming, it’s cost-ineffective, and they don’t want to deal with the parents.

Next, Bill presented some statistics and the results of a survey that was sent to parents earlier this year. Here are some interesting points that came to light:

  • In 2013 97,999 juniors played 1 tournament but the attrition rate was alarming. Out of those kids, 38% didn’t play another tournament that year, another 58% dropped out after 2 tournaments, yet another 64% dropped out after 4 tournaments, and 71% dropped out after 5 tournaments, leaving only 23,128 who played 6 or more tournaments that year. That same year, only 2068 US juniors played 20 or more tournaments.
  • Of the 1.8 million kids who play tennis more than once per week, half are ages 11 and under and half are ages 12-18.
  • In 2013, 2147 TDs ran at least one tournament that year.
  • For 2014 YTD (January-October), we have 6.1% fewer juniors playing tournaments along with 1.3% fewer tournaments being held.
  • From January-October 2013, there were a total of 22,313 tournaments held across all 17 USTA sections; in 2014, that number dropped to 22,021. Nine of the USTA sections had fewer tournaments in 2014 than 2013 while 8 sections had a higher number of tournaments.
  • The only age group that showed in increase in the number of tournament oportunities was the U10 which increased 3.99% from 2013 to 2014. All other age groups saw a decrease in opportunity.
  • In YTD 2014, we have 129,348 total junior tournament players. In that same period in 2013, we had 137.697 (a 6.1% decrease as stated above).
  • The survey results showed that for those juniors who participated in only one tournament, the most important thing to them was to have fun, and the least important thing was the availability of ranking points.
  • Not surprisingly, the TDs rated the quality of tournaments higher than the participants did.
  • Survey results showed that for those juniors who play 12 or more tournaments a year, they found the tournament structure to be too confusing, and sportsmanship was rated as the worst aspect of their most recent tournament experience.
  • Regarding officiating at junior tournaments, the survey showed availability of officials to be poor while the friendliness of the officials who are present was rated as high.

Bill then asked the room several questions and left each table to come up with answers/suggestions.

The first question was: “What do parents want from a junior tournament experience?” Answers included (1) well-organized events where the wellness of the child is the main priority; (2) Consistent officiating; (3) Good viewing areas; (4) Consistency in the pathway from section to section; and (5) TDs to use email to update participants on any changes.

The next question was: “What makes a great tournament?” Answers included (1) Communication from the start about sportsmanship expectations; (2) A back-up plan in case of bad weather; (3) Consistency in match scoring meaning that each round of the tournament uses the same scoring format; (4) Good communication from the TD to the participating families; (5) Good budgeting; (6) Affordability; (7) Educated officials; (8) Off-court activities for participants; (9) Food/refreshments available on site; (10) Timely updates to the tournament website; and (11) Timely updates to the online and on-site draws.

The third question was: “How do we recruit more TDs?” Answers included (1) Sell tournaments to prospective TDs as a money maker for their facility; (2) Sell tournaments to prospective TDs as great exposure for their facility; (3) Have the local USTA office (also known as a Community Tennis Association or CTA) incentivize TDs by underwriting some of the costs of running tournaments; (4) Empower assistant TDs to learn how to run tournaments efficiently; (5) Established a tiered structure of sanctioning fees wherein entry-level tournaments cost less to run than larger national events; and (6) Make the tournament software easier to use and clean up the glitches.

The final question was: “What should we do about ratings and rankings?” Overwhelmingly, the room felt that ratings-based play was the way to go, maybe combining 2 age groups together per rating range. One problem that was mentioned with this method, however, was the historical occurrence of “ducking” when a highly-ranked played didn’t want to face an equally- or higher-ranked opponent for fear of dropping in the rankings with a loss.

