What could the USTA do to increase participation...

MRfStop

Hall of Fame
Since it’s so hard to get people to captain pay for the captains league fee. Give them an incentive to captain. Here they pay for the captains state fee but a lot of teams don’t make it that far
 

graycrait

Legend
USTA must be a major metropolitan phenomenon. I joined once but saw that it had zero impact on my tennis life so never renewed. I have been playing tennis since around 1960 and USTA is just an acronym to me. I am not complaining just stating a fact. USTA seems to have no effective penetration across the nation. I live in a fast growing city that is approaching 200K. I know several locals who have USTA memberships but other than saying they have a USTA membership I see no practical advantage to their membership.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
USTA must be a major metropolitan phenomenon. I joined once but saw that it had zero impact on my tennis life so never renewed. I have been playing tennis since around 1960 and USTA is just an acronym to me. I am not complaining just stating a fact. USTA seems to have no effective penetration across the nation. I live in a fast growing city that is approaching 200K. I know several locals who have USTA memberships but other than saying they have a USTA membership I see no practical advantage to their membership.
That’s weird. When I joined USTA, I got free a lesson from Tony Nadal on the buggy whip forehand. Did you get the platinum membership?
 
USTA must be a major metropolitan phenomenon. I joined once but saw that it had zero impact on my tennis life so never renewed. I have been playing tennis since around 1960 and USTA is just an acronym to me. I am not complaining just stating a fact. USTA seems to have no effective penetration across the nation. I live in a fast growing city that is approaching 200K. I know several locals who have USTA memberships but other than saying they have a USTA membership I see no practical advantage to their membership.
I live in a major metro area and USTA is not where the best players are to be found, generally speaking. Cliques and exclusion are not a recipe for growth. [emoji849]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

graycrait

Legend
I'm not sure what the goals of USTA are, but MLB, NFL and NBA have figured it out so much so that in the case of NBA and NFL they have turned college play into their de facto minor league with little real cost. The elimination of many college tennis programs seems to indicate that USTA feels the NBA and NFL models are without merit. This in turn indicates to me that USTA may be still clinging to the hope that wealthy demographics will keep USTA coffers filled "enough."

I volunteer in the summer to hit and drill young high schoolers who want to play tennis, not groomed juniors. I watched with some glee at the end of our latest 8 week session to see 3 of the kids I hit with take on the more monied young players. "My" kids lacked the skill set but they were great athletes and very fast, overcoming their skill deficit due to superior athleticism and serious joy just to be running and hitting tennis balls. "My" kids all had to work till 11 p.m. 5 nights a week during the summer.

It seems to me that even with USTA's "high profile" inner city events, there is little stomach in the organization to expand tennis across a wide swath of socioeconomic demographics nationwide. In so doing they have abdicated reaching the best athletes to other sports. Heck, even golf seems to have a better handle on youth development than tennis. Tennis and polo seem to have more in common in the US than tennis has with soccer, basketball, baseball, football and golf.
 

V-Werks

New User
I feel like they need to make tournaments easier to find and more well publicized. I've talked to A LOT of people who say they want to play tournaments but don't know how to find them. We need to get to a point where, if you type "tennis tournaments' into google, it takes you right to a link for all the local USTA tournaments.
If you join USTA, Tennislink dynamically posts "Events Near You" on the League page. Also, your USTA Section likely also has its own website that posts events including non-sanctioned tournaments. It could be easier.
 
One thing Pickleball does real well is have regular meet ups. USTA should do that. People don’t always want to do a tournament or a league. But they like to play in a more relaxed setting. It would take a little effort by the USTA to assign a coordinator. You can have scheduled matches on one night or just show up on another night. They had something like that in Knoxville TN. It was done by the city not USTA, but it generated a lot of enthusiasm and got people involved. League play and Tournaments are fine but not if people are being turned off by it. You pay the USTA dues and get a magazine what else do you get? Besides people get what they need online. The magazine is pretty useless.
Drove by a couple of courts mid-week, mid-day that are always empty at that hour, and saw a couple of housewives hitting with a pro--and then saw it was PICKLEBALL. The pro was undoubtedly a tennis pro trying to make his $200 a day having to resort to P.Ball. USTA sponsored meet-ups sounds good! Maybe having local pros "casually" supervise and get 'em started helping choose up partners and keeping the inmates from getting too rambunctious. Perhaps the pro could charge a few bucks and supply the cheap Costco Penns. The meet-up wouldn't be a clinic but the pro could recruit from it. Perhaps have a clinic for those wanting to stick around afterward or prior to being familiar with their games and providing helpful tips for improvement. USTA could be doing some grass-routes organizing at these meet-ups--I've only once seen a rep from USTA visit my facility and it's a very active one with many teams. I remember as a kid there always being someone supervising afterschool playground activities or at the neighborhood park that had at least one court. It was usually a phys-ed major from a near-by university or a Par-Rec employee. These positions are no longer occupied--having someone around to organize activities would help maintain the facility and prevent vandalism.
 

