49 Comments

  1. Just saw that one G18s semifinal was decided by a score of 0&1. Hmmmm . . .

  2. No great mystery there. I know the victor well, and have observed the loser's game before. My take is that they play similar styles, but the winner is just better at every aspect, plus a significant advantage physically. It wasn't going to be close. Against other opponents, the loser would fare very well, and has a long history to prove it. But sometimes you run into an opponent that will have your number. Today was that day.

  3. I am left scratching my head about the “savings” afforded families by shrinking the draws and then adding in Qualies. In a 256 draw, playing one match per day, the event will run 8 days. In a 128 draw, playing one match per day, the event will run 7 days. The 64 draw Qualifying, playing two matches the first day day, and one the second, will run 2 days. There is an off-day between completion of Qualies and beginning of Main Draw, which adds 1 day. So the new-and-improved, cost saving, reduced draw size, makes the 64 families in Qualifying incur the expense of travelling to the event whether they win or not. Flights will have to be changed for the 56 families who don’t make it in, which costs a bunch more. Or they can just stay and pay the hotel, car rental, food, laundry, etc, to watch the event. The eight that make it into Main Draw will now have two more day’s expenses than they would have had under the 256-draw, regardless of when they lose. I suppose you could say that this saves one day’s cost for the remaining 120 players in Main Draw, and the now obviated 72 players that would have played in the 256 draw with 64 byes = 192 participants. Here’s an idea; why not fill in all the 256 spots, with no byes, and play it out? If people choose to spend the money to attend, knowing the likelihood of losing first round, that is their choice. As pointed out by others; at least they get the chance to be seen in back-draw. I would guess that the answer is that we cannot expect the players who are favored to win, to actually play 8 rounds. That’s not fair. Let’s just insure that any lesser player who might make it farther into the draw than expected, will be more tired than the favorites. Why not play two rounds the first day only? The seeds will certainly cut through the opposition in short order and minimize their time on court, while having 6 days to recover by playing only one round per day for the remainder of the event. Then we have 128 more players who have a chance to make a name for themselves with an upset, or at least be seen in back-draw. There is also the intangible of actually attending your first L1 event. That alone can spur a player on to work harder, and make more of their game than they might otherwise.

  4. Well G12s in Palm Beach was wet mess. Weather delays, Heavy wet conditions made play a bit basic. Did notice sections with "Hi" ranked kids because they feast on weak competition didn't do well. Also seems field was weaker then past years. What was disturbing was the kids in the middle/bottom of sectional Quotas were just not solid. Lacked quality I saw in 2013. I'm guessing the mini tennis may be the cause, and lower enrollment in jr tennis programs? Either way several folks I know said same thing.

  5. Nicely put! My son was supposed to be in qualifying, but got into main draw at last minute. He made it to the round of 16! He's in qualifying for KZoo, which frankly looks to be more daunting than the main draw. It's a shame.

  6. On the fun side. I should share my airline miracle, as I'm sure many parents go through the same dilemma rebooking flights. For Delta it's $200 per ticket rebooking fee. I just happened to get the right person on the phone. "For $109 for both tickets would you like fly first class?" "What?" "Is there a connection problem?" " I don't know, is there?" My airline miracle. True story

  7. Lin... You are dead on, but, as you may know,people made all those arguments in 2012. The qualies were first proposed to us, the so-called "industry group," at a meeting we had with USTA leadership (that's where the "pause," the postponement of the changes for a year took place). Qualies were one of the few compromises offered at the original meeting and they were opposed from the beginning, for all the reasons you enumerate. In fact, Robert Sasseville made the strong argument to take the main draw at summer level 1s to 256. The bottom line is that many of these changes were inspired by a misguided hope that they would somehow lead us more quickly to the next great American champions. The focus was on how to help the top 5 or 10 players, ignoring the needs of everybody else. Punishing those awful point-chasers was another reason for it (the irony is that mess of the new point structure has had a much more powerful negative effect than point chasers ever did). Sectional politics was a big part of it: sections wanted the best kids to play at home (we already see how unsuccessful that's been) and that led to quotas being the only path to get into level 1s, taking away other paths (among them a path that would have allowed all those great boys who needed WCs to get in). Sections promised to increase opportunities. Even the USTA admits that hasn't happened. Sectional politics also made the changes worse because big sections would only compromise a bit on quotas (allowing for a "strength component but keeping a big element of "size"). How does the USTA expect to increase participation when it decreases opportunities? The numbers already show the moves have failed and that tournament play is declining. Florida started cutting draw sizes and tournaments in 2011. Today, we only have about 3/4 of the "eligible" ranked players we had before the cuts began. What business wouldn't react aggressively to losing almost a quarter of its best customers in 3 and 1/2 years? Florida has made small changes, but not enough yet. I wish I could say the national USTA will act strongly, but it won't because the national leaders and the sectional leaders won't rock the boat. Internal USTA politics are more important than the needs and desires of the organization's customers. Whatever changes get implemented will be, in the short-term, minimal.

