On the Court and Dreaming


What a week! For those of you who don’t follow ParentingAces on Facebook or Twitter, let me fill you in . . .

When my son and I decided to spend his Fall Break in Southern California, it was really with the intent of taking follow-up visits to the colleges he’s interested in attending next year and getting in some training on the side. What we did in actuality was that and so much more.

The trip started with a great hit with Lucas Bellamy (Steve’s son) in the Pacific Palisades. The boys did some drills then played a set while I caught up on all the tennis news with Steve. After grabbing a quick lunch, we drove up the coast a bit to Malibu where my son had a hitting session with one of the Pepperdine players, Stefan Menichella. The boys hit and Stefan answered a lot of questions from my son about life at Pepperdine and how he came to play there. That night, we joined friend and coach Craig Cignarelli for an Italian dinner in Calabasas and caught up on all things tennis.

On Sunday, we drove back up the coast to Malibu for my son to hit with Stefan again. Afterward, we went to lunch nearby, and some of the other Pepperdine players joined us. It was a great opportunity for my son to gather even more information about the school and tennis program.

The next day, my son had a session with Craig Cignarelli at the Malibu Racquet Club. They did some drills and some talking while I did my radio show with Tim Mayotte – not a bad place to broadcast! We spent the rest of our Monday hanging out around Santa Monica then had dinner with most of the Bellamy clan (sons Robbie and Lincoln were unable to join us, unfortunately). Having no brothers himself, my son was very entertained by Lucas and Roscoe to say the least! I got to visit with Steve and Beth and pick their brains about raising 4 boys and balancing tennis and family obligations. I learned a lot!

Tuesday was another session with Craig alongside one of the pro players he’s training, Kevin Lynch. Afterward, we all went for a late lunch and did lots of talking. Kevin has a great story: he came to tennis pretty late, playing multiple sports in high school. When he was looking at colleges, he wandered over to the tennis facility at Seattle University, saw the team practicing with their coach, and had an AHA! moment. Kevin wound up playing #1 for Seattle by the end of his college tenure and decided to pursue a professional career in tennis. He told me his goal is to see how good he can get, how far up the rankings he can climb. His work ethic is impeccable, and his attitude both on and off the court reflects his desire and drive.

Mid-week, my son worked with Craig again, this time with both Kevin and Stefan. I wound up dropping him off at the Malibu Racquet Club that morning then hung out with my oldest daughter, Emma, for most of the afternoon. My son had a great day! After hitting with the guys, they went to lunch, then my son joined Stefan for an evening class at Pepperdine. It was the first time he had sat in on a college class, and he loved it! Stefan is majoring in Sports Administration – which is what my son is interested in studying – and the class they attended was a seminar on the business of sports taught by Pepperdine’s former Athletic Director. I highly recommend having your son or daughter sit in on a class at the various schools just to see what it’s all about. For my son it was so enlightening to see the difference between high school and college classes – not just in terms of the content but also in terms of the specificity of the subject matter and the way students engage with the professor.

On the first day of our trip, we found out there was going to be a Futures tournament in Irvine with the qualies starting on Friday. Though we had missed the entry deadline, we decided to drive down there on Thursday (it’s only an hour from Santa Monica) so my son could sign in as an on-site alternate just in case someone pulled out last minute. We spent most of Thursday at the Woodbridge Tennis Club so my son could train with our friend, Thomas Shubert, and one of the players he coaches. The boys were on court for about 3 hours, combining fitness, agility, and hitting drills while I watched from the sidelines. After their session, we went for a quick lunch then headed over to the Racquet Club of Irvine for the guys to sign into the tournament. We were so surprised by how many people we saw that we knew, both players and coaches! The tennis world is certainly a small one!