Luckily for me, I was sitting at the table with Andrew Walker who is the new manager of the USTA Officiating Department. He is in charge of officials from the most entry-level junior tournaments all the way up to the US Open. He assured me that the training for officials is being overhauled and improved though he wasn’t sure when that would take effect. I shared with him that ParentingAces readers overwhelmingly supported having more and better-trained officials at our kid’s events, and that our recent poll showed that parents are willing to pay a little more in fees to that end. I will be sending Andrew your comments and the poll results so he has a better feel of what’s needed in the junior tournament arena.

Overall, I was encouraged by what I heard in the room. I had a chance to speak privately with Bill Mountford for a few minutes after the session, and he assured me that USTA is taking a very close look at the junior competition and ranking structure. He wasn’t sure when the 2015 calendar would be completed and online, but you know I’ll post the link as soon as I have any further information.

How ITF Junior Tournaments Work

Just when I thought I had the USTA tournament thing finally figured out, my kid decided he wanted to try playing some ITF events.  And, after reading the current ITF Junior Regulations and searching all over the Web for information and coming up pretty much empty-handed, I started asking questions of those with way more knowledge than I have so I could understand how the ITF process works.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far about ITF events held in the US:

  • You must be between the ages of 13-18 to play in an ITF Junior tournament. You may enter a tournament starting at age 12 years 11 months, however.  Unlike USTA which uses the player’s birth month to determine age and eligibility, the ITF uses the calendar year.  For the 2012 ITF season, for example, players must be born between January 1, 1994, and December 31, 1999.
  • Before you can sign up for an ITF Junior Tournament, you have to get an iPin number.  Plan ahead as it can take a day or two for you to get the actual number.  All requests are authorized within 24 hours Monday-Friday.  You cannot enter a tournament without this number.
  • Most ITF Junior events have a qualifying draw that plays the Saturday and Sunday before the Main Draw starts on Monday.  Usually, a player has to win 3 rounds in Qualies to get into the Main Draw, but that can vary according to draw size.  The Main Draw is typically scheduled to play Monday through Sunday.
  • There are Singles and Doubles events in all tournaments.  You can sign up for the Doubles once you arrive.  Even if you don’t get through the Qualies, there may still be an opening for you to play Doubles – you’ll need to check with the tournament officials.
  • It is very important that players and parents check the tournament Fact Sheet for information regarding sign-in dates, locations, and times.  There is a do-or-die sign in deadline for the Qualies and the Main Draw, typically 6pm the Friday before matches start for Qualies and 6pm the Sunday before matches start for the Main.  In order to sign in, you must bring a passport or other photo ID.  You must also know your iPin number and USTA number.  A parent or coach has to sign the Medical Release, just like in USTA tournaments.  Without any one piece of the aforementioned information, you could be denied the opportunity to check-in and play!
  • For those who don’t get into the Main Draw or Qualifying Draw, there are on-site alternates.  It’s important to note that even alternates must have an iPin number, so if your child is even thinking about playing one of these events, you might as well go ahead and apply now.  Check the specific tournament’s website for details on how to alert the tournament officials that you want to be considered as an alternate in case of an opening.
  • After check-in on Friday night, the Qualifying Draws are created and posted online along with first match times.  Often, it is after 10pm before the draws and times are available.  Also, the draws and times may be posted on the ITF Junior website OR the tournament site OR the USTA site – you may have to do some digging before you find your first match time.  Be persistent!  And, be sure you know when you play BEFORE you go to sleep on Friday night – it could be 8am!
