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Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Patrick McEnroe Responds to Wayne Bryan's Letter


When Wayne Bryan's letter about USTA player development began circulating on the internet, I knew I had to respond to it, but I wasn't sure if the USTA would. Today, I received USTA Player Development General Manager Patrick McEnroe's response to Wayne Bryan's letter, which appears unedited, in its entirety, below:

I admire the passion that Wayne Bryan brings to the sport of tennis. I applaud all that he has done to help his sons, Bob and Mike, become not only an amazing doubles team but genuinely great guys. Some of my greatest and most memorable experiences in tennis involve the Bryan brothers and all that they’ve done for our Davis Cup team and American tennis. That said, I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Bryan’s opinions on the myriad subjects—including 10 and Under Tennis and USTA Player Development—that he addresses in the “open letter” that has now been prominently featured in several tennis-related blogs.

It’s easy—and frankly, it’s long been fashionable—to cast a blanket indictment against the USTA. That’s neither new nor notable. I think all of us at the USTA would agree that a lot of past criticism has been deserved, but Mr. Bryan’s scattershot attack is so full of holes, hearsay, and half-truths that I feel compelled to address it.

Let me first say that the USTA has a clearly-defined mission—to promote and develop the growth of tennis. The USTA wants more people on more courts in more places; that is our charge as an association. As General Manager of Player Development, my specific charge is to help produce more Top 100 players with the goal that we have more of them competing into the second week of the majors. That’s a different responsibility but, in the long run, achieving that goal is at least partly reliant on getting more young people involved in the sport.

The world has changed—and tennis has changed with it. Our challenges as an association and a sport continue to evolve. Let’s face it, in a rapidly-changing global environment, if we’re not changing and moving forward, we’re essentially going backward. Tennis is simply not the same sport that it was 20 years ago—even 10 years ago. Anyone who was paying attention to the second week of this year’s Australian Open realizes that the bar is being raised as we speak. Tennis is much more of a global sport today, probably the most global, other than soccer. It’s true that Americans don’t dominate tennis the way they once did, but the truth is that because of globalization, Americans don’t dominate any sport the way they once did. Even sports once considered traditionally “American,” such as baseball and basketball have become much more international. Given all of that, if we want to ensure our place at the table, we need to have a strategic vision that encompasses every level of play and player—from beginner to pro.

Tennis has often been criticized for being too expensive and inaccessible. Those criticisms have truth to them; they are challenges that all of us involved in the sport face. And these are specific issues that the 10 and Under Tennis initiative addresses. When Mr. Bryan says that tennis, “grows from Main Street,” and from “solid, fun, dynamic programming,” he’s absolutely right. Tennis is indeed a sport that grows upward from its grass roots, and by making the sport easier for kids to play and enjoy, they’re much more likely to get involved in it and stick to it. That’s exactly the idea behind 10 and Under Tennis, and for any sport, that’s step one.

In terms of 10-and-under competition, the rule change adopted by the ITF and the USTA has, in fact, opened the door for more kids to get involved in junior competition. Two years ago, fewer than 10,000 kids were involved in tournament play and in the USTA’s Jr. Team Tennis program. Now, that number has risen to more than 32,000. We’ve still got a long way to go, admittedly. We’ve only begun to scratch the surface of our potential. But more kids are trying tennis, and we feel confident that this rule change will open the door for more kids to get involved—and stay involved—in our sport. And that’s a good thing.

The idea that the more-talented or more-accomplished kids are somehow being held back or hampered by the rule changes that include shorter courts, properly-sized racquets and slower-bouncing balls is absurd. Mr. Bryan says he can produce, “all kinds of kids around the country at 8, 9, 10 who can flat out nail the ball.” I’m sure that’s true, and in fact, I’ve seen plenty of them at our Regional Training Centers and our three USTA training centers. But I’m equally sure that there’s not a single sport that makes its rules for the one-half of one percent of the kids who play it. For the kids who truly are that good, they can—and should—do what the best kids in tennis and all sports have been doing for years: play up at the next level. It’s important to emphasize that this rule change applies only to tournament play for kids 10-and-younger.

It’s equally important to note that the ability to “flat-out nail the ball” doesn’t exactly translate into a bright future as a player. We’ve all seen examples of that time and again. Indeed, by playing with properly-sized equipment and a softer ball that allows for longer rallies, we will be much more likely to develop smarter players who understand how to construct points; not just those who can smash a yellow ball through the back wall. In doing that, we’ll have more players who understand how to compete—and are better-prepared to do so.