We had an early start on Friday so my son could warm up with some of the Futures players before their 9am matches. When we arrived at the club, we saw our old buddy, Lester Cook, who was there coaching two of the players – Kevin Lynch and Ryoto Tachi. My son hit with the 3 of them then waited to see if a qualies spot would open up for him. Meanwhile, we watched some great tennis with my son warming up yet another player later in the day. He also had the chance to watch one of UCSB’s (another school on my son’s list) players, Teague Hamilton, fight through a tough 3-setter in his first round match. My son sat next to Teague’s parents and had the chance to talk with them about their son’s experience in college. There were several UCSB players cheering on their team-mate, and my son met and chatted with them as well.

After the first round matches had all been played (my son didn’t make it in, unfortunately), Thomas took my son and his player Alec back to Woodbridge for another hitting/fitness session while Alec’s mom and I went for coffee nearby. Alec is also a senior in high school, so we moms had a lot to talk about! That evening, we all went for dinner in Irvine before my son and I made the trek back to Santa Monica.

While we were waiting for dinner, though, I got a text message asking if my son would be available as a hitting partner for Mike Bryan (yes, that Mike Bryan of the Bryan Brothers!) the next morning. Um, YES! So, on Saturday morning, we drove an hour up to Camarillo and the Spanish Hills Country Club for my son to have his very first experience as the hitting partner for a top-ranked professional player. What an incredible day! It all started with a warm-up on court with Mike while his parents, Wayne and Kathy, looked on. Then, Wayne hopped on court with the guys and started running drills. This went on for about 90 minutes followed by a set then some on-court stretching.

During one of their water breaks, my son mentioned his love of the Dave Matthews Band since he knew Mike was also a huge fan and friends with several of the musicians in the group. That led to a discussion of music and the fact that my son played drums from time to time. So, at the end of their tennis practice, Mike invited us back to his house so my son could play some music with him and Wayne. Are you kidding me???? I can’t tell you how excited we both were for my son to have this opportunity! I think my son was more nervous to play drums with Mike and Wayne than he was being on the tennis court with them! But, he took full advantage of the moment and held his own musically as well as tennis-wise.



Wayne invited us to join them for lunch before heading back to Santa Monica. My son took advantage of the opportunity to ask lots of questions of all the Bryans, including questions about UCSB, Wayne’s alma mater. Of course, we got into a discussion of what’s going on in college tennis with the format and scoring changes, but I digress . . .

It was the perfect ending to a perfect week! Each time we’ve gone to SoCal for my son’s tennis, he’s come away with more weapons in his arsenal, both on and off the court. He’s completely focused on his goal of playing college tennis and keeping up his GPA in order to keep his options open. He has signed up (before the deadline this time!) to play his first Futures tournament in a few weeks and has other junior tournaments on his schedule as well. The goal line is getting closer!


Live from the US Open

Wayne Steve Melanie


Be sure to take a listen to today’s radio show with Wayne Bryan, Steve Johnson, and Melanie Rubin as they discuss their sons’ preparation for the 2014 US Open. They share some great advice and insights on developing young tennis players to the highest level.

Click here to listen and learn!


Why You & Your Kid Need to Attend College Matches

Used with permission of zootennis.com

I received the following email from USC Trojans Men’s Coach Peter Smith via Wayne Bryan:

Below is most of our home schedule and I would like to invite clubs or anyone who would like to take part in this (they just have to do some organizing on their end) to come watch our match, have the kids be ball kids (and get pizza and free t-shirt) and then have a clinic with the team after the match. Every match we have done it at over the past 3 years it has been a huge hit. What the club director or pro needs to do is teach them how to be ball kids, organize them to come to the match and then we will feed them and my team will hit with them after the match.  The kids just love it.

2/1/14 – UCLA vs Florida – 10am – USC vs Georgia 2pm

2/2/14 – UCLA vs Georgia – 10am – USC vs Florida 1pm

 3/9/14 – USC vs Baylor 12N – USC vs UC Riverside 4 pm

 4/4/14 – USC vs Stanford – 1:30 pm

4/5/14 – USC vs Cal – 1 pm

I didn’t include a couple of matches because I don’t think the fit would be right, but these matches will be an absolute blast.

