Atlanta meeting - part 2 ( part 1 is above this post)
Jerry Baskin: Andrea, which college coach said he viewed 64 qualifiers on the same level as the 128 main draw players?
At least the USTA is now listening but every point Andrea makes can be debunked by coaches who develop collegiate players. Memphis and Kalamazoo are the most influential tournaments for college recruiting. High-level coaches come in now for the round of 16 anyway. Other coaches are looking at players 96-192.
If you reduce the size of the draw, you reduce the exposure for these players.
Regarding the simultaneously-held Regional events, how can a coach be at 6-8 events at the same time? They can’t! So those players at those Regional tournaments won’t get seen.
Bill Ozaki [Director of Programs & Player Development, USTA Southern Section] has developed top players. If you reduce the draw sizes at these events, you’ll kill college recruiting and will see half the number of coaches attending the tournaments.
The most exciting day of the year for me is sitting with my players on Signing Day and having my picture taken with them as they sign their NLI. Do you know why the Thanksgiving indoor tournaments have been so important? It’s because they come right after Signing Day so those coaches who didn’t get the players they thought they would get can go and see the next crop of players. The top coaches are in panic mode if they didn’t get the players they expected! And, what’s the purpose here – to develop world class players or to get college scholarships? And, quotas being based on strength of the section? That’s too subjective! Basing them on size is a whole lot more objective. It’s ridiculous to have people on the Junior Comp Committee who have never coached, never developed a player, making decisions for those of us who know what we’re doing.
Gordon Smith: I would like your feedback on the fact that junior competitive tennis hasn’t grown. How do we change that? USTA hasn’t been involved with the NCAA Tennis Committee, but I want us to be more active in that aspect.
Dave Haggerty: I believe strongly that the rainbow for 99.9% of kids is a college scholarship, but 40% of those scholarships are now going to foreign players. We need to come up with a robust environment for juniors to aspire to that is better for our players.
Jerry Baskin: Thirteen years ago, I made a mistake when I gave a presentation in New York about the point system. We need to go back to looking at wins and losses. That would reduce costs because it would cut down on the number of tournaments a junior would need to play. The last year that we had a group of men’s champions at Kalamazoo (Roddick, Ginepri, Reynolds, and Fish) was the last year before the point system went into effect. The point system drives up costs because kids have to play so many events.
Scott Schultz: The STAR system gave players the opportunity to duck play.
Is it really a bad thing to have a couple of different systems?
Jerry Baskin: College coaches only care about TennisRecruiting ratings, not about USTA ranking.
USTA is looking in the wrong direction with PPR.
Eddie Gonzalez: I voted against the 2014 calendar because I know you need to talk to your customer before you make a change of this magnitude and we hadn’t done that. Let’s do a formal survey on TennisLink for players, parents, junior coaches, and college coaches so we can get feedback from our customers!
Dave Haggerty: Please use LetUsKnow@USTA.com
if you think of something after this meeting.
Amy Johnson: Why isn’t USTA establishing corporate relationships to help every single member?
Things like airline, hotel, and rental car discounts?
Scott Schwartz: The Sponsorship Department divvies up the money to various other departments within USTA.
Gordon will take that idea back to them to see what we can do better.
Julie Wrege: What’s the difference between having a 192 versus a 128 draw plus qualies?
Where would the qualifying spots come from?
Andrea Norman: 8 spots would come from the qualies and 8 from reducing the number of wildcards.
Julie Wrege: Why do smaller sections award the same number of national points as bigger sections?
Chuck Kriese: I never thought having too many opportunities would dumb down achievement, but I don’t think we should have draws bigger than 128 at Nationals. That said, coaches should be able to coach however they feel is best.
Dave, your 40% number regarding international players receiving college scholarships is wrong – it’s closer to 65-70%. We have to make college a viable training ground again. The USTA needs to have an All-American Team made up of Americans and incentivize coaches for recruiting American players. Title IX wasn’t set up to eliminate men’s sports but that’s what’s happened. USTA must incentivize 15, 16, 17 year olds by making college a strong option. By the way, no one has sued over Junior College’s 2-foreign-player limit!
Robert Sasseville: When you have an unreliable ranking system to select players into events, you don’t have an accurate predictor of champions. The JCC should halt and start over. Get a task force and re-examine. You need the input of your customers.
Dave Haggerty: We don’t have any answers at this point but we have a lot of thoughts.
We’re hearing the same themes at these meetings. You won’t see the changes as they are now going into effect in 2014.
Walker Sahag: When you streamline opportunities, you negatively impact players’ opportunity to develop.
Patricia Boulais: I suggest that USTA work some hotel and airline deals if you’re really serious about saving families money.
Scott Schultz: The small number of players competing at the national level make it not such a great deal for companies to offer a discount. They don’t get much bang for their buck. How many in this room think we need doubles at tournaments? [Most hands went up] Should we keep the feed-in consolations? [Most hands went up]
Chuck Kriese: If USTA did nothing to train and develop players, the tournaments should help players develop. Hybrid scoring systems are crippling our children. We should honor the scoring system of tennis. Learning how to win 3 points in a row. Backdraw kids are often the toughest kids! These are the things that make players. But backdraws are only valuable at big tournaments. Experiencing the pain of losing is very important for development. Playing pro sets in doubles is crap! Full doubles matches should take priority over backdraws. The concept of winning 3 points in a row is sacred. Those 3-minute or 10-minute set breaks kill momentum in a match. Just let the kids play. If a player is too tired, then he’ll lose and the match will be over soon enough.
Patricia Boulais: You have new players coming up but you’re streamlining opportunities for them.
Dave Haggerty: While there will be fewer national events, there will also be more local events.
A Dad: If I choose for my kid to miss school, it’s my choice! If I choose to spend my money on tournaments, it’s my choice! I’d like to see a show of hands of how many pros in this room have had a player outside the National Top 100 who got a college scholarship. [Many, many hands were raised]
Jessica Amick: What about creating more sectional tournaments with national points?
Andrea Norman: Currently there are 12 sectional events with national points. In 2014, there will be 2 Level 3s and some Level 4s with national points. The Committee can discuss this the next time it meets.
Jerry Baskin: I’d be a lot happier if the people making these decisions were people who have been in the trenches and who know the pathway to success.
Dave Haggerty: A lot of thought and care went into the selection of the JCC. It’s always difficult to reach perfection. The Committee wants to do what is right for junior tennis. One thing the Committee heard at the meetings held during Winter Nationals is that families want events where all the age groups play in the same city.
Johan Kriek: USTA is doing well to listen. I am a former professional player who did pretty well on the tour. I’m now coaching and learning as I go. USTA needs to listen to folks like Eddie Gonzalez, Jerry Baskin, and Coach Kriese.
Jerry Baskin: If USTA could get together with NCAA and offer prize money to juniors to offset expenses, that would make our system comparable to the foreign system.
Chuck Kriese: In the late 1990′s, 86 international college players were ruled ineligible by the NCAA because of prize money they had won. The NCAA gave them a 3-match penalty which enabled the teams to arrange their schedules so they could “duck” tough opponents while those players were benched.
Dave Haggerty: Thank you all for coming. We are listening and will take back all we’ve heard here today. Don’t forget to use the email address if you think of anything else after we leave.
Lisa Stone: Please, please don’t take away opportunities for our kids!
The opposition to the 2014 changes seemed to be unanimous, and I think the USTA folks recognized that fact. After the meeting ended, several pow-wows were going on around the room. I have heard that many of the attendees emailed those JCC members who were unable to attend with their thoughts and suggestions. For what it’s worth, I left the meeting feeling hopeful.