Jose Higueras, USTA Player Development’s outstanding Director of Coaching, often has said that this country has produced plenty of players who can hit the ball, but far fewer who understand how to play tennis. We believe that the new 10 and Under competitive structure can go a long way to developing smarter players, providing them with a more solid foundation and understanding of the sport, so that by the time they progress to the next level, they’ll be able to do more than “nail” the ball.

That would certainly be a huge help to all of us in Player Development, a group which, despite what Mr. Bryan may believe, work pretty darn hard to provide the most talented young players in this country—and their coaches—with the tools they need to achieve.

Mr. Bryan likes to point out that the USTA has never developed a Top 10 player. I would ask him, “Who has, from start-to-finish?” The USTA has, for years, played a vital role in the development of many top professionals, but the idea that any one person is responsible for the development of any individual player is ludicrous. Players evolve, players change, players progress. It’s an ongoing process and always has been. The coach or parent who got a player from point A to point B may or may not have the tools or know-how to help take the player to the next level. What’s more, the economics of tennis almost always come into play for most coaches, who often have to decide whether to stick with a player or with a full-time job at their club or academy. That’s a tough call, and an important one, both for the coach and the player. Whatever the scenario, whatever the need, we’re there to lend our support to both the coach and the player so that the player can progress.

But contrary to what Mr. Bryan believes, USTA Player Development isn’t in the “cherry-picking” business. We’re in the business of helping the best young players get better by providing a controlled environment in which they will have the best chance of developing. Our Player Development staff devotes a remarkable amount of time—often years—communicating with kids, their parents and their coaches to decide on the best path of progress for each individual so that they can make an intelligent and informed choice. If they decide to work with us, we do our utmost to provide them with the best training, the best advice, the best competition, and key financial support. After all, in order to improve, you need to be in a place where you can regularly compete with the best; you don’t get better in a vacuum. What we provide are more opportunities for the best to come together, compete with each other, and get better.

Mr. Bryan suggests that the USTA’s thrust is to “get rid of the influence of parents and local coaches.” Again, that’s absolutely absurd. We are well aware that all of the kids who come into our program get their start in other places, and we applaud the parents and coaches who get these kids involved in tennis and nurture their development. Indeed, since I’ve been in this job, my appreciation of the importance of coaching at every level has increased tenfold. I think we can—and should—do a better job of acknowledging those who’ve helped develop these kids along the way, but the idea that we’re out to exclude anyone is ridiculous. Indeed, the amount of time that we spend annually meeting with and exchanging ideas with private coaches is off the charts. Just last year, USTA Player Development conducted 57 camps at our Regional Training Centers, where we were able to touch thousands of kids, parents and coaches. We’re not in the business of exclusion, we’re in the business of inclusion and enhancement. We’re in the business of giving these talented kids more options for pursuing their highest goals within this sport, assisted, of course, by the input of their parents and coaches. None of us are about to apologize for that.

As in most criticism aimed at the USTA, Mr. Bryan is fond of citing the “massive staff expenditures” of this association. Yes, we’re extremely fortunate to have the revenues generated by the US Open to help us fund our programs and hire talented people, but to hear Mr. Bryan tell it, you’d think our water coolers were filled with Dom Perignon. I make a very nice living—I don’t apologize for that either. But the truth is that a lot of my very talented staff take less money to work for USTA Player Development than they could make if they took their talents elsewhere. They choose to be with us because they have a genuine passion and they want to play a part in our mission.

And in fact, it’s important to note that the majority of the revenues that are generated by the US Open aren’t directed toward Player Development, but go back into the game’s grass roots, allowing more people of every age to get involved in the sport of tennis. All of us at the USTA feel that’s a good way to invest that money.

Some six years ago, the USTA Board of Directors felt it was important to get more players involved in Player Development because they believed it was important for American players to be competitive at the US Open in order to ensure the long-term health of that event. The impetus for me to come on board was that the USTA said it would be fully-responsible for the development of those players who chose to be with us; that we would have our own training centers where the best players could come together to get better. I was hired, not as a coach, but as a General Manager, charged to put the best people in place to help achieve that goal and come up with an overall direction for the program. In the four years I’ve been on the job, that’s what I’ve worked hard to achieve, and that’s what I’ll continue to do.

Mr. Bryan bemoans the fact that I’ve hired some foreign coaches; he decries the fact that none of my coaches have children that are champion players. Frankly, I’m offended by the former and amused by the latter. I still recall the best coaching advice my father ever gave me as a junior—after splitting the first two sets of my match, he told me prior to the third set to, “do what you did in the set that you won.”

