What could the USTA do to increase participation...

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
D. Match format ..... Think about what is popular these days among younger athletes: Marathons, Spartan races, Tough Mudders, Triathalons, etc. .... Tests of fitness and endurance. But in USTA tennis we move to a low bar .... mostly doubles and then we even chop off the 3rd set and turn it into a 10 point tiebreaker.
  1. Appeal to those that value fitness/endurance while still considering the need for time slots at a facility
    1. No Ad scoring BUT with FULL 3rd set
  2. No one watches doubles on TV .... we want to emulate what we see on TV and feel like we are a bit a part of it
    1. Increase the number of singles lines in all leagues.
      1. 3S and 2D or 3S and 4D
    2. Or Just make an actual singles league .... same platform as current league, all the way districts/sectionals/nationals run it concurrently or consecutively
      1. 18+ singles, 5 lines of singles per team match ; 18+ doubles, 5 lines of doubles per team match
      2. 40+ singles, 3 lines of singles per team match; 40+ doubles, 5 lines of doubles per team match
Marry me!
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
There are money Open tournaments, but the average rec player would get destroyed in them.
Exactly, we must put in $50,000 prize money into 4.5, 4.0 level tournaments and leagues as well. not 3.5 though, they are bad. and 4.0 is borderline but I will make an exception
 

Ronaldo

Bionic Poster
Depends on the instructor.

In NorCal, the average singles entry fee is about $54.25. It is humbling, but I think most rec players would benefit more from a hitting session with a coach than a beatdown from a UTR 12+ player.
May get more out of the bully beatdown if they watch the player instead of the ball..................................................my bad, that is what they do
 

Nostradamus

Bionic Poster
Usta has almost ruined tennis (bloated corp now), the best thing they can do is go away
Well, I think they are really trying their best to get everyone involved but problem is local teams that constantly sandbag and same teams win the division every year. That is really a biggest problem we have. and also these idiot team captains putting everything into winning only and don't give a darn about players. They also hurt the USTA team tennis spirit and leaves bad taste in many people's mouth and they don't play anymore.

So I have actually seen local club leagues thriving and getting more players into their leagues and USTA losing players and teams. That is not a good sign for USTA
 

tomato123

Professional
Maybe there’s a correlation to be made with many successful “gaming” business models where the most successful ones have a large “free to play” player base alongside various ways people can pay for things to enhance the playing experience. Doesn’t seem like the usta has much support for the “free to play” player base who are just relegated to evenings or weekends at the community courts.
 

TypeRx

Semi-Pro
I’m in Southern California. I’m definitely not against playing on a team, USTA or WTT it just seems like the barrier to entry is figuring out when seasons start and then finding a team. Is anyone allowed to start a team, or do you need to have played before?
Took me quite a while to finally land on a USTA team...if you don't know captains or any "influential" team participants at your level it can be challenging. I have found the USTA section folks not all that helpful either. In the end, I got onto a team after being "spotted" by an influencer already on a team. This actually led quickly to me being placed on other teams and now I am confident I can play USTA here for a long time. The first team I was on went to Nationals...how lucky is that?

WTT is one way of meeting people that cross-pollinate with USTA, but it doesn't always work that way. In general, WTT isn't real tennis and a waste outside of the social aspect. And this is coming from someone that has been on (and is currently) multiple WTT teams, including ones that went to NQ. USTA league is definitely much better with higher caliber players than you will find in local ladders, local clubs, or WTT.

For better or worse, getting on your first USTA team is the toughest. It takes networking and breaking through whatever social cliques exist. But once you are in and demonstrate you can play, more opportunities open up.
 
C

Chadalina

Guest
Well, I think they are really trying their best to get everyone involved but problem is local teams that constantly sandbag and same teams win the division every year. That is really a biggest problem we have. and also these idiot team captains putting everything into winning only and don't give a darn about players. They also hurt the USTA team tennis spirit and leaves bad taste in many people's mouth and they don't play anymore.

