USTA Youth Tennis Town Hall meeting

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by TennisFan2Day, Nov 2, 2012.

  1. Chemist

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    Are you implying that the very top kids, who have already played Eddie Herr and/or Orange Bowl would be too tired to play the Winter National? If so, they would be too tired to play the winter teams. I will ask the USTA officials on 12/26 to explain why they want to replace the winter national with team competition.

    BTW, the only change that I think make sense is play intersectional and zonal concurrently that would allow kids to have one week break in the summer. Adding 14s intersectional is also good.
     
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  2. Chemist

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    They would reduce the opportunities of playing national events by about 50% - by eliminating winter nationals, eliminating 18s Spring Championship, reducing national open site from 4 to 3, reducing regional sites from 8 to 4, reducing national opens from 4 to 2, reducing regional from 4 to 3, reducing draw sizes of Easter Bowl (12s-16s) from 128 to 32, reducing draw sizes of clay and hard court championship: from 128 to 64 for 12s and from 196 to 128 for 16s & 18s. They would add a few new tournaments, but they only benefit the elite players. Their excuse is to shift tournament play to sections. However, they slap their own faces by eliminating all L5 (8 in total).

    So what they are doing is to encourage our kids to play less tournaments!
     
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  3. Alohajrtennis

    Alohajrtennis Semi-Pro

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    Yeah, basically. Closer to 75% reduction, because in addition to eliminating tournaments they are shrinking draws too.
     
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  4. Alohajrtennis

    Alohajrtennis Semi-Pro

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    A lot don't right now. Especially the ones from the south and Florida, they hate going to cold Arizona in December. I wouldn't be surprised if the new team event is in Florida too.
     
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  5. Alohajrtennis

    Alohajrtennis Semi-Pro

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    Yes, the people who designed these changes have this weird notion that are all these 'national players' who don't play there sectional events, and that weakens the sectional competition, so by blowing up all the national tournaments(national, opens, regionals) and restricting access based on sectional quotas these kids will be forced to play in there sections, that will make sectional play tougher, and that will make tennis look less expensive compared to other sports, so tennis will then be able to attract more elite athletes. Seriously, they really think this.

    The whole logic chain falls apart rather easily, starting with the fact that these national only players who don't play sectional events are few and far between, and the reason they don't play there section is not because they have too much money and want to waste it flying all over the place or don't want to, but because they don't have enough challenging competition in there sections.
     
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  6. Alohajrtennis

    Alohajrtennis Semi-Pro

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    Yes. There are quite a few people who think this. I am not one of them. That is one of the objectives of the changes, have the kids compete less..
     
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  7. Chemist

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    You are right on! The best players don't even bother to play national opens - not enough challenge. The very best don't even show up at the clay court championship - not enough challenge again. Many do play Kalamazoo or San Diego, because the winner gets a wild card in US Open main draw. How would USTA force these, who don't play national opens, to play section tournaments? They would rather train hard or chase their ITF or ATP ranking points. Like you said, many many top players, high 5 stars or blue chips are playing sections, especially, in strong sections like FL, Southern CA, Eastern, Mid:)West, TX, or Southern, because they can be challenged there. A few years ago, my son lost to a blue chip from FL in B14 Clay super national. That kid never played a single tournament out of the state!
     
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  8. tennis5

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  9. NLBwell

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    So, at the root of it, they've just made their jobs much easier, which is the purpose of any bureaucracy - whether it be private or government. I don't think the USTA officials will take a 50% or 75% pay cut.
    Of course much of the work for the actual tournaments is done by volunteers or people paid a pittance who do it for the love of the game. Guess they are out of luck, too.
     
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  10. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    Cost is not that far apart. Hiking across the US is pricey and from florida to can be in Central America before Texas. I can get lots places before California.

    Travel from some areas are much cheaper to Central America than middle america. Many deals exists where a trip to Austin is full fare.

    Several parents of teens tell me avoid the USTA path, comparable cost with a better chance of overall success.
     
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  11. Chemist

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    Agree! Flying to Waco, TX from many east coast cities would cost more and take longer than flying to London.

    Most top kids are trained in an academy, likely out of their own sections, it would increase their travelling costs significantly to play sections. Being home-schooled or on-line schooled, they, especially those who are older than 16, would rather spend that money to fly to South America or to Europe to play ITF. After all, they can get so much better competition than playing sections. If juniors want to go to college, the ITF ranking and experience should mean more than USTA national ranking to college coaches.
     
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  12. Chemist

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    USTA coaches play no or minimum roles in the current national events. In the new system, USTA coaches would be involved in Grand Master, Sweet 16 and the winter teams. This added cost to pay for coaches' time and travelling expenses and free training to the players will have to be absorbed by the general membership.
     
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  13. tennis5

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    Very nice recap from Parenting Aces - thanks to Lisa!

    4th & 5th Listening Meetings at Winter Nationals
    DEC 28
    Posted by parentingaces

    Two listening meetings were held over the past two days during the Winter Nationals in Arizona,
    a tournament that will, ironically, disappear from the schedule if the 2014 changes remain as is.

    I received emails from attendees at both meetings, each of which had 40-50 people in attendance.
    It seems that the parents, players, and industry folks
    (Brad Stein, Jack Sharpe, Mark Bey, Steve Bellamy, Kevin Kempin, Gordon Bellis, Timon Corwin, Tim Mayotte, Antonio Mora)
    who were in attendance were well-versed in the changes and had no qualms about speaking their minds to Tim Russell, Kurt Kamperman, and Dave Haggerty.

    Several parents and players spoke out about how they would NOT have gotten a college scholarship under the new system.
    One mother told the room that although her first son will be playing Division 1 tennis next year,
    she has pulled her other two sons out of tennis because she doesn’t subscribe to the format.
    Russell responded with a comment that was akin to “OK.”
    Kevin Kempin, CEO of Head and a member of the 2013 Junior Competition Committee, said,
    “I have yet to hear a single compelling argument for any of these changes and I have been listening for a long time.”

