High School Tennis Should Mirror College

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by Mitch Bridge, Nov 4, 2012.

  1. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Why doesn't HS Tennis just copy college tennis? This is the biggest killer of American tennis! Our high school teams are too big, and our tennis athletes don't get any credibility at school because the lower level varsity players aren't varsity-level athletes. If there were 6 players on varsity, all playing doubles and singles, the competition would be fearce. Instead, the lowest varsity spots are taken by new tennis players who haven't put in the work and probably got cut from another sport and found it easy to letter in tennis.

    If we want our better athletes to pick up tennis, there better be some respect from non-tennis athletes to the tennis athletes, or they will choose a different sport like they are doing now. When a player makes varsity golf everyone knows that that kid is good at golf. Not so with tennis! With six spots all kids will be pressured into taking it seriously all year like all of the other sports. The one guy will want to stay on top. The two and three will be chasing the one spot. The four-six spots will want to make varsity and the top jv will be vying for varsity, etc.

    Pressurization is the key to motivation. Right now the singles kids(3) in California are motivated, but the doubles players are less motivated(6). Also, kids will develop better skills playing singles and doubles and they would have better match-ups playing matches in their own slots.

    Participation is a weak argument for the current structure. There could be as many JV and Frosh/Soph teams as needed to satisfy all players that try out. This will make the JV and Frosh/Soph schedules much more competitive and interesting. Right now JV is like a death sentence to most tennis careers. Put the kid in a format with only a few good matches and he will lose respect for the sport and not gain valuable experience to move up the food chain.

    A six man team could use one or two courts for practice, so lack of courts a problem either. There are courts everywhere. Night practice at local facilities is ok as well.

    Our tennis athletes need to be respected high school athletes among their peers at school to feel like they are a vital part of the athletic high school landscape. Only when this happens will more top athletes pick up this difficult but awesome sport!
     
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  2. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    I see two problems with this.

    1. High school students are high school students, and only the top two (or three at max) actually get lessons and play tennis competitively. The rest are learners or casual players. Thus, they don't have the physical stamina to play singles and then doubles.

    2. Many schools have a challenge system, where they play someone higher on the ladder and when they beat the higher seed, the two switch spots. One match can decide everything. If someone has an off day, and they lose, say goodbye to varsity and playing for the team. The point of having 12 players instead of six is to get more people playing tennis, too.

    I really think number 1 is the real reason, but the college system just can't work in high school.
     
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  3. floridatennisdude

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    The college format would be great, but I think it's more of a time issue. College matches get played on weekends and hs matches are normally a school night activity. Can't ask kids to spend 4-5 hours on the court every Tuesday and Thursday. Administrators wouldn't let that happen.
     
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  4. Mitch Bridge

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    1. High school students are high school students, and only the top two (or three at max) actually get lessons and play tennis competitively. The rest are learners or casual players. Thus, they don't have the physical stamina to play singles and then doubles.


    Train to get the stamina. Doubles warms them up well for singles. They will all take it more seriously and it will push their fitness level as well. Time is an issue, but matches will end when a team has 4. In college most matches in tournaments go 4-0 or 4-1. The rarer longer matches will be exciting as tension builds.
     
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  5. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    I don't think telling high school students to train more is a simple answer. College tennis is MUCH more competitive than high school tennis. I know you want the college format to make high school tennis more competitive and exciting, but the problem is that high school sports is just that - a high school sport.

    This goes with my point that there are usually only two lesson kids and the rest being casual players. The lesson kids are competitive to begin with, while the rest usually just play because tennis is fun. College, however (talking only division 1,2, and 3 - not junior college), is filled to the brim with lesson kids. You can't make the team without having gotten lessons at some point in your life.

    The players are just too different as far as background and ability, which is why I like the separate formats for high school and college.
     
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  6. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    Why doesn't HS tennis copy college tennis? Because it is high school, not college. High school sports are not in place to produce champion athletes. It is more about giving kids access to sports and being part of a team.

