Zootennis: My Response to Wayne Bryan's Letter to the USTA-PT2

Discussion in 'Junior League & Tournament Talk' started by HIGH-TECH TENNIS, Feb 1, 2012.

  1. HIGH-TECH TENNIS

    HIGH-TECH TENNIS Rookie

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    Those who know me won’t be surprised to hear my biggest disagreement with Bryan is about college tennis’s international component. He flat out says, “College tennis should not be a world class sport.”

    I would have no interest in college tennis if it were not, and I suspect very few of the elite juniors in this country would either. As I’ve said many times, there is no college coach in the country who would choose an international player over an American, all things being equal. Bryan’s talk of quotas smacks of the entitlement attitude many believe bears some responsibility for the decline of tennis in this country.

    Competition is global now, whether in business or sports, and protectionism will create more problems than it will solve. I wrote about this several years ago in more detail, and that column, written for Racquet Sports Industry magazine, can be found here.

    Bryan’s failure to mention the College Showdowns, the Campus Kids Days and the College Showcases the USTA has organized over the past three years suggests he is either a) out-of-touch or b) willfully ignoring the strides the USTA has made in connecting American juniors to college campuses despite the draconian NCAA rules.

    Bryan mentions that the Level 1 National draw sizes were increased “a couple of years ago.” It was actually in 1997, and it has been a source of contention in USTA junior competition ever since. Now many of the proposals for 2014 look to introduce smaller draw sizes for the truly elite events and restore the importance of sectional play, which seems to be exactly what Bryan is advocating. But if those steps are taken, I guarantee there will be backlash, just as there has been since the National Open draw sizes were reduced.

    As I’ve said before, I’ve never been convinced the USTA needed to get in the Academy business. I believe devoting so many resources to so few players is poor asset allocation, although I think Bryan overestimates their budget if he thinks they could send 1,000 junior players to Davis Cup, Fed Cup and the NCAAs. But I do see the need for a Player Development staff, people who can hold camps, identify talent, travel with young players, confer with Regional Training Centers, interact with junior competition employees in sections, enhance communication with college coaches and players, conduct wild card tournaments, etc. Who will do these things if not Player Development?

    Although there is still some resentment by private coaches, I think the Regional Training Centers have helped facilitate more discussions between the USTA and those who are committed and proven junior development coaches.

    Yes, it’s annoying when it looks like the USTA is taking credit for developing talent it barely knew existed a few years before. It could do a better job of publicly acknowledging the private coaches who do the bulk of the development work with an outstanding junior or college player and admitting they are not responsible for it.

    But when a Christina McHale, or a Grace Min or a Taylor Townsend has a great result, the USTA should get credit for that. (Sloane Stephens also spent several of her formative years at the USTA Player Development program in Carson). Player Development has not been the disaster Bryan claims, and since Patrick McEnroe has taken over the program, it has tried to explain its philosophy, work with other coaches and academies, develop regional alternatives to the National Training Centers, and reestablish its commitment to college tennis.

    I know McEnroe and his staff are in complete agreement with Bryan when he says “There is no one way,” which is why they have tried to be more inclusive. But with so many different routes, it can sometimes be overwhelming to choose one direction and begin the trip. USTA Player Development has now done that. I hope they are willing to listen to others outside the organization to anticipate some of the roadblocks and wrong turns that are inevitable in reaching the destination we all want.

    Many at the USTA have read Bryan’s letter, and they know there isn’t much to be gained by responding to it. They believe the daily work they do to provide opportunities for American tennis players is making a difference to those individuals, and a public tiff with one of its most famous coaches wouldn’t produce any winners.

    But the USTA would be wise not to ignore the resonance the letter has had, and the well of resentment it has tapped with parents and coaches. It needs to recognize the message it wants to convey isn’t being heard, or isn’t being trusted, and that the actions attached to that message are even more important in getting support for its initiatives.
     
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  2. seminoleG

    seminoleG Semi-Pro

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    But when a Christina McHale, or a Grace Min or a Taylor Townsend has a great result, the USTA should get credit for that. (Sloane Stephens also spent several of her formative years at the USTA Player Development program in Carson). Player Development has not been the disaster Bryan claims, and since Patrick McEnroe has taken over the program, it has tried to explain its philosophy, work with other coaches and academies, develop regional alternatives to the National Training Centers, and reestablish its commitment to college tennis.

    So the USTA took these kids @8,9,10,12?????? If not your point is inaccurate. USTA deserves a portion and from what I've been told most juniors have the tools well before 14.
     
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  3. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    I agree with Wayne's college tennis views simply due to the fact that schools are subsidized by US tax-payer money and/or scholarships are funded by tuition paying students. Entitlement? Sure, OK. IMO, US kids are entitled to the first opportunity to a US taxpayer funded education. I took his "college tennis is not meant to be a world-class sport" line to mean that college is first and foremost about education, not a place to train the whole world's pro tennis players.

    I know the argument that college coaches have to win or they will be gone, so they take the best players - even if that means older foreigners, but that's a systemic problem. It needs to be addressed. Not easy, I know, but why are we paying the way for anyone but our own kids is beyond me. This issue is bigger than tennis - it's about educating the next generation and remaining competitive in much more than tennis.
     
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  4. Soianka

    Soianka Hall of Fame

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    I don't have a definite opinion on the topic, but I tend to agree especially in the case of public colleges and universities....These schools are subsidized by US taxpayer dollars, It is hard to make a case that scholarships should go to non-citizens.

    Of course there are going to be some US players who would happily take that scholarship even if they are not of the caliber that any given coach would like.

    Podunk University may want only national merit scholars with a 2400 SATs, but realistically most of those kids are going to Stanford, Harvard, Yale, Caltech, etc. Similarly, most top American tennis players are going to Stanford, USC, UGA, Georgia Tech etc...not BF University. That's just the way it is.

    I know for many public and private colleges and universities, foreign students are not eligible for any financial aid at all or at least in many cases admission is not "need blind" in the case of foreign students. Perhaps that is how it should be for tennis as well. Foreign players can be recruited, but not eligible for substantial aid.

    I mean, I would love to send my daughter to an EU school for a few hundred dollars a year, but those options are only open to EU citizens.
     
    Last edited: Feb 1, 2012
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  5. BMC9670

    BMC9670 Hall of Fame

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    You are correct. My kids are dual citizens and we are already looking into US vs EU education (mainly because by the time they will be college age, it will be unaffordable here). And to my surprise, even as citizens, there is also a minimum residency requirement in many countries.
     
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  6. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    100% read that sentence the same way you did.

    Young adults are at college first, and foremost for an education.
     
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  7. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    We are the only country that gives it all away, and then wakes up and wonders why we are no longer a superpower.
     
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  8. slice bh compliment

    slice bh compliment G.O.A.T.

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    Wait, we are no longer a whaa?

    Next, your gonna tell me we cant' spell, where bad at math and psyence and we dont' no generel geogrefy.

    Then your gonna tell us were eating bacon-rapped cream cheez poppers and drinking high fructose corn syrup and it's not as bad for us as the medication-laced water supply.

    No wonder why we bite at tennis all of a sudden.
     
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  9. tennis5

    tennis5 Professional

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    Totally, off the subject, but do you know they are still telling people to dump their old medication in the toilet.
     
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