    The theme of the first meeting on Wednesday night seemed to be parents pleading to not have any cuts.
    Those in the know seemed to be preaching a longer pause on the changes and a fresh look at the tournament calendar.
    Parents complained of just playing the same kids over and over in their section
    and made it clear that if that was going to be what tennis was, then they were out.
    One parent said “I’ve been doing this for 20 years and if there is anything that is consistent,
    it is that the USTA is always changing and always frustrating players and parents.”
    She continued, “You should do this right and do it once and for all.”

    Tennis Channel founder Steve Bellamy and Tim Russell certainly had their issues in the room.
    The situation climaxed when Bellamy asked Russell if he thought that 90% or more of the players, parents and coaches were against the changes.
    Russell said no, and the room started to get angry.
    Then Bellamy asked Russell, “If the majority of the tennis industry were against the changes, would you still be a proponent of keeping them?”
    Bellamy repeatedly asked, and it was clear that Russell wasn’t going to answer the question.
    One father from NorCal, Gordon Bellis, aggressively challenged Russell to answer and the evening reached a new climax.
    When Bellis asked Russell what he was supposed to do with his daughter (she is 13 and won the 18 NorCal Sectionals this year)
    for competition now that the National schedule was slashed so deeply,
    Russell responded that maybe she should start playing with adults.
    The room went into an uproar.

    At Thursday’s meeting, led by Kurt Kamperman and Dave Haggerty,
    USTA finally acknowledged that parents are overwhelmingly opposed to the changes.

    One gentleman who had been at Wednesday’s meeting asked for a show of hands of who was opposed, and every single hand went up. Kamperman and Haggerty made no attempt to argue otherwise.
    The same question was asked the night before in Tempe and every hand went up there as well.

    Haggerty and Kamperman made it clear that they were not responsible for the changes and people were respectful,
    although one exclaimed, to applause and laughter, that they wished Patrick McEnroe and the people who were responsible could be there to face the fire.

    Antonio Mora asked Haggerty, who was once CEO of Head, Inc., what he would do if 90% of his best customers hated a new line of products.
    At that point, another parent spoke out and said that she wanted them to say they were committed to fully restarting the process.
    Haggerty then said there would be substantial changes.
    Kamperman tried to back away from that a bit, saying that the sections needed to be on board and that we needed to get with our section presidents to vote in favor of what we want.
    At that point, he was interrupted and and politely told that was a bunch of bologna,
    that the process of approving the changes had been very political, that arms were twisted (acknowledged by them),
    that section presidents had ignored their constituents, that the vice-chair of the old committee who is the chair of the new one has said there will only be tweaks, and that they were now in the position to be the arm-twisters and needed to take control.

    Those who attended expressed their appreciation to Haggerty and Kamperman for listening and taking the time out of their busy schedules to meet with the parents. The attendees also made it clear that they hoped the listening would lead to action.

    I urge everyone to attend one of the remaining “listening” meetings and/or to email LetUsKnow@usta.com with your thoughts regarding the 2014 Junior Competition changes. If you need a refresher on the exact changes or dates of the meetings, please click on the 2014 Jr Comp Info tab above.
    ( go to parenting aces website for that info)
     
    Last edited: Dec 28, 2012
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  14. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

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    Have to hand it to Bellis, at 13, just this year, his daughter has won 3 nationals (playing 18s), finaled in an ITF and like mentioned wins sectionals. She will obviously get into any event they enter, yet he is willing to put it out there against the changes that will effect them less than so many. They know their player is one that is justified/good enough to be on the ITF path (which USTA pretty much eliminated in the U.S.) and that will most likely be their route anyway, but they continue the fight. They are a tennis family and really understand the impact of the changes on tennis overall and all players. Good for them. They aren't scared to take a stand and will be successful in spite of USTA rather than with them, which is a loss for USTA.
     
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  15. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Don't assume too much about the Bellis'

    The family does quite a bit of things privately and they may not be in favor of the changes, but they have and maintain a friendly, cordial relationship with NorCal USTA. CeCe participates in jr/adult competition showcases and speaks to USTA RTC juniors. The parents speak to other parents at USTA RTC events.
     
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  16. treeman10

    treeman10 Semi-Pro

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    I didn't mean to imply a contentious relationship, I know they have a good relationship with the section, and I admire their fearless approach with USTA. I was giving them props for speaking up, as most people are scared to death to say anything for fear that the ol' boys club will keep them out of tournaments or from getting WCs. Most parents of players of her level wouldn't bother to get involved because the changes don't impact her nearly as much, and I think it's great they are. Besides, in their case her tennis will get her where she wants to go regardless of what USTA does or doesn't do for her.
     
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  17. MarTennis

    MarTennis Rookie

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    Undoubtedly...

    ...the girl has ton of drive, talent and support.
     
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  18. tennis5

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    Atlanta meeting - A lot of heavy hitters there

    It was an interesting day yesterday, to say the least!
    I had spent the previous several days preparing my talking points for Sunday’s “listening” meeting as well as for my pre-meeting meeting with Lew Brewer and Andrea Norman, the new chair of the Junior Competition Committee
    (Andrea was a member of the JCC that created the 2014 changes and is now chairing that same group).
    Peter Lebedevs, also a member of the current JCC - and an active USTA volunteer, coach, and tournament director at both the junior and professional level – joined us, too.
    From Parenting Aces - Lisa Stone :

    The pre-meeting meeting was very informative.
    We talked for almost 2 hours about the changes and the impetus for them (I’m still not 100% clear on the “why” behind them other than that USTA is trying to find a better way to develop our junior players), how I would like to see them change, and what USTA can do better. We spoke at length about USTA coming up with some concrete ways of helping tennis families save money, like discounts on hotels and airlines and the like, rather than telling us that these new schedule changes will accomplish that goal. I tried to explain to them how fewer opportunities drives up costs – basic supply and demand – but I’m still not sure Andrea understands what I was saying (more on that in a minute). She told me that the schedule goes from 15 competition blocks to 12, that fewer blocks means families have to spend less money. I took issue with that statement, explaining that fewer blocks means fewer options, and fewer options means potential additional expense, especially if those remaining options require further travel for families.