In a follow-up email from Wayne that included replies from several folks (including Yours Truly), I saw this from UGA Bulldogs Men’s Coach Manny Diaz:

Thanks!  The Dawgs look forward to a “Wild and Crazy Weekend” in SoCal. Let me know if we can do anything to create a better experience for the fans/kids while at the matches!  What a fantastic attitude and that’s what makes you and your program such a humungous winner, Manny, and mega thanks!  Ya know, when I think of you, here is the first thing that always comes into my mind:  “Class is hard to define, but you when you see it you never forget it.”  Grantland Rice.  See you in SoCal and wishing you and your Dawgs yet another great season – – – and with full stands.  Best, WB  Manny Diaz, Manuel Diaz, Jr., Head Men’s Tennis Coach, University of Georgia

And this from Mike Gennette, California Lutheran University’s head coach:

All,  We are going out to all of the local high schools to give them wallet sized schedules and also to have each school come out as a team to one match together. We have the team stay after to say hi to the HS team. We also have a local retirement community that loves to come out and get involved. Our university PE classes get credit for attending one match during the season also. Just a few ideas…

And from developmental coach JP Weber:

Just a quick note here to say one of the best times we have each year is going to take the kids to UGA for matches. Craig Jones of Macon takes advantage of it in an even better way.  He charters a bus with a ton of kids to a special match each season!  I must say one of the best events we went to was about two years ago and Manny had a pro from the area set up drills for the kids in attendance on the Women’s courts at Georgia. They begin a short 45 minute session of drills for the kids immediately following the doubles matches and those community pros ran the drills for 45 minutes.  At the end of the 45 minutes they had pizza and Powerade for the kids and they wandered back over to the match where they were able to pick up the action mostly still in the first set of singles. This was one of the best things and the kids still remember that particular day and format! (BTW–with your new format not so much fun can be had by the spectating kids…)  Just thought to drop my 2 cents in on this as I will also make one more comment– Manny and his players are terrific. After the match they wait and sign autographs and posters for the kids down on the stadium court. It ends up being a terrific way to fire up the kids.  It is not easy – bandages, fatigue and hunger are there but each of them is willing to help with the kids. Good stuff.

Those who say we need to change the format of college matches in order to fill the stands should take a lesson from the great coaches above – they’ve figured out that if you offer up exciting tennis and engage your local community, the fans will come in droves!


A Few Thoughts on my Radio Show


There’s something about hosting a radio show and having access to some of the most well-known names in our sport that absolutely feeds my soul! Over the past year or so, I’ve had the opportunity to talk to some incredibly wise people about topics as wide-ranging as a new tennis tracking app for our smart phones to USTA politics to yoga for tennis and pretty much everything in between.

This week, I had the pleasure of hosting Wayne Bryan, dad to Mike and Bob, on the show. I had very high expectations for that hour on the air, and, believe me, Wayne did NOT disappoint! We discussed a variety of topics all having to do with junior tennis and beyond, and Wayne shared his incredible experience and wisdom gained from his own Tennis Parent Adventure.

And, promotional genius that he is, Wayne emailed the podcast link to his extensive list of contacts which, of course, garnered some great comments via return email. Here are just a few:

  • Amazing that even though your references and points relative to the boys early days… your college years …the funny twilight zone story… Are all dated from over 30 years ago … they are so RELEVANT to both our society as a whole today in all aspects including tennis.. other sports … business … and academics… – Craig M.
  • I learned few new things that i need to work on.  I will definitely use some of your great wisdom with [son’s name] – Alfredo T.
  • Listened to your radio show. Great job as always.  Couldn’t agree more on secondary passion involving left brain.  I think that hurts a lot of kids who become solely defined by their athletic endeavors. – Larry M.
  • Lisa asked good questions and the hour flew by . . . – Wayne B.

Over the next few weeks, I have more incredible guests lined up for you – Nick Saviano, Donna Bailey, Daniel Coyle – who will no doubt educate us all on very different aspects of being a Tennis Parent.

So, if you haven’t had the chance yet to tune in or listen to the podcasts, give yourself a treat and check out the show. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed!