TennisDawg

Hall of Fame
Drove by a couple of courts mid-week, mid-day that are always empty at that hour, and saw a couple of housewives hitting with a pro--and then saw it was PICKLEBALL. The pro was undoubtedly a tennis pro trying to make his $200 a day having to resort to P.Ball. USTA sponsored meet-ups sounds good! Maybe having local pros "casually" supervise and get 'em started helping choose up partners and keeping the inmates from getting too rambunctious. Perhaps the pro could charge a few bucks and supply the cheap Costco Penns. The meet-up wouldn't be a clinic but the pro could recruit from it. Perhaps have a clinic for those wanting to stick around afterward or prior to being familiar with their games and providing helpful tips for improvement. USTA could be doing some grass-routes organizing at these meet-ups--I've only once seen a rep from USTA visit my facility and it's a very active one with many teams. I remember as a kid there always being someone supervising afterschool playground activities or at the neighborhood park that had at least one court. It was usually a phys-ed major from a near-by university or a Par-Rec employee. These positions are no longer occupied--having someone around to organize activities would help maintain the facility and prevent vandalism.
Well said. I just remember the excitement on Saturday mornings when I'd drive to the local courts and see the beehive of activity in recreational tennis. People waiting to challenge for a court, singles, doubles, pickup games. I did see that in Raleigh NC around 2012 and it was fun. It was a public facility and had a front desk with a small fee to play. The courts were well groomed and there were lessons going on and organized play as well. Maybe the solution is with the local recreation departments. I know some would object because it has to be included in the city budget but there are so many benefits to the community. I just think the USTA is overblown and does not serve many tennis players, one reason is you have large cities that control the competition so if you happen to live 60 miles away or more you have to spend several hours traveling to play one match and if you win the match you are faced with driving again the next day. USTA could do better there has to be more creative ways if they want to boost membership. Maybe, USTA doesn't care maybe I'm wrong and they don't care about membership, maybe they have plenty of members. I initially disparaged pickleball and thought how dare they use languishing tennis courts for their dorky game. But I give credit to how they have grown their game for the average person just looking to get out and exercise and have some fun and social interaction. I still think Pickleball is a boring spectator sport, it's more fun to play it. I would never become an avid Pickle player, still love tennis.
 
Last edited:

HunterST

Hall of Fame
If you join USTA, Tennislink dynamically posts "Events Near You" on the League page. Also, your USTA Section likely also has its own website that posts events including non-sanctioned tournaments. It could be easier.
Yeah, it's not hard for me, but I mean for the more casual tennis player. The type of person who has been playing at the park or played a bit in high school.
 

ARNICOLINI

Rookie
2 key items are keeping league numbers low in my area. Sandbaggers and lack of captains:

Captains are a key ingredient to drive participation. So doing more to assist the captains is one of the first keys.
Captains should not pay league fees
Captain 4 teams a year and get a year membership of USTA added on to your membership at no charge.
Explore this theme more, 4 teams get a year at 50%, 6 teams get a year for free etc.
Captain a league Season with no line defaults, get $5 (or 2.50 or different amount) credit towards a 5 year USTA membership renewal



Another key point is being better about moving up the sandbaggers. Make it easier to move up than to move down. They did a good job this year at 4.0 in my area (moving people up) but it should continue. Push more players up to 4.5, then in 3-5 years start pushing the 4.5s up to 5.0. The talent might get a bit more diluted, but that will make each level more playable for more people. Right now getting bumped from 4.5 to 5.0 is a near death sentence, because there are not enough 5.0s to have a real league. And getting bumped from 4.0 to 4.5 is tough because you have only the best 4.5 players playing, because the non competitive ones that were bumped simply stopped playing USTA.

Another item that may have already happened (but if not it should) is players that are close to being bumped should have their mixed and combo records used for consideration. Players here locally that are sandbagging, throw games and sometimes sets in Adult play and have 4+ matches. Which leaves them free to play at 100% in combo and mixed because it will not count towards their rating. If someone's rating in mixed and or combo is largely off their adult ratings they should be reviewed more closely.

Older tennis players here that get tired of running up against those sandbaggers here are moving to pickleball. They are tired of fighting the fight, and having these people sandbag year after year after year. So they move on entirely from tennis to pickle ball. And from talking to those players, they are never coming back to tennis. So USTA has lost them for life.

Other items:

Consider league fee for a team as opposed to by player.
This to me would seem to be harder as the captain would have to decide what to charge players and collect the money etc. But here in Florida there is a competitor to USTA (Suncoast for men, Tri Cities for the ladies) that charge per team and they have just as much or more members than USTA. The fee is like $100 a team and the captains typically charge $10 per player. Any extra money is used to provide balls and or throw a year end party. And the season is long, so its a great deal for our retired, budget based membership. Suncoast here continues to grow by leaps and bounds taking directly from USTA. I know I am eligible for Suncoast starting at the end of 2020, not sure when my current USTA membership expires but, at the moment anyway, I am not planning on renewing.

League coordinators - add some incentive to leagues that have more than X number of teams. This will incentive the coordinators to recruit more captains and get more teams. Consider changing the coordinator compensation based on number of teams as opposed to per player based.

