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Tuesday, January 27, 2009

The Criteria for Using USTA National Training Centers

I'm not sure when the USTA revamped its criteria for juniors who wish to make use of the National Training Centers, but I ran across a list on the player development site that was new to me. I suspect this is new since last fall, when Higueras was named Director of Coaching for USTA Elite Player Development. Here's a sample of what is required from the 16 and older group:

Male Players Turning 16 and Older

ATP: Top 50 ranked American Men

ITF: American players ranked in top 100

USTA: Top 5 ranked players in singles in Boys 16's or 18's.

Or by invitation from our National Coaching Staff

Female Players Turning 16 and Older

WTA: Top 50 ranked American Women

ITF: American players ranked in top 50

USTA: Top 5 ranked players in singles in Girls 16's or 18's.

Or by invitation from our National Coaching Staff

I can't be certain that this was ever on the website before, but I think it's important that it be in writing. I appreciate that the USTA is considering their own rankings, which they rarely did before, because it gives players who prefer to stay in school and play only USTA events a chance to work at the National Training Centers if they choose. I know several players from years past who were not invited or encouraged to train with the USTA, despite very lofty USTA rankings and accomplishments. I hope that era is over.

The player grant criteria has also been revised, with three categories: Excellence, Development and Grand Slam. Although the 2009 Excellence grants form is not available, the Development one is, and it provides a detailed explanation of the categories and amounts reimbursed. The Junior Grand Slam grants are still disappointingly low, and probably account for the dearth of U.S. juniors in Australia this year, but Harry Fowler, Lauren Embree, Ester Goldfeld, Christina McHale and Alexandra Cercone will have $1500 checks coming to them.

The USTA adds these words to the Player Development Grant explanation:

Communication will be clear, understood and the arrangement will be mutually agreed upon by both parties prior to entering into the relationship.


kdt said...

The forms you linked to are reimbursement forms, to be used by those who have been awarded grants. I could find no information about how one is considered for a Development grant.

I share your disappointment over the relatively low level of these grants. In 2007 the USTA budgeted over $10 million for USA Tennis Player Development. Grants were distributed to 157 players. Even if each player received, say, $5000 (a fantasy figure, I'm sure), that's still less than $800k distributed in grants. It would be really nice if the USTA were more transparent about how that money was spent.

rjm said...

Any one know why the difference in criteria between male and female juniors:

1) For male juniors-top 100 in ITF
2) For female juniors - top 50 in ITF

RJM - P.R.

kdt said...

Further examination of the standards for taking advantage of the National Training Centers compared with the current rankings reveals this:


ATP - I'm not sure if the selection criteria means men in the top 50 (of which there are 5 from the US, none of whom are likely to take advantage of this offer) or the top 50 US men in the ATP (which takes you down to 720-ranked Shane La Porte).

ITF - There are 15 US players in the top 100.


WTA: There are 3 US women in the top 50, two of whom share the last name "Williams." The 50th US woman is Theresa Logar, ranked 554.

ITF: There are 5 US players in the top 50.

(The USTA numbers are self-evident.)

If the ATP/WTA criteria are meant to apply to the top 50 US players in each circuit, then the entrance criteria as a whole are very heavily weighted in favor of players who are already playing professional tournaments.

What this may mean in practice is that many slots are given out from the "by invitation of our National Coaching Staff" category. As with the Development grants, it would be nice to have more information about how this new resource is being used, and by whom.

Colette Lewis said...

I took it to mean, since these are development grants, the top 50 American men in the ATP rankings, not American men in the Top 50, but I agree it's ambiguous. And now that I look at it, there's no maximum age given either, so to assume it is for junior players only, which I did, might be an incorrect conclusion on my part.

The Genuine Texas dude not to be credited to ignorant comments said...

Money goes to useless programs for young kids. The USTA doesn't have anybody that can legislate its way out of a paper bag. No wonder college coaches are no longer looking at tennis recruiting sites as most of the 5 stars are kids who could afford to travel. The USTA needs to get off its duff, talk to "intelligent and grounded parents", we are out there and try to fix tennis in the US. Too many people do not belong in the sport no matter how they build up their "little ones" only when the sport is left alone, will we develop. That means bye bye to blogs like this that favor certain players without actually knowing that tennis means alot more than a record or looking good.

a parent said...

Genuine don't bame the blogger. she is providing a good service and making a living. You are correct the USTA people are generally incompetent as are most US coaches despite all their training in tennis and child development, whoops they have none. Mostly they are Pros because it takes no training and they have little qualification to do anything else. Most cannot even tell you why they failed to succed in tennis as players or in anything else for that matter so do not trust most of them with your dhild's development. They teach pushing, cheating, grunting, gamesmanship etc and could not develop a high-level game if you handed them the talent of Federer. But they would sure guarantee any parent they could improve his junior ranking. As for USTA beurocrats, they are interested in taking money from parents in the name of useless junior rankings. That is the focus and that is at the root of widespread US failure. good you recognize this but blame the correct people.

Relieved Parent said...