    Let's also not forget that the best tennis players don't even bother with HS tennis.
     
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  7. Mitch Bridge

    Mitch Bridge Rookie

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    Let's keep mind high school football and high school basketball are played at a very high level. Tennis can be pushed to a much higher level also. In fact, it needs to be.
     
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  8. WARPWOODIE

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    Yes, I agree. I have come to the same realization as well....that the mission of high school sports is to give access (inclusiveness) for kids to participate in sports however the varying levels of skills.

    High school tennis is really hit or miss, it depends on several factors, how well the program is funded, how it is supported by the school and community, it is a wide spectrum. You have schools and communities that are well to do, have immaculate courts to play on, with players wearing nice uniforms, have great coaching, then you have the other side that is totally the opposite....possibly in the same league. You'll be lucky if you are in a strong league and the tournament playing kids eventually rises to the top for the league championships which leads them to the State Championship anyway.
     
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  9. Woolybugger

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    It's all about money - how much it brings to the school district. Football brings in the most money so it's the most competitive, most attention, $50mil stadiums, highly-paid coaches, etc. Tennis - peanuts, forget it.
     
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  10. NLBwell

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    In high school, you are supposed to be teaching the game. As many players as possible should be playing. (Of course court availability,etc. limits that)
     
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  11. dlesser13

    dlesser13 Rookie

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    My HS tennis team and many other teams around the are are competitive on the level that you suggest in that basically only our top 6 players play the matches that count. We would each play a doubles and a singles and our lineup's were pretty much set. If you weren't top 6, tough luck unless you could challenge up. In a good district in Texas, the majorty of the teams will at least be champs through their top 6, with the top 3-4 possibly being super/collegiate level players. Of course there will always be the teams that just don't have the same talent pool to select from and will always be at a disadvantage.
     
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  12. Mitch Bridge

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    Mirroring college tennis doesn't limit the amount of players that can be in the tennis program. You can have several JV teams and Frosh/Soph teams with parent/coach volunteers.

    If high school sports don't produce professional athletes then where did all of the HS football and basketball players play? We need to have some of that in tennis. Team tennis will help tennis popularity.
     
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  13. sundaypunch

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    There already is a well established system for juniors with a hope of turning pro - USTA tennis. None of the serious tennis juniors in the USA have any interest in playing for their local HS team.

    It's not that HS sports don't produce professional athletes. They just don't produce professional tennis players. Elite players end up at an academy, not a high school.

    Comparing HS football and basketball to tennis is a flawed analogy. For these sports playing in HS then a D1 college is the conventional route to turning pro. That's not the case with tennis. Also, these sports have very large rosters on the HS team. This is in line with the mission of HS sports. Reducing a varsity tennis team to a handful of players serves no useful purpose.
     
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  14. JLyon

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    Texas Team Tennis is 3 Doubles, 6 Singles, and 1 Mixed Doubles = 19 matches play 2x a week setup just like College except Boys and Girls count in Total Team Total
     
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  15. andfor

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    H.S. sports are controlled by each state H.S. sports association. The USTA and NCAA have little to no impact on the decisions H.S. sports associations make regarding how a sport is formatted for play. Trying to make it uniform across the country would be very time consuming and not worth the effort. The best we can do is to make sure tennis continues to be played and supported by as many highschools and colleges across the country. This can best be done by supporting your local H.S. and college teams by at a minimum attending a few of their matches.
     
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  16. Mitch Bridge

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    First of all, Jack Sock comes to mind.

    Secondly, changing HS tennis format is the key to making it a big deal. We are missing the boat on bringing great athletes into tennis. High school is the peak of playing careers for almost all junior players. We need to improve it.

    The argument of participation is moot in that you could have as many JV teams as you would want with the help of parent volunteers.
     
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  17. andfor

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    I've always contended if there was a way to incorporate USTA ranking points to H.S. tennis that may be one way to generate more interest among the top players.
     