I am mixed in this one, but consider weighting the points per court, where court 1 counts more than court 2 etc.
Pros: Teams more likely to put their best players on the top courts. thus better tennis over all on all courts
Cons: It removes some of the strategy, where a lesser overall talented team can still win a match under the current system by putting players on certain courts to trying to get the best match up for your team. Throw one court, to try and win 3 of the other 4.
One of the more positive notes I hear about Suncoast, is you can play court 3, and not have to face another teams best players. Suncoast has rules where you can only play 1 court different from one match to another. So if you played court 1 this week, next week you could play 1 or 2 but not court 3. And you are supposed to put your best players on the top court etc. There are no ratings in Suncoast, and when the best players are not on the top courts grievances can be filed that are actually really looked at and action taken where appropriate. Too many times with USTA nothing happens. So people just stop playing.

Personally I think USTA locally is on its way out. Suncoast, Tri-Cities, Ultimate Tennis and locally / club run leagues or nights are taking over and it will be hard for the USTA to regain that participation level. Mixed used to be the most popular league play here 5-8 years ago. I remember a season with 14 teams at 8.0 mixed here. Now its 2 - 4 teams max.

One other item that has gone away are the week night matches. Clubs and local leagues have filled up that gap, but at least have a Friday night league. Playing matches at 1 pm on a Saturday or Sunday basically take up your entire day. Mornings are reserved for member play etc so clubs don't allow league play to start until 10:30 or 11 am. If you get that slot its not bad, but if you get the slot after or sometimes the slot after that its either too hot (summer in Florida) or too much in the middle of the day.

Not sure if anyone is really reading this or following this thread much any more ( I was interested in feedback but did not real all 4 pages of the thread) but this is my $.02 from someone who plans on ending their USTA membership in the future in favor of other tennis venues.
 

KaiserW

Hall of Fame
USTA is strong in my area but one thing I dislike is we have no outdoor matches. All played indoor in the nicest part of our weather June and July and August if advancing to playoffs.
Are other areas like this?

I have a friend that no longer plays because he wants to play outdoor this time of year.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
2 key items are keeping league numbers low in my area. Sandbaggers and lack of captains:

Captains are a key ingredient to drive participation. So doing more to assist the captains is one of the first keys.
Captains should not pay league fees
Captain 4 teams a year and get a year membership of USTA added on to your membership at no charge.
Explore this theme more, 4 teams get a year at 50%, 6 teams get a year for free etc.
Captain a league Season with no line defaults, get $5 (or 2.50 or different amount) credit towards a 5 year USTA membership renewal



Another key point is being better about moving up the sandbaggers. Make it easier to move up than to move down. They did a good job this year at 4.0 in my area (moving people up) but it should continue. Push more players up to 4.5, then in 3-5 years start pushing the 4.5s up to 5.0. The talent might get a bit more diluted, but that will make each level more playable for more people. Right now getting bumped from 4.5 to 5.0 is a near death sentence, because there are not enough 5.0s to have a real league. And getting bumped from 4.0 to 4.5 is tough because you have only the best 4.5 players playing, because the non competitive ones that were bumped simply stopped playing USTA.

Another item that may have already happened (but if not it should) is players that are close to being bumped should have their mixed and combo records used for consideration. Players here locally that are sandbagging, throw games and sometimes sets in Adult play and have 4+ matches. Which leaves them free to play at 100% in combo and mixed because it will not count towards their rating. If someone's rating in mixed and or combo is largely off their adult ratings they should be reviewed more closely.

Older tennis players here that get tired of running up against those sandbaggers here are moving to pickleball. They are tired of fighting the fight, and having these people sandbag year after year after year. So they move on entirely from tennis to pickle ball. And from talking to those players, they are never coming back to tennis. So USTA has lost them for life.

Other items:

Consider league fee for a team as opposed to by player.
This to me would seem to be harder as the captain would have to decide what to charge players and collect the money etc. But here in Florida there is a competitor to USTA (Suncoast for men, Tri Cities for the ladies) that charge per team and they have just as much or more members than USTA. The fee is like $100 a team and the captains typically charge $10 per player. Any extra money is used to provide balls and or throw a year end party. And the season is long, so its a great deal for our retired, budget based membership. Suncoast here continues to grow by leaps and bounds taking directly from USTA. I know I am eligible for Suncoast starting at the end of 2020, not sure when my current USTA membership expires but, at the moment anyway, I am not planning on renewing.

League coordinators - add some incentive to leagues that have more than X number of teams. This will incentive the coordinators to recruit more captains and get more teams. Consider changing the coordinator compensation based on number of teams as opposed to per player based.

I am mixed in this one, but consider weighting the points per court, where court 1 counts more than court 2 etc.
Pros: Teams more likely to put their best players on the top courts. thus better tennis over all on all courts
Cons: It removes some of the strategy, where a lesser overall talented team can still win a match under the current system by putting players on certain courts to trying to get the best match up for your team. Throw one court, to try and win 3 of the other 4.
One of the more positive notes I hear about Suncoast, is you can play court 3, and not have to face another teams best players. Suncoast has rules where you can only play 1 court different from one match to another. So if you played court 1 this week, next week you could play 1 or 2 but not court 3. And you are supposed to put your best players on the top court etc. There are no ratings in Suncoast, and when the best players are not on the top courts grievances can be filed that are actually really looked at and action taken where appropriate. Too many times with USTA nothing happens. So people just stop playing.

