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BigGuy 10-12-2013 12:57 PM

Karma at a junior tournament
 
(Posting here since this seems to be where the junior stuff gets posted now)

I have a story of tennis karma. And a question.

Last weekend, my son lost a match in the tiebreaker at a 10u tournament. Another day at the office, no biggie. But this one is really sticking with me.

It was tied 4 all when his opponent hit long. My son called it out. His opponent replied with the usual "Are you sure?" that you hear on every out call during a tiebreakers/high pressure points at junior tourneys. My son said he was sure. He even circled the ball mark in the clay to emphasize his point. The other kid, he was borderline "losing it" for the whole match, starts raising his voice and keeps going with "I thought it was in! It was definitely in!" etc. and then walks towards the court monitor and starts loudly pleading his case. She hesitates, looking clearly intimidated, and says "umm, yeah, uh, I think it was... in." and gives the point to his opponent. She ignores the ball mark completely--doesn't even look at it. My son is really crestfallen, loses his composure, double faults, then loses the next point and the match. All the time muttering "it was out" with a stunned look on his face.

"So what?" you're thinking. This stuff happens.

But... I swear the girl that was the "court monitor" wasn't a day over 12! Maybe not a day over 11. And I don't think she wasn't even watching the point when it happened. She was chatting with another "tween" court monitor who is watching the adjacent court. And she didn't know what she was doing at all. For instance, there were lots of random tennis balls from early matches lying around because kids had left them/she hadn't been picking them up, so when the match started, she started picking up these random balls and tossing them to the server like she was a ball girl, even though the boys had brought fresh game balls for the match. (As you probably know, people are fussy about using fresh game balls at tourneys). I thought this was odd when she was doing it, and the boys kept looking through the balls she was giving them trying to find the ball numbers for their game balls, but she kept doing this. I was actually kind of amused, and she was so young and behaving like a ball girl, so I assumed that was what she was, albeit a very poorly trained ball girl.

Later in the match, however, she suddenly called out "LET!" when a ball bounced through my son's court when he was about to hit an easy winner during a point. I was shocked for 2 reasons: I didn't realize she considered herself an umpire, and secondly, it is the player's call whether or not it is a let. If the ball doesn't bother them, they can play on, right? But unlike many tennis parents, I remained silent and stayed out of it, because that's the right thing to do. These things usually "work themselves out", with a bad call going the other way later.

So at any rate, she established herself as clueless about what her role was already. She made no line calls or overrules at all except that erroneous "let" call until that fateful point in the tiebreaker, after the other player started complaining at her. It was a clear case of "deer in the headlights, say something fast." She had no idea whether the ball was in or out.

This is karma, because I a few months ago I posted in response to another thread here that one solution to all the cheating on line calls in junior tennis would be to get high school students who need "community service hours" for their diplomas and train them to be court monitors. Others thought this was a bad idea. Now you can put me in that category, too! Although this girl didn't even look like a high school student, still, I can see now that it would take a special kid to be able to handle the stress/pressure of being a court monitor.

I'm not making excuses because honestly my son needs to learn not to let that stuff get to him in a match. Teachable moment. But when he finally got to a private space after that match, he began to cry and cry, repeating over and over that the ball was in. It took a lot from me to try to get him in the right place perspective-wise, but inside it was killing me. He was a victim of injustice for sure, but I had to act otherwise for the sake of the bigger lessons.

Now the question: What should I have done in that situation in the match?

Obviously I didn't want to argue or confront the girl, she was just a kid and parents really should never argue with line judges, no matter their age. What I did do was complain to the tournament director. His only response was "She's older than 10" when I asked why he had a girl practically the same age as the players adjudicating matches. That's all he had. And I understand that there isn't much he can do at that point to fix what already happened. But there needs to be some rule about basic knowledge and age/experience requirements for "court monitors."

And I will think twice before proposing suggestions for fixing line call cheating on here!

RetroSpin 10-12-2013 01:10 PM

That really is too bad. You can use it by telling your son in a similar situation to calmly insist that she examine the ball mark.

I hate to think we're raising another generation of John MacEnroes, but it sounds that way if arguing and temper tantrums are the accepted way to win matches.

Another suggestion would be to summon the tournament official when you first see a court monitor isn't up to the job. It's too late when they spoil the match.

sundaypunch 10-12-2013 01:53 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BigGuy (Post 7816627)
(Posting here since this seems to be where the junior stuff gets posted now)

I have a story of tennis karma. And a question.

Last weekend, my son lost a match in the tiebreaker at a 10u tournament. Another day at the office, no biggie. But this one is really sticking with me.

