Continuation of California Meeting
Geoff Grant echoed, “If you want the best 128 kids in America on the court, and you want to have quotas, then you have to have larger draws.”
One parent who asked to remain nameless said,
“Over and over, I just kept hearing the words ‘USTA Politics’.
Not one time during the 2.5 hours did I hear a USTA official say a single thing about doing what is right for the kids.
For all of you people within this USTA volunteer system, for all of you people who voted for this politically derived mess – shame on you!
Shame on you people for not having any real concern for the kids and only caring about the politics.
And shame on you Ellen Ehlers for sitting there shaking your head and having a face filled with disdain
at every comment from every heartfelt parent who actually attends these tournaments and actually knows these children who are impacted.
While I still hold hope that good prevails over evil in this situation,
what last night meant for me is that the USTA politics are more pervasive and onerous than I ever would have been led to have believed.
If the sport wasn’t so beneficial, my kids would be playing another because of the USTA’s involvement.”
Chris Boyer emailed, “While I greatly appreciate the USTA finally coming around to the
strong suggestions of ‘listening’ to its constituency, which after all is the very fabric of the organization,
I was at the same time frankly shocked at the number of times the USTA executives mentioned the word ‘politics’.
From what I heard, much of the rationale that was given for these ill-conceived changes had more to do with ‘politics’, than logical business reasoning. Since when do politics preside over what’s best for the kids?
As a businessman, and looking at this purely from an organizational standpoint,
it appears that the root cause of this issue and so many others that seem to be permeating the USTA lately,
is about the organization’s structure, and how it fosters the allowance of politics and incompetencies to come into play so frequently.
Just the mere fact that the these ‘town hall meetings’ need to take place – and when they do are so cantankerous –
is an indictment of the organization itself and way of doing business, in my opinion.
There are clearly a lot of people very upset with the USTA.”
I got a call this morning from parent Bob Cummins who wanted to share his thoughts on the meeting and the 2014 changes.
He told me that he realized after sitting through the meeting that the thing that’s really bothersome to him is that the Points-Per-Round system has created a “feeding frenzy” of people playing so many tournaments and just going a couple of rounds to earn points. Some people can’t afford to travel to so many tournaments, and so they’re “locked out” of the system. SoCal got the PPR system a couple of years ago – before that, they used the STAR system which focused on who you beat rather than how many tournaments you played. Bob is all for getting more people involved in the sport, getting more people traveling and enjoying the big events like Copper Bowl and the team events. He thinks USTA’s intention is to keep families out of the tennis “rat race” by eliminating a number of national tournaments so kids don’t have to travel so much and suggested that maybe those big events need to be kept separate from the national schedule so players aren’t locked out because of a tie-in to the national points system. That’s certainly an interesting proposal to consider, and I hope USTA takes note of it.
One parent who had planned to attend the meeting emailed me, saying, “I didn’t go to the meeting because they have worn me down and they just don’t listen or care.” That was disappointing to read. I hope it’s not a pervasive attitude among tennis parents because I do think we need to continue fighting for our kids and their tennis opportunities while there’s still a chance to get USTA to put a pause on the 2014 changes.
When is USTA going to listen – REALLY LISTEN – to its constituents and pause these changes until they can be properly vetted?
When is USTA going to engage the people who are in the trenches, spending several weeks each year at these junior tournaments, to create a schedule that makes sense? The 2014 schedule was created by – and is being defended by – people like Scott Schultz, Ellen Ehlers, Andrea Norman, and Lew Brewer, who, by the way, have NO CHILDREN PLAYING JUNIOR TENNIS either at a competitive level or at all. They are NOT the ones who should be determining the fate of junior tennis in the U.S. What’s it going to take for USTA to push the pause button?
Please note that the next (and final!) listening meeting is Friday, February 15th at 4:30pm at the DFW Airport Hilton in Grapevine, Texas. Dave Haggerty, Bill Mountford, and Lew Brewer are scheduled to be the USTA representatives there.