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  18. sundaypunch

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    Yes, but just not the ones that are on track to be professionals. High school tennis isn't the vehicle for what you are suggesting.
     
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  19. Mitch Bridge

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    I am not suggesting HS tennis needs to be better to attract more potential professsional players. It needs to be better to make our sport bigger and better. Why wouldn't all tennis players want our game more respected, and the quality of play higher. Doesn't make sense leaving it in mediocrity. It is the fifth biggest sport in the US and will only climb with changes like this one that I am presenting.
     
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  20. WARPWOODIE

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    That is a great idea!! :)....but how would those points be applied?...say for a freshmen still playing the 14s versus a senior who is in the 18s. In HS tennis, the age of players doesn't factor in the play.

    Better yet, allow the one on one match ups of the tournament playing kids to reflect their match results in their TRN profiles, provided they already have TRN ratings. By doing so, it gives the tournament playing kids, who never would have considered playing HS tennis, a second look. Their is plenty of high level competition in HS league and State Championships. I even heard, but can't confirm, that colleges coaches/recruiters show up to watch players that have interest in their programs.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
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  21. Mitch Bridge

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    TRN could work well here!
     
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  22. andfor

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    H.S. matches would all count as 18u matches. If H.S. tournaments were counted by the USTA, then by defualt the would count towards TRN, under TRN's requirements, etc. Yea, it would be great for H.S. tennis to get ranking points. They would have to be local or section type points at the most, better than nothing. Here's the downside, it would likely require all H.S. tennis players to have a USTA membership. Some players or schools could not afford to pay each players dues. So something would have to give. The biggest problem would be national adoption of the idea. If the USTA was smart they would pursue it more. Possibly allow for free memberships for H.S. players for example between March and June for those who only play H.S. tennis. And discounts for those who actually played H.S. during the school year. It's a cool concept but if you can get the USTA, then all the state H.S. athletic associations to adopt it, the next step would be to relay on the coaches to get all their players signed up.

    Maybe this could be done for TRN purposes only. Sort of like some of the ITF's played here in the states.

    I see more roadblocks than pathways. Maybe I'm a little short sighted on the whole concept.
     
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  23. WARPWOODIE

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    The bottom line for the USTA is increasing membership, which translates into $$$. For that reason, I don't see why the USTA wouldn't explore the ideas being discussed here (if they haven't already) relating to High School tennis and make them happen. Their mission is to grow the game and we see that with the TAUT initiative. A membership fee (be it prorated or what) for a high school player who don't or doesn't regularly play tournaments is a small compromise to me. The USTA already gives grants/subsidies to kids less fortunate, so why not allocate funding as well to a limited number of high schoolers who make it to the season's end league and state championship. Once the logistics are ironed out, I think it will work.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
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  24. sundaypunch

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    The problem with this is that high school is much too late to do this.

    In the area I live in, junior tennis has greatly declined in the past couple of decades. Kids have been drawn away to more accessible sports. Tennis is not convenient while soccer, football and baseball are.

    The only way to compete for many is to play USTA. It works for some but is expensive. The other issue is that the level of play is way too high for many novice players. They want to play in leagues or tournaments but it is USTA or nothing.

    If you want to get people hooked on the sport, it needs to happen well before high school. You can play in a soccer or baseball league in most any town in the country during the summer or fall. This isn't the case for tennis.

    Having tennis leagues in small towns with teams sponsored by the local hardware store is what would work. The tennis crazy parents are already involved and will do whatever it takes for junior to play. You have to attract the parents and kids that don't really care about tennis. It it's fun, many of these kids will get hooked and the sport will grow from there. Kids want to be part of a team. I know that USTA has junior team tennis. Again, this is not very convenient and is way more advanced than what many kids need.

    I don't think that changing high school tennis to be less inclusive (varsity) is going to attract more to the sport.
     