Personally I think USTA locally is on its way out. Suncoast, Tri-Cities, Ultimate Tennis and locally / club run leagues or nights are taking over and it will be hard for the USTA to regain that participation level. Mixed used to be the most popular league play here 5-8 years ago. I remember a season with 14 teams at 8.0 mixed here. Now its 2 - 4 teams max.

One other item that has gone away are the week night matches. Clubs and local leagues have filled up that gap, but at least have a Friday night league. Playing matches at 1 pm on a Saturday or Sunday basically take up your entire day. Mornings are reserved for member play etc so clubs don't allow league play to start until 10:30 or 11 am. If you get that slot its not bad, but if you get the slot after or sometimes the slot after that its either too hot (summer in Florida) or too much in the middle of the day.

Not sure if anyone is really reading this or following this thread much any more ( I was interested in feedback but did not real all 4 pages of the thread) but this is my $.02 from someone who plans on ending their USTA membership in the future in favor of other tennis venues.
I'm in the same area as you.
Agree with most of your observations. Specifically re Suncoast, I really like that I get to play against many other teams. And with very little drama compared to USTA.
Whereas in USTA there are only 2 teams for the upcoming season (4.5 level). I have zero interest in playing the same opposing team 8-10 times, so it's a pass for me.
It's a bit of a chicken and egg: USTA isn't attractive any more because there are so few teams, but there are so few teams because it's no longer attractive.
I agree with you that USTA needs to provide more incentive to captains and also clubs to field teams. Basically USTA does a horrible job promoting USTA leagues to the local tennis community.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
You know, I wonder if the league could try something a little creative.

It would obviously be nice for the league to waive the registration fee for captains, but I guess they don't want to lose that income.

How about having each player on a team be assessed some amount that, when combined, would offset the captain's registration fee? Around here a roster might be 20 players, and the captain's registration fee is around $25. So assess each player $1 onto their registration fee, which goes toward the captain's fee.

After all, the captain is providing a service to the players, so the least they can do is kick in a $1.

Would that work in other parts of the country where teams are smaller or registration fees are smaller?
 

dak95_00

Hall of Fame
I’ll be 48 next month. Last year was the first year I ever played usta. I got an elbow injury, got bumped up, and made districts on two teams in two different divisions.

I was asked to play again this year and likely would have if I didn’t need to rest my elbow. I was asked to captain a team and turned it down knowing I was going to get bumped up and out of that division and also knowing I wouldn’t have taken the necessary time away to heal.

I could go back and play now and have had many captains reach out to me; 40+ state qualifiers and a couple 4.0 teams that were district qualifiers. I don’t feel like paying the usta fee, club membership, and court time fees. It would likely cost me close to $1k for just a few months of play. I’d rather participate in clinics and sub in social leagues. The usta and club membership would be roughly $550 and the court time is $22/person per match. I can play as a sub in a league and pay either $25 or maybe only $5 for two hours of doubles and receive pizza and beer too. Singles usta is only guaranteed 40 minutes of play for the $22 where you play a pro set to 9 (no ad scoring) if it gets that far before time expires. That’s pricey.

Never played a usta tournament. I’d be more likely to play if it were a round robin even if it were some sort of format where you just played 6 no ad games per opponent. Having no history, I could be pitted against a former Ohio State player and lose within minutes and then I’m out money with very little tennis to show for it. And I’m back to I should’ve just participated in some clinics.
 

dak95_00

Hall of Fame
You know, I wonder if the league could try something a little creative.

It would obviously be nice for the league to waive the registration fee for captains, but I guess they don't want to lose that income.

How about having each player on a team be assessed some amount that, when combined, would offset the captain's registration fee? Around here a roster might be 20 players, and the captain's registration fee is around $25. So assess each player $1 onto their registration fee, which goes toward the captain's fee.

After all, the captain is providing a service to the players, so the least they can do is kick in a $1.

Would that work in other parts of the country where teams are smaller or registration fees are smaller?
USTA captains here get free club memberships at some of the clubs. That’s worth $300-500.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
Do you have to be a club member to play USTA in your area?

If that were the case here, I might have to give it up also.

I see why you’ve decided against it. At this point, I think I play USTA for the variety. I play some social tennis, and it gets a little comfortable. I know Sally will lob, Becky can’t reach drop shots, and Karen never hits dtl. It makes me a little mentally lazy.
 

dak95_00

Hall of Fame
Do you have to be a club member to play USTA in your area?

If that were the case here, I might have to give it up also.

I see why you’ve decided against it. At this point, I think I play USTA for the variety. I play some social tennis, and it gets a little comfortable. I know Sally will lob, Becky can’t reach drop shots, and Karen never hits dtl. It makes me a little mentally lazy.
Yes you must be a member. It’s expensive. Court time is never free. Court time is $44/hour at every club. Memberships vary from $300-$500 for a year.
 

TennisManiac

Hall of Fame
Stop raising the damn registration fees every year. And give more money to the teams that win Sectionals to travel to Nationals. The USTA has become a total scam.
 

kevrol

Hall of Fame
Stop raising the damn registration fees every year. And give more money to the teams that win Sectionals to travel to Nationals. The USTA has become a total scam.
Your LLC needs the extra cash and since league registrations are on the decline, this is the only way they can get a raise.
 