    On the issue of smaller draw sizes at the 2 remaining national tournaments, Peter said that he is in favor of leaving the draws at 192, that going from 192 to 128 isn’t a significant change in the amount of work for tournament directors and that he feels giving more juniors the opportunity to compete at that level is a good thing. I hope he sticks to his guns on that point when the JCC has its next meeting. Andrea brought up the idea of holding a 64-draw qualifier before the Nationals. I asked if the Qualifier would be “one-and-done” or would there be a backdraw? And, would players earn ranking points in the Qualifier or would it be like the ITF qualies where no ranking points are awarded. She said there would be a guarantee of 2 matches in the Qualifier but that a backdraw probably wouldn’t be played out, and, yes, ranking points would be awarded but USTA hasn’t created those point tables yet.

    I emphasized how having the opportunity to compete at the national level and to see the country’s top players in action can be a huge motivating force for those players on the bubble. I have to say, Lew was uncharacteristically quiet during the meeting, only getting involved when I started talking about my son’s ITF experience this past Fall. He asked me if competing in our section’s top events wouldn’t provide the same motivating force as traveling to an ITF or Nationals. I explained that, at least in my son’s case, he’s friends with all the boys at the top of our section and that there’s something different about watching your friends play versus watching top kids from the rest of the country (or world, in the case of the ITFs). I think he understood what I was trying to say. One thought I had after leaving the meeting is that if USTA is truly concerned about those players who get “rounded” at the National events, then why not use their resources to provide match-play opportunities and/or coaching to those players in hopes that they’ll be motivated to improve before their next tournament? That way, if the family has had to fly to the tournament, they won’t necessarily have to change their return flight but can stay and receive free coaching for their player(s).

    The “big” meeting started at 1:00pm and was led by
    Dave Haggerty (USTA President),
    Gordon Smith (USTA Executive Director and COO), and Scott Schultz (USTA Managing Director of Youth Tennis).

    Also in attendance were current JCC members Andrea Norman (Chair), Peter Lebedevs (Vice-Chair), and Chuck Kriese, as well as previous JCC member Eddie Gonzalez.

    The room was filled with some incredible tennis experience, and those folks didn’t hesitate to share their thoughts.
    We heard from Walker Sahag, an incredible junior coach from Mandeville, Louisiana; Jerry Baskin, who has over 40 years of experience developing and coaching players at the junior, collegiate, and professional level; Chuck Kriese, former Clemson coach and current Senior Director of Competition and Coaching at USTA’s Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Maryland; Jessica Amick, Junior Competition Coordinator at USTA Southern; Patricia Hy-Boulais, former collegiate and professional player who now coaches in Hilton Head; Amy Johnson, long-time USTA official; Julie Wrege, former Georgia Tech coach and creator of TennisRecruiting.net; Robert Sasseville, long-time tournament director; and Johan Kriek, former Australian Open champion and current junior coach. All told, there were over 100 people in the room, including Manny Guillen, who has 40+ years of experience in the tennis world as an endorser and ranker for juniors; Lucy Garvin, past President of USTA; Doug Wrege, co-creator of TennisRecruiting.net; Julie Thiets of High-Tech Tennis; J.P. Weber, junior tennis coach and tournament director; Bill Ozaki, USTA Southern’s Director of Programs & Player Development; and Sam Kennedy, junior tennis coach, among others.

    I think the simplest way for me to convey the points made is to do a bulleted list, so here goes . . . For those who were there, please pardon me if I’ve put any of the statements in the incorrect order – I was trying to listen and take notes (and keep those notes organized) all at the same time but may not have been successful. And, for the record, the statements below are NOT direct quotes but rather paraphrasing or summaries of what I heard during the meeting. The meeting was recorded by USTA Southern – I will make that recording available to you as soon as I get it.

    Dave Haggerty: Welcome and thank you all for coming. [He then introduced those on the stage and the committee members in the audience] I would like to open the floor to anyone who would like to speak.

    Walker Sahag: Reducing draws at the national events limits the chance for players to be seen by college coaches. As the system stands now, if players don’t make the cut in the 12′s, they never catch up. Grouping sections into larger regions creates additional sacrifices for those who will have to travel further in order to compete. Particularly in the western part of the Southern Section, including Florida and the Caribbean exacerbates the travel and expense issue and will likely see the best tournaments migrate toward Atlanta. Regarding international players taking college scholarships from American players, we’re being asked to pay for something [via our tax dollars] but are being excluded from it.

    Dave Haggerty: College is the rainbow for 99.9% of junior players. We’ve been hearing all of Walker’s points from others, too. I understand that if a player doesn’t have visibility, it’s tough to be seen by the college coaches.

    Lisa Stone: My son aspires to play more national events and needs to know that it is a realistic aspiration, that he can achieve it through hard work, that USTA hasn’t set up road-blocks to keep him away from the big events. But the new 2014 schedule is extremely restrictive, decreasing the number of national calendar dates from 12 in 2012 (17-24 in 2010) to 7. Having fewer opportunities for national play is not decreasing the cost of play – it will only make it more expensive.
    USTA, why are you doing this?

    Scott Schultz asked Andrea Norman to address the rationale behind the changes.