  8. During the whole listening tour, USTA promised that play was going to be pushed back to the sections. I was only at one of the listening tour meetings, but I got notes on all of them and heard this same message from several parents. "We are not taking away opportunity, just pushing it back to the sections." "We are going to make tennis cost less and allow kids to miss less school." That did not happen in a single one of the 17 sections to my knowledge even though there were many people asking pointed questions of the national office about how they would enforce more sectional opportunities when the mantra has been: "The sections are autonomous. They set their own rules and schedules." If you promise your customers something and then you don't deliver, you can't go on like it didn't happen. We need some accountability here. And the junior tournament system should be put back to the way it was when rarely anyone complained and most everyone was happy. And what about how much more families are spending this year than last year? Not a single person I have spoken to is saving money. We are all spending a lot more. It is making many people actually play fewer tournaments. How is that good business? How does that help our kids?

  9. Our section has not a single tournament more this year(it has far less) than last and it has far less tournaments that count towards national ranking. It had L2s last year with 64 draw that didn't give many points, as they were L5 nationally and those do not count towards national standing any more! If we find an L5 sectional we are lucky!

  10. Due to the quota system the tournaments overall level of play and quality was lower than in previous years. My son said it didn't feel as important and as tough. There were many more blow outs in the first and second rounds, people seeded who should not have been and people not seeded who should have been. It's a mess. Point chasing in the past was not relevant but NOW there is major point chasing in the sections. NOW if you don't play everything your ranking gets hammered. If you do well in a tourney, you move up too quickly. It's just a volatile, meaningless mess now and lots of good players don't bother to play...

  11. Lisa, this was by far the most disturbing item - "The tournament charges the “official stringer” $2000 to be there." Is the USTA a poor organization in some 3rd world country that has no money to support junior events? In our section, the cost of the sectional tournaments was much more expensive this year and I guess that is because they shrunk the draws in a sense. In Eastern, they use to have a 32 qualifier and then the 32 section. But, starting in January of this year, 2014, when I guess the new changes happened, the draws were 32 with no qualifier. LET ME REPEAT THAT no qualifier anymore... Of course, I had no idea this was going to happen as no one ever sent out a newsletter about getting rid of qualifiers. I did get some emails from Eastern, but they left out that small tidbit. So, my daughter couldn't play any sectionals this year as she just aged up in April. What happened? We had to play a bunch of smaller tournaments to get the points. When I say we.... I wasn't playing... I was paying. Paying for more tournaments, more fees, more gas, more time, and more physical time on a growing girl's body. Before 2014, we had a 32 qualifier and then the following weekend was the 32 sectional. So, you could age up easier. Guess when, they had the 64 sectional? In June 2014. Hello? You couldn't do that in JANUARY 2014? So, what do you think happened starting in January for the kids who didn't have the points to age up.... they didn't play the sectionals. And the kids who could play the sectionals in January, got the points, and could continue to play the small 32 sectionals. Vicious cycle.

  12. Hi Randy, The USTA charges speakers if they want to come and give a talk, so I am not surprised about charging for the stringer. It is a shame though as having more vendors make an event more exciting for the juniors. $2000 does seem pretty expensive to charge the stringer though. The USTA is all about saving up parents money by cutting draw sizes, so it is a mystery why they would make the stringer more expensive as he has to pass his cost on to the players, I mean after all the stringer is not there for - no profit.