College Tennis: What’s the Problem?

what's the problem

Every few months, it seems, we hear of another proposed tweak to our college tennis format, whether it’s a new scoring system, a recruiting contact rule, or an eligibility change. Lately, these proposals have been met with an outcry via social media, and, luckily, so far, those crying loudest have come out on top. But how long and how loudly can we cry before The Powers That Be become inured to our outrage?

I understand that coaches – and athletic directors (ADs) – are concerned about budgets and having enough money to keep their teams going, but is bastardizing the sport really the solution?

And if we bastardize the sport at the collegiate level, doesn’t that eliminate any chance of college tennis being a stepping stone for the pro tour as it has traditionally been for players like John Isner, Bob & Mike Bryan, Maria Sanchez, or Lisa Raymond?

As former college player and current coach and businessman, Sol Schwartz, says, “The athletic directors and school presidents have no real attachment to these tennis programs. The only parties that do are the players, past and present, and their families. The surrounding communities only in a very few circumstances even remotely care about these teams.”

Therein lies the problem . . . how do we get the surrounding communities and the potential fan-bases they contain interested?

I read Marc Lucero’s article on TennisRecruiting.net regarding this issue and suggested that maybe coaches could network and share information regarding boosting attendance at dual matches.  It turns out, as Coach Erica Perkins of University of New Mexico informed me, the ITA already has a system of webinars set up specifically for this purpose. It’s up to the individual coaches to carve time out of their busy schedules in order to take advantage of the learning and sharing opportunities, but the opportunities are there for the taking. And they’re free. Which means they fit into every single coach’s budget.

Photographer Bill Kallenberg, who travels to dozens of college dual matches every year, shares that “many colleges have special promotions to draw crowds. Last year LSU had crawfish boils to draw 800 when UGA came to play. TCU and Texas A&M hosted special ‘get out to the match’ gimmicks. Others did other things as well. The best way to draw a crowd is to offer a great competitive product with high level opposition and rivalry and let the players do their job on court.”

I tend to agree with Bill. There’s nothing quite like a good rivalry battling it out on the tennis court. And, here’s the thing for those who complain about college matches lasting too long: if you don’t want to stay for the entire match, then take a break and come back later. That’s where I think the schools can do a better job – have alternative activities for the fans – like t-shirt giveaways or shot-making contests or mini-tennis courts set up – during dual match play for those needing a break from the action. Have student emcees call the matches and create some excitement over the PA system. Have fraternities and sororities “adopt” a court and be responsible for providing a cheering section for that court for the duration of the match. Tap into the university’s business and marketing programs and use that brain trust to find ways to better market college tennis to the student body and community at large. This isn’t rocket science, people!

One question that gets asked on a regular basis is what role should USTA play in college tennis? For many junior players and their families, college tennis is the end-goal, something to strive for, the thing that keeps them engaged in the sport. So, isn’t it in USTA’s best interest to do whatever it can to preserve as many college tennis programs as possible? To ensure that as many American juniors as possible have the opportunity to play at the collegiate level? And to promote college tennis matches relentlessly? As Coach Wayne Bryan preaches, “Champions take it in through their eyes and not their ears. You have to see it before you can dream it, and you must be passionate about it before you can achieve it. Attending one motivational tennis event – like an exciting and raucous and well-played college match – is better than 30 days of practice. Juniors return to the practice court more fired up for tennis than ever and somehow magically improved.”

As Sol Schwartz reminds us, though, we need to understand that the USTA has absolutely zero power in regards to what the NCAA does.  That being said, Sol feels they (USTA) should absolutely have people in the highest positions in the associations screaming at the top of their lungs in protest of the cuts and scoring and format changes. He asks a very pertinent question: Why does the USTA basically ignore NCAA college tennis as a whole in this country? They promote 10 and under initiatives. They promote adult leagues. They promote inner city programs. According to Sol, “They have this fixation with finding the next great American champions. That is great. Out of all the youth tennis players supposedly being brought into the game, how many will likely become that champion? Then you need to ask yourself, how many of them when they hit 18 years old could potentially play college tennis? If they need a roadmap of a place to at least start to help college tennis survive, then how about start by taking some of that US Open money and get behind marketing college tennis as a great long range goal for a junior player to strive towards? How about taking some of that money and teaming up with the university programs and start marketing these programs and their matches in their communities? Make people want to go see these teams play.”