    Andrea Norman: We had a charge from our previous president (Jon Vegosen) to create a better pathway. By going from 15 to 12 date blocks, the cost to compete is reduced. Regarding the smaller draws, some kids don’t belong at that higher level; they should be playing Regionals instead. The tournament sites are chosen by an application process and awarded to quality sites. We try to distribute the sites geographically based on the size of the airport, ease of travel, number of courts, etc. We are trying to push play back to the Sections like in the “olden” days – the idea is to get back to Sectional play. At the ITA “listening” meeting, there was concern about going from a 192 draw to 128, and Jon Vegosen brought up the idea of holding a 64 qualifying draw to be held over 2-3 days prior to the National Hardcourts. The coaches there thought that was a good idea.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  19. tennis5

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    Atlanta meeting - part 2

    Atlanta meeting - part 2 ( part 1 is above this post)

    Jerry Baskin: Andrea, which college coach said he viewed 64 qualifiers on the same level as the 128 main draw players?
    At least the USTA is now listening but every point Andrea makes can be debunked by coaches who develop collegiate players. Memphis and Kalamazoo are the most influential tournaments for college recruiting. High-level coaches come in now for the round of 16 anyway. Other coaches are looking at players 96-192.

    If you reduce the size of the draw, you reduce the exposure for these players.
    Regarding the simultaneously-held Regional events, how can a coach be at 6-8 events at the same time? They can’t! So those players at those Regional tournaments won’t get seen. Bill Ozaki [Director of Programs & Player Development, USTA Southern Section] has developed top players. If you reduce the draw sizes at these events, you’ll kill college recruiting and will see half the number of coaches attending the tournaments. The most exciting day of the year for me is sitting with my players on Signing Day and having my picture taken with them as they sign their NLI. Do you know why the Thanksgiving indoor tournaments have been so important? It’s because they come right after Signing Day so those coaches who didn’t get the players they thought they would get can go and see the next crop of players. The top coaches are in panic mode if they didn’t get the players they expected! And, what’s the purpose here – to develop world class players or to get college scholarships? And, quotas being based on strength of the section? That’s too subjective! Basing them on size is a whole lot more objective. It’s ridiculous to have people on the Junior Comp Committee who have never coached, never developed a player, making decisions for those of us who know what we’re doing.

    Gordon Smith: I would like your feedback on the fact that junior competitive tennis hasn’t grown. How do we change that? USTA hasn’t been involved with the NCAA Tennis Committee, but I want us to be more active in that aspect.

    Dave Haggerty: I believe strongly that the rainbow for 99.9% of kids is a college scholarship, but 40% of those scholarships are now going to foreign players. We need to come up with a robust environment for juniors to aspire to that is better for our players.

    Jerry Baskin: Thirteen years ago, I made a mistake when I gave a presentation in New York about the point system. We need to go back to looking at wins and losses. That would reduce costs because it would cut down on the number of tournaments a junior would need to play. The last year that we had a group of men’s champions at Kalamazoo (Roddick, Ginepri, Reynolds, and Fish) was the last year before the point system went into effect. The point system drives up costs because kids have to play so many events.

    Scott Schultz: The STAR system gave players the opportunity to duck play.

    Is it really a bad thing to have a couple of different systems?

    Jerry Baskin: College coaches only care about TennisRecruiting ratings, not about USTA ranking.
    USTA is looking in the wrong direction with PPR.

    Eddie Gonzalez: I voted against the 2014 calendar because I know you need to talk to your customer before you make a change of this magnitude and we hadn’t done that. Let’s do a formal survey on TennisLink for players, parents, junior coaches, and college coaches so we can get feedback from our customers!

    Dave Haggerty: Please use LetUsKnow@USTA.com if you think of something after this meeting.

    Amy Johnson: Why isn’t USTA establishing corporate relationships to help every single member?
    Things like airline, hotel, and rental car discounts?

    Scott Schwartz: The Sponsorship Department divvies up the money to various other departments within USTA.
    Gordon will take that idea back to them to see what we can do better.

    Julie Wrege: What’s the difference between having a 192 versus a 128 draw plus qualies?
    Where would the qualifying spots come from?

    Andrea Norman: 8 spots would come from the qualies and 8 from reducing the number of wildcards.

    Julie Wrege: Why do smaller sections award the same number of national points as bigger sections?

    Chuck Kriese: I never thought having too many opportunities would dumb down achievement, but I don’t think we should have draws bigger than 128 at Nationals. That said, coaches should be able to coach however they feel is best.
    Dave, your 40% number regarding international players receiving college scholarships is wrong – it’s closer to 65-70%. We have to make college a viable training ground again. The USTA needs to have an All-American Team made up of Americans and incentivize coaches for recruiting American players. Title IX wasn’t set up to eliminate men’s sports but that’s what’s happened. USTA must incentivize 15, 16, 17 year olds by making college a strong option. By the way, no one has sued over Junior College’s 2-foreign-player limit!

    Robert Sasseville: When you have an unreliable ranking system to select players into events, you don’t have an accurate predictor of champions. The JCC should halt and start over. Get a task force and re-examine. You need the input of your customers.

    Dave Haggerty: We don’t have any answers at this point but we have a lot of thoughts.
    We’re hearing the same themes at these meetings. You won’t see the changes as they are now going into effect in 2014.

    Walker Sahag: When you streamline opportunities, you negatively impact players’ opportunity to develop.

    Patricia Boulais: I suggest that USTA work some hotel and airline deals if you’re really serious about saving families money.

    Scott Schultz: The small number of players competing at the national level make it not such a great deal for companies to offer a discount. They don’t get much bang for their buck. How many in this room think we need doubles at tournaments? [Most hands went up] Should we keep the feed-in consolations? [Most hands went up]

    Chuck Kriese: If USTA did nothing to train and develop players, the tournaments should help players develop. Hybrid scoring systems are crippling our children. We should honor the scoring system of tennis. Learning how to win 3 points in a row. Backdraw kids are often the toughest kids! These are the things that make players. But backdraws are only valuable at big tournaments. Experiencing the pain of losing is very important for development. Playing pro sets in doubles is crap! Full doubles matches should take priority over backdraws. The concept of winning 3 points in a row is sacred. Those 3-minute or 10-minute set breaks kill momentum in a match. Just let the kids play. If a player is too tired, then he’ll lose and the match will be over soon enough.

