USTA 2014 Jr Comp Update

Yesterday afternoon, I received a link from the folks at TennisRecruiting.net to the following article on their website:

This week, a group of people concerned with junior tennis – Steve Bellamy, Robert Sasseville and Kevin Kempin – were able to spend several hours speaking with USTA leadership (i.e., Dave Haggerty, Gordon Smith, Kurt Kamperman) about the planned upcoming changes to USTA Junior Competition. That group is pleased to say that there was a very open and candid exchange of ideas.

The group shared many, if not all, of its concerns about the proposed new competitive structure, and the USTA definitely listened. The group also got a better understanding of the USTA’s long-term objectives for making these changes. Long story short, the group requested that the USTA hit the “pause button” for the 2013-2014 junior comp changes before instituting them. That approach would obviously come with some procedural challenges for the USTA, but the USTA was open to the recommendation and said they will discuss it internally and give it full consideration.

In addition, the USTA acknowledged that, moving forward, they wanted to seek input from a broader group of constituents, i.e. parents, college coaches, and tournament directors. To that end, the USTA will be getting back to the group with some suggestions. All in all, the feeling is that the meetings with the USTA were very productive, and the group believes that everyone should hit the “pause button” for a short time to allow the USTA to come back with their plans for moving forward. Recognizing that time is of the essence, the group expects to hear back from the USTA within the next two weeks.

Just so you know who the players are in this saga, Steve Bellamy is the creator of the Tennis Channel and the father of high-performance tennis playing sons, one of whom is under the watchful eye of USTA Player Development.  He also created the interactive website, TennisInsiders, for tennis coaches, parents, and others to voice and share opinions and information.  Robert Sasseville is a long-time tournament director and USTA referee in Georgia.  Kevin Kempin is the CEO of Head, Inc.  Dave Haggerty is the First Vice President and incoming President of USTA.  Gordon Smith is the Executive Director and CEO of USTA.  Kurt Kamperman is USTA’s Chief Executive of Community Tennis.

While I am hopeful that USTA will, indeed, hit the “pause button” and seek input from those directly affected by the upcoming changes to the junior competition schedule, I am a bit wary since Lew Brewer, USTA’s Director of Junior Competition for USTA Player Development, told me a few weeks ago that this is a “done deal” and that no further changes to the plan will be considered before 2014.  Maybe Lew and his cohorts have reconsidered their position and have realized it may be in the best interest of US tennis to seek input from the players, parents, and coaches?  Maybe.  I urge all of you concerned to keep an eye on things and to talk to your section heads to see how you might become one of those whose input is sought after by USTA.  I also urge you to read today’s ZooTennis posting regarding how the national tournament climate has changed in very recent years – it is eye-opening.

Stay tuned . . .

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