So I have actually seen local club leagues thriving and getting more players into their leagues and USTA losing players and teams. That is not a good sign for USTA
I dont know why the usta needs to get involved with leagues. Does anyone really care if your the best 4.0-4.5? Its like being the tallest midget.

Ntrp is for casual, social tennis, not hardcore competition like the usta makes their players chase the carrot with. I like gold, silver and bronze. No stupid rules, just your clubs.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
I dont know why the usta needs to get involved with leagues. Does anyone really care if your the best 4.0-4.5? Its like being the tallest midget.

Ntrp is for casual, social tennis, not hardcore competition like the usta makes their players chase the carrot with. I like gold, silver and bronze. No stupid rules, just your clubs.
The competitive nature of it is a feature not a bug. I think that is what actually attracts adults to USTA tennis, rather than what drives people away. There are so few ways to participate in fun competitive athletics as an adult, and USTA leagues are a great way to do that.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Alright, was just thinking of what could solidify things a bit for leagues and tourneys.

  1. Remove self-rating and do not allow players to play out of rating (basically sure up level play and competition).
  2. Funnel money back into league support to build the community. As it is you pay your USTA dues, you pay league fees, then you pay court fees and at least in our area you are pretty much left out on your own. Could include league free group lessons or events included for leauge members, or at tournaments.
I think both of those woud help.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Alright, was just thinking of what could solidify things a bit for leagues and tourneys.

  1. Remove self-rating and do not allow players to play out of rating (basically sure up level play and competition).
  2. Funnel money back into league support to build the community. As it is you pay your USTA dues, you pay league fees, then you pay court fees and at least in our area you are pretty much left out on your own. Could include league free group lessons or events included for leauge members, or at tournaments.
I think both of those woud help.
Okay, so new player to league, played in middle school 15 years ago now wants to play league as an adult. Isn't allowed to self-rate .... how in the world does that player start?
 

TennisOTM

Semi-Pro
What if there were some kind of periodically scheduled weekend event where interested new players who don't know how to self-rate could play a round-robin against experienced league players, and the results would be used to set their initial level. The experienced players could be given incentive to participate by not charging them to play in the events, and/or giving them USTA credit so they can play in their next league for free for example. The logistics / detail might be tough, but just brainstorming here.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
Okay, so new player to league, played in middle school 15 years ago now wants to play league as an adult. Isn't allowed to self-rate .... how in the world does that player start?

Have no idea, to be honest. But SR needs to be adressed somehow.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
What if there were some kind of periodically scheduled weekend event where interested new players who don't know how to self-rate could play a round-robin against experienced league players, and the results would be used to set their initial level. The experienced players could be given incentive to participate by not charging them to play in the events, and/or giving them USTA credit so they can play in their next league for free for example. The logistics / detail might be tough, but just brainstorming here.

Used to be you went to a local pro and they did the rating. Not sure if that was required though, but that was done for me.

I like the idea of some play test though. Obviously folks could still underplay to sandbag, but at least it could be verified.
 
Okay, so new player to league, played in middle school 15 years ago now wants to play league as an adult. Isn't allowed to self-rate .... how in the world does that player start?
They used to have rating sessions with "raters" with clipboards observing you play for a set and then hand you an index card with your rating on it. Seemed accurate, the captain for my prospective team I was getting rated for told me beforehand not to over-hit, so I kept the ball in play, not going for any "big" shots. I got the rating I needed to play on the team. In the parking lot after the rating session, I heard a player in my foursome whaling and bemoaning that he got a higher rating then he wanted keeping him off his team--he was the guy hitting the "big shots" during the session.

One of the raters was a "starter" at a club I belonged to familiar with the local tennis scene. This system of having live breathing humans as raters, evaluating local players seemed fair, and resulted in ratings that were relatively accurate, without the sandbagging shenanigans that allows a former ATP player on a 3.0 national team. Bring back live human raters who know a thing or two about tennis, versus a computer that may need refragmenting or is susceptible to malware.