TennisManiac

Hall of Fame
Your LLC needs the extra cash and since league registrations are on the decline, this is the only way they can get a raise.
League registrations aren't on the decline here in CPD. We have more teams and players in every league than ever before.
 

Jack the Hack

Hall of Fame
And give more money to the teams that win Sectionals to travel to Nationals.
Whaaat? More money to the teams that win Sectionals...?

I've been on two Nationals teams and we didn't get a penny from the USTA after winning Sectionals. Our prize last year was a crystal paper weight that said Sectional Champion, and the prize this year was a cheap metal bag tag. Absolutely no money for offsetting travel costs. In fact, it costs $55 per person to sign up for Nationals...

Is prize money happening elsewhere in USTA League?

I have heard of two expensive private clubs in my Section that pay the way to Nationals for their qualifying league teams, but both are the kinds of places with 5 digit initiation fees and high monthly dues.

The personal costs for each of my trips to Nationals was about $1,500 to $2,000 for the week, including my wife coming along. We made a vacation out of both trips to make it more worth our while. While I'll never say never, it's hard for me to get excited about playing league anymore and getting to Nationals. I was on a team that was the best 4.5+ group to ever come out of our city and we got 2nd at Nationals. I can't imagine doing better than that again, and we now have to break our group up for a year. I don't see myself paying that kind of money again for a league trip, so I think I'm done. I'll save my money for attending the French or Australian Opens (the two Slams I haven't been to yet) and playing ITF Senior events in cool places like France or Spain instead.
 
Last edited:

FedLIKEnot

Professional
Get rid of the shenanigans captains pull. Especially as I am in the Nor Cal region their are captains who routinely break various rules and codes of conducts to have nothing happen. I won’t bother going into details because we all know the type. If you’re going to have rules than have a way to enforce them.

Have some sort of APP where the rules can be accessed in real time. Can’t even begin to tell you how many petty arguments I’ve seen by opponents arguing the dumbest things.

Lastly and this may be unique to me but find a way to foster and reward culture building. Team tournaments (and yes I know to some degree this is the Tri level events), but be creative. Feel club pros are underrated and under utilized. Though they may like it like that. And favorite tennis experiences have been when matches take on a certain Davis Cup type feel. Their has to be a way to tap into that. And I know they’re trying with world team tennis formats and stuff....
 
Make real pros “National Captains” of the various Sections (I’m talking Isner, Sock, Kudla, Sandgren) and then put them on the adjacent courts at a Nationals event, you pulling for them and them for you (a la Laver Cup) And PLEASE don’t tell me the USTA can’t afford to pay them or the pros wouldn’t play because they can and they would.


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 
And play ALL the nationals at the USTA National Campus in Orlando and not some run down has been destination with dodgy weather (at best) Hotel rooms are plentiful and cheap and plenty of family fun nearby. PLUS Playsight for honest line calls and video feeds to the folks back home. You can even quiet TTW Nation with documentation of your 120MPH serves!!! [emoji471]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

schmke

Legend
And play ALL the nationals at the USTA National Campus in Orlando and not some run down has been destination with dodgy weather (at best) Hotel rooms are plentiful and cheap and plenty of family fun nearby. PLUS Playsight for honest line calls and video feeds to the folks back home. You can even quiet TTW Nation with documentation of your 120MPH serves!!! [emoji471]
Ummm, Orlando had weather affect 4 of 5 Nationals held this year, 3 of them very significantly. And it wasn't unique to this year either.
 

schmke

Legend
Fair enough but it’s generally very nice there this time of year [emoji41]


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
And this time isn't when Nationals are. Nationals are in October and early November, which is during or the tail end of hurricane season. They even avoided Orlando the first two weekends of Nationals this year to try to avoid bad weather and it didn't work. It may work in some years, but the weather trends don't lie and Orlando during that time has a good chance of rain.

Not that other areas don't have a chance of rain too, but there are other venues the USTA uses that historically have had far fewer issues.
 

ChaelAZ

G.O.A.T.
And play ALL the nationals at the USTA National Campus in Orlando...
A FRICKEN MEN! As one of the better OVERUSED desitnations for Nationals I fully support getting my public funded facility back so I am not put out for almost half the weekends each year for nationals and events.
 

silentkman

Professional
A FRICKEN MEN! As one of the better OVERUSED desitnations for Nationals I fully support getting my public funded facility back so I am not put out for almost half the weekends each year for nationals and events.
can they play the Nationals the first week of December to avoid weather conflicts? I did a camp during that time period in 2017 and the weather was perfect.
 

silentkman

Professional
2 key items are keeping league numbers low in my area. Sandbaggers and lack of captains:

Captains are a key ingredient to drive participation. So doing more to assist the captains is one of the first keys.
Captains should not pay league fees
Captain 4 teams a year and get a year membership of USTA added on to your membership at no charge.
Explore this theme more, 4 teams get a year at 50%, 6 teams get a year for free etc.
Captain a league Season with no line defaults, get $5 (or 2.50 or different amount) credit towards a 5 year USTA membership renewal



Another key point is being better about moving up the sandbaggers. Make it easier to move up than to move down. They did a good job this year at 4.0 in my area (moving people up) but it should continue. Push more players up to 4.5, then in 3-5 years start pushing the 4.5s up to 5.0. The talent might get a bit more diluted, but that will make each level more playable for more people. Right now getting bumped from 4.5 to 5.0 is a near death sentence, because there are not enough 5.0s to have a real league. And getting bumped from 4.0 to 4.5 is tough because you have only the best 4.5 players playing, because the non competitive ones that were bumped simply stopped playing USTA.