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2012
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  25. gplracer

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    I used to coach a high school team in Georgia back in the 1990's. The problem is that no one really cares about high school tennis results. The colleges look at rankings and other things. In Georgia the whole system is team based. There is no state singles competition. If you are the #1 player in the boys 18s but your team sucks, you will never get out of your region.
     
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  26. gplracer

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    Tennis is way too expensive for the masses. Many people cannot afford the lessons and the tournaments. Others who can afford it do not want to pay it. They steer their kids into other cheaper sports.
     
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  27. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Agreed.

    I was one of those guys who just "joined" the tennis team. I fell in love with the sport but I didn't have the skills to compete, nor did the majority of guys on the team. There were only 2 decent players. One was a ESL student who taught himself, by hitting the ball as hard as he could until it started to fall in. I could see the love in his eyes.
     
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  28. sundaypunch

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    I totally agree. This is why USTA junior tournaments as the default method of getting kids into the sport can't compete with baseball and soccer. You need the tennis equivalent of the local Little League to get masses of kids involved.
     
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  29. julian

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    Cut or NOT to cut?

    Some teams in MA cut and some do NOT
    (I have coached both scenarios)
     
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  30. gplracer

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    Tennis needs something that is for sure. The problem is that tennis is not the same as other sports in the way it is set up. In little league everyone signs up and they try to use something like a draft to make the teams even. Tennis is an indivual sport so that does not work. You have real lop sided matches because some kids can afford a lot more instruction than others. Even JTT which is for teams is different. Most of the time the teams come from clubs. In our area our club wins almost all the matches. My kids do not like JTT because the competition is not good. Once again there are lots of lop sided matches.
     
    Last edited: Nov 7, 2012
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  31. Mitch Bridge

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    High School tennis at the varsity level should not be about introducing the game of tennis to players. It should be prestigious, and the lack of prestige hurts the game. Kids that are 7 and 8 should look at their HS teams and want to be a part of that team someday. This is what we are missing motivationally for our young potential tennis players. True team tennis! Wearing the jacket and representing your school with pride.
     
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  32. MarTennis

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    Then you are looking for a 180 degree turnaround...

    ...because many kids are beginnners in high school tennis. I love these kids, but I know what you mean.
     
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  33. crazygamer2091

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    As mentioned before, HS tennis is not a stepping stone into the pros as with college. HS is supposed to provide student athletes with a chance to participate in the game, grow and learn. Many can not even play at a 4.0 level so how can you expect them to play college format tennis?

    I understand what you're saying about the top kids on varsity but the point is, there really isn't that big of a talent pool. I live in NJ where basically only 1st and 2nd singles is competitive on varsity due to the number of nationally ranked players playing those positions. Here's is an example, I train at Garden State Tennis Academy where they've trained numerous sectional, national and state champions including a Junior USO Quarter-finalist. They all played first or second singles at their highschool.

    Jonathan Carcione: 2011 and 2012 State Champion. 1st singles at Ramapo. #4 Boys 18s ETA. Plays for Princeton University as of Fall 2012.
    Maverick Lin: Made it to the Round of 32 at the Kalamazoo Super Nationals in 2012. 1st singles at Highland Park as a freshman. #6 Boys 16s ETA
    Michael Chen: #19 Boys 16s ETA. 2nd singles at Holmdel.
    Sarthak Mohanty: #38 Boys 16s ETA. 1st singles at JP Stevens.
    Robin Anderson: 2010 Junior US Open Quarter-finalist. 1st singles at Matawan. Plays for UCLA as of Fall 2011.
    Thomas Caputo #25 Boys 18s ranking according to TennisRecruiting. 1st singles at Livingston. 2012 State Singles Runner-Up. Plays for Michigan as of Fall 2012.