This was about twenty years ago and in retrospect I feel it was an accurate assessment of my skills back then. Rating sessions were probably abolished because they they cost USTA too much, taking money away from building 100 court mega-centers, lacking grass courts and junkets to the Grand Slams by USTA big wigs. If I recall, I had to pay $20 for the rating session back then. I've only witnessed a rep from USTA visit my facility once since then--maybe they've been here, but in deep undercover, or witness protection. Having raters with boots on the ground at the local level, would keep some USTA linkages with the minyans.
 
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OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
Used to be you went to a local pro and they did the rating. Not sure if that was required though, but that was done for me.

I like the idea of some play test though. Obviously folks could still underplay to sandbag, but at least it could be verified.
The problem with that was multi-fold:
Pros were usually out of particular clubs and had skin in the game ... e.g. may rate a player from another club higher than necessary and players out of their own lower than necessary
The eye test means nothing. Someone can look great in a series of defined drills (cross court rally, DTL rally, etc. etc.) but be incapable of playing a match well AND vice versa
 
The biggest barrier in my area seems to be the distance you have to drive for matches. I was trying to get a 22 year old to join a tri-level team that I'm on, and distance to matches was the main reason she cited - and this isn't the first time I've heard that reason.

I live in a mid-sized city, and most of the clubs are out in the suburbs. Most of those take me about ~40 minutes to drive to. On top of that, 4 counties of a neighboring state are part of our district, so we sometimes have away matches there (~1h 15 minute drive for me). Another town about 1hr 30 min away also often has a team, so that's another long away match drive.

Most people simply aren't that fanatic about tennis to be willing to spend more time driving than playing. This is only partially a USTA issue (not having enough interested players to begin with, so need to lump together an area with a 2 hour driving radius together, rather than having more localized leagues), but it's also an infrastructure issue (no clubs near the city center, they're all out in the suburbs).
 
The eye test means nothing. Someone can look great in a series of defined drills (cross court rally, DTL rally, etc. etc.) but be incapable of playing a match well AND vice versa
I think raters observing over the course of a set got a good overview of my total tennis skills, including technique and under competitive match conditions tactically and strategically.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
The problem with that was multi-fold:
Pros were usually out of particular clubs and had skin in the game ... e.g. may rate a player from another club higher than necessary and players out of their own lower than necessary
The eye test means nothing. Someone can look great in a series of defined drills (cross court rally, DTL rally, etc. etc.) but be incapable of playing a match well AND vice versa
Having to do that at all is a significant barrier for entry as well. It's a lot easier to answer a few questions on a computer than go play at some ratings event. Unless you're really gung ho to play you aren't gonna do that.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
Where I am now there are only 2 teams at each level going from 3.5 to 4.5 (talking mens here). I guess for those who are all about getting to sectionals that could be seen as a plus since your odds are good. But it also means the regular season is playing 8-10 times against the same opposing team, which has no appeal for me. So I am no longer a USTA member. I was previously a member for many years when I lived in a district where we had 10-12 teams (this was at 4.5, lower levels had more), What I enjoyed most was getting to play each week against varied competition. Postseason play is not a significant motivator for me.