Another item that may have already happened (but if not it should) is players that are close to being bumped should have their mixed and combo records used for consideration. Players here locally that are sandbagging, throw games and sometimes sets in Adult play and have 4+ matches. Which leaves them free to play at 100% in combo and mixed because it will not count towards their rating. If someone's rating in mixed and or combo is largely off their adult ratings they should be reviewed more closely.

Older tennis players here that get tired of running up against those sandbaggers here are moving to pickleball. They are tired of fighting the fight, and having these people sandbag year after year after year. So they move on entirely from tennis to pickle ball. And from talking to those players, they are never coming back to tennis. So USTA has lost them for life.

Other items:

Consider league fee for a team as opposed to by player.
This to me would seem to be harder as the captain would have to decide what to charge players and collect the money etc. But here in Florida there is a competitor to USTA (Suncoast for men, Tri Cities for the ladies) that charge per team and they have just as much or more members than USTA. The fee is like $100 a team and the captains typically charge $10 per player. Any extra money is used to provide balls and or throw a year end party. And the season is long, so its a great deal for our retired, budget based membership. Suncoast here continues to grow by leaps and bounds taking directly from USTA. I know I am eligible for Suncoast starting at the end of 2020, not sure when my current USTA membership expires but, at the moment anyway, I am not planning on renewing.

League coordinators - add some incentive to leagues that have more than X number of teams. This will incentive the coordinators to recruit more captains and get more teams. Consider changing the coordinator compensation based on number of teams as opposed to per player based.

I am mixed in this one, but consider weighting the points per court, where court 1 counts more than court 2 etc.
Pros: Teams more likely to put their best players on the top courts. thus better tennis over all on all courts
Cons: It removes some of the strategy, where a lesser overall talented team can still win a match under the current system by putting players on certain courts to trying to get the best match up for your team. Throw one court, to try and win 3 of the other 4.
One of the more positive notes I hear about Suncoast, is you can play court 3, and not have to face another teams best players. Suncoast has rules where you can only play 1 court different from one match to another. So if you played court 1 this week, next week you could play 1 or 2 but not court 3. And you are supposed to put your best players on the top court etc. There are no ratings in Suncoast, and when the best players are not on the top courts grievances can be filed that are actually really looked at and action taken where appropriate. Too many times with USTA nothing happens. So people just stop playing.

Personally I think USTA locally is on its way out. Suncoast, Tri-Cities, Ultimate Tennis and locally / club run leagues or nights are taking over and it will be hard for the USTA to regain that participation level. Mixed used to be the most popular league play here 5-8 years ago. I remember a season with 14 teams at 8.0 mixed here. Now its 2 - 4 teams max.

One other item that has gone away are the week night matches. Clubs and local leagues have filled up that gap, but at least have a Friday night league. Playing matches at 1 pm on a Saturday or Sunday basically take up your entire day. Mornings are reserved for member play etc so clubs don't allow league play to start until 10:30 or 11 am. If you get that slot its not bad, but if you get the slot after or sometimes the slot after that its either too hot (summer in Florida) or too much in the middle of the day.

Not sure if anyone is really reading this or following this thread much any more ( I was interested in feedback but did not real all 4 pages of the thread) but this is my $.02 from someone who plans on ending their USTA membership in the future in favor of other tennis venues.
good points, just don't see the allure of league tennis. You tons of horror stories in this forum. Its seems that league tennis is everything that tennis should not be about. Captains who believe they are running a multi million dollar franchise. The sandbagging, the politics, 90 minute matches. I very rarely hear any good stories about league tennis.
 

schmke

Legend
can they play the Nationals the first week of December to avoid weather conflicts? I did a camp during that time period in 2017 and the weather was perfect.
The challenge is they want to publish year-end ratings by early December so players and teams can plan for leagues starting in January. That means Nationals kind of have to be done by early/mid-November, or you don't use Nationals results in calculating year-end ratings, but they are a significant factor in the calculations today.
 
And this time isn't when Nationals are. Nationals are in October and early November, which is during or the tail end of hurricane season. They even avoided Orlando the first two weekends of Nationals this year to try to avoid bad weather and it didn't work. It may work in some years, but the weather trends don't lie and Orlando during that time has a good chance of rain.

Not that other areas don't have a chance of rain too, but there are other venues the USTA uses that historically have had far fewer issues.
Fair enough. But is it set in stone when they are to be played? No one seems too happy with the status quo. [emoji41]

Also, what about my idea to have professional player serve as “Regional Captains” and play alongside the hacks when the time for nationals comes?


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
 

silentkman

Professional
The challenge is they want to publish year-end ratings by early December so players and teams can plan for leagues starting in January. That means Nationals kind of have to be done by early/mid-November, or you don't use Nationals results in calculating year-end ratings, but they are a significant factor in the calculations today.
Thanks, I did forget about that.
 

Max G.