It was tied 4 all when his opponent hit long. My son called it out. His opponent replied with the usual "Are you sure?" that you hear on every out call during a tiebreakers/high pressure points at junior tourneys. My son said he was sure. He even circled the ball mark in the clay to emphasize his point. The other kid, he was borderline "losing it" for the whole match, starts raising his voice and keeps going with "I thought it was in! It was definitely in!" etc. and then walks towards the court monitor and starts loudly pleading his case. She hesitates, looking clearly intimidated, and says "umm, yeah, uh, I think it was... in." and gives the point to his opponent. She ignores the ball mark completely--doesn't even look at it. My son is really crestfallen, loses his composure, double faults, then loses the next point and the match. All the time muttering "it was out" with a stunned look on his face.

"So what?" you're thinking. This stuff happens.

But... I swear the girl that was the "court monitor" wasn't a day over 12! Maybe not a day over 11. And I don't think she wasn't even watching the point when it happened. She was chatting with another "tween" court monitor who is watching the adjacent court. And she didn't know what she was doing at all. For instance, there were lots of random tennis balls from early matches lying around because kids had left them/she hadn't been picking them up, so when the match started, she started picking up these random balls and tossing them to the server like she was a ball girl, even though the boys had brought fresh game balls for the match. (As you probably know, people are fussy about using fresh game balls at tourneys). I thought this was odd when she was doing it, and the boys kept looking through the balls she was giving them trying to find the ball numbers for their game balls, but she kept doing this. I was actually kind of amused, and she was so young and behaving like a ball girl, so I assumed that was what she was, albeit a very poorly trained ball girl.

Later in the match, however, she suddenly called out "LET!" when a ball bounced through my son's court when he was about to hit an easy winner during a point. I was shocked for 2 reasons: I didn't realize she considered herself an umpire, and secondly, it is the player's call whether or not it is a let. If the ball doesn't bother them, they can play on, right? But unlike many tennis parents, I remained silent and stayed out of it, because that's the right thing to do. These things usually "work themselves out", with a bad call going the other way later.

So at any rate, she established herself as clueless about what her role was already. She made no line calls or overrules at all except that erroneous "let" call until that fateful point in the tiebreaker, after the other player started complaining at her. It was a clear case of "deer in the headlights, say something fast." She had no idea whether the ball was in or out.

This is karma, because I a few months ago I posted in response to another thread here that one solution to all the cheating on line calls in junior tennis would be to get high school students who need "community service hours" for their diplomas and train them to be court monitors. Others thought this was a bad idea. Now you can put me in that category, too! Although this girl didn't even look like a high school student, still, I can see now that it would take a special kid to be able to handle the stress/pressure of being a court monitor.

I'm not making excuses because honestly my son needs to learn not to let that stuff get to him in a match. Teachable moment. But when he finally got to a private space after that match, he began to cry and cry, repeating over and over that the ball was in. It took a lot from me to try to get him in the right place perspective-wise, but inside it was killing me. He was a victim of injustice for sure, but I had to act otherwise for the sake of the bigger lessons.

Now the question: What should I have done in that situation in the match?

Obviously I didn't want to argue or confront the girl, she was just a kid and parents really should never argue with line judges, no matter their age. What I did do was complain to the tournament director. His only response was "She's older than 10" when I asked why he had a girl practically the same age as the players adjudicating matches. That's all he had. And I understand that there isn't much he can do at that point to fix what already happened. But there needs to be some rule about basic knowledge and age/experience requirements for "court monitors."

And I will think twice before proposing suggestions for fixing line call cheating on here!

What you should have done is keep your mouth shut (which it sounds like you did). It's not your match and parents aren't supposed to get involved.

If you think that the cheating and games at junior tournaments is bad, just imagine this now if parents were allowed to get involved when they didn't like a call or decision.

TCF 10-12-2013 09:11 PM

Dad...with all due respect you should be the happiest guy on the junior tennis planet. We play the 10s and 12s and there is no monitor at all in 99% of the matches. Add in the fact in SE FL we have academy kids under huge pressure to win, Russian and Serbian parents who will do anything to help their kids win, entitled Palm beacher parents..... and its a mad house.

You guys at least stood a fighting chance. Just having the girl there would likely discourage many cheaters and bullies. And the odds are the monitor will make more good calls than bad. At least there is the feeling that your kid is not out there in a Mad Max scenario match after match.

I was the one that made the suggestion of having someone there...seniors, high school, college...anyone. and your post makes me think its a great idea 1000 times over.

After the nightmare we have been through down here which caused us recently to bail on tournaments and just focus on development....your situation of having any monitor at all, with the chance he/she helps even a little to stem the tidal wave of bullies and cheaters sounds like a dream come true!!