Well, now USTA has gotten involved by creating an advisory panel made up entirely of non-tennis folks. And the panel has proposed some pretty controversial tweaks such as playing all six singles matches first (still 2 out of 3 tiebreak sets) followed immediately by the doubles which would only be played if no decisive winner is determined via the singles and would be decided by 10-point super tiebreakers. The stated purpose of these changes? To decrease the overall time of each dual match to make them more fan- and tv-friendly.

But here’s the thing. USTA has a program – Tennis On Campus – that competes, sort of, with NCAA tennis. TOC is a great program for those players who don’t want the commitment of a full-time college tennis team or who might not be quite good enough to be recruited. It gives those kids a way to keep playing tennis and to play for their school, which is a wonderful thing. However, for every NCAA tennis program eliminated, an opening is created for USTA to start another TOC chapter and for that TOC program to be the only option for students who want to play tennis for their school. Bottom line is that it positively impacts USTA’s bottom line.

Does college tennis really need television in order to survive? Is there some enormous television contract on the horizon that none of us have heard about yet that will save college tennis? I’ve asked that question in the Twitterverse and, so far, the answer is no.

Which brings me back to my initial question: is changing the traditional format of our scoring system going to save college tennis? If not, and if there are other solutions to the attendance “problem”, then let’s explore those first and leave the integrity of our sport intact.

Wayne Bryan Hits the Nail on the Head

I urge you all to read Steve Bellamy’s Open Letter to the US Tennis Industry published online at http://tennisinsiders.com/?post_type=featured_story&p=1323

Below is Wayne Bryan’s comment on the Letter . . .


a) The most important aspect of this is to get lots of input and opinions from all over the country – – – from experienced club pros and public park coaches and college coaches and high school coaches and academy coaches and veteran ‘n passionate parents from Florida to New York to Georgia to Texas to Nebraska to North Dakota to California to Oregon and everywhere in between.

b) Study the history of the National Schedule and Rankings over the past 30 years.

c) Remember that when the USTA asked my pal and great coach and mega junior champion producer Jack Sharpe how to improve Player Development and the National Tournament Schedule he told them to “Go back to 1987 and just do what worked!! Simple!!”

Goals of a National Schedule:

a) Fairness to all.

b) Simple and understandable.

c) A clear pathway from bottom to top.

d) Bringing the best juniors from all over the country together to create friendships and improve their tennis.

e) Various surfaces, times of the year, and locations.

f) No meddling by USTA PD.

Back in the Day:

a) I never heard one single word of criticism about the Sectional or National Tournament Schedule.

b) Rankings were so accurate that when our SoCal juniors flew back from Kalamazoo at the end of the Summer, I would give the kids each a piece of paper and I had them write down what they thought the top 20 in the SoCal rankings would be and what the top 50 in the National rankings would be. I was always astonished to see that each ranking list was almost exactly the same and lo and behold when the rankings came out the were the same as the kids had predicted. The rankings were fair and there was unanimity and agreement on the rankings. They were spot on.


a) I have never heard so much rancor across this country about the National Schedule and Rankings and the Green Ball U10 Mandate and USTA Player Development and the glut of Foreign Players in American College Tennis and not enough doubles tournaments and doubles rankings.

b) The USTA is seen as heavy handed and top down and non responsive to the membership they are employed to serve.

c) The USTA is also seen as even attacking clubs and pros and players and the USPTA that do not follow their party line. I have a computer full of e mails complaining about their tactics. There is fear and there is anger everywhere. Witness the harassing letter from the USTA to the great and venerable Little Mo Tournaments and volunteer organization.