The thing is, there are enough players here to field many more teams. And many clubs who could be fielding teams / providing facilities. So the question is why there aren't more teams, and more players interested in joining teams. I don't have the answer, but for sure part of it is that USTA could be doing a much better outreach job to clubs and players, to encourage more teams to be formed and more players to play USTA, to get to a critical mass where it actually becomes more attractive. It's almost like USTA says, hey, we're USTA, they will come to us, we don't need to go to them. WRONG!
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
I think raters observing over the course of a set got a good overview of my total tennis skills, including technique and under competitive match conditions tactically and strategically.
When I did the rating clinics back in the '90s it was drills only ... AND I was on a court with 3 guys (no other female) ... I hung in there and got rated way too high. They barely even looked at a serve if I recall, lots of rally balls, some volleys ... play a point out off a fed ball cross court ... but no actual set, no return of serve.
First part of the rating clinic was with a ball machine on oscillate FH/BH/Deep/Wide/Short .... then with all 4 on the court together with rally and live ball
 

CHtennis

Rookie
The rating clinics had significant problems, not limited to what @OnTheLine mentions, but the one thing that it did well was connect people (or at least possibly connect people) with a starting point and pros that could help that person get started back into the game. If you played high school tennis 20 years ago, how good are you now? Where should you start? While there are answers it did seem to have some value to get people started and a place to ask questions.

Also, the rating clinics were helpful to get young people in the league at the appropriate level or at least close. Now we get guys like I have on my 5.0 team that "played" college tennis. He was on the team but only played one match in his 4 years. He is likely a 4.0 and has to play 5.0 and so far his two matches he has gotten 2 games and one of those was doubles with a solid partner against two good 4.5's. This guy would have to have an impressive desire to play league tennis to keep getting mauled, and his team would have to let him play so he can get beaten enough to get rated down. While people get annoyed when people are underrated I think that is better in general for those peoples longevity than if they are overrated. It is irritating that you get some clear over level players I think it would be better in general for the league if we erred on the lower side than pushing them too high.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
Where I am now there are only 2 teams at each level going from 3.5 to 4.5 (talking mens here). I guess for those who are all about getting to sectionals that could be seen as a plus since your odds are good. But it also means the regular season is playing 8-10 times against the same opposing team, which has no appeal for me. So I am no longer a USTA member. I was previously a member for many years when I lived in a district where we had 10-12 teams (this was at 4.5, lower levels had more), What I enjoyed most was getting to play each week against varied competition. Postseason play is not a significant motivator for me.

The thing is, there are enough players here to field many more teams. And many clubs who could be fielding teams / providing facilities. So the question is why there aren't more teams, and more players interested in joining teams. I don't have the answer, but for sure part of it is that USTA could be doing a much better outreach job to clubs and players, to encourage more teams to be formed and more players to play USTA, to get to a critical mass where it actually becomes more attractive. It's almost like USTA says, hey, we're USTA, they will come to us, we don't need to go to them. WRONG!
You are basically describing what happens if someone were to move from Portland to Eugene in Oregon. Portland has at least 20 indoor facilities that can field teams, all within a 50 mile metro radius. USTA League is thriving there in the "Northern Oregon" district, with numerous teams at all levels for both men and women. Local league in PDX is usually broken into flights with 8 to 12 matches per season, not including playoffs. However, if you go to Salem (60 miles away) or Eugene (100 miles), you have crossed into the "Southern Oregon" district. There are a bunch of great facilities in Southern Oregon with a lot of great players. However, the clubs are many miles apart, and they only field a handful of league teams. Down there, the League is usually played in one or two weekends, tournament style, where they bring all the teams to one club for all of the matches over 2 or 3 days. I think that people don't enjoy travelling for this and don't find the 2 to 4 matches that they get worth the cost.
 