    Patricia Boulais: You have new players coming up but you’re streamlining opportunities for them.

    Dave Haggerty: While there will be fewer national events, there will also be more local events.

    A Dad: If I choose for my kid to miss school, it’s my choice! If I choose to spend my money on tournaments, it’s my choice! I’d like to see a show of hands of how many pros in this room have had a player outside the National Top 100 who got a college scholarship. [Many, many hands were raised]

    Jessica Amick: What about creating more sectional tournaments with national points?

    Andrea Norman: Currently there are 12 sectional events with national points. In 2014, there will be 2 Level 3s and some Level 4s with national points. The Committee can discuss this the next time it meets.

    Jerry Baskin: I’d be a lot happier if the people making these decisions were people who have been in the trenches and who know the pathway to success.

    Dave Haggerty: A lot of thought and care went into the selection of the JCC. It’s always difficult to reach perfection. The Committee wants to do what is right for junior tennis. One thing the Committee heard at the meetings held during Winter Nationals is that families want events where all the age groups play in the same city.

    Johan Kriek: USTA is doing well to listen. I am a former professional player who did pretty well on the tour. I’m now coaching and learning as I go. USTA needs to listen to folks like Eddie Gonzalez, Jerry Baskin, and Coach Kriese.

    Jerry Baskin: If USTA could get together with NCAA and offer prize money to juniors to offset expenses, that would make our system comparable to the foreign system.

    Chuck Kriese: In the late 1990′s, 86 international college players were ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of prize money they had won. The NCAA gave them a 3-match penalty which enabled the teams to arrange their schedules so they could “duck” tough opponents while those players were benched.

    Dave Haggerty: Thank you all for coming. We are listening and will take back all we’ve heard here today. Don’t forget to use the email address if you think of anything else after we leave.

    Lisa Stone: Please, please don’t take away opportunities for our kids!

    The opposition to the 2014 changes seemed to be unanimous, and I think the USTA folks recognized that fact. After the meeting ended, several pow-wows were going on around the room. I have heard that many of the attendees emailed those JCC members who were unable to attend with their thoughts and suggestions. For what it’s worth, I left the meeting feeling hopeful.
     
    Last edited: Jan 17, 2013
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  20. tennis5

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    Tom Walker's letter posted on Zoo tennis 1/18/2013

    Tom Walker, a respected junior development coach in Michigan, has been vocal regarding his objections to the USTA junior competition changes since they were first announced last year. This is the article he wrote for zootennis back in March, when the changes had yet to be voted on by the USTA's sections.

    I spoke with Tom this morning, and he believes there is no advantage to adjustments and tweaks, and that the USTA must start again, from the beginning, with an open mind.

    He has created a Facebook page devoted to his opposition to the changes, which can be found here. His complete assessment of the best way to move forward is below.

    This is page is dedicated to spotlighting the insane 2014 changes to the USTA National Junior Tournament Calendar and hopefully to motivate Dave Haggerty, Kurt Kamperman, the new Junior Tournament Competition Committee, the 17 Sections and the new USTA Board of Directors to permanently pause these changes and devise a new plan that is thoroughly vetted, transparent and agreed upon by the tennis industry at large.

    Background:

    Last year the USTA sections passed a sweeping new National Junior Tournament Plan that was to take effect in 2013 and 2014. This plan involved shrinking the opportunities to play National tournaments for US juniors by a significant margin.

    The goal of the changes as stated by the USTA was to address three major concerns:

    • The rising costs of competing at the national level for juniors and their families;
    • The desire to reduce the amount of time juniors would be absent from school;
    • The creation of a logical progression of earned advancement from local play to sectionals to nationals to ensure that the best players move on to nationals (the best have earned the right to play) – not the players from families with more economic flexibility.

    While those stated goals are noble on the surface, many in the industry question if those were the actual goals and anyone with the slightest knowledge of junior tournament tennis quickly realized that the 2014 plan did exactly opposite of these stated goals for the overwhelming majority of players.

    Cost – under the 2014 plan, players will have 9 chances to play National tournaments during the course of the year. If a player was going to play 9 national events in the year, they would now be completely wed to this schedule. You could likely poll first graders and realize that if a player had 9 chances to 9 events, it is going to cost more than if they had 30 or 40 chances to play 9 events.

    School – school breaks and testing schedules have never been more fragmented. Again when choice is taken away, the homeschooled kids with flexible schedules or the lucky kids whose breaks and test schedules match up with the USTA schedule will be fine while the rest of the kids will be left missing more school and will have more balancing of tests and tournaments.

    Earned Advancement – this is nothing more than propaganda to pretend like there are a bunch of rich kids flying around in private jets chasing points and unfairly advantaging themselves against the kids of lesser financial means. There has always been earned advancement. The 2014 plan doesn’t change any of the earned advancement for the rank and file junior tennis player, but it does give the USTA more wild cards so that their own players are not subject to have to play in their sections. So this plan of earned advancement not only doesn’t fix a problem that doesn’t exist, it creates a pathway for a few of the chosen ones to completely avoid earning their advancement.

    So on all three stated goals, these changes completely fail any reasonable smell test.

    The 2014 plan has been universally panned by an overwhelming majority of parents, coaches, junior players, college players, professional players, famous ex-pro players and virtually every person of significance in the tennis industry.

    To the credit of some of the USTA brass in October of 2012, a group: Jon Vegosen (past USTA President,) Kurt Kamperman (USTA CEO of Community Tennis,) Dave Haggerty (USTA President,) Gordon Smith (USTA GM) and Bill Mountford (USTA rep) met with a resistance group of tennis parents and industry figures including: Antonio Mora (father of a junior,) Robert Sasseville (tournament director,) Steve Bellamy (father of 4 juniors and founder of Tennis Channel,) Sean Hannity (father of 2 juniors) and Kevin Kempin (father of 2 juniors and the CEO of Head.) From that meeting, the USTA agreed to “pause” the 2013 changes and have a “listening tour” in various parts of the country.