Glad we're at the end of this junior tennis circus! It will only become a more expensive and ridiculous money sport. Those silly ranking are absurd. Junior tennis is a regional sport. If you can't compete in your own section, you don't deserve to go to nationals. All supers should cut their draws to 128. All Level 3 national should be declassified as regionals. You should not be able to buy your ranking which is what a lot of parents do in this points system. The Tennis Recruiting ranking is flawed as it doesn't correct for age group. That is, if a 3 star 18 year old beats a 14 year old blue chip, he notches a great win. Tired of spending thousands to get a $700 racquet endorsement freebie, better to spend less and buy the $300 players package. My son never plays level 3's, always ends up in the top 50 and will be playing in the Ivys next fall. The USTA exascerbates the problem in junior tennis by playing favorites in an exclusionary manner. Thank goodness to the end of all this madness.

somethingdifferent said...

I have heard alot of usta bashing over the years on this site.

According to what I have being reading, the usta doesn't help alot of players or plays major favorites. With that being said, shouldn't the bashing be turned to all the other coaches, parents, and academies for doing (allegidly) a terrible job, considering, they coach a majority of the players???

What happens if we dissect each tennis program in the united states or even better each parent's decisions at their work, or their companies decisions, like everyone is doing with the usta, we certainly can find major criticism as well. We should have a blog on all that.

Everyone has an opinion, right or wrong, with how things should be done and everyone appears to be the expert. If those parents, coaches, academies make the correct decisions, then why haven't their kids made it to the top of the game???? Take ownership for yourselves, take ownership for your players and stop blaming others for your shortcomings OR start writing some solutions and answers rather than only criticism (it gets really tiresome and redundant).

Get Real said...

Thank God for some of you normal thinkers out there. The Usta and Academies are all about themselves. They have no idea how to recruit potenitial athletes. I happen to have a very dear friend who has managed 3 pro football teams and has been the recruiter for those teams and has 6 superbowl rings. He was the guy going to colleges and recruiting the talent. I learned alot of certain qualities that make a great athlete. 99.9% of the kids that are with the USTA would have no chance catching this guys eye. There are so many dynamics that have to be considered. Its the kids who play different and are under the radar at the age of 15 and 16 that they should consider, not 12 and 13. It is time for the egos to take a step back and relly learn how to analyze what other sports look for and what age to start really developing. Tennis is the only sport with coaches taht treir egos are much bigger than their results.

back-to-basics said...


I understand and agree with most things you say, however, it's unfair to single out the kids of the usta. They have more pressure on them than anyone else. Your percentage of those kids not "making it" is too high.

The system from 10-30 years ago was way more effective. Stay HOME, get parental discipline, play alot in your state and section, and then be selected for Nationals. For those elite juniors who dominate Nationals, then mix in Futures/Challengers. The ITF's need to vanish.

Get Real said...

Back to basics, You are right about the % but i do not think i m that far off. I do agree about how the systems use to be more productive. We did have alot of great players then. I think you can not judge talent at age 10-14. The usta should remember these kids and then come back and see their development. There are alot of better athletes that i see in the 16s and 18s, then when they were younger. I would like to see the usta put some of their elite players back in some of the Fl tourneys in their own age division and see how the do against their peers and check out other kids to. Running to Itfs and playing up is not always the answer. The usta needs to keep it simple and slow down. I bet there will nver be a Capriati again

from down under said...

Oh my goodness, so good to see the ranking criteria debate happening over there too. Since Criag Tiley came in as our head of development we have had the most ridiculous criterias in place. The first thing is our players need International results ...Can you imagine what it costs for a family to travel overseas from Australia to meet this criteria? worse still at the same time you need to meet the national component , and have played Nationals, Therefore how can one be in two places at once. ? This sport that is elitist enough now has become even further so when even just to learn and develop in this game you need results ? What comes first the development or the results ? Basically it is like federations saying actually we will only support those who are doing well, and they call that DEVELOPMENT? Oh and I agree with what a blogger said earlier if things are so right , why are our players results going backward. Until federations look at development long term, and stop frothing at the mouth every time a junior gets some outstanding results then we will continue to go backward. Tennis in Australia is in an all time low. I saw this coming when the criterias came out nearly four years ago.

Parent saving time, money and aggravation said...

to be clear solutions are:

1-train and play close to home until the child at least becomes a physically mature young adult.

2-don't wast time and money on any USTA program prior to that, they are detrimental and will encourage many bad habits. Thisincludes their training programs, ranking system for developing players, tournament environments etc. (Nobody would ever go to a baseball game where the batter calls his own balls and strikes etc.)

3-good luck finding training and hitting partners as most US families are brainwashd into thinking that academies serve a purpose other than income for coaches to feed balls and recruit private lessons. The only need for an academy is for older and advanced players to find hitting partners or matches (whoops, they don't play matches)after they have outgrown their local environment.

3-Younger and stronger players can stay home and play older players.

4-After full physical maturation be honest with your child and decide what a reasonable goal is such as D2, D1, or pro or strictly academics.

5-Go for the goal but if you need to travel to other countries or spend a lot of money or play other games to get into Futures or ITF tournaments or level 3 nationals or other make believe "important" competitions you likely have chosen too lofty a goal.