7 Comments

  1. Wow, just wow. I bet the next change will be 10 minute breaks between singles matches instead of one hour.

  2. Thanks for this great post. Leave it to USTA to fix a problem that doesn't exist. The UTR problem is real, but no-shows? They're rare in our experience. From my observation, my son , in SoCal 16s, gets gamed by cheaters far more often than by illegitimate no-shows. USTA does absolutely nothing institutionally and consistently about rampant bad calls, score changing tactics, coaching and psychological taunting and comments designed to demoralize opponents. We see all of that a LOT. The rules are sketchy and the enforcement whimsical and intermittent. Then add to that the fact that treatment by umps of the kids who ask for help when they are being cheated can be as harsh as the treatment of the kids who cheat.

  3. New rules-wrong idea. Health should be top priority. If a player is exhausted, dehydrated, or suffering a minor strain, he should retire or withdraw. Why risk an injury that keep him off the courts for weeks-know from personal experience when son hid an injury before a national tourney and then was off court on doctor’s orders for 4 weeks afterwards. If our competitive kids tell us they want to withdraw, usually they really are hurting or thoroughly exhausted. To second guess a parent’s judgment because some will take advantage of the situation is not worth the risk to the player or potential liability to USTA. Change the rules to have a trainer record temperature, flushed skin, symptoms, impaired range of motion, etc to report back to TD to justify withdrawal rather than give penalty points. In our section, summer tourneys were particularly brutal- a week long state qualifier followed a week later by a 8 day sectional qualifier in humid 95 degrees. Many top players who didn’t get waivers would withdraw after winning one match for the endorsement rather to play a week of matches vs 1-3 stars in the heat. Yes sometimes players lie about withdrawal-often it is a school reason. Players have withdrawn-even from main draw-because they have an AP test on a Monday or end of course required state tests. Too many tournaments in big sections have Monday play during the school year. Maybe the draws for the top sectional tourneys should be smaller-no reason for a sectional 128 draw during school year. No reason for a summer sectional tourney to be almost as large as summer national level 1 draws. On another tennis related board, I asked some questions about summer recovery for kids, and I was accused by one poster of child abuse when I mentioned the length and heat index of son’s tourneys but it was what was required and expected in our section. USTA makes it very difficult for kids who attend regular school to balance school and tennis. The points for the top 8 players are exponentially higher than those in the early rounds. There is no point in playing unless you can play the last day. If players lose early, they may withdraw from backdraw to save those missed school days and hotel $ for another Monday. One year, USTA in our section decided to only have main draw matches on Monday and have the consolation for a sectional level 1A or 2 end on Sunday. USTA did that for one tourney, got flack from some parents, and then reinstituted the Monday backdraw at the next tournament, and parents did not find out until they were already at tourney. USTA at both the national and sectional level has a history of making decisions without doing a complete investigation and talking to all stakeholders. Junior tournament committees should have an appropriate representation of parents of both home and public schooled players at various tennis levels. USTA national reduced the national draws for level 1 summer tourneys several years ago in spite of protests, and then reversed the decision after one year. Now the pendulum has swung the other way with possibly too many tourneys with some 2 stars getting in Nat 2s. If USTA keeps adding rules and weakening tennis, more of the best players will leave school for the ITFs, and more of the high level kids who put academics first may just quit tennis rather than fight the constant battle between school and tennis-most lie more to school than to TDs but there are only so many flus you can have in one school year. Considering the low scholarship $ for US male tennis players unless they are blue chips (and most of those are doing the ITF route anyway), most male players will get more academic scholarship $ than athletic $, and some of those students will have to occasionally withdraw from tourneys for school. If USTA punishes those, they will be discouraging some of the highest achievers in the sport. If UsTA keeps coming up with more rules and bigger draws, all that will be left will be a bunch of 2-3 stars who are happy to get in weaker nationals and sectionals but will not be ready for college play. The rest will find tourneys outside USTA. Maybe USTA should pilot some different variety of high level national and sectional tourneys-some single elimination, some compass draw with guaranteed 4 matches to give options to both the school attenders and those who want to play the maximum matches for development. My son had few withdrawals in his 8 years of junior tennis-he played a lot of times when he shouldn’t have and even ended up in the ER once in the 12s. No parent should judge another player for withdrawing because they don’t know the personal health, finances, school situation, etc of the other player. Every player/parent deserves the benefit of the doubt. One child’s desire to play all the matches possible does not trump another child’s health or academic needs-both are worthy but hard to balance. Shorter draws, especially during school year and reasonable length of summer tourneys would help. OK to have 224 draws for the two major nationals, but not a 180 draw sectional.

