Open Letter to the United States Tennis Industry:
As many of you know, significant changes were made to the USTA National Junior Tennis Tournament schedule earlier this year, changes that are scheduled for implementation in the near term. As you likely know, those changes were not enthusiastically received by many constituencies within the US tennis industry and a large group of people from various sectors of the American tennis world, both USTA and non-USTA, have come together to discuss these changes.
Last month, various industry executives representing this group met with USTA executives on numerous occasions to reexamine the changes. The USTA and its Junior Competition Committee invested a significant amount of time, money and effort into their plan and were gracious to allow these meetings to take place. Despite the large investment to get the plan designed and approved, these top USTA Executives were truly concerned with making sure that people from the tennis industry at large were heard and their opinions were vetted.
While these discussions were going on, we asked those in the tennis industry who were frustrated by the changes to hold off on the public negativity that had become commonplace. That ”pause period” ends today, but, unfortunately, the discussions with the USTA are still not complete. Both sides have worked in earnest during this time period and although there is nothing to report in terms of a pausing the changes to the national tournament calendar or any amendments to the plan, both sides have agreed to meet again in person in Chicago on October 21st. That meeting will involve a group of the top executives of the USTA and some of the signatories to this letter, a diverse group of “tennis people” who have been involved for months in these discussions and who are dedicated to doing their best to represent the many opinions that exist.
We believe that the management of the USTA truly wants what’s best for tennis and for kids who play competitively. We therefore respectfully request that this pause in speaking negatively about the changes, the USTA and the Junior Competition Committee continue. Of course, we live in a free country, but we truly believe that headway is being made and that it is in the best interests of tennis for everyone to be patient. We believe that by the beginning of November we will have something to share, whether that may be a “pause” to the changes, an amendment to the approved plan or an effort to reach out to a larger constituency to further discuss the future of junior tennis competition in the United States.
We understand that many of you may feel compelled to take action because this has been such a sensitive matter for so many, for so long. We thank you in advance for listening and for being patient as we try to help make sure the industry at large is heard in the matter. If there is anything we have learned during this process, it is that everyone seems to have the best interests of the game in mind; it is just that sincere opinions differ on the best solutions.
ZOO TENNIS: ( Letter above cited below in Zoo article).
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 5, 2012
Update on USTA Junior Competition Changes
The "pause button" that has been discussed regarding the USTA Junior Competition changes passed last March is still a possibility, but there is no official word from the USTA about any specific alterations after the two-week period mentioned in the initial release from the tennis industry group leading the discussion with the USTA.
Steve Bellamy, the founder of the Tennis Channel and parent of four junior players, has been among those discussing the changes, and he asked me to pass along this update, which includes another USTA meeting date later this month, in this signed letter on the Tennis Insiders website.
"The USTA went through a lot to decide on this new format and we are appreciative and respect the amount of time and energy they put into this," he said. "But not everyone is going to agree on everything and there were a significant amount of players, parents, coaches, tournament directors, officials, agents, tennis media and tennis insiders in the US tennis industry who were ardently opposed to the changes.
An unhealthy paradigm started to evolve so Kevin, myself and a few others with existing relationships at the USTA volunteered to broker discussions to see if the shared perspectives from all the constituencies in tennis could not be more included in the final outcome for the kids. We are a fragmented industry with diverse opinion. USTA Executives have been incredibly respectful to listen to the industry at large balanced against respecting all the time and effort that went into their plan. Looking forward to the 21st."