  • Only those who are in the Main Draw are given a tournament t-shirt.  Those who don’t make it through the Qualies may be able to purchase a shirt if they want.  I know, this isn’t all that important to some of you, but for others, the t-shirt is key!
  • All singles matches play out a full third set – no 10-point tiebreakers here!  And, just so you know, there is NO COACHING and NO BREAK between the 2nd and 3rd set.  Doubles play two tie-break sets and a 10-point tiebreaker in lieu of a 3rd set with no-ad scoring.  In the case of bad weather, alternative scoring options may be used in accordance with the ITF 2012 Rules of Tennis (see page 22).
  • If your child has dual citizenship, please refer to Page 36 of the Rules for information as to how to determine which passport your child should use in these events.
  • The time an entry is submitted is not significant; it does not matter if a player is first or last to enter a tournament.  Waco ITF Referee, Ken McCain, told me, “A common comment I receive is that ‘my child has a higher ranking than some players placed higher on the Acceptance List.’  The Federations can send a ranking list to the ITF, usually once a Quarter, to determine the Acceptance List Order (non ITF-ranked players).  One tournament may be using an old list and the following week an updated list is used.  This does occur and this is my best explanation.”  Read Section 45 (starting on page 13) of the rules for details on how selection into the tournaments works.  I’ve read it, and I’m still a bit confused, so if you understand the process, please enlighten the rest of us in the Comments box below!
  • There is a “freeze deadline” which occurs at 14:00 GMT on the Wednesday preceding the tournament week.  At this point, iPIN closes, and it is no longer possible to withdraw online. Instead, withdrawals must be made using the official withdrawal form and sent to the ITF and Referee before the close of sign-in. The published acceptance lists will not update with any withdrawals. The reason for this is that this is the moment the tournament information is sent to the Referee to prepare for the tournament. The acceptance list is sent to the Referee, who now manages the withdrawals. Any questions about the acceptance list from this point on should be directed to the Referee.  Any player who withdraws from a tournament Main Draw or Qualifying Draw after the Freeze Deadline without using the official withdrawal form, sent to the ITF and ITF Tournament Referee, will be subject to a No Show penalty.
  • Wild cards are decided by the host nation.  If players wish to apply for a wildcard they should get in touch with the host National Association (i.e. USTA) and/or Tournament Director.  ITF does not give out wild cards.  Numbers of wild cards available is based on the size of the draw.  For example, a 64 Main Draw will have 8 Wild Cards available.  For US tournaments, a player can apply for a wild card at www.usta.com/itftournaments.  The application deadline is typically right after the regular entry deadline – check the individual tournament’s website for details.  Refer to page 20 of the Junior Circuit Regulations for more information.
  • Lucky losers almost always come from those losing in the final round of qualifying.  If more Lucky Losers are required for substitutions, those players who have lost in the previous qualifying rounds are considered.  Lucky Losers must sign the Lucky Loser list that the Referee will open. It closes 30 minutes before play begins.  Colette Lewis told me that she watched all this take place last year at the US Open juniors. If you don’t have an ITF junior ranking, you go to the bottom of the list, in a similar number assignment with any others without an ITF ranking.  There can be zero lucky losers or as many as seven or eight, which happens at some sparsely attended events in less desirable locations. I think at this week’s Atlanta ITF four boys made it in as lucky losers. Late withdrawals or no shows are the most frequent reason for lucky losers getting in, but an injury or illness can also lead to a last-minute vacated spot.  See page 23 of the rules for more information.