  4. Thank you for highlighting this! I’m a parent of a TX Section player coming off an open, inflamed right shoulder growth plate. The tournament is our most important of the year but she’s been told (going back full time today) that if she feels pain to STOP. Then we receive the new “rule”. I wrote the section who responded immediately with “We strongly encourage you to always protect your child and advice them to retire if you feel health is a concern. ” However, the kids who retire with valid issues will STILL get those suspension points no matter what. . Apparently it’s only an “issue” if they get 10 in a year and only THEN can one appeal with Dr’s records. While obviously most wouldn’t come near 10 suspension points (this is basically the section stance) I don’t see why they can’t appeal those 2 immediately?! The Texas Grand Slam is one of the hottest tourneys of the year and I have seen over the last few years uncountable heat exhaustion and even some heat stroke withdrawals. These were not unfit players, not in the least. I know the silly withdrawals for UTR purposes are ridiculous and becoming rampant and the issue does need to be addressed but punishing (and giving two suspension points IS punishing) innocent kids for health issues isn’t the way. I’ve seen no education from our Section to parents about how withdrawing because of ranking or UTR concerns only hurts your child in the long run. That should be the focus, not punishing the innocent with this rule . Players do need to experience the pressure about losing to a lower rated player and they’ll see it’s not the end of the world if they lose. Also many UTR ratings are not entirely accurate (sometimes wildly inaccurate) and by players retiring (they know who has an inflated UTR or a too low one) they don’t let the UTR system properly work by constantly avoiding matches that could balance things appropriately. Having a too high UTR will eventually be exposed, college coaches aren’t stupid and aren’t signing based on just a UTR number. This IS a problem in the Texas section but I wish cheating, a huge issue that the USTA just ignores would finally be a focus and more line judges (who knew the rules and actually paid attention) would be implemented rather than a knee jerk, shortsighted response to the withdrawal issue. So in the meantime, please write to your section head about these solutions here and to insist at least for immediate appeal for these 2 suspension points due to injury or heat exhaustion. When we all write, they listen. Thanks to Lisa, always such a great advocate for junior tennis!

  5. That is a similar issue that we are running into for Southerns. Over half of the State Qualis are done prior to 6/1. Ours started afternoon of 6/1. Done by 6/4 (1 day early, as they did schedule for rain just in case). Hot, humid, kids getting sick, pushed to come off the court and back on fast to keep matches going. And Southerns start on 6/9. On Sunday, girl A (who was local) decided not to play her AM match. Notified official right before; her opponent's (Girl B, another local girl to area) mother was livid that the Girl A waited to last minute to pull. Flash forward to afternoon - Girl B was to play my daughter and pulled at last minute, claiming injury when she was fine in AM and clamoring to play....

  6. Agree with all these points! In addition, USTA Texas and other sections must inform members and players, through early advance email or public newsletter when they make changes to competition, including tournament formats, such as happened this year with the Texas Grand Slam, instead of posting the information only on the tournament page for each to read on their own. The lack of transparency and communication of changes in USTA Texas, and inattention to the major issues that really pervade tournaments (cheating, too few trained officials, little onboarding for new players to understand the levels and path to competition, just to name a few) are what turn so many players and families off to the sport. It is just too complicated and ever-changing for many time-pressed families, and requires constant self-vigilance to stay abreast of the state of the sport. There is so much to learn as a tennis parent or player, and lack of transparency from sectional and national leaders about changing competitions and rules to PAYING members, in my mind, is one of the big reason (along with cost) that stunts the great sport of tennis.

  7. NOTE: UTR now has the number of withdrawals noted next to the player's win/loss record. Well done, UTR!

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