Junior Tournaments & Rankings

New National Seeding Rules

A couple of days ago, I saw a post on my Facebook newsfeed from USTA’s Junior Competition folks announcing seeding changes for National tournaments.  Apparently, I’m one of only a few people who saw the post or knew anything about it.  When I posted the link to the changes on the ParentingAces Facebook page, which also feeds to my Twitter, I got very little feedback from anyone . . . that is, until the seedings came out for this weekend’s Regional Segment tournaments!

Apparently, the biggest change to the seeding criteria has to do with using a separate Singles Seeding List – which does not include any doubles ranking points – to seed the singles draws.  For the doubles draws, there is now a separate National Individual Doubles Seeding List.

The only problem I see so far is that there are no lists by those names currently on TennisLink, so what did the Tournament Director’s use for this weekend’s events?

Thanks to Antonio Mora and a few TD’s, here’s a quick explanation of what the new seeding rules actually mean:

1)      The usual “combined” standings will determine who gets into a tournament.  In other words, doubles will matter for that.  That’s a good thing, in my opinion.

2)      A new “seeding” list for singles (although the USTA has not followed its own rules and it’s called a “standings” list on Tennislink) will determine who gets seeded in singles.  Doubles points will NOT count for this.

3)      A new “seeding” list for doubles (again, the USTA is currently not calling it that on Tennislink) will determine the doubles seeds.  Singles points will be irrelevant for this.

4)      I believe it will be up to the individual sections to decide whether they want to follow suit.

5)      The language that gives the USTA power to alter seeding already existed in some form.

6)      I still don’t understand some of the discrepancies in the points some kids have when you compare the three current lists (doubles, singles and combined).

Even though doubles will continue to count for selection purposes (i.e. who gets into the tournament), Antonio expressed his concern that this move de-emphasizes the importance of doubles, which flies in the face of stated USTA goals.

One TD expressed the following: “The biggest problem with this scenario is not that the seeding change was made, but that it was not communicated to the tournaments.  When a substantial procedural change occurs, it is best that all involved be informed.   While informing the player may be easier said than done, certainly notifying the directors should have been an early order of business, not an afterthought.”  He goes on to say, “I don’t see that this seeding procedure will discourage doubles play because selection to each tournament will still be done using the ‘combined’ standings and not the ‘singles seeding’ list.  Being selected for a tournament is certainly more important than being a singles seed, since you can’t be seeded if you aren’t selected.”

Honestly, the biggest concern I have over this latest rule change is the lack of communication behind it.  The only way I knew about it was because I happened to be logged into Facebook when it came across my newsfeed (by the way, the USTA JrComp Facebook page has fewer than 150 “Likes”).  Given the recent outcry by the tennis community as a whole over the behind-closed-doors methods used by USTA to create the 2014 Junior Comp schedule, you would think USTA would’ve been sensitive to the fact that a heads-up over the seeding rules changes might be important.  I am still at a loss to understand HOW or WHY USTA isn’t more communicative and open and forthcoming with its members, especially with all the simple electronic methods at its disposal.  I keep asking the question and hope, one day soon, to be able to report the answer.

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