  13. Here is the thing with the smaller draws. It's less money per day coming in while costs per day are going up. You still pull in 192 entry fees but officials, staff, rental costs are all increased. So the first thing that I noticed at this year's G18 Clays was the number of officials. All the matches at the main site were chaired as usual, but at the other sites it was 1 official for two banks of two (UC) and 2 officials for two banks of 3 (MCC). Those ratios are pretty good but the part that wasn't was that those three officials were the only ones at those sites ALL DAY, EVERY DAY. By the end of the day, they were pretty tired (my observation). And when they took breaks there were no officials or inadequate ratios on courts. I didn't see an any issues from this but I did hear parents comment, "Finally we're at the main site where there are officials.". Less profit per day means the tournament director has to cut corners or spread the costs like charging a stringer $2000 to be at a site. A 256 draw is the way to go for so many reasons. - Everyone knows when their first match is, no byes. - It isn't longer than the 192 format since players didn't know if they had a bye or not. And it's shorter than the qualies format. And the revenue per day is increased (after expenses). - More playing opportunities for those that had to go thru qualies. - Better opportunity for college recruiting - this year was a disaster. No forum, folks confused and unable to speak to coaches. - I disagree that winning eight matches is a problem. We already had that for years in the 192 draws. Remember to accommodate 192 players, you put them in a 256 draw with 64 byes. So any player that has won a Clay or Hard courts and didn't get a bye already had to do this. The one a day format gives enough recovery opportunities. Blowouts will happen, most are from matchups from quota players when a section's quota is deeper than their strength. But not all predicted blowouts are a waste of time. Some are learning experiences, some turn into upsets, etc. " That's why they play the game" as the saying goes. (Wimbledon had many blowouts this year and upsets... Anyone screaming about reducing the draw there? Hmmm, why not?) I would say keep the quota level of this year but increase to 256 and fill from NSL with maybe 4 wildcards. Points chasing can be easily fixed by decreasing the value of each points per round and increasing / expanding the bonus points system. Play and win a weak segmented event and it might be the same point value as quarterfinaling the same stronger segmented event elsewhere. It keeps the pros of PPR but adds more of a head to head element. Points chasing in the classic sense wouldn't be of value. If you aren't good enough to beat the good players your best of 6 will plateau. Players will then study the applicants and sign up for the segment were they have the best chance to go the furthest while beating the best players the thing they might be able to beat. Not a bad behavior.

  14. SeminoleG, we were also at the national G12s, horrible. Not only the frequent rain, but the play. First day was brutal, almost all the 'highly ranked' players from many sections were not good players. Even the later rounds featured pushing and cautious, dead end game, type play. See much better tennis at lower level SE FL. locals because you get foreign kids, academy kids, and girls just working on their games and hitting the ball! The cheating is nasty at the locals, but at least there is talent on display. Not much correlation between tennis talent and these USTA nationals.

  15. I agree with everything K. Minor said. To clarify one point, I think you are suggesting something that's been brought up before and rejected by the JCC: the points in sectionals and for early round victories in nationals (1s and 2s) are way too high and need to be reduced. It's allowing kids in weak sections to be ranked as high as the top 30 without doing much outside their section. A more complicated but more intelligent solution would be one Geoff Grant proposed: make sectional points proportional to the strength of the section. One issue there: strength varies from one class to another (i.e. the G12 might be stronger than the B18 and it would be tough to make such specific adjustments). In fact, that's one of my arguments against the unfairness of quotas. They are the same for all age groups within a section, when some groups can be far stronger than others. In any case, good luck getting the sections to agree to Geoff's proposal. Politics will trump common sense. I also agree with what Randy raises, which is also a point we raised during our "campaign" against the changes: the new structure makes aging up brutal, especially in tougher sections, forcing kids to play tons more tournaments to get the points needed to qualify for small-draw sectionals (it's because older kids play sectionals in their age group until they age up in order to "make quota" for level 1s and because they can't get into sectionals in the older category). In Florida, we have 5-star kids struggling to get into sectionals until their second year in an age group. Does it really contribute to their development to be playing lower-level tournaments deemed "intermediate" by the section itself?

  16. I'm sort of perplexed by lack of response by the USTA? We are members, not employees. We have valid concerns. I really wish they would reach out to the people actually showing up and making this all happen. And as it goes, they will have less people to deal with., and surely less results.

  17. And again, USTA kids parents, should've zero input into the fate of the masses. They have been blessed, and have been given every opportunity. We in the trenches are still here because we love the game, our kids love the game. They should have no input. The rules don't apply.