    Right now as stated by the USTA President Dave Haggerty in the Atlanta meeting, “the 2014 changes will not go forward as they are now and their will likely be some sort of a compromise that puts some opportunity back on the table.”

    The history of the changes are that Jon Vegosen (former President) enlisted Tim Russell (music professor no longer involved with the junior comp committee) and his committee of 20 (with whom virtually none were parents or coaches of junior players and 1/2 of whom are no longer on the committee) to come up with a new plan. That plan was then given to player development (who are no longer involved in the process) who supposedly were the ones who cut all the opportunity and gave themselves more wildcards.

    This plan was then pushed around the USTA sections under the guise of cutting costs, upping school attendance, criminalizing the supposed points chasers and giving the sections back all their talent who were now playing Nationally. Although the plan was passed by a margin of 16 to 1, rampant were reports of anyone speaking out against the changes being ostracized, bullied to get on board and even fired. Many section leaders who voted for the changes now say that they would not have voted the way they did had they understood what they were voting for. Others have said they received substantial political pressure to vote for the changes. Basically an election in a country with a dictator took place to slam the changes through while Vegosen’s administration was in place.

    Virtually no parent, coach, college coach or person in tennis was abridged of these changes prior to them being passed and there were specific directives from USTA managers not to let the tennis industry know about the changes until after they had passed.

    Additionally, little foresight was given to the impact of the changes to college coaches. The changes will directly push a large portion of college coaches out of using their recruiting travel budgets for USTA events and move them to ITF events, therefore creating even less US players getting seen by college coaches which is the driving reason that many US kids play junior tennis.

    We believe that these changes are going to be some of the most detrimental in the history of the sport and will basically do the following:

    · Make junior tennis cost more

    · Significantly detriment some kids school

    · Overly benefit kids who can get wildcarded in

    · Push more foreign players into college tennis by more exposure to college coaches

    · Make kids quit tennis because so many kids will be playing the same kids week after week in their same section

    There are many other negatives as well.

    The goal of this page is to mobilize the tennis industry to push the USTA to get this process permanently paused and a new plan put in place that is transparent, smart and vetted by all the parties impacted in junior tennis.

    In lay terms, WE DON’T WANT A COMPROMISE BY ADDING BACK OPPORTUNITY TO AN UNVETTED, BROKEN PLAN. WE WANT A NEW PLAN AND THE ABILITY TO WORK WITH THE USTA TO GET THE PLAN THAT IS BEST FOR US JUNIOR TENNIS.
     
    Last edited: Jan 18, 2013
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  21. hound 109

    hound 109 Rookie

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    Thanks for continuing to post these updates Tennis5.

    I've read several posts / blogs about the recent town hall meeting & the two items that don't seem to get much discussion (but are personal hot buttons for me) are:

    - The only 2 Super Nats left on the schedule are 3 freaking weeks apart.....what about the other 11 months of the year? (lots of reasons that this is bullsh*t: birthday advantages for the Sept-Dec kid, a player gets hurt/sick in July & he's screwed for a year,... & the dumping of the ONLY L1..... the WinterNats..... that everyone is able to attend schoolwise & workwise. There's probably lots more reasons why dumping the other two Supernats is dumb idea.)

    - And these god awful pathways for 2/3rds of the US. (the proposed Regional L3s & L4s). A kid in Tx can't drive 6 hours to Little Rock or Mobile for a L3 anymore....(or take a cheap flight to LA)..... we gotta fly to Minn or Cleveland. I'm thinking that the putz's who came up with the "regions" have never looked at a map or paid for a flight. Jeez.....let me decide what location is best for my kid & my family. (& fwiw, Texas kids would much rather have Florida/Penn & MD or SoCal kids coming here to compete than the # 2 from Iowa or the #2 from North Dakota or Indiana.)

    Keep tilting at windmills tennis5. There are lots of us working stiff parents (of 3, 4 & 5 star kids) who are reading & who agree with most of what you post.
    .
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  22. hound 109

    hound 109 Rookie

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    double post.
     
    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  23. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Last edited: Jan 19, 2013
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  24. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    8th Listening Meeting - Recap by Parenting Aces

    I’m happy to report that I have heard from several folks who attended last night’s meeting in Los Angeles,
    and that there was once again overwhelming opposition to the 2014 changes.

    There were 61 attendees including several parents, coaches, USTA representatives, and even a tennis journalist.
    Some people who had planned to be there didn’t make it because they thought it was at UCLA
    (I’m not sure how or why they had incorrect information regarding the meeting location).
    School-night traffic on the LA freeways made it impossible for some parents to get there, but, still, 61 people came.

    During the meeting, there was a constant barrage of passionate parent after passionate parent
    making very poignant statements about how these changes were “ill-conceived”.
    People attacked the fact that only one person on the 2011-2012 Junior Competition Committee
    (the one that is responsible for the changes) had children currently playing competitive tennis,
    and said that no one can understand what goes on in tournament tennis unless they are living it everyday.
    The point was made over and over that, at the tournaments, everyone is against these changes.

    While there was one parent who said that he thinks a system where kids can play in their backyard is better,
    that was quickly refuted by nearly everyone in the room who simply said, “There aren’t enough kids to make that a reality right now.”
    Parent after parent kept saying how the experience of these National events and the friendships that kids make are the things that keep them in the sport.

    One mother said, “My daughter is a very talented athlete, and every other sport is courting her.
    I can write a check for $400 for the year, and volleyball will handle everything else.
    She wants to play tennis, and I want to provide that for her.
    But it seems like you guys are doing everything in your power to push her out of it.
    At every turn, you just make it more and more difficult.
    Do you not understand what goes on at these tournaments with every single parent complaining about these changes?
    All of your customers do not want any part of these changes.
    So why are you continuing to push them?”