Legend
good points, just don't see the allure of league tennis. You tons of horror stories in this forum. Its seems that league tennis is everything that tennis should not be about. Captains who believe they are running a multi million dollar franchise. The sandbagging, the politics, 90 minute matches. I very rarely hear any good stories about league tennis.
Because you don’t get entertaining stories when everything goes well, so only trainwrecks get posted!

I’ve played league tennis for years and enjoyed it. Nothing much to report. I sign up for a league, fill out my availability, show up and play. Never faced anyone so far out of level that the match wasn’t fun, or anyone whose sportsmanship was bad enough to remember.

The main allure is that I get some matches that are competitive where we pretend the results matter, that I get more variety in opponents than what I’d get if I was just scheduling matches with my buddies, and someone else does the scheduling so I don’t have to send out a million emails.
 
Last edited:

silentkman

Professional
Because you don’t get entertaining stories when everything goes well, so only trainwrecks get posted!

I’ve played league tennis for years and enjoyed it. Nothing much to report. I sign up for a league, fill out my availability, show up and play. Never faced anyone so far out of level that the match wasn’t fun, or anyone whose sportsmanship was bad enough to remember.

The main allure is that I get some matches that are competitive where we pretend the results matter, that I get more variety in opponents than what I’d get if I was just scheduling matches with my buddies, and someone else does the scheduling so I don’t have to send out a million emails.
I know, but the show up and play and go home strategy does not sounds alluring at all. Especially when someone else is controlling your playing schedule. to each his own.
 

JeffG

Rookie
It was a public facility and had a front desk with a small fee to play. The courts were well groomed and there were lessons going on and organized play as well. Maybe the solution is with the local recreation departments. I know some would object because it has to be included in the city budget but there are so many benefits to the community.
I think the consistency that could be offered by a staffed parks and rec department is a key. The USTA’s reliance on volunteer captains and changing venues leads to a lot of inconsistency and frustration.

My wife started playing a few years ago, joined a 2.5 team, and then got bumped to 3.0 after her team finished second at sectionals. The first couple years were a great, genuine team experience with a lot of improvement. That team had to break up owing to players moving, one younger member getting bumped to 3.5, etc.. The last couple years since have been a mess owing to both poor captaining and lack of captaining altogether - far too many players on a single team, poor to non-existent communication, constant confusion as to who is scheduled to play when and where.

There really isn’t a regular team or schedule despite players being asked to submit their availability well in advance. The fairly simple idea of showing up once a week or so for a skill level appropriate match is completely out the window, let alone any team building or more genuine camaraderie. Sometimes my wife gets three matches a month, sometimes none, and almost always with a different partner or at least one with whom she hasn’t played in a long time.

Whether it’s a lack of incentive and support to captain or just luck of the draw in terms of individual captains, it’s difficult to tell what if anything the USTA adds to the mix beyond barely there minimums and the possible opportunity to play in seasonal championships. Just about any sort of regular structure, tools, or support would be an improvement but I realize it likely takes paid staff to make that happen.

From an outside perspective, it seems like the USTA is using whatever money they generate from recreational tennis to support high level, big ticket development and events rather than distributing money from higher level events down to recreational tennis. If the USTA wants to focus on professional player development, that’s fine. There just needs to be an acknowledgement of that focus rather than trying to keep recreational tennis directly under their purview as well.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
The last couple years since have been a mess owing to both poor captaining and lack of captaining altogether - far too many players on a single team, poor to non-existent communication, constant confusion as to who is scheduled to play when and where.

There really isn’t a regular team or schedule despite players being asked to submit their availability well in advance. The fairly simple idea of showing up once a week or so for a skill level appropriate match is completely out the window, let alone any team building or more genuine camaraderie. Sometimes my wife gets three matches a month, sometimes none, and almost always with a different partner or at least one with whom she hasn’t played in a long time.
Have your wife start her own team. All of these problems won't happen on a well-run team, so your wife should run a team.
 

mctennis

Legend
Just my thoughts here. *I did not read all the other posts before my posting- did not want to be tainted with those postings*.
The USTA seems to be just a self pepetuating association. They keep adding more and more layers to their organization. Thus requiring more and more money to keep the organization alive. All they actually do is make you pay them so you can play tennis against other people in your area with the hope of playing people across the country. I believe 95+% of people playing tennis just really want to play tennis, period. The idea of them becoming National Champions is nice but in reality, not very achievable because of time restraints with life, work, and family.
If they had a two level of paying to join the USTA. One for just playing against others in your area, region, or state. Then another " competitive" division that pays more to be in the National Competition level. Make those fees a lot different in pricing. Local pricing- make it really affordable a year. The USTA makes tons and tons of money off people that really never make it beyond local competition. They just like playing tennis.
I stopped belonging the USTA years ago simply because I saw the USTA not really caring about the people that were members and just wasting money on things for themselves and the upper level of players. They put on a good show on the outside. Lots of parties, fund raisers, throwing money at things that make it seem like they are such a caring organization.
Not in my opinion.
 

JeffG

Rookie
Have your wife start her own team. All of these problems won't happen on a well-run team, so your wife should run a team.
I figured that was coming as a suggestion but it speaks directly to the problem: My wife and many others with whom she plays don’t have the time needed to do it well. Committing to regular drills, practices, and (hopefully) matches is quite a bit to juggle with work and other obligations already. In terms of being able and willing to pay fees for others to handle the organizing, though, it’s a question of what players get in return.