  18. They read these blogs and some people at the USTA are truly concerned about what's happened, the PR nightmare they've created and the decline in competitive play. But I don't know that anyone will lead and make things better. It doesn't help that parents complain amongst themselves but then clam up the second someone from the USTA is around. I think some USTA folks still aren't convinced that opposition among parents and kids isn't as overwhelming as it is. I have yet to meet one parent, other than Marty Collins, who supports them (and Marty's child is still below national-playing age). Hell, I haven't even HEARD of a parent who supports them. Interestingly, USTA folks used to engage on this forum. They have stopped. I'm sure it's intentional, to avoid adding fuel to the fire.

  19. Who is the USTA? The guys that travel with the kids are coaches, hired by the USTA, whoever that Is. Their jobs are on the line according to results. Many probably don't agree with the current policies, but its a great job(and maybe they werent asked) This is an organization that has demonstrated they dont want any input and has a reputation for punishing those that disagree. True or not?, it's a perception. Men. These are children. They want to play. Give them the opportunity!

  20. In my opinion, it's myopic to exclude anyone's opinion here. In the spirit of staying on topic, congratulations to your son for a tremendous run at Clay Courts. He's a great player and competitor. And yes, I am in agreement with you, it's a shame he's in the qualies at KZOO. Many years ago, a wise man told me, CONSTITUTIONALLY after the "FIRST", everything else is second. With that said, I will continue to express my opinion when appropriate. We don't always have to agree, however; I think you'd be surprised with my perspective on junior competition. Good luck to your boy in KZOO.

  21. Antonio, I'm not sure I follow. Sections get x number of tournaments to count as L3s so sectionals alone can't get them top 30 nationally, right? As far as nationals, I would rather the points progression to be linear between rounds and between levels. Not exponential as it is now. Also increase the bonus points max and the range to top 150. Draws are very rarely 'equal'. So to say that a later win is exponentially better than and earlier win isn't right. I'd rather the bump in points come more a better bonus point award for better player in the later round. And if you didn't play a good player then you get the round and possibly a trophy but not as many points. In such a system a Hard courts winner would earn far more points than a Clays or Winters winner because the bonus points would have a greater impact from beginning to end due to the strength of field. Chasing points would be harder to do because if the strength of field is weak then you'll keep replacing your best of 6 but not make ground against those playing tougher tournaments. As it is now, players ranked at the top are separated by hundreds of points, whereas players around draw size cutoffs 32, 64, 128 will start to be more clumped together - the nature of an exponential curve. So as the year plays out, there will be 20-30 players separated by a 100 points on the lower end. And they'll spend more money trying to replace a 100 point tournmant with a 130 point result because it be the difference of making cuts vs not.

  22. If you win your six sectionals and gather some bonus points along the way (and these days you can get a good chunk of those in your section, especially in weak sections where kids can get over ranked quickly), you can reach the 3000 or so points that will get you into the top 30 in some age groups. Earlier this year, I documented cases of players who made it to 42 and 47 without ever winning more than one main-draw round in a national level 3. I agree with you about bonus points. Increasing their value would make victories more significant, compensating for "unequal" draws and defaults. But I would make the progression in bonus points more exponential. Wins over top 25 players should be worth proportionately more and others proportionately less (that will protect against over ranking). I think I'd go for a middle ground on the linear vs. exponential argument. I'd give greater value to wins deeper in a draw, just not as enormous a difference as what we have now.

  23. George. Spot on. Absolutely everybody is entitled to their opinion and that's the beauty of this blog. If gives everybody a forum to express their thoughts. I believe we are all passionate about the sport and come with our own set of challenges. It's been a little frustrating to feel that some very strong opinions were not listened to by the USTA, and now having to live out the results, with not 1 but 3 kids. It's quite honestly, almost undo able. Your son is a great player and super nice kid. I've enjoyed him through out the years and find him to be a polite and a true gentleman.....always, win or lose. And congrats to him on a great finish at Clays!