    What I'm trying to say is that there is really no point in converting highschool tennis to college format if only the first two singles positions are competitive. With that being said, there is nothing against other varsity players. My school team plays in one of the toughest divisions in NJ and is consistently ranked in the top 3 due to the depth of our team. Just because 2nd and 3rd singles and 1st and 2nd doubles aren't held by nationally ranked players does not mean the team isn't good. You cannot expect a highschool athlete to play at a D1 level because honestly, its two different ball games.

    Also, funding is a big issue. Some schools like Livingston and Holmdel have well funded programs that allows them to get new courts every two years. This attracts some of the best players to join their program. An example of this is Maverick Lin. He was supposed to go to JP Stevens but because Highland Park had more "silverware" he moved and went to the Highland Park program. Therefore, you cannot blame schools for lacking depth in their programs if competitors draw them away.

    To conclude, there is nothing wrong with the highschool system as it is now. Just because the whole varsity isn't nationally ranked does not mean the players don't have individual skills they can bring to the table. There is no point in converting to a college format. Also take into consideration that many good players choose not to play HS tennis because the level of competitiveness is nothing close to that of USTA National tournaments and so on.
     
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  34. sundaypunch

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    Excellent post.

    As for the juniors mentioned above, HS tennis is just an asterisk on their resume. Their USTA record and tennisrecruiting.net ranking is what has them heading off to D1 schools. Changing the format of HS tennis would do nothing to help them or others.

    I'm in favor of attracting more juniors to tennis but I don't think that high school is the place to do it.
     
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  35. Mitch Bridge

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    If you have a star player player in a medium to lower level area, he may win his matches easily. I am sure that Jack Sock didn't have too many close matches but he still wanted to play. The problem is that our sport could be so much more attractive to a broader spectrum of athletes if it had more credibility, and you gain credibility by upping the quality. When players play doubles and singles in all of their matches, they will improve much more quickly, the matches will more exciting with this format, and high school tennis will be much more affordable than USTA. We need to open up our minds to the positive changes this could bring about. College tennis is a blast because of the team atmosphere, and high school tennis, if improved a great deal, could also be an awesome team tennis experience.
     
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  36. sundaypunch

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    Your premise is to make HS tennis more attractive by limiting a varsity team to six players. This just isn't going to work. It will make the sport less attractive as many kids will realize that they have no chance whatsoever to make the varsity team. No junior or senior is going to play on the JV team. They will quit the sport and do something else.

    Tennis is already viewed by many as a sport for snobby rich people. Limiting the varsity team to a few exclusive players isn't going to get kids excited about the sport. If you have a school with 2000 kids, to even have a chance of getting a spot on the team you would have to already have had years of lessons and USTA play. I am in favor of talking about how to get more kids excited about the sport and how to make it more accessible to non-wealthy families. Making high school varsity tennis ultra exclusive will have the opposite effect.

    The mission of HS sports is to provide opportunities for kids to experience teamwork, competition, the value of work/practice, etc. It is not in place to develop elite players or increase interest in a given sport.
     
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2012
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  37. 10ismom

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    It's a valid point to attract more athletes to tennis but I think this should be promoted earlier like in middle school tennis at age 11-13.
    Tennis requires a lot of skills and take years to develop a decent player. If you attract an athletic kid as a new player at 14-15 in 9th-10th grade, it will be too late to develop 5 star, blue-chip or even a very good college player.

    If lots of athletes already are crazy about tennis from middle school, keep taking lessons, practicing, competing then by high school their skills will be higher. High school tennis team will be more competitive to get into then you can build up the reputation there.

    Middle school is a time to gear kids to tennis. I have seen many kids choose/change to join football, baseball or basketball team instead of tennis by middle school. Introducing mini-tennis in elementary school is even better to get more athletes to this sport.
     
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  38. Mitch Bridge

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    Is this the mission in football, basketball, baseball, wrestling, volleyball, etc. Not a chance! Of course it creates the bulk of the interest for all of these other sports. High school is the pinnacle of their sports careers and it should be in tennis also.
     