Where a coach is born or what their kids excel at is not my concern. I’ve tried to hire the best and the most passionate; I’ve tried to hire those who excel at—and enjoy—working with and developing kids. Our Director of Coaching, Jose Higueras, has coached some of the greatest ever to play the game, but his real passion is working with kids, and his understanding of the sport is second-to-none. Are we always trying to get better? Are we always looking to improve? Absolutely. But let’s just say I’m extremely comfortable with everybody’s resume and their proven passion for the sport.

Mr. Bryan wants the USTA out of the player development business, out of the coaching business and out of the rule-making business. O.k., he’s entitled to his opinion. But if the governing body of the sport isn’t making the rules, then who will? Doesn’t someone have to take the lead? Doesn’t someone have to organize and promote the sport?

When I took this job, I knew there would be rewards and I knew there would be challenges. I knew that every decision we made would have its supporters and its detractors. I really do appreciate the passion that those involved in tennis have for our sport; I think that the people who put a face on our sport are second-to-none in that regard. I understand a lot of the criticism and I’m happy to take most of it—where it’s constructive and where it’s deserved. The buck stops here. Certainly, when Americans don’t fare well on our sport’s biggest stages, nobody is calling the local pros—they’re calling the USTA. And they should.

Because of that, our charge is to do what we can to make our sport—and our players—better and more competitive in this highly-competitive global environment. That’s what we’re working on every day and that’s what we’ll continue to do. We are prepared to address any and every short-term concern with an eye toward long-term benefits. We can’t—and we won’t—allow short-sightedness to interfere with long-term vision.

88 comments:

Morris King Jr. said...

This is one of the best spins I've ever read! The PR folk they had to write this response, should write for political campaigns. My last interview included some of that which Wayne Bryan pointed out (read it here: http://bit.ly/blm-interview - don't be thrown by the writer's chosen title, as the interview is far more encompassing).

Can all of us be wrong for such a large number of years that we've been saying these things, including now?

Morris King, Jr.
MAGIAN World Class Tennis
www.magian10S.com (official website)
facebook.com/morriskingjr (FB profile)
@magiantennis (Twitter)

TennisCoachFLA said...

Wow, Pat Mac could not be any more clueless. The attitude that they need to create an "environment to develop players" and take them past where the parents and coaches can is beyond absurd. USTA high performance has been around since 1999 and has never produced a thing. All the USTA needs to do is grow the game, support private coaches and parents, and stay away from any actual training.

The USTA has zero chance of producing a top 10 pro from USTA high performance. It is and has always been an ego trip and a huge waste of money to support a few kids who end up playing college tennis.

TennisParent of UNITED STATES said...

Is the subject of FOREIGNERS IN COLLEGE TENNIS, AND NO AMERICANS ON A TEAM not important enough for Mr. Patrick McEnroe to address.

Mr. Bryan feels the pain of American parents who have poured thousands of dollars into tennis for their juniors, and those juniors get shut out of American tennis.

I love the new rules that American players have to start playing college tennis within 6 months of graduating high school, their age 18.

And then some older foreigner players show up, 21, who start as freshmen, and then you will see their status change quickly to junior and senior within the year.
Sure, the colleges abide by the rules, but that foreigner still takes a spot from a freshman, ALTHOUGH HE MIGHT ONLY HAVE A YEAR PLAYING TIME LEFT, as a junior or senior.

And nice of McEnroe NOT to address the new rule changes in 2011 where the draws for nationals for L2 are 32 kids!

How do you grow the sport when the draws are 32 juniors and there are only 4 tournaments in the whole country?

Or what about the new rule changes for 2014?
Oh, you haven't heard about them?
Yes, the USTA asked the few who have that proposal not to send it around.
Luckily, some people still have integrity in the United States.

Rule changes for 2014 if they are passed this March 2012:

16 draw for Winter Nationals, with 6 spots being given for wild cards. ( GEE WONDER WHO WILL GET THOSE 6 WILD CARDS?)

Wait? What?

16 draw for a GOLD BALL FOR WINTER NATIONALS?

YEP, THAT IS RIGHT.

Or 64 draw for Kalamazoo.

Say bye - bye to college coaches seeing junior in August of 2014.

SAY GOOD BYE TO TENNIS IN THE UNITED STATES.

Parents will only spend so much money if there is no chance of junior playing college tennis.

Too many foreigners in college tennis and no national exposure at the national tournament....

Sad.

TennisFan2Day said...