  24. Interesting thread....i agree with the qualifying process for nationals..one of the main arguments against the "qualifier" was the lack of exposure to college coaches. i have heard there was a significant amount of college coaches present at clay court qualies. in regards to "opportunity" for >100 ranked players and having "high level players" in qualies...i cant imagine a better opportunity for a player ranked 150 in the nation than to play a top 20 player in qualies. what a great "opportunity" for the 150 player and what a challenge for the top 20 player. Qualies also serve as a buffer for the "quota system" which is not a perfect system but a good system. If a high quality player is left out of main draw because of the quota system there is a second "opportunity" via qualies....

  25. Sasamm - "opportunity" should not be the baseline by which a national championship is run. In no other sport would the 150th go against #20 at the pinnacle event for the sport. I'd say that player hasn't earned that right. Let him go thru qualies, and after 3-4-5 matches then he gets your "opportunity". Qualies have become a band aid for a poor structure. Anyway I don't think your points were the foundation of what was planned. Play pushed back to the sections, was the theme. Didn't #150 get that same "opportunity" with bigger draws?

  26. Best kids in tennis are now the Europeans. Did Zverev have to fly home and play his sectional? I remember seeing him at the Orange Bowl 14's, nothing special. But, I bet he didn't have his tournaments cut as he got older.

  27. Shawn, the players in Europe are not using college as a back up or fall back plan. Heck, they barely go to school. They are 100% committed to tennis and becoming a pro. That's why the top 100 numbers show a plethora of Europeans and hardly any Americans.

  28. At first, I assumed "sasamm" was being sarcastic because it is absurd that #20 in the country or the winner of Wimbledon juniors would have to play a quali. I also thought it was sarcasm because my understanding is that the vast majority of college coaches did not show up for qualies. Finally, I though it was sarcastic because he/she referred to the quota system is being "good." In case you weren't being sarcastic, would you please explain why it's good? Why it wouldn't be better for those same 64 players to be in a 192 draw? And what about the 12s and 14s where there is no quali?

  29. G14s Clay in Plantation ... way too much rain. Why are any important tournaments scheduled in this part of the country at this time of year. There are many places where the weather is much nicer. The quota system doesn't work - as usual there were so many blowouts in the early rounds. Every section has at least a couple of good players but the depth of talent in some of the sections is really bad. For example, at zonals the Southern California teams absolutely crushed everyone, and at intersectionals the winners were Southern California. The SoCal section has much greater depth and it shows in these tournaments. Again, every section has a couple of really good players and those players should get into these tournaments (and have the potential to win). But some of the quotas are way too large. One official for every two courts - very nice and makes me feel that the tournament entry fee is well-spent. SCTA paid for my daughter's airfare (and airfare plus hotel for intersectionals), which helps with the money but to do well in this sport you must spend money. Tennis, ice skating, gymnastics, and golf - you need money to compete at the highest level in these sports. is this good? I don't know - but it is the way it works. Point-chasing is never going away, but given the rolling calendar and the fact that only the top 8 scores are counted this seems pretty reasonable. Points -> Rankings -> Seeds -> Points ... I think the points system works as-is although I wish there was much more consistency between the sections.

    • Are you sure SoCal crushed "everyone" at Zonals? NorCal 12s boys won majority of matches against SoCal boys and broke up 20 year dominance in the team competition.

      • I am tempted not to take the bait but ... Zonals 12s ... Southern California teams were 1, 2, 4 14s ... Southern California teams were 1, 2, 3, 4 16s ... Southern California teams were 1, 3, 4 Intersectionals 14s ... Southern California won 16s ... Southern California won I stand by the word "dominate"

  30. Take the draw sizes back to where they were. My son had to miss one high level sectional tournament while recovering from hernia surgery (not tennis-related). The points he would have gotten at that event would have most likely put him into the Kzoo main draw. Instead he missed getting in by one quota spot and was dumped into the qualies. Just doesn't seem right.

  31. Throughout this thread there are people saying they prefer a 192 draw and also people complaining about "blowouts" in early rounds. I think regardless of what selection process is used there are going to be blowouts that occur in early rounds whether the draw is 192 or 128 and i think we can agree there will be a greater number of blowouts with a 192 draw. Also, regardless of what system is used there are going to be weaker players get in over better players simply because the weaker player follows the selection process to accumulate as many points as possible under the rules. It doesnt matter if it is a quota system or a system based on national rankings. It happens. It will never be a perfect system. I think people need to appreciate that the USTA "gave up" 8 wild cards for the national tournaments. I think that is a big deal and quite a compromise for the USTA. The qualifier opens up a lot of opportunity for a lot of players left out of the main draw for whatever reason and serves as a very good buffer for players from stronger sections who may not have enough quota spots or for some players who are pursuing other pathways for their own tennis excellence. I heard that there was a good representation from college coaches at the qualies. No not a majority of college coaches but certainly a good number....especially from the southeast region of the country.