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  39. Mitch Bridge

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    It needs to start even younger to make sure young kids pick tennis as one of their main sports. Making high school tennis better will keep it from being a fringe sport and put it in a higher place in the heirarchy.
     
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  40. MarTennis

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    How about ranking points for playing a minimum number of singles, doubles or combination thereof. This would provide an incentive for the juniors already competing in USTA events.
     
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  41. sundaypunch

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    But this is not the reason they have these sports in high school.

    Aside from that, high school tennis is not going to be the pinnacle for many if you limit varsity to six players. It will drive people away from the sport for the reasons I mentioned above.
     
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  42. Mitch Bridge

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    "But this is not the reason they have these sports in high school. "

    Most players get cut from high school teams, so what is the reason they have high school sports?
     
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  43. sundaypunch

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    And you are proposing to let less people play varsity - to generate more interest.
     
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  44. Mitch Bridge

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    Yes. Quality will bring prestige, and prestige will bring more players to high school tennis. It will bring in more fans as well.
     
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  45. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

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    Decreasing the amount of varsity players will have only one effect in high school: less interest in the sport.

    High school is only four years long. Not much time to practice to get to the top 6 in the school. If any kid knows that much, he/she will never join tennis because he/she knows that they will never get to play.

    No one in high school cares about the quality of a tennis match. The average student passing by can't always tell what is a good match and what isn't. If they can't play, they won't bother to sign up or try out. The fact that there are 12 varsity slots creates more interest, because there are more opportunities to play at all.
     
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  46. Mitch Bridge

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    Having more varsity spots kills the quality of the sport, and that like of quality hurts tennis' reputation amongst other athletes.

    Preparing for a varsity sport doesn't start in high school. It starts in elementary school.

    It is hard enough to have 6 good players, and 12 is impossible unless you are a private school and recruiting the entire city.

    If more players was the answer than golf would have bigger teams instead of the qualitative number they currently have-5. Golf knows how to market itself! Every golfer on varsity can flat out play. Varsity tennis?...not so much!
     
    #46
  47. sundaypunch

    sundaypunch Hall of Fame

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    Have you noticed that no one has agreed with you yet? You are certainly entitled to your opinion, but I don't think you are going to convoke many / any that it is a good idea.
     
    #47
  48. InspectorRacquet

    InspectorRacquet Semi-Pro

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2011
    Messages:
    427
    I'm not trying to be overly argumentative here (or trying to cause a bad reaction), but here are two final reactions I have to say:

    1) Having more varsity spots does not kill the quality of the sport. I don't know how it does or how it ever will. It may affect the reputation (the "if you can make varsity..." stance) amongst other athletes, but athletes definitely aren't going to give up their high school sport for tennis.

    2) Preparing for a varsity sport doesn't start in elementary school. No one starts a sport in elementary school thinking "I need to start training now if I'm going to make varsity in high school." That only comes into effect if the player is very good in middle school. Otherwise, most only think to train starting freshman year - but definitely not elementary school.
     
    #48
  49. andfor

    andfor Hall of Fame

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    Sadly in today's world there are some parents who have their kid specialize in a sport early. Many schools in sports like basketball or baseball (there are others) don't have enough roster room to accept all the kids who try out. Not saying specializing so young is right. Just stating the obvious about participation levels vs. roster spots in H.S.
     
    #49
  50. crazygamer2091

    crazygamer2091 New User

    Joined:
    Nov 6, 2012
    Messages:
    40
    Limiting varsity spots will definitely not help the game whatsoever. The town next to where I live, South Brunswick, had a huge dilemma because of this last season. Their varsity team has been division champs for the past 3 years because none of their starters left. This coming season, it will be the same deal leaving no spots for any players on JV to move up. When the players on JV realized this, 3/4's of the team quit. There is no motivation to play especially when you realize you're not going to get a starting spot on Varsity. Why waste time making varsity and be benched the whole season when you could spend your time elsewhere to improve your game like playing tournaments?
     
    #50

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