The Way SoCal Tournament Schedules Used to Be:

a) I walked the junior tennis trails as a coach for decades with thousands of players and even my own two twin sons. I knew those paths like the back of my hand. I believed in playing tournaments each and every weekend of the year. You wanna be a player you play. Players play. Soccer has schedules. Baseball and Football and Basketball have schedules. Players at our club had junior tournament schedules. I have always felt that scheduling is as important as coaching. You can make a player with a great schedule. And you can ruin a player with a bad schedule. It’s like riding a big wave in Hawaii – – – if you get too far out in front on your surfboard you get crushed by the wave, if you get too far behind the wave, you sink down in the dead calm waters – – – but if you get right in the middle of the tube, you get maximum speed and thrills and you can take that baby all the way to shore. Mike ‘n Bob usually played about 100 competitve matches each year in the juniors. Same at Stanford. And, interestingly, they play aobut 100 matches on the tour each year.

b) Some of our 85 juniors would play our local Ventura County Junior Tennis Assn. (VCJTA) Tournaments. Some would play Southern California (SCTA) Tournaments. Some would play a hybridized schedule of both. Some would play SCTA and National Tournaments. Some would play only National and International Junior Tournaments.

c) During the school year, tournaments were always two weekends and there was always singles and doubles. Typically, the juniors played two singles and a doubles each day. Perhaps one singles and two doubles. During the three Summer months, most tournaments were week long events.

d) In SoCal I served on the Junior Tennis Council for many, many years and we would make changes and adjustments very slowly and we had the many of the top pros and parents in our group. We never made knee jerk reactions or massive pendulum swings. Players and coaches and parents could count on and trust the system.

e) To get a ranking and to qualify for Nationals, players had to play three of the six designated tournaments – – – our largest and best tournaments (including, if memory serves, Santa Barbara, Whittier, Long Beach, Downey, and San Diego) – – – plus two other tournaments and, of course, the Sectional, which was held in June right after school was out. The idea, of course, was to get all the top players together several times during the first six months of the year.

f) In those days, SoCal was allowed 8 players into the National Tournaments Clays, Indoors, Grass, and The Nationals. and, of course, more into the tournaments on the National Schedule like Copper Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, the Westerns, and the Texas Open. All of those events were 128 draws and all had doubles.

History of Pedulum Swings as it pertains to the National Schedule and Rankings:

a) Back in the late 80s and into the 90s, rankings were based on the Star Computer System. It was the quality of your wins and losses that mattered on the computer. If you beat #7 in your Section it was given much more weight than if you beat the #83 player in your Section. If you beat a player that was #4 in the Nation, it was given more weight than if you beat a player that was #63. College Football has a very similar system. The rankings were very, very accurate that way.

b) There were singles and doubles rankings.

c) Then, for some reason, there was a massive pendulum swing and they went to points and they offered all kinds of regional and national tournaments all over the place. Regional Tournaments sprang up like weeds. Kids started avoiding their sectional tournaments to go and find weak regional events that they could do well and scoop up points. I could go on and on about this, but it knocked me in the head a few years ago when I learned that of the top twenty U18s players in SoCal, only one played the Sectional!! Back in the day, every single one of the top twenty 18s played our SoCal Sectional.

d) The rankings became so inaccurate that college coaches no longer relied on them for recruiting. Players that were 60s often were much better than a player that was 30s.

e) There were tournaments that had only singles and back draw singles and they did not offer doubles.

f) The USTA removed doubles rankings. Huh? As I say in all my talks: If we had more doubles programming, promotion, and coaching we could quadruple the number of kids playing tennis. Doubles gives our sport more width and breadth. Doubles is fun for juniors and it really rounds out skills and teaches additional life lessons – – – and some youngsters just love the “team thing”. Plus, it gives them a second chance if they lose their singles match at a tournament. And don’t forget Mixed Doubles – – – boys and girls truly love that and there are also great life lessons inherent in Mixed.

And now the Pendulum Swings Radically Again:

a) Now in the past few months a small USTA committee takes out the meat cleaver and cuts down many of our old growth Redwood Junior Tournaments along with the too many regional and national events.

b) They only just a few National Tournaments? Some National Tournaments with just 32 draws?! Lots and lots of WCs to be abused by the USTA PD.

c) They have only one 64 draw for the National 12s?

d) Their explanations are many pages long.