TennisOTM

Semi-Pro
Having to do that at all is a significant barrier for entry as well. It's a lot easier to answer a few questions on a computer than go play at some ratings event. Unless you're really gung ho to play you aren't gonna do that.
Maybe I'm in the really gung ho minority, but I would have been all over a match-play ratings event and probably would have joined League earlier. The self-rate thing held me back because I had no idea where I stood and the questionnaire at the time (2018/earlier?) was ridiculous for my situation - for >20 years out of high school your rating was based on how many times you play per week, which for me (twice a week) would have put me at 2.5. That seemed very wrong so it took the wind out of my sails. Then I played in an informal summer singles ladder over a couple of years and realized I could look up the guys I was playing to see if they played League and what level. That gave me confidence that 3.5 was right and so I lied on the self-rate questionnaire to make it come out there. Maybe self-rate is better now, but if those ladder matches I played against League guys were somehow entered into an official rating calculator it would have made the whole thing much easier.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
You are basically describing what happens if someone were to move from Portland to Eugene in Oregon. Portland has at least 20 indoor facilities that can field teams, all within a 50 mile metro radius. USTA League is thriving there in the "Northern Oregon" district, with numerous teams at all levels for both men and women. Local league in PDX is usually broken into flights with 8 to 12 matches per season, not including playoffs. However, if you go to Salem (60 miles away) or Eugene (100 miles), you have crossed into the "Southern Oregon" district. There are a bunch of great facilities in Southern Oregon with a lot of great players. However, the clubs are many miles apart, and they only field a handful of league teams. Down there, the League is usually played in one or two weekends, tournament style, where they bring all the teams to one club for all of the matches over 2 or 3 days. I think that people don't enjoy travelling for this and don't find the 2 to 4 matches that they get worth the cost.
It sounds similar in terms of the end result, and I did move from a larger metro area so it's unreasonable to expect the same level of participation that I was used to.

But here's the thing: Where I am now still has many clubs and many players within a reasonable radius. So in that sense not like what you're describing in Southern Oregon. There is enough density here to support a much higher level of participation. And in fact there is a local non-USTA league that is flourishing. So it doesn't have to be like Southern Oregon - if USTA were to put in the effort to rope in the clubs and players and encourage more participation, this area could easily support 5-8 teams per level within a 25 mile radius.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
The rating clinics had significant problems, not limited to what @OnTheLine mentions, but the one thing that it did well was connect people (or at least possibly connect people) with a starting point and pros that could help that person get started back into the game. If you played high school tennis 20 years ago, how good are you now? Where should you start? While there are answers it did seem to have some value to get people started and a place to ask questions.

Also, the rating clinics were helpful to get young people in the league at the appropriate level or at least close. Now we get guys like I have on my 5.0 team that "played" college tennis. He was on the team but only played one match in his 4 years. He is likely a 4.0 and has to play 5.0 and so far his two matches he has gotten 2 games and one of those was doubles with a solid partner against two good 4.5's. This guy would have to have an impressive desire to play league tennis to keep getting mauled, and his team would have to let him play so he can get beaten enough to get rated down. While people get annoyed when people are underrated I think that is better in general for those peoples longevity than if they are overrated. It is irritating that you get some clear over level players I think it would be better in general for the league if we erred on the lower side than pushing them too high.
Perhaps having a 2-phase process would be kinda interesting .... continue with the basic questionnaire .... it works for almost all players 2.5/3.0/3.5 ... then have mandatory ratings clinics afterwards for certain types of respondents .... so for instance:
There are likely 3 league start dates per region per year ... I will simply use our schedule as an example

40+ league starts first week of January, rosters have to be valid by 12/18

So an new player S rate does the self-rating on say the 10th of December
2.5 ... no rating clinic necessary
3.0 ... who indicates no prior varsity level sport (non tennis) and answers playing fewer than 2 days a week ... no rating clinic required
3.0 ... who does indicate prior varsity level sport (non tennis) and answers playing more than 2 days a week ... required rating clinic
3.5 ... Indicates no HS or college tennis ... no rating clinic
3.5 ... indicates any HS or college tennis ... required rating clinic
4.0 ... have all S rates for 4.0 required rating clinic
4.5 ... I don't think this is as much of an issue, there are going to be very few who self rate at 4.5 or higher that aren't probably at that level

For the league that starts first week of January, have the rating clinic for the district scheduled for 2 weeks prior. Make it various times and days in 90 minute slots

Gives enough time to verify the rating, or deny it and have the player change teams if necessary

Most people would enjoy it. Could do the clinics 3X a year, 2 weeks prior to the start of each season.