My points about consistency have to do with the fact that, via current USTA methodology, there is no reliable or consistent standard for what value league participation offers. In our metro area - and based on comments here, I think in a lot of areas - all the USTA league activities are run out of private clubs anyway. If those clubs offer leagues and ladders and opportunities for regular play and competition, what is it that the USTA can consistently offer that would lead people to choose USTA leagues over other options? The team aspect can be attractive but those benefits only happen with a tight, consistent team.

Via advertising and promotional offers, I feel like the USTA has some success at attracting new players and pushing them toward leagues. After a few seasons, though, a lot of them keep playing tennis but drop USTA league participation. Potentially doing that - dropping USTA league play but taking better advantage of club level offerings - is the current conversation in our household and others of which we are aware. We’re also looking more into metro area programs focused on bringing similar level players together on public courts. I think that comparative value and consistency issue is a part of the problem the USTA has to solve if it intends to remain central in recreational tennis. As I suggested, that could mean more support or incentives for captains or more involvement of paid staff. If the answer is to do it yourself, some people will, sans USTA involvement.

Some suggestions: Aim for more teams rather than just more players with increased USTA support - either staff provided or via captain training and guidelines, incentives, and tech support. Along those same lines, don’t increase lines of play at higher levels and limit the number of players that can be on a team roster. As is, captains sometimes feel encouraged to take on too many players in order to ensure no courts are defaulted. Very occasionally missing a match owing to a default, though, I think is better than missing several or being haphazardly scheduled owing to trying to accommodate so many players. Too big a team also reduces the chances of team building and camaraderie. Realistically, I really think more paid staff, even if part-time, needs to be a part of the equation. I just don’t think the current volunteer captain model works very well nor do I think it’s very fair to captains.
 

Cindysphinx

G.O.A.T.
I figured that was coming as a suggestion but it speaks directly to the problem: My wife and many others with whom she plays don’t have the time needed to do it well. Committing to regular drills, practices, and (hopefully) matches is quite a bit to juggle with work and other obligations already. In terms of being able and willing to pay fees for others to handle the organizing, though, it’s a question of what players get in return.
You know more about tennis in your area than I do, but I do question some of your assumptions here.

I captain. I do not commit to regular drills and practices, and I do not chase players around to get them to practice themselves or with one another. I spend exactly as much time on captaining as I care to and not one minute more.

I see my main job as to direct traffic. By that I mean I set the line-ups and try to put together a group of 8 women who will win three lines. It is really not that time-consuming, especially with the awesome scheduling software out there now. Heck, I don't even have to nag players for their availability or send reminders -- the software handles it.

In exchange for the effort of captaining, I can make sure the team runs the way I think a team should run. My teams are organized, and drama is not tolerated. Folks seem to enjoy the teams, as it is rare for someone to change to another team.

Tennis is supposed to be fun. Being on a poorly run team with the problems you describe (too many players, poor communication, no one knowing when they are playing) would be no fun for me. I would rather put a bit of time into captaining than endure that.
 

Dartagnan64

G.O.A.T.
Problem with USTA is that it is focused on a league and tournament system that caters to highly competitive alpha players moreso than to people that "just want to have fun". The latter group is immensely larger than the hyper competitive group. It is why people are flocking to the laid back, fun focused game of pickleball in droves.

Tennis needs to get some focus back on "fun for all ages". I have a group of guys I play Saturday mornings with and it's the highlight of my week. They are all fun guys, competitive but not to the point of ass-hattery, and willing to take the **** back and forth. We have great hard fought matches for nothing more than the fun of competition. I don't see that in the leagues and tournaments I've played where too many people are keyed up into a "win at all costs" mentality that is off putting to a lot of recreational and casual players.

So I think the USTA really needs to develop a fun league strategy and market fun developmental tennis for the 2.5-3.5 groups and only sponsor regionals and national playoffs for 4.0 and above. Because to be honest, what the heck is a 3.0 national champion anyway? Just some fortuitous hacker that fit into a rating slot below his actual level of play.

USTA is bleeding low level players to pickleball and it will continue as long as they force feed a national playoff league concept to crappy tennis players.
 

Chalkdust

Semi-Pro
So I think the USTA really needs to develop a fun league strategy and market fun developmental tennis for the 2.5-3.5 groups and only sponsor regionals and national playoffs for 4.0 and above. Because to be honest, what the heck is a 3.0 national champion anyway? Just some fortuitous hacker that fit into a rating slot below his actual level of play.
Agree, with the caveat that the bold part applies to 4.0 and 4.5 as well. I can understand 5.0 national champs given 5.0 is effectively the highest level of play generally available.
 

innoVAShaun

Legend
I completely agree with bringing back the FUN in tennis. I haven't played on a USTA league since 2009. The only thing keeping me in tennis right now are attending clinics and giving clinics. These are all family friendly and for all ages.

My family and I also have a great time at JTCC (College Park, MD) when they host they're monthly Tennis Festivals. I remember USTA used to have Block Parties that had a similar goal to introduce everyone to tennis. Maybe bring those back as well.
 
Top