A big thank-you to Colette Lewis of ZooTennis.com for her willingness to share her vast knowledge with me and, by extension, you!  If you have any questions or need more clarification on any point above, I urge you to contact the ITF directly at:

International Tennis Federation, Bank Lane, Roehampton, London, SW15 5XZ
ph: +44 20 8878 6464 | fax: +44 20 8392 4735
email: juniors@itftennis.com   www.itftennis.com/juniors

For the complete rules of Junior ITF play as well as the ranking points table, click here.

NOTE (added December 2, 2012):

APPENDIX G: ITF JUNIOR CIRCUIT AGE ELIGIBILITY RULE
1. ITF Junior Age Eligibility Chart

Age/Number of tournaments permitted

18/Unrestricted
17/Unrestricted
16/25
15/16 (unless player achieves a top 20 ITF Junior Ranking in which case an additional 4 tournaments permitted)
14/14 (unless player achieves a top 20 ITF Junior Ranking in which case an additional 4 tournaments permitted)
13/10 (unless player achieves a top 50 ITF Junior Ranking in which case an additional 4 tournaments permitted)
11-12/0
NOTES
1. The number of tournaments permitted is counted between the date of a player’s birthday and the day before their next birthday, not between 1st January and 31st December.
2. Participation in an ITF Junior Circuit tournament includes singles and/or doubles and/or qualifying.
3. Minors under the age of thirteen (13) shall not be eligible for entry. For the
purposes of this Rule, the player’s age as of the first day of the tournament Main Draw shall be used.
4. The number of tournaments permitted by the ITF Junior Age Eligibility Rule is in addition to the number of professional tournaments permitted by the Age
Eligibility Rule (please refer to ITF Professional Circuit Regulations, and WTA
Regulations for details on the Age Eligibility Rule.)

Parent Advocacy Revisited

I mentioned on our Facebook page a while back that I had spoken with Tim Russell, Chair of the USTA’s Junior Competition Committee, and that he shared some useful information with me.  Two of the specific issues I addressed with him had to do with cheating in junior tournaments and the non-uniformity of junior tournament officials in terms of enforcing the rules.  After speaking with Tim for almost an hour, I realized that it all comes down to, once again, parents being advocates for their children.

Tim Russell says that the USTA believes in “fair play.”  Juniors are allowed to continue entering tournaments until point penalties keep them out.  In order for a player to be penalized for cheating, the officials on duty must write him or her up for a code violation.  The problem is, according to Mr. Russell, that some officials simply aren’t doing their job.  Therefore, we parents have to make sure we teach our own children the proper steps to take when facing repetitive bad calls from their opponent.  First, the child should ask, “Are you sure?”  But, we all know that a player who is intentionally making bad calls rarely (if ever) changes their call when gently confronted by the other player.  So, the next step is for the child to ask for an on-court official.  Again, we all know that doesn’t always go as planned either.  The offending player stops making questionable calls when an official is standing on the court, and the official then leaves because play appears to be fair.  Of course, as soon as the official leaves, the bad calls come back with a vengeance.  So, what’s next?

Here’s where we parent advocates come into play.  I have been told by several officials and tournament directors that they *know* which players are notorious for bad behavior and bad calls, and that they try to keep a close watch on those players.  But, I have seen plenty of bad behavior and bad calls overlooked by officials who are standing right there.  Why?  Favoritism?  Politics?  Laziness?

Tim Russell says we parents have to step in and report specific officiating lapses and inconsistencies to our section heads, preferably in writing.  We need to provide the names of the offending officials, and then we need to insist that our section heads mandate that the tournament directors (TD) tell the officials, “We want you to do your job!”  We need to pay attention to which TDs properly monitor their officials and which do not.   We can then “put our money where our mouth is” by supporting those TDs who provide consistent rule enforcement for our children.  Hopefully, TDs and officials will get the message loud and clear when tournament entries are affected.

But, change is going to be slow, so we parents must be patient and diligent and consistent in our efforts.  Yes, it’s a pain in the neck to call or write our USTA leadership after each cheating or officiating problem, but if we don’t speak out and hold those in charge accountable, nothing will change, and the cheating and rule-enforcement inconsistencies will continue unchecked.  Consider this another life-lesson that your child will learn from playing tennis – use your voice to advocate for those who are voiceless.

Time Off for Bad Behavior

School isn’t the only place – the Junior Tennis World will give you time off for bad behavior, too!  And, yes, I do speak from personal experience.

I haven’t really addressed the whole area of conduct and suspension points on ParentingAces yet, so I figure now is as good a time as any given that my kid just avoided a very close call with a 3-month tournament suspension.  I suspect there are junior tennis players who will get through their entire tournament career without ever receiving a code violation or suspension point, but my kid isn’t one of them.

