1. Some of my best wins came in the back-draw, in high school and college. It sucks to not win the tournament; however, in tennis, failing to win in the final match is the outcome for all but one. Tennis is a weird sport where most players have to perform with a certain amount of cognitive dissonance. You need the belief and confidence that you can step on the court and win and you need to acknowledge that your opponent does some/all things better than you because you need to game plan around their relative strengths. Another suggestion that may improve back-draw participation is having the coach & parent discuss the player’s participation in the back draw before starting the tournament. In other words, having a plan B that involves playing x number of matches. Winning the tournament is not a realistic goal for most players but there are plenty of other reasons to play (e.g. beat a higher seed, win a bunch of games with serve & volley, play until a certain college coach sees you, proving your fitness level) and the back-draw may be the only way to achieve those goals. I was almost never a top seed and had to find other ways to derive benefits from the tournaments I played in. I hated when there was not a back draw because I’d rather play a bunch of matches than be 1 and done.

  2. Much of the backdrop flu and decreasing play is derived from problems with a switch to ratings (UTR) away from rankings. When players are incentivized to not play, there is a major problems. That’s what’s happening now. To game the system ,players are learning to be the weakest player in the highest pool. Play Up an age group, default backdraws, play ITF, or play futures. They withdrawl or quit when faced with a lower rated player because they see a no win scenario. This culture has been accelerated by NCAA coaches who have made it plain that UTR is their number one tool out of the gate. USTA players are forced into this behavior by chasing the shrinking number of college team D-1 and D-2 openings. USA players now occupy less than 25% of playing positions 1-6 ( which means scholarship money) on teams that offer tennis scholarships. Based on these factors and how foreign play is structured, the USTA players are at a disadvantage under UTR ratings. This is destroying the USTA system and play overall as younger players are also learning these tactics. What is clear from events like Kalamazoo is that USTA players are equal to the ITF players. Our kids are being allowed to duck and dodge instead of maindating requirements for endorsements from USTA at all levels. This is the best card we have the play and it would also improve UTR in the USA. Interestingly, it is the Usta and not Utr that needs to take the step.The correction is simple. 1.Sections must not endorse players to national tournaments unless a minimum number of section events is played and fully completed. (Uncompleted tournaments would count for ranking but not toward requirements. 2. A National selection into a events would require a minimum number of national events fully completed. 3. ITF Players seeking endorsement into National events would be required to complete and finish a small number of USTA events. Failure to comply would result in loss of Wild cards or a cut in funding.

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