    • Sassam. With the exception of Kalamazoo the top kids are just opting out of the USTA National structure. This was the weakest clay courts in years even though an ATP WC is still on offer as far as I know. The top kids with resources from the 16's onwards are opting out and going the ITF route. They are rejecting the system that has been imposed on them. Is this really what the USTA wants. Is it really going to grow the game. I believe it will just get worse as the years go by and we stick with this system.

  32. Sasamm, Not sure I quite follow the logic. USTA 'gave up 8 wildcards' - why is that a sacrifice? (BTW, I do think there needs to be wildcards but not very many.) The new system was supposed to be designed to take USA tennis to the new level. So if the new system is all of that, why not have the High Performance kids participate minimally in the system that everyone else is forced to play? If the kids in the program are that good, they should go deep enough in the L1s that they never have to think about playing anything else and keep themselves out of the qualies and into the main draw. That's 4 USTA events a year that they'd have to play and perform in. And probably not even all 4 to be a top 64 player. Sorry, that's not a sacrifice. That's just practicing what you preach. Trying to force play back into the Section? How about forcing play back into the Junior circuit? Let's do that - ITFs have value but why promote that 100% vs the American System? 4 weeks out of 52 for 4 L1 Nationals (8% of the calendar) doesn't seem like a stretch to ask our Elite players to participate in. I completely agree that the total quota make-up of the 192 draws were too high, I think the ratio being used for the 128 would have been right for the 192. And with a tweek to the PPR as I mentioned above, point chasing goes away and then those in the top 200 at that point are probably decent players. I do think that you have to have a NSL component to the selection process for Nationals because you have to keep the quota portion low enough to be filled with strong players. That also allows the elite player to focus mostly on pro / ITF / etc events and participate perhaps in their (June) Sectional Championships and National L1s. Most of these players that 'shouldn't' be in qualies are because they couldn't play enough sectional events to make their quota and since all spots came from quota / qualifiers, they had to go into qualies. (Not your comment but,...) Don't know that I get the comment of 150 playing 20 being outrageous. It does happen in other sports - I was just on a club volleyball site where they celebrated a 37th finish out of 175 in a National event. And for that matter, isn't that just about what the professional majors are? You get 150 playing 20 all the time. And as Wimbledon recently showed us, you get plenty of blowouts and plenty of upsets. It's no different at Nationals.

  33. Geoff, I agree. It's a shame to see these kids Opt out of the USTA, then again even ones at High Performance aren't required to play the L1s, are they? Something feels weird about that... If they are part of the support given by the USTA, shouldn't they play the Nationals?

  34. Hard to argue. And on paper, I never saw the money savings. It's not like those kids playing Nationals before were going to give up on their dreams and resign themselves to play Sectionally. Especially, when there will be coaches out there telling them that they are only a minor breakthru away.... (Sometimes it's actually true (good coaches), sometimes it's keeping the money coming in (bad coaches) and sometimes the kid just doesn't make the growth expected... But whichever reason, they keep traveling... Most of them are looking for college exposure and it's more at Nationals than Sectionals. Those kids are going to play even more to improve their best of 6. Sometimes it's only a marginal improvement that they need. Here is what I mean... In the G18s, #1 and #30 are separated by 5000 points!! #64 and #200 are separated by 1300 points. Finally, #120 and #140 are separated by 200 points. I've graphed the ranking vs points and it's truly exponential when it should probably be more linear. The way the points structure is now, there will be severe crowding around National draw cut offs. The battle to get inside the top 128 will continue to be a matter of dozens of points. In some cases, it may be a single round better result in their best of 6 at a Level 3 event. Talk about points chasing.... Playing tournament after tournament to move their number up by maybe 12 points?

  35. Playing tourney after tourney trying to qualify for a National Championship only to draw a Professional Junior with ATP or WTA points. What a bargain!