    That drew a large ovation from the crowd.

    UCLA assistant coach Grant Chen was there and said how hard they were trying to recruit local kids.
    Apparently, UCLA head coach Billy Martin is strongly against the changes.

    Another parent said, “Your entire customer base has been complaining for a year straight,
    and right now we are all tired of saying the same things over and over.
    What do we have to do to get these changes stopped?”

    USTA representative Scott Schultz then gave the most optimistic answer heard at any of the listening meetings when he said,
    “The USTA is a political organization.
    You guys need to rally all the sections and get the sections to vote this down.
    We just implement what they tell us.
    So you guys really need to talk to Section Presidents [click here for a list of Section Presidents and their contact information]
    and Section Junior Comp Committees and get them to stop them.”

    While some in the room were angry and felt that Mr. Schultz’s statement was just a way to shift the blame and responsibility,
    others were encouraged and invigorated to have a concrete pathway to pause the 2014 changes that had not ever been disclosed before.

    One parent said, “To me, when Mr. Schultz said his thing about getting the sections to overturn this, that made my day.
    I have been involved with this for 9 months and have never heard any tangible way to get this fixed.
    Now we know there is a way. We just need to get the sections to vote it down.”

    One well-spoken, passionate father gave a speech about how all the changes were taking the fun out of tennis and the soul out of the tournaments,
    that he drove all the way from Santa Barbara to speak up for the future generations as his kid was only 7 and already losing interest.
    At the end of the speech, Lew Brewer’s response was, “We have a plate of cookies back there.
    Feel free to take your kid one. Maybe it’ll make him feel better.”
    The whole room just sat there with their mouths open, not believing what they had just heard.
    I also heard from parent Gordon Bellis (who traveled to LA from Northern California for the meeting)
    that Lew Brewer would evade any tough direct question and respond that all of the changes were justified and fully supported.

    Brad Sraberg, the parent of two SoCal junior players, said, “I want my kids playing tennis so that they can have a tool to get into college.
    If these changes are implemented, it will be an absolute tragedy to so many kids at Adam’s level.
    Maybe the Bellamys, Bellises and Gealers will be fine, but so many US kids will be pushed out of college tennis because of a policy change.
    I pray that these changes get overturned.”

    The bright spot of the night was near the end of the meeting when SoCal President Greg Hickey polled the attendees and said,
    “I’m listening and so I get this clear, you guys are against the loss of opportunity?”
    A chorus of “YES” rang out.
    Then Mr. Hickey brought up the point about entry into tournaments which led to the evening’s most contentious moments as a couple of people, including USTA SoCal Manager of High Performance Darren Potkey, chimed in about “points chasers”.
    The whole point-chasing argument was refuted by many who said that, really, there aren’t that many points chasers out there.
    One person said that points chasers are actually a net positive for the sport because the wealthy pay for the travel to disperse the talent.
    He said, rightfully, “You still have to win the matches.”

    In the end, those in the room said that the main focus is on not losing any opportunities and gaining back the Bowls.
    They wanted to make it clear to USTA that 99.9% of parents are against these changes.

    Dennis Rizza, the father of an ATP player and the Kramer Club Director
    (Pete Sampras, Lindsey Davenport, Tracy Austin have all come through his program), said,
    “We fought for 5 years to get the 192 draws.
    I can’t believe that we are now fighting to hold onto them after we spent so much time fighting for them.
    A 128 is simply not fair for kids in SoCal.”
     
    #74
  25. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Continuation of California Meeting

    Geoff Grant echoed, “If you want the best 128 kids in America on the court, and you want to have quotas, then you have to have larger draws.”

    One parent who asked to remain nameless said,
    “Over and over, I just kept hearing the words ‘USTA Politics’.
    Not one time during the 2.5 hours did I hear a USTA official say a single thing about doing what is right for the kids.
    For all of you people within this USTA volunteer system, for all of you people who voted for this politically derived mess – shame on you!
    Shame on you people for not having any real concern for the kids and only caring about the politics.
    And shame on you Ellen Ehlers for sitting there shaking your head and having a face filled with disdain
    at every comment from every heartfelt parent who actually attends these tournaments and actually knows these children who are impacted.
    While I still hold hope that good prevails over evil in this situation,
    what last night meant for me is that the USTA politics are more pervasive and onerous than I ever would have been led to have believed.
    If the sport wasn’t so beneficial, my kids would be playing another because of the USTA’s involvement.”

    Chris Boyer emailed, “While I greatly appreciate the USTA finally coming around to the
    strong suggestions of ‘listening’ to its constituency, which after all is the very fabric of the organization,
    I was at the same time frankly shocked at the number of times the USTA executives mentioned the word ‘politics’.
    From what I heard, much of the rationale that was given for these ill-conceived changes had more to do with ‘politics’, than logical business reasoning. Since when do politics preside over what’s best for the kids?
    As a businessman, and looking at this purely from an organizational standpoint,
    it appears that the root cause of this issue and so many others that seem to be permeating the USTA lately,
    is about the organization’s structure, and how it fosters the allowance of politics and incompetencies to come into play so frequently.
    Just the mere fact that the these ‘town hall meetings’ need to take place – and when they do are so cantankerous –
    is an indictment of the organization itself and way of doing business, in my opinion.
    There are clearly a lot of people very upset with the USTA.”

    I got a call this morning from parent Bob Cummins who wanted to share his thoughts on the meeting and the 2014 changes.
    He told me that he realized after sitting through the meeting that the thing that’s really bothersome to him is that the Points-Per-Round system has created a “feeding frenzy” of people playing so many tournaments and just going a couple of rounds to earn points. Some people can’t afford to travel to so many tournaments, and so they’re “locked out” of the system. SoCal got the PPR system a couple of years ago – before that, they used the STAR system which focused on who you beat rather than how many tournaments you played. Bob is all for getting more people involved in the sport, getting more people traveling and enjoying the big events like Copper Bowl and the team events. He thinks USTA’s intention is to keep families out of the tennis “rat race” by eliminating a number of national tournaments so kids don’t have to travel so much and suggested that maybe those big events need to be kept separate from the national schedule so players aren’t locked out because of a tie-in to the national points system. That’s certainly an interesting proposal to consider, and I hope USTA takes note of it.