You need to imagine that same match, except with an academy kid with dad coaching him in Russian, looking like he is really 14 years old with a fake certificate, saying "are you sure" every other point, changing the scores, with no monitor within 10 courts....now does your son's match experience seem that bad?

BigGuy 10-12-2013 09:38 PM

TCF, with all due respect, just because it is worse somewhere else in the world doesn't make us feel any better! You have detailed the south Fla situation on here before, and it sounds really bad. Up here in the Mid-Atlantic, cheating is not rampant at the 10U and 12U level. It exists, but it doesn't seem pervasive or systematic like it sounds like it is in your neck of the woods.

And to be clear, I don't think the other kid was cheating. He seemed to really think the ball was in. (I love how kids standing at the other baseline think they can see on the opposite baseline whether a ball is in or not...) The girl that was standing there wasn't really deterring hooking that much because no one was really sure what she was doing there. She was paying little attention and seemed to not fully understand the game of tennis.

No, sorry, I see now that junior court monitors, at least ones that young and without enough training, are a bad idea. Those crazy intimidating players you often rail about would've eaten this girl alive, and so it would be like a two-on-one match. A court monitor has the power to completely determine a match's outcome, and this is not an acceptable position to put a scared, nonassertive 11 or 12 y.o. kid in.

BigGuy 10-12-2013 09:47 PM

Oh, and sorry to post again, but I just looked back--in that other thread TCF, yes, it was you suggested college students and senior citizens, but NOT high school kids. I was the dummy who thought high school kids getting their community service credit would be a good plan, so I still maintain what happened to me was karmic payback for my dumb idea! ;-)

TCF 10-13-2013 08:33 AM

I do agree with you, that girl was way too young to be effective vs the bullies and cheaters. Like you said, they would eat her alive down here. These academy kids many time come with entourages that include coaches, family members, and other kids from the academy....even in the 10s. Imagine sending a shy 8-10 year old all alone to face that match after match.

RetroSpin 10-13-2013 10:41 AM

It sounds horrible, but really, other than yelling, what can the other kids really do? It's not like they are going to start a fight on the court. I don't condone any of this for one minute, but I can see how a kid would get pretty mentally tough by fighting through it. Teach your kid to stand his ground. There are going to be people his whole life trying to intimidate him and cheat him, so he has to learn how to deal with it at some point.

It's not like tennis is the only youth sport with bullies and aggressive parents.

Topspin Shot 10-13-2013 10:43 AM

You did the right thing in this situation. Getting involved would have only caused more chaos, and besides, imagine how bad things would get if all parents were to get involved in on-court disputes. In the future, your kid will have to learn to stand up to bullying opponents.

Oz_Rocket 10-13-2013 07:19 PM

The two bigs things you should take away from this are that you are 100% correct that as soon as parents get involved it will end in tears no matter who is right/wrong.

The second thing is that your son is entitled to a ball mark inspection as it is on clay. If he is confident of which mark he called out and that mark is consistent with the type of shot played then he should get the point as it is his call. If the supervisor thinks they have seen the ball go in then they should be able to point out their mark.

If they refuse to do a ball mark inspection then your son can call the tournament referee. Then a polite, respectful and well argued case from your son that shows a knowledge of the rules will go a long way to having the point awarded to him.

I know it is a fine line between not getting kids too worked up over these things and not giving in to bullying behaviour. For me in the end it comes down to what my kids feel comfortable with. And I know if it was a tiebreak in a final they'd kick themselves for weeks if they didn't stand up for themselves.

TCF 10-13-2013 07:54 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by RetroSpin (Post 7818615)

It's not like tennis is the only youth sport with bullies and aggressive parents.

Junior tennis is unlike any other sport. In every other sport the pros and juniors look alike from a standpoint of scoring and rule enforcement. Junior tennis is the only sport on earth, either pros or kids, where there is no one to enforce the rules.

Every other sport has score keepers in the pros, score keepers for kids. They all have refs for pros and refs for kids. Tennis is the only sport where kids have to enforce their own rules and keep their own scores yet at the pro level there are scorekeepers and refs.

In every other sport kids have a buffer between them and aggressive parents....adults to enforce the rules.

BMC9670 10-14-2013 06:50 PM

My son, and by extension I, have been fortunate not to run into too much bad behavior or cheating... until today in the semis of a 12U tournament. A textbook case - very emotional kid, "come-on" after my son's UEs or DFs, moaning/yelling/banging his racquet on his own mistakes, talking to, and getting talked to by parents sitting at the fence in another language, and yes, everything close was called out.

My son won the first set by just plowing though it. Then the hooking got worse and he dropped the second. Between the second and third set break, he asked an official to watch the third set. With the official there for the first 4 games (and 2 overrules and a warning for racquet abuse) my son won 6-1 in the third.