What does Coach B suggest?

a) Ha. Yeah, go back to the Preamble c) above and do what Jack Sharpe suggested. Good back to 1987 before the system got ruined.

b) Simple: For each age group from 12-18s, four USTA nationals with 128 draws.

c) Keep all the great Redwood Junior Tournaments on the so called national schedule. Restore (somehow) those that have been cut down and ruined. Make sure there is a Copper Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, Texas Open, Western, Southern Open, Easter Bowl, Eddie Herr, Orange Bowl. And others.

d) Cut back on some of the Regionals, but keep those that are thriving and doing well and liked by the juniors, coaches and parents.

e) Immediately return to the Star Computer System that weights the quality of your wins and losses.

f) Let each Section determine their requirements for Sectional Rankings and who qualifies for nationals. They can specify how many tournaments their juniors have to play in Section to get a ranking and to go to nationals.

g) Yes, tweak how many players each Section gets into the Nationals. Do not base it on membership, but base it on the quality of the play of the various Sections. If SoCal has four top ten players on average in all their divisions, and nine top twenty players and 36 top 100 players, give them many more spots in the nationals than a Section that has only 3 players in the top 100. This can all be worked out by fair minded people. But, strength of play in a section should lead to more spots in the nationals. And this can be organic and ever changing each season.

h) Tweak the weight of the various tournaments. For example, in SoCal, weight the regular tournaments a 1, the designated tournaments a 1.1, the Sectional a 1.2, a regional a 1.3, a tournament on the National Schedule a 1.4, and one of the four Surface Nationals a 1.5, and The Nationals and 1.6. I have no pride of authorship here, and this could be worked out by mathematicians and those much smarter than I am. It should be fair and equitable to all – – – and it should lead to accurate Sectional and National Rankings. And it should all be integrated – – – sectinally and nationally.


a) Get rid of USTA Player Development altogether. I am all for those folks coaching, but not from the top down. They need to get out in the trenches with the rest of us and coach. National Federations do not create champions. Ask England. Spain. Canada. Switzerland. Sweden. They harm the growth of tennis in their countries. I, and many others, have written extensively on this and I will leave it at that.

b) Take those $18 million dollars and give it to the Sections to help juniors players as they see fit. Perhaps the money would be spent by the Sections on club memberships; free entry fees; rackets; shoes; balls; string; coaching; trips to national tournaments; trips to watch the US Open for deserving juniors; trips to Davis and FED Cup Matches; trips to college matches’ trips to the NCAAs. Surely local Sections know how to help their juniors much better than White Plains coming to Ventura County to tell us how to do it – – – all the while we have 3 of the 4 Davis Cup Players from our little area and they have zero. Watch tennis grow and thrive.

c) Give money to our top junior developers and tell them to bring five more kids into their program that are deserving and, perhaps, can’t afford to be in their club or program. Watch tennis grow and thrive.

d) Put more money into Junior Team Tennis. Watch tennis grow and thrive.

e) Value our great American Coaches!! If I want to talk tennis I may or may not call Patrick McEnroe. I do write or call or talk in person through the years with Billie Jean King or Jim Courier or Larry Stefanki or Rick Macci or Stan Smith or Vic Braden or Robert Lansdorf or Dick Gould or Brad Gilbert or Paul Annacone or Tom Gullikson or Nick Bolletteiri or Zina Garrison or Larry Mousouris or Jack Sharpe or Jay Berger or Brad Pearce or Martin Blackman or Greg the General Patton or David MacPherson or Billy Pate or Benny Simms or Pankie Salazar or Lori McNeil or Marty Davis or Tim Mayotte or Manny Diaz or Taylor Dent or David Roditi or Dennis Rizza or John Roddick or Doug King or Steve Clark or Bob Hochstadter or Tim Heckler or Steve Stefanki or Mark Bey or Lynne Rolley or Billy Martin or Will Hoag or Scott Kooper or Ron Woods or Luke Jensen or Rodney Harmon or Phil Dent or Nick Saviano or Allen Fox or Peter Smith or Rich Gallien or John Whitlinger or Chuck Kriese or Bobby Bayliss or Mark Weil or BJ Stearns or Mike Kernodle or Bill Tym or Doug Pielet or Brian Giffin or Hank Pfister or Mark Speardog Spearman or Randy Mattingley or Chris Bovett or Billy Stearns or Jeff Tarango or Chuck Waldron or Murphy Jensen or JP Weber or Chuckie Adams or Cici Louie or Mark McCampbell or Cornelius Jordan or Craig Bell or Cheryl Shrum or John McCampbell or Chris Bradley or Susan Evans or Dave McKinney or Steve Loft or Traci Curry or – – – I’ve got several hundred more, but I’m running out of ink and I profusely apologize to those many great coaches I am leaving out.