Lastly make the penalties for being out of level with lying or skirting the truth much more painful:
Played HS tennis and lied about it? ... 6 month ban for player and captain
Played college tennis and lied about it? .... 1 year ban for player and captain
Had a rating under a different name and attempted to re-rate under a different name with a lower level? 5 year ban for player, captain and perhaps entire club

A pro who is found to have an unusual number of dynamic DQs of S rates they rated in a clinic .... Fine/Ban
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
4.5 ... I don't think this is as much of an issue, there are going to be very few who self rate at 4.5 or higher that aren't probably at that level
For 40 and over, I agree with this. In my experience, in the older age brackets, there are very few new guys that self-rate at 4.5 that shouldn't be there. Plus, the ratings guidelines account for age, so even if the guy was a D-I superstar in his 20s, if he didn't keep playing, he's likely a 4.5 at 40+ now.

However, for 18 and over, I've seen a lot of schenanigans with 4.5 self rates, usually with former high school champs that didn't play college or foreign players with hard to trace backgrounds. In the past, our USTA Section office even allowed two different guys to play 4.5 in their 20s that had verifiably successful college tennis backgrounds. One was the all-time winningest player (over 100 match wins) for a top 20 ranked D-III college that had played in the NCAAs, and the other was a 2 time state high school champ who had won over 40 matches after walking on at a D-I school. Grievances were filed against both, but the USTA ignored their own standards, and these guys were allowed to play and take their teams to Nationals. And those are not the only examples I've seen in our Section in the past decade. Plus, take a look at what has happened in Texas in 18s 4.5 in the same timeframe.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
Maybe I'm in the really gung ho minority, but I would have been all over a match-play ratings event and probably would have joined League earlier. The self-rate thing held me back because I had no idea where I stood and the questionnaire at the time (2018/earlier?) was ridiculous for my situation - for >20 years out of high school your rating was based on how many times you play per week, which for me (twice a week) would have put me at 2.5. That seemed very wrong so it took the wind out of my sails. Then I played in an informal summer singles ladder over a couple of years and realized I could look up the guys I was playing to see if they played League and what level. That gave me confidence that 3.5 was right and so I lied on the self-rate questionnaire to make it come out there. Maybe self-rate is better now, but if those ladder matches I played against League guys were somehow entered into an official rating calculator it would have made the whole thing much easier.
We're obviously different. I would have started later if I had to do a rating clinic. Had a friend of mine ask me to join his 3.0 team so I did. If he'd have asked me to join and then said, :eek:h and you have to go to this event at such and such date, at such and such time so they can rate you." I'd have just said, "nah, I'm good. Don't have time to deal with that." It's enough trouble to get a lot of guys to even show up for a match, let alone some rating clininc.
 

OnTheLine

Hall of Fame
For 40 and over, I agree with this. In my experience, in the older age brackets, there are very few new guys that self-rate at 4.5 that shouldn't be there. Plus, the ratings guidelines account for age, so even if the guy was a D-I superstar in his 20s, if he didn't keep playing, he's likely a 4.5 at 40+ now.

However, for 18 and over, I've seen a lot of schenanigans with 4.5 self rates, usually with former high school champs that didn't play college or foreign players with hard to trace backgrounds. In the past, our USTA Section office even allowed two different guys to play 4.5 in their 20s that had verifiably successful college tennis backgrounds. One was the all-time winningest player (over 100 match wins) for a top 20 ranked D-III college that had played in the NCAAs, and the other was a 2 time state high school champ who had won over 40 matches after walking on at a D-I school. Grievances were filed against both, but the USTA ignored their own standards, and these guys were allowed to play and take their teams to Nationals. And those are not the only examples I've seen in our Section in the past decade. Plus, take a look at what has happened in Texas in 18s 4.5 in the same timeframe.
I don't disagree and makes sense that it would be more in 18+ than the older divisions .... that is why I would have the penalties so steep .... and against the captain as well.

