Once again, Wayne Bryan's using his big, loud voice to speak UP & OUT on behalf of junior tennis players!!! Love him or don't (we definitely DO), the WB knows EXACTLY what's happening in the trenches with jr tennis (we know cuz we're there too) .. Why no one is listening to him is BEYOND US!!!
From Parenting Aces blog (October 9, 2012):
I urge you all to read Steve Bellamy’s Open Letter to the US Tennis Industry published online at http://tennisinsiders.com/?post_type...d_story&p=1323
Below is Wayne Bryan’s comment on the Letter . . .
a) The most important aspect of this is to get lots of input and opinions from all over the country – – – from experienced club pros and public park coaches and college coaches and high school coaches and academy coaches and veteran ‘n passionate parents from Florida to New York to Georgia to Texas to Nebraska to North Dakota to California to Oregon and everywhere in between.
b) Study the history of the National Schedule and Rankings over the past 30 years.
c) Remember that when the USTA asked my pal and great coach and mega junior champion producer Jack Sharpe how to improve Player Development and the National Tournament Schedule he told them to “Go back to 1987 and just do what worked!! Simple!!”
Goals of a National Schedule:
a) Fairness to all.
b) Simple and understandable.
c) A clear pathway from bottom to top.
d) Bringing the best juniors from all over the country together to create friendships and improve their tennis.
e) Various surfaces, times of the year, and locations.
f) No meddling by USTA PD.
Back in the Day:
a) I never heard one single word of criticism about the Sectional or National Tournament Schedule.
b) Rankings were so accurate that when our SoCal juniors flew back from Kalamazoo at the end of the Summer, I would give the kids each a piece of paper and I had them write down what they thought the top 20 in the SoCal rankings would be and what the top 50 in the National rankings would be. I was always astonished to see that each ranking list was almost exactly the same and lo and behold when the rankings came out the were the same as the kids had predicted. The rankings were fair and there was unanimity and agreement on the rankings. They were spot on.
a) I have never heard so much rancor across this country about the National Schedule and Rankings and the Green Ball U10 Mandate and USTA Player Development and the glut of Foreign Players in American College Tennis and not enough doubles tournaments and doubles rankings.
b) The USTA is seen as heavy handed and top down and non responsive to the membership they are employed to serve.
c) The USTA is also seen as even attacking clubs and pros and players and the USPTA that do not follow their party line. I have a computer full of e mails complaining about their tactics. There is fear and there is anger everywhere. Witness the harassing letter from the USTA to the great and venerable Little Mo Tournaments and volunteer organization.
The Way SoCal Tournament Schedules Used to Be:
a) I walked the junior tennis trails as a coach for decades with thousands of players and even my own two twin sons. I knew those paths like the back of my hand. I believed in playing tournaments each and every weekend of the year. You wanna be a player you play. Players play. Soccer has schedules. Baseball and Football and Basketball have schedules. Players at our club had junior tournament schedules. I have always felt that scheduling is as important as coaching. You can make a player with a great schedule. And you can ruin a player with a bad schedule. It’s like riding a big wave in Hawaii – – – if you get too far out in front on your surfboard you get crushed by the wave, if you get too far behind the wave, you sink down in the dead calm waters – – – but if you get right in the middle of the tube, you get maximum speed and thrills and you can take that baby all the way to shore. Mike ‘n Bob usually played about 100 competitve matches each year in the juniors. Same at Stanford. And, interestingly, they play aobut 100 matches on the tour each year.
b) Some of our 85 juniors would play our local Ventura County Junior Tennis Assn. (VCJTA) Tournaments. Some would play Southern California (SCTA) Tournaments. Some would play a hybridized schedule of both. Some would play SCTA and National Tournaments. Some would play only National and International Junior Tournaments.
c) During the school year, tournaments were always two weekends and there was always singles and doubles. Typically, the juniors played two singles and a doubles each day. Perhaps one singles and two doubles. During the three Summer months, most tournaments were week long events.
d) In SoCal I served on the Junior Tennis Council for many, many years and we would make changes and adjustments very slowly and we had the many of the top pros and parents in our group. We never made knee jerk reactions or massive pendulum swings. Players and coaches and parents could count on and trust the system.
e) To get a ranking and to qualify for Nationals, players had to play three of the six designated tournaments – – – our largest and best tournaments (including, if memory serves, Santa Barbara, Whittier, Long Beach, Downey, and San Diego) – – – plus two other tournaments and, of course, the Sectional, which was held in June right after school was out. The idea, of course, was to get all the top players together several times during the first six months of the year.
f) In those days, SoCal was allowed 8 players into the National Tournaments Clays, Indoors, Grass, and The Nationals. and, of course, more into the tournaments on the National Schedule like Copper Bowl, Fiesta Bowl, the Westerns, and the Texas Open. All of those events were 128 draws and all had doubles.
History of Pedulum Swings as it pertains to the National Schedule and Rankings:
a) Back in the late 80s and into the 90s, rankings were based on the Star Computer System. It was the quality of your wins and losses that mattered on the computer. If you beat #7 in your Section it was given much more weight than if you beat the #83 player in your Section. If you beat a player that was #4 in the Nation, it was given more weight than if you beat a player that was #63. College Football has a very similar system. The rankings were very, very accurate that way.
b) There were singles and doubles rankings.
c) Then, for some reason, there was a massive pendulum swing and they went to points and they offered all kinds of regional and national tournaments all over the place. Regional Tournaments sprang up like weeds. Kids started avoiding their sectional tournaments to go and find weak regional events that they could do well and scoop up points. I could go on and on about this, but it knocked me in the head a few years ago when I learned that of the top twenty U18s players in SoCal, only one played the Sectional!! Back in the day, every single one of the top twenty 18s played our SoCal Sectional.
d) The rankings became so inaccurate that college coaches no longer relied on them for recruiting. Players that were 60s often were much better than a player that was 30s.
e) There were tournaments that had only singles and back draw singles and they did not offer doubles.
f) The USTA removed doubles rankings. Huh? As I say in all my talks: If we had more doubles programming, promotion, and coaching we could quadruple the number of kids playing tennis. Doubles gives our sport more width and breadth. Doubles is fun for juniors and it really rounds out skills and teaches additional life lessons – – – and some youngsters just love the “team thing”. Plus, it gives them a second chance if they lose their singles match at a tournament. And don’t forget Mixed Doubles – – – boys and girls truly love that and there are also great life lessons inherent in Mixed.
And now the Pendulum Swings Radically Again:
a) Now in the past few months a small USTA committee takes out the meat cleaver and cuts down many of our old growth Redwood Junior Tournaments along with the too many regional and national events.
b) They only just a few National Tournaments? Some National Tournaments with just 32 draws?! Lots and lots of WCs to be abused by the USTA PD.
c) They have only one 64 draw for the National 12s?
d) Their explanations are many pages long.