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.

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