Originally Posted by hhollines
I'm just letting off some steam but I'd love to hear comments from other folks. Regardless of your position on the proposed new USTA rules, I continue to be baffled as to why they won't structure segments and nationals such that, at most, only 1 day of school is missed. You can run a 64 draw in 3 days (Friday, Saturday and Sunday). Kids could leave Thursday night and return Sunday night and even if there's a consolidation bracket, maybe change it to a 8 game pro set but I truly believe there should be an absolute mandate that during the school year, every tournament must be structured such that only 1 day of school is missed.
In looking at Jan. in my section, if my kid plays sectionals and regional segments, they would miss 5-6 days of school. This is crazy for any high school kid. This truly is about priorities and if education is important, we can do a better job of structuring the tournaments, and the answer is not, just stay in your state or force kids to only play locally. The answer is to better structure the regional and national tournament structure.
As a parent that doesn't necessarily believe in the academy route nor home schooling, this is real challenge. I don't have a problem with academies or home schooling but my wife and I believe in the regular school structure as well as the social benefits of attending school and being a regular (non-tennis) kid. As a former athlete, I know the realities and at the end of the day, it's about school and education but it would be nice is the USTA come develop a better tournament approach.
My daughter (12 yrs. old) will likely have to miss segments on the next go round b/c we have rule that over the course of an entire school year, 9 missed days in the maximum and we think that's a lot (more than 1 day per month is too much in my humble opinion, especially for the younger kids).
I know some will say, you don't need to travel given the kids age but that's not a genuine response b/c it does matter. The experience of traveling and playing high level tournaments at a young age does benefit the kid later. We say the 12s and maybe 14s dont' matter, but they do if you consider the entire experience and level of exposure. We've confirmed that many of the top 16s and 18s were top 12s and 14s (some top 12s and 14s are not top 16s and 18s conversely) but the point remains.
I take this back to the structure. Can't we do a better job of structuring the tournament schedule with the goal of keeping all kids in school as often as possible yet still giving them the experience and exposure of traveling?
My son turned 16 a month ago. He is a junior attending a public school. In the last 12 months, he played a total of 20 junior tournaments including 10 regionals and nationals (6 of them during summer break) and 4 men's opens. He missed a total of 7 school days, 4 of them for Eater Bowl. He trains at least 2 hrs every day plus 1-2 hrs commuting to clinics and back home. Luckily he is able to also keep up with his school work. He has a 4.4/4.0 weighted GPA and is ranked top 10% in his class. For him, tennis is helpful to his academics since it makes him healthier (he only missed one day of school due to stomach flu), more focused in his study and more efficient in time uses.
But I fully agree with you that it's important to minimize the missed school days. We would wish that our spring break coincides with Easter Bawl! It makes more sense that a national event runs Saturday to Monday, as most kids would be home Sunday night.
I also agree with many parents that it's not a good idea to reduce the draw size of national events. My son was always more motivated to train harder after the national events, especially after a tough loss. He played his first national open when he was 12. He won one match only. However, it's that tournament that gave him confidence and the desire to improve his game.
BTW, my son always takes his backpack with him when we are out of town for tournament during the school year. He usually could squeeze in an hour here and there for his school work. So, just treat these days as home schooling. We also took a couple of hours visiting the college - my son's school won't consider it a missed school day.
Good luck to your daughter!