  36. The point structure this year is absurd and made more absurd by the fact that it wasn't retroactive making last year's points nearly worthless. Sassam: first, the USTA wanted 16 (!!!!) WCs for a 128 draw,12.5% of the total. People objected vociferously because they said it was proof the USTA wanted to impose an unpopular system but then exempt USTAPD kids (or those favored by USTAPD) from the rules everyone else had to follow. The proof is now in the pudding: most USTAPD kids are not following what we were told was so great for US Tennis. Isn't anyone embarrassed? Second, it is very easy to prove, using Universal Tennis and TRN, that you are just plain wrong: a quota-only system is far worse when it comes to getting lower-level players into national events than a more rational PPR system like the old one that required substantial success in national tournaments to break into the top 50, but that still allowed players who couldn't afford to leave their sections the opportunity to get in via the NSL or their section's quota.

  37. "Certainly setting aside four wild cards for qualifying should be considered when suggestions for improving the new system are solicited." http://tenniskalamazoo.blogspot.com/ Widcards everywhere. Looking at the level of play and skill the wildcard recipients are at, sectional play at the junior level does not seem enough to prepare at least my junior, for who is participating in these National Championships. If the junior is not at ATP/WTA level by 17/18 years of age, do they even stand a chance to come close to a wining a National Championship? I suppose the “fun” aspect of just being there will have to suffice as it seems (to me) very naive to think sectional play will trump World Class Juniors, ATP, WTA, Pro Circuit players on top of PD kids. Just seems a lot to overcome for a sectional player grinding away against many of the same boys weekend after weekend in their section.

  38. Katy, the old system allowed for dozens of players to get in off their ATP/WTA/ITF rankings. Then you'd have the sectional quotas and the national standing list, multiple ways to earn your way into the national championships. The new system is quota only. Look how well that's worked out. Whether kids who are only playing sectionally will have a chance to win the whole thing is a separate issue. If that were the standard, you'd have to argue that only a couple of dozen players should be allowed in. That would be a disaster for college coaches and for kids hoping to be recruited. The 192-draw served its purpose as a showcase for kids and as a wide net that wouldn't have allowed the winner of Wimbledon Juniors to miss making the main draw.

  39. Antonio...you are missing my main point. My main point is im favoring the qualifying draw vs. a draw of 192. I think there should be places for ATP/WTA/ITF consideration (maybe give 8 spots for those individuals who have earned the spots rather than straight wildcards from the USTA or add those 8 spots in addition to the 8 USTA wildcards and adjust quotas accordingly)....but even then there will be arguments for the "bubble spots"...no different than the basketball NCAA tournament and no different than the upcoming Final Four for NCAA football. Your point about the retroactive point system for 2013 is very valid. The USTA has taken the position that it is "a temporary problem and will roll off at the end of the year" which is true but certainly not fair. In regards to the upper level players playing ITFs...now that is the real hidden gem here....the USTA needs the national format to keep control of the "upper level players." God forbid multiple US junior players succeeding on their own on the ITF circuit without the USTA being involved...can you imagine the controversy? and where would this leave USTA PD? USTA PD knows players need to succeed on the ITF level to be successful at the pro level....they just wont tell everyone about it.

  40. Thank you Antonio, if I understand you correctly KZOO was "designed" as a showcase for college coaches to see America's best juniors? Is that right? I don't know the history and if it was, it seems now to have morphed into a Junior “Professional” Event offering much more than a chance to be seen by college coaches. A spectacular opportunity to gain professional level prize money and ranking points. Possibly even the jump off point for sponsorships and I don't know what else. KZOO (and the girls National as well) seem’s to have come a long way, transformed into a high stakes "wild card tournament" financially enriching the winner, but at the same time masquerading as a junior event. But maybe it's just me dizzied by the heights that juniors must now scale. Sasamm, did you really let the cat out of the bag? All this time I thought you were joking, poking fun but I see just how serious it all is. Thank-you for your input. Lisa, I do hope your blog is reaching many parents AND the juniors playing the events...so much information to think through before jumping in. And also information to help one decide when it's time to jump off...because yes I know, it is not necessary to play.

  41. Antonio hope all is well, Katy, Sasamm the dialogue on these topics are priceless. As I have said as the parent of an 11yo the numbers of parents of 15 and older kids advising us to take alternate path based on the current structure is alarming. Take for example the G14s clay court winner. Unseeded, so why troop thru the US earning points? Train to a level to just get in and play well. G12s winner a WC with no sectional play, very little travel. How much time/$$$ did her parents save! I see no reason to travel keep a quota get in with little to no National ranking and play, play well. Am I missing something?