Having not run into this before, I was proud of how he kept his composure and did the right thing in getting an official. I stayed out of it, although it wasn't easy!

newpball 10-14-2013 06:55 PM

My answer is that it is just a silly game.

Teach the children well!

http://youtu.be/ztVaqZajq-I


Oz_Rocket 10-14-2013 08:10 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BMC9670 (Post 7821201)
talking to, and getting talked to by parents sitting at the fence in another language,

Saw a case of this a few weeks ago. Thought they were clever by speaking in a foreign language. Opponent complains that coaching might be going on but it was not in English.

So the supervisor privately asks the complainant who spoke, for how long, etc. Then asks the same of the kid allegedly being coached and his parents/family.

Funnily enough the kid and the family allegedly involved in coaching gave two totally different accounts of what was said, who said it and for how long. Not enough to code them for coaching but enough for the supervisor to make his point that they had all but been caught. They didn't say another word for the rest of the match.

RetroSpin 10-15-2013 09:13 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7819380)
Junior tennis is unlike any other sport. In every other sport the pros and juniors look alike from a standpoint of scoring and rule enforcement. Junior tennis is the only sport on earth, either pros or kids, where there is no one to enforce the rules.

Every other sport has score keepers in the pros, score keepers for kids. They all have refs for pros and refs for kids. Tennis is the only sport where kids have to enforce their own rules and keep their own scores yet at the pro level there are scorekeepers and refs.

In every other sport kids have a buffer between them and aggressive parents....adults to enforce the rules.

I do appreciate the problem. Competitive golf is a lot different, but players have to keep score and enforce rules there as well. Pickup basketball, even organized team practices, have the same dynamic of having to call fouls. Little League baseball is notorious for aggressive parents, although there are other adults present.

The bottom line here is that if your kid wants to keep playing, he will have to learn to deal with it. He will face the same problem as he moves up the junior ladder, plays high school or college, even in pro challenger events, where the stakes are a lot higher.

Since this seems to be a chronic problem that almost everyone involved in juniors complains about, I have to wonder if there isn't an opportunity for someone to begin organizing tournaments with some level of minimal supervision. Would parents be prepared to shell out an extra $5 per match to have a high school player ref'ing each match?

TCF 10-16-2013 07:45 AM

To me the issue is not that you can not teach kids to 'plow through it' or 'deal with it' in regards to the cheating, the bullies, the aggressive parents. Sure you can and it does teach some good life lessons.

But when a match takes 2 or more hours of arguing, standing your ground, mentally dealing with the parents....along with waiting sometimes hours for an open court. At what point does the overall experience just chase kids away? It can take the better part of the entire weekend to get 2-3 matches in.

I see week after week the draws for the 10s-12s with lots of kids, the 14s less kids, the 16s-18s sometimes no kids. I get that kids drop out of all sports as they hit the teen years, but junior tennis seems to have quite a high drop out rate compared to other sports.

At least down here the typical USTA junior tournament experience is not all that pleasant.

nightfire700 10-16-2013 08:15 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7823931)
I see week after week the draws for the 10s-12s with lots of kids, the 14s less kids, the 16s-18s sometimes no kids. I get that kids drop out of all sports as they hit the teen years, but junior tennis seems to have quite a high drop out rate compared to other sports.

I read somewhere that 94% of the kids drop out of tennis by the age of 15. Not sure how reliable is the number but seems like it matches up with what you see.

TCF 10-16-2013 08:48 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nightfire700 (Post 7825515)
I read somewhere that 94% of the kids drop out of tennis by the age of 15. Not sure how reliable is the number but seems like it matches up with what you see.

A tournament we are going to this weekend has 15 girls entered in the 12s, 12 in the 14s, and only 3 each in the 16s and 18s.

BMC9670 10-17-2013 10:36 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by nightfire700 (Post 7825515)
I read somewhere that 94% of the kids drop out of tennis by the age of 15. Not sure how reliable is the number but seems like it matches up with what you see.

Quote:

Originally Posted by TCF (Post 7825554)
A tournament we are going to this weekend has 15 girls entered in the 12s, 12 in the 14s, and only 3 each in the 16s and 18s.

No surprise here. As kids become teens, all sorts of things contribute to this in addition to purely tennis reasons: specialize in another sport, dating, increased academic work, jobs, etc...

TCF 10-17-2013 10:51 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by BMC9670 (Post 7826646)
No surprise here. As kids become teens, all sorts of things contribute to this in addition to purely tennis reasons: specialize in another sport, dating, increased academic work, jobs, etc...

True, its just very noticeable in tennis. You never have trouble fielding a high school team in most sports but many times in the 16s and 18s no kids sign up and the draws are cancelled.


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