f) Take money from those truly outrageous USTA salaries and use $1 million dollars and have the best Junior WEB Site in the world! Pattern it after the ATP WEB Site. Have current National Rankings at the flip of a switch; Sectional Rankings; Tournament Results immediately from the previous weekend; pictures; articles; schedules from each section; national schedules; and each players record. Doubles Rankings for teams and individuals. Watch tennis grow and thrive.

g) Take a stand on the glut of Foreign Players in American College Tennis. Millions upon millions are going to foreign tennis playing juniors whose parents do not pay dollar one in US educational taxes, while we are in the midst of our toughest economic crisis since the great depression. That is criminal it seems to me.

h) Get rid of the ludicrous and laughable U10 Green Ball Mandate that most every pro and parent and kid in this country is against. Again I say, have all the Green Ball and Soft Ball and Nerf Ball and Polka Dot Ball tournaments you want, just don’t tear down regular tennis for U10s that want to compete against their peers. Soft balls are a tool and not an end unto itself. Soft balls from age 6 to 10 may be fine for some, but man oh man, certainly not for ALL our best young players.

i) Stop attacking pros and clubs and parents and players that don’t play ball with USTA PD. Stop threatening and bullying Little Mo and everyone else. Stop it immediately. And, in fact, write letters of apology. Ya know, I have this down here at the bottom, but really this is issue number one for me.

j) Fire all foreign coaches that are funded by the USTA. Again, we have thousands of incredible US coaches and in these harsh economic times you are going overseas to hire coaches that are not as good as the ones within these borders. Huh?

And in Conclusion:

a) Ha. You may use some and probably none of these ideas.

b) But do build consensus and get everyone under the same tennis tent.

I wish you good luck, Steve, with your meeting in Chicago. Ha. Send me one of those USTA first class tickets ‘n a limo and buy me a Chicago Pizza and I’ll go with you . . . thanks for all you do for tennis each day and thanks for coming out to support our Tennis Fest at Spanish Hills last Friday Night and thanks for helping promote the event and pack the place to overflowing.



Wayne Bryan vs. USTA

For those of you trying to follow the extensive back-and-forth between Wayne Bryan, father of doubles champions Bob and Mike Bryan, and Patrick McEnroe, Head of Player Development for the USTA, I have included links below to all of the communications I have seen to date.  If you know of additional letters and/or emails and/or articles, please post a link to them in the Comments box below.

I would like to point out that there have been some extremely well-though-out comments made to many of the original posts, so please do take the time to read through them as well.

If you are the parent or coach of an American junior tennis player, I think it is imperative that you educate yourself on what’s happening with our governing body and the criticisms which are now being launched against it.  Agree or disagree – that’s up to you.  But, please take the time to get informed!

Original email from Wayne Bryan to a USTA Exec

Tim Mayotte’s reply

Colette Lewis’ response

Wayne Bryan’s reply to Colette Lewis

Patrick McEnroe’s response

Wayne Bryan’s reply to Patrick McEnroe

Brian Parrott’s comments on the matter

Wayne Bryan’s letter to his sons

Exchange between Wayne Bryan & an unnamed high-performance coach