  42. You're not missing anything, SeminoleG. Hope you're doing well too. Katy, I don't believe the summer level 1s were "designed" to be college showcases, but they serve as such in an important way for kids and coaches. Sasamm, I didn't miss your point. Most parents, kids and college coaches opposed, and continue to oppose, the reduction of the draw size at hard courts and clay courts. The qualies were a lesser of two evils offered by the USTA as a compromise (imagine how many great kids would have been excluded altogether this year if the qualies didn't exist). I'd like to hear why you think the qualies are better than a 192 draw. Here's why I don't think they are: 1) In the 192 draw, you had 64 kids who got a bye. Under both the old and new systems, those 64 kids play exactly the same number of matches. They may, however, have to spend one day less at the site under the new system, because under the old they were supposed to arrive for registration when everybody else did and didn't have to play on the first day. I'll grant you that those 64 do get a slight economic benefit. 2) 64 of the 128 who would have played in the round of 192, now do not get to play a main draw match at all. They are hurt the most. 3) Of that other 128 who would have played in a round of 192, the 56 who do get into the main draw under the new system without having to compete in the quali will play one match less than they would have under the old. They also need to spend one day less at the site. They are the ones who benefit the most from the new system, but I'd argue the benefit is slight. 4) The remaining 8 who get into the new 128 main draw, the qualifiers, have to play three matches more than they did in the past, dramatically adding to the wear and tear on their bodies. They will also spend an extra three days at the site, significantly increasing expenses. 5) The 56 who play the quali and don't make it through will have far less exposure to college coaches. If they play doubles, they will have to be at the site a whopping five days more than they would have had to be in the past. The expenses incurred by all qualifiers swamp any economic benefit to families from a 128 draw. 6) Finally, as you might know by now, I think the quota system and the quota-only selection process is absurd in theory and in practice, as we've already seen this summer. If, God forbid, the USTA insists on keeping it, a 192 draw could save them from some of the worst consequences. They can keep their quotas for 128 entrants, but then use a hybrid selection system for the other 64 as we had in the past: a combo that would allow selection from ATP/WTA/ITF/NSL rankings. While that wouldn't solve everything (and wouldn't help the mess the quotas create in the 12s and 14s), it would avoid some of the insanity that occurred this year that would have kept Rubin, Kozlov and other top players from getting into the main draw without wild cards. It would also save families a ton of money. Apologies if my writing isn't clear or my numbers are off. I had to travel before dawn this morning and I'm a bit groggy.

  43. The USTA needs the national format to keep control of the “upper level players.” Maybe that is why the shrinkage of draws, whether it be fair or not, economical or not. There needs to be better outcomes,so a smaller,selected playing squad is necessary. Even I saw how Collin came thru (last year) and decimated the KZOO draw. It was astonishing,and something like that, well maybe it need not happen. Not draw fixing per say just more suitable outcomes. Any outliers (that may seriously challenge the WC players) can be put into the qualies to contain them and also provide them a "fair opportunity" to play.Sectional play is suppose to be where it is at, but how many "hidden gems" are going to be found there. They will all have been dissected and more, how many sectional players are really going to be a contender to the WC players who have all not played in the section.These are my thoughts only based on what I see and read. And one thing for sure the USTA is working long and hard to ensure our next great American champion. Go PD let's do this!!!

  44. Katy, I hope your child is young, and that you have some time to absorb all of the ever changing policies, regulations and what not. It's a full time job! In addition to a full time job. You can say go PD all that you want, this represents an incredibly small percentage of the population and a very large percentage of the available junior money. Like it or not, save one or two, they are all going to end up in College tennis. So at the end of the day, are there any "gems"? . The gems wil be the ones that haven't had every ounce squeezed out of them as a junior...no where else to go. The "gems" will be decide that this is what they want not because they have to. The true "gems" have options. It gives them freedom and choice. C

  45. To be a "gem"

  46. Thank you Pwh for your words. Tennis is proving to be quite a journey of self discovery. Best of luck to your son,your daughters - by the way I enjoyed your airline miracle.

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