Let me advise you once again that if you and your child have NOT yet read the USTA publication FRIEND AT COURT, do so immediately!  It is crucial that you and your child are both familiar with the Code of Conduct (Part 2 of the Friend At Court beginning on Page 45 of the pdf file) and understand which behaviors are permitted and which are not as well as the possible consequences.  While most tournament officials are well-trained and well-intentioned, every now and then you’ll run across one who is not, and it is imperative that your child understands his “rights” in terms of warnings, code violations, suspension points, and appeals (see page 180 of the Friend At Court).  Also, many of the guidelines for assessing penalties are left up to the discretion of the official (see Table 17 on page 124); therefore, it is best for players to avoid completely ANY behaviors that might be punishable by loss of a point.  Please note that it is within the discretion of the officials to immediately disqualify a player, without warning, who exhibits a single act of flagrant unsportsmanlike behavior.

As with most things USTA-related, each state or section may have its own rules regarding suspension.  In Georgia, “the Point Penalty System is linked to a Suspension Point System [see page 17 of the 2012 Junior Rules & Regulations], whereby players are suspended from all USTA play for a period of 3 months if they accumulate ten (10) Suspension Points in a twelve (12) month period.”  The Point Penalty System applies to violations during the warm-up as well as the match as follows:
• During all matches (main draw, compass draw, consolation, qualifying and doubles);
• During tournament activities;
• At tournament facilities;
• At facilities, such as hotels, dormitories, and homes where players stay.

Here’s what our Georgia Juniors need to know:

  •  Every effort will be made by USTA Georgia to notify any player who has accumulated six (6) or more suspension points that s/he is more than half-way to a suspension. Timing sometimes makes this impossible. Absence of such notification in no way alters the validity of suspension points assessed.
  •  The player will be notified using the contact information on file with USTA Membership when he/she reaches ten (10) or more Junior Suspension Points. The player will have one week to submit a written appeal to the USTA Georgia office – attention Grievance Committee. If the suspension is deemed appropriate after the appeal process, the suspension from any USTA Georgia sanctioned event will immediately be effective for a minimum period of three (3) months.
  • After serving the suspension these ten (10) Junior Suspension Points will be cleared from the player’s record. All other suspension points, if any, shall remain on the player’s record and count toward a second suspension.
  • All Tournament Directors and the USTA Southern office will be notified of each suspension.
  • Suspensions apply to all USTA Sanctioned programs and tournaments, including Adult League, Junior TeamTennis, Adult tournaments and Junior tournaments in other sections.
  • Repercussions from suspension will include elimination of selection for any special programs sponsored by USTA Georgia such as Junior Southern Cup, USTA Tennis Player Development Programs, USTA Competition Training Center programs, USTA Southern Training Camps, USTA Georgia Training Camps, etc.
  • Players whose suspensions extend up to the sanctioned start date of the Georgia State Junior Closed Qualifying Championship or through the Georgia State Junior Closed Qualifying Championship are not eligible to request a Waiver for the USTA Southern Closed Junior Championship.
  • If a violation leading to a suspension (3 months or longer) occurs thirty (30) days prior to or during the Level 1 Georgia State Junior Closed Qualifying Championship, the player will not be endorsed to the USTA Southern Closed Junior Championship.
  • A suspension with onset during the Georgia State Junior Closed Qualifying Championship cannot be appealed to the USTA Georgia Grievance Committee.

My son went into this year’s Georgia Qualifying Championship with 9 suspension points on his record, most of which came during a particularly stressful period last summer.  In addition to the pressure of trying to qualify for the Southern Closed, my son was also dealing with the pressure of having to be on his absolute best behavior so as to avoid having his summer tournament plans go out the window.  Believe me, this is NOT a situation my kid ever wants to be in again, nor is it a situation that his coach (or his parents!) want him to replicate.

By reading and learning the Code, we parents can help our kids avoid situations like my son’s.  By instilling our own personal Code in our kids and enforcing it from the beginning of their tennis-playing years, we can help them learn to manage their emotions more effectively even when in the heat of battle.  My husband and I didn’t do such a great job at that, but we’ve learned our lesson . . . and so has our son.