Note I would have these AUTOMATIC penalties. No committee, no LLC making an arbitrary decision, no appeal available.

If you have proof someone played HS/College tennis and didn't disclose it or disclose it fully on the questionnaire .... AUTOMATIC ban for both player and captain. No further questions asked.

What would likely happen if that rule was in place: Wouldn't be a whole bunch of grievances being filed, with those penalties and that they would be an auto-trigger, the sh&t would just stop. No captain would risk it and they would more properly vet S rates.
 

jmc3367

Rookie
It's the cost. its getting to the point that you are going to pay a minimum of $50 to play one. I Think they should do more round robbin format, short set, or no ad scoring or both. make it fun. The last few tournaments I played were no fun. However the last fast 4 I played was a blast and I got to play 6 quality players in singles. In doubles I think we should play a regular no ad no let format. Fast 4 in doubles doesn't allow a lot of actual play
 

Rusbus

New User
So to encourage more people to play, you want harsh penalties, rating clinics, bans for 6 months etc. All in the spirit of fun rec tennis!!!

Not trying to be rude here man but less people with those types of thoughts for rec tennis the funner things will be.
 
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Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Women are already consistently signing up for leagues and almost all league growth is women.

The best thing for the growth of men’s rec tennis would be to have an American male player winning grand slams. Back when Sampras and Agassi were winning slams, tennis was much more popular among American men. The more Serena and other American women dominate while no American men are in the spotlight, the more tennis becomes perceived as a women’s sport, and the fewer young men will play.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
Women are already consistently signing up for leagues and almost all league growth is women.

The best thing for the growth of men’s rec tennis would be to have an American male player winning grand slams. Back when Sampras and Agassi were winning slams, tennis was much more popular among American men. The more Serena and other American women dominate while no American men are in the spotlight, the more tennis becomes perceived as a women’s sport, and the fewer young men will play.
I agree, but there is growth of men's rec tennis, and then there is growth of men's USTA participation. Not necessarily the same thing. My area has a thriving tennis community but very low USTA participation (relative to the number of players and clubs).
 

Ft.S

Semi-Pro
If you have proof someone played HS/College tennis and didn't disclose it or disclose it fully on the questionnaire .... AUTOMATIC ban for both player and captain. No further questions asked.
OMG! :p Such heavy handidleness! I think we are taking recreational tennis a little too seriously here. I thought the purpose is to just get on court have some friendly competition. If few bad apples are enough to spoil the fun this much, something is not right on the approach.
 

jmnk

Hall of Fame
What if there were some kind of periodically scheduled weekend event where interested new players who don't know how to self-rate could play a round-robin against experienced league players, and the results would be used to set their initial level. The experienced players could be given incentive to participate by not charging them to play in the events, and/or giving them USTA credit so they can play in their next league for free for example. The logistics / detail might be tough, but just brainstorming here.
such weekend event(s) already exist. It's otherwise known as 'calling a captain of a team one wants to join and offering 12 bottles of beer to any of his players that wants to play. The player gets one less bottle for every game he loses. If still in doubt about the level after one match - repeat' Works every time.
 

TennisOTM

Semi-Pro
such weekend event(s) already exist. It's otherwise known as 'calling a captain of a team one wants to join and offering 12 bottles of beer to any of his players that wants to play. The player gets one less bottle for every game he loses. If still in doubt about the level after one match - repeat' Works every time.
Perfect, then just enter match scores and associated blood alcohol levels into Tennislink and it spits out your S rating and W rating, e.g. 3.5Sober, 4.0Wasted.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
We just got a notice from our LC about all leagues having low enrollment and to get people in ASAP.

5 men's 18+ 4.5
3 men's 40+ 4.0
3 men's 40+ 3.5

Will be interesting to see what makes this next season.
I am debating to play league again, or just go back to tournament play so I don't feel like it is aweekly grind.
 