    One parent who had planned to attend the meeting emailed me, saying, “I didn’t go to the meeting because they have worn me down and they just don’t listen or care.” That was disappointing to read. I hope it’s not a pervasive attitude among tennis parents because I do think we need to continue fighting for our kids and their tennis opportunities while there’s still a chance to get USTA to put a pause on the 2014 changes.

    When is USTA going to listen – REALLY LISTEN – to its constituents and pause these changes until they can be properly vetted?
    When is USTA going to engage the people who are in the trenches, spending several weeks each year at these junior tournaments, to create a schedule that makes sense? The 2014 schedule was created by – and is being defended by – people like Scott Schultz, Ellen Ehlers, Andrea Norman, and Lew Brewer, who, by the way, have NO CHILDREN PLAYING JUNIOR TENNIS either at a competitive level or at all. They are NOT the ones who should be determining the fate of junior tennis in the U.S. What’s it going to take for USTA to push the pause button?

    Please note that the next (and final!) listening meeting is Friday, February 15th at 4:30pm at the DFW Airport Hilton in Grapevine, Texas. Dave Haggerty, Bill Mountford, and Lew Brewer are scheduled to be the USTA representatives there.
     
    #75
  26. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    No idea how to interpret this......

    http://www.usta.com/Youth-Tennis/Ju...mpetition_and_sportsmanship_committee_update/


    The Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee of the USTA had a positive and productive meeting in Dallas
    from February 26 to February 28 regarding the 2014 National Junior Competitive Structure.

    During this meeting the committee reviewed feedback received at the Listening Sessions and the Letusknow.com e-mail address.

    This included comments from key stakeholders including parents, coaches and players, tournament directors, teaching professionals, college coaches, USTA sections and other tennis constituents.

    The proposed changes developed during this meeting were unanimously approved by the committee
    and will be presented to USTA National and Section Leadership on or about March 6, 2013.

    These proposed changes will be vetted by USTA Leadership at the USTA Annual Meeting, March 16-18, 2013,
    and then presented to the USTA Board shortly thereafter.
     
    #76
  27. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Bit more of an update from Zoo Tennis

    THURSDAY, FEBRUARY 28, 2013

    1. USTA's Junior Competition Committee Makes Changes, but Doesn't Reveal Them

    I received an email from USTA Director of Junior Competition Lew Brewer this afternoon with a link to this statement:

    The Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee of the USTA had a positive and productive meeting in Dallas from February 26 to February 28 regarding the 2014 National Junior Competitive Structure.

    During this meeting the committee reviewed feedback received at the Listening Sessions and the Letusknow.com e-mail address. This included comments from key stakeholders including parents, coaches and players, tournament directors, teaching professionals, college coaches, USTA sections and other tennis constituents.

    The proposed changes developed during this meeting were unanimously approved by the committee and will be presented to USTA National and Section Leadership on or about March 6, 2013.

    These proposed changes will be vetted by USTA Leadership at the USTA Annual Meeting, March 16-18, 2013, and then presented to the USTA Board shortly thereafter.

    Other than the obvious message that the committee will not be starting over, which is the result many of us had hoped for when the USTA first "paused" the 2013 changes, there's not much more to be said about this until the exact "changes" are revealed.

    Unfortunately, that doesn't appear to be before they are given the stamp of approval by the sections and the board,
    so any objections will be, once again, after the fact. That method didn't work out very well last year, but I suspect changing the governing method of the USTA was a bridge too far in this particular battle.
     
    #77
  28. Chemist

    Chemist Rookie

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    My Guess - A Compromise?

    I would guess there would be a compromise. Anything with Quickstarts will be official. They may keep 192 draws for the Clay and the Hard Court Supers or have 128 draws plus a qualification. They would likely change the quota to the super nationals using section rankings to encourage local plays. 2013 Spring Nationals may be the last - missing schools:cry:. Winter Nationals may stay:) - don't miss schools. Grandmasters or Sweet 16 would move forward to help develop the elites? National Opens will be moved to holiday weekends. The July Regional draws will be reduced to 32. Intersectional will include 14s. L5 will be gone:? Opportunities for national events WILL be cut:twisted:, may be less than the current proposal.
     
    #78
  29. Tennishacker

    Tennishacker Professional

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    Tennis5,

    Keep up the good work!
     
    #79
  30. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    July Regionals for this summer were already cut to 32.

    This already passed. July regionals for this summer, 2013, were already cut to 32. It is the one change that went through already, and the rest of the package was up for discussion.
     
    #80
  31. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Thanks Tennishacker. The changes really won't affect my son, he is at the end.
    I am posting all of this for the next group ( the kids who are age 8 - 14),
    and I hope those folks understand how significant this is going to be for junior tennis in this country.
     
    #81
  32. Costagirl

    Costagirl Banned

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    Agree very much about ITF ranking and experience more than USTA Nationals for college coaches!
     
    #82
  33. jigglypuff

    jigglypuff Rookie

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    Do not agree. Among the blue chip recruits for this year, how many have went out of their way to play ITFs extensively? Not many.
     
    #83
  34. Chemist

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    Agree. Only 3 blue chip senior boys are top 100 in ITF: #2 Kwiatkowski is ranked #17 ITF, #3 McDonald ranked #30 ITF and #16 Corinteli ranked #36 ITF.

    But in my earlier post, I meant if the USTA forces the top kids to play sections in order for them to play super nationals, then some of these kids, especially those whose home section is weak, would choose to play more ITF instead.
     
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