Originally Posted by jrtennis
The numbers posted on Zoo Tennis are not "fishy, deceiving or disingenuous."
Let's take a real simple look at 2012 vs. 2014 levels 1-3 without including sectionals, grand masters, sweet sixteens or team championships. I'm going to use 14s because they are simplest and the numbers are most favorable to the USTA side (clay and hard courts draw sizes reain the same). 2012 numbers are also more favorable to the USTA than those of years past.
2012: 512 opportunities in level 1s, 512 in 2s, 1280 in 3s.
2014: 288 in 1s, 256 in 2s, 384 in 3s.
As you can see, it is still a massive cut in playing opportunities to about 40% of where they are today. Combine that, in many cases, with smaller sectional draws and the difference is even more dramatic.
You are making my point. Don't say it's 580 when, according to your numbers, its 928. A reduction to be sure...but no need to exaggerate to that extent.
Further, new L4s regionals are out-of-section opportunities that should definitely be counted because they will be a great place for the player who is a top sectional player but who is consistently a "2 and out" L1 player. They can go deep in these events. (But note that 25% will still go "2 and out") So hopefully, a strong sectional player can get out of the section and hopefully see a step-up in competition but not fly home having been able to count games won on one hand.
With that, said, here's my count of 14s in 2014:
Feb: 92 L2 + 128 L4
Mar/Apr: 32 L1
May: 16 L1 + 128 L3
128 ClayL1 + 128 L4 (I think they made a mistake and called this L3)
70 IntersL1 + 225 ZonalL3
Aug: 128 HardL1
Oct: 16 L1 + 128 L3 (Plus 4? for grand masters?)
Nov: 92 L2 + 128 L4
Dec: 32 TeamL1 + 32 TeamL2
Maybe I'm off a little or missed something but thats what I get. Adding up and you get: 1900 OUT-OF-SECTION playing opportunities.
Even just counting L1-3 like you did, I get 1035 so we're close, but both clearly a lot higher than 580 claimed in the above numbers....that's my point.
Broken down like this:
L1 (or L1A..whatever that means): 426
As far as USTA reconsidering. I do hope they open the L3/4 regionals up so you can play at any of the sites and could maybe add a L3 or L4 concurrent with Easters...but beyond that, I've always been willing to at least see how this plays out.
I think it gives a player more concrete achievement steps. I.e. first feather is to work hard and get a shot at a L4 or L3. Double your efforts and then you can hold head high that you made a L2. Work triple hard and MAYBE you can make easter bowl cut (assume that will be about #50-60 or so??). And what if you work triple or quadruple hard and DON'T make Easter32 cutoff? Great!! You still had that goal and you worked your hardest for it...or maybe you didn't turn over every stone?..so try again!
Versus right now, you can be ranked #200+, but you pretty much get to do 'everything' - yet you don't really have what it takes to go deep nationally. So you just fly to clays and hards and even winters and you happily "participate".
But in 2014, guess, what? You might might need a ranking of #150 to get into the L2. And you might need a ranking of #60 to get into Easter. Well...now you have some work to do and some concrete goals beyond 'participation'.
I have kids playing at different levels. I'm looking forward to seeing if my weaker kids can make it regionals and if my strongest player works double/triple/quadruple hard to 'make' some of these new levels of play. (Noting that even if the goal of Easters or whatever is not obtained, the truly important thing is the double/triple determination and effort trying to get there)
My observation with kids and sports is that if they are truly passionate and there is a goal that is a little out of reach, they will "turn it on" and push very hard to achieve it...but the kid who is a 'lock' for tryouts (or national selection) will not have the same urgency to improve. (clearly theres a few exceptions, but this is a good generalization that I've seen play out over and over.)