Rattler

Hall of Fame
We just got a notice from our LC about all leagues having low enrollment and to get people in ASAP.

5 men's 18+ 4.5
3 men's 40+ 4.0
3 men's 40+ 3.5

Will be interesting to see what makes this next season.
I am debating to play league again, or just go back to tournament play so I don't feel like it is aweekly grind.
Not playing league this upcoming season. This last season was a grind and a bore.

To answer the OP’s question...how about the USTA hire a decent marketing company and spend some cash on advertising? Outside of the Tennis Channel when’s the last time they had an ad on TV?
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
We just got a notice from our LC about all leagues having low enrollment and to get people in ASAP.

5 men's 18+ 4.5
3 men's 40+ 4.0
3 men's 40+ 3.5

Will be interesting to see what makes this next season.
I am debating to play league again, or just go back to tournament play so I don't feel like it is aweekly grind.
So what are they actually going to do to get people in?
Are they just dumping the problem on captains / players and saying hey, get more people to play?
If so that's pretty lame. You'd think they would realize that it's on them to do a better job promoting USTA league.
My area could support 3 times as many teams as there actually are. But there is zero outreach from USTA to encourage higher participation.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
Not playing league this upcoming season. This last season was a grind and a bore.

To answer the OP’s question...how about the USTA hire a decent marketing company and spend some cash on advertising? Outside of the Tennis Channel when’s the last time they had an ad on TV?
Advertising would help, but it think it needs more grassroots type marketing / outreach. Like establishing relationships with clubs / facilities and giving them an incentive to field teams and to promote USTA within the club membership.
Maybe that already happens in some areas but not in others?
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
So what are they actually going to do to get people in?
Are they just dumping the problem on captains / players and saying hey, get more people to play?
If so that's pretty lame. You'd think they would realize that it's on them to do a better job promoting USTA league.
My area could support 3 times as many teams as there actually are. But there is zero outreach from USTA to encourage higher participation.
USTA blankets us with a few email blasts, but the LC was reaching out to team captains. Some of it is the current season is just ending or still has a few makeup matches so players tend to not think about next season yet and procrastinate. But yeah, you would think some direct mail to players or such might be good.
 

J B

Semi-Pro
In order to increase participation, I really think there has to be a paradigm shift within the USTA regarding transparency in ratings and calculations. If you think about it, it's really a little outrageous that we all willingly play under a system that is mostly clouded in secrecy that no one will really tell you the details of and as a result, I think some of the decrease in participation is really the result of the lack of confidence people have in the system from not understanding it. Plus, it's hard to hold anyone accountable when they operate a system they won't tell you about.

For tournaments, what I have began using for my own events is transitioning from weekend-long events to one-day tournaments. I still do one large weekend event once a year (actually its Thur-Sun) where I have 400-500 people but during the rest of the year, it's now going to be one-day events. I am also about to try another alternative where a tournament is actually played over the course of three weeks where you play your matches during the week once a week.
Right, you know why? because its run by good ole boys and girls and they dont want their glorious ranking they worked so hard for to drop if it was clearly defined.
 

J B

Semi-Pro
Well, I think they are really trying their best to get everyone involved but problem is local teams that constantly sandbag and same teams win the division every year. That is really a biggest problem we have. and also these idiot team captains putting everything into winning only and don't give a darn about players. They also hurt the USTA team tennis spirit and leaves bad taste in many people's mouth and they don't play anymore.

So I have actually seen local club leagues thriving and getting more players into their leagues and USTA losing players and teams. That is not a good sign for USTA
same here. The local ladder has over 150 players on 3 levels and has over 200 matches played in less than 3 weeks. Meanwhile I have put in 2 requests for a team with the USTA and gotten nothing. I've already beaten supposed 4.0 team captains.
 
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