I wonder if Patrick McEnroe will ever talk about the fact that 3 of his players have been kicked out of his group in Boca for partying all night only to be reinstated 2 weeks later.

He would get a lot more respect if he would just admit that lowering the number of players in draws is not "growing" the game, just the opposite.

Patrick McEnroe is running the USTA Junior Development the same way that General Motors was run. The same thing that is happening to GM is going to happen to the USTA, instead of buying a Toyota or a Honda, they will go out and start playing soccer or golf.

Patient for talent said...

TennisParent: All McEnroe does is run PD. Most of your items are USTA in general or NCAA. NCAA is it's own machine and USTA and McEnroe have no sway over them.

As PD GM, McEnroe is not making decisions on L2 draw sizes. And toward that, honestly, if a player can't make the top 120 or so (32x4) to gain L2 entry, that player hopefully loves and enjoys the game and will play some college tennis. But the idea that player is headed for a professional career and warrants the attention or services of McEnroe and PD is a long shot.

Also, on the 2014 proposal, I don't believe your information is current. Hards are 128; Winters were converted to a gold ball team event (for now). But like the weather, just wait a few weeks because I'm sure it will keep changing.

You definitely have some good points about college tennis, but they should be targeted to the NCAA and the NCAA coaches that hold the cards.

I for one am willing to give McEnroe more time. He's been at it 4 years and USTA has been more systematic about talent ID and it's not all rankings driven as implied. Also, US has recently started having much better results at international junior events such as orange bowl, eddie herr, jr. Fed/Davis cup, jr grand slams.

Barry Buss said...

http://barry-buss.blogspot.com/2012/02/my-response-to-wayne-bryan-manifesto-re.html

To tennisparent...here is a response to your foreign players in college tennis inquiry...To those who have commented...two things...I couldn't agree with Patrick more that the Wayne Bryan letter is horribly misguided and chock full of wholes...It's terribly argued, from 10 and under tennis being faulty (let the market place decide???) to Mr. Bryan's admonition that we need more doubles in our development.(Umm, Mr Bryan, the market place has spoken loud and clear on doubles in all levels of tennis..it is being nixed out of the juniors, limited in length and importance in college, and I need not describe its history and place on the professional tours..If his kids weren't so good, nobody would give even the slightest hoot about..the market place has spoken loud and clear about doubles..how Mr. Bryan has not heard that message is part of Patrick's point)
The last paragraph of my piece echoes Patrick's points...its a different world now..we are only in decline in relative terms, the rest of the world has caught up, and we better get used to it..and this whole "developing a player" label is one of the biggest red herrings ever...Patrick and jay berger developed themselves into players, and I believe Patrick sat down for dinner a few times with one of our sport's greatest a few times...i would think he would have a pretty good idea about tennis greatness..Mr Bryan's letter is just not very well thought out or reasoned..those who have been around this sport a long time are almost in lock step about this...as more and more people take the time to write out thoughtful responses, for it is quite the long strange trip through the tennis galaxy...But to insinuate that career tennis people like patrick Jay Jose etc are callous non caring self promoting egomaniacs is truly not fair to anyone who knows them and the work they are trying to accomplish

steve1959 said...

A typical reply from a regime in denial! Mr Bryan raised some very valid issues and Mr McEnroe's reply is what it reads a vindication of an establishment hell bent on "doing it there way"

Ray Brown said...

I address only a single quote: "The idea that the more-talented or more-accomplished kids are somehow being held back or hampered by the rule changes that include shorter courts, properly-sized racquets and slower-bouncing balls is absurd." This statement is far from a logical and factual defense of ROG and requires a much better response to justify a mandate for ROG. Nothing that followed in the letter provided a logical and factual defense of having ROG as a mandate either. Dr. Ray Brown

Proud Parent of a USTA Junior Player said...

A lot of anxiety about USTA junior tennis in the hearts and minds of us parents would be greatly alleviated if each section or district would hold a question and answer session for parents concerning the rules and the best outcomes to be expected by competing in USTA Junior tournaments. For the most part, most juniors will not receive a scholarship or become professional tennis players but have the satisfaction of competing and acquiring a recreational life time skill.

Colette Lewis said...

I've received several excellent comments I can't post because they are anonymous, so I want to remind all those with thoughts on McEnroe's response to use a name so I can publish them.

Steve Thomas said...

It's fairly easy to take crack-shots at the usta. Who knows if Wayne Bryan's approach would work - but I assure you, he would be equally, or more so, critized.

McEnroe was correct when he said, people do not critize the local coaches, academies, country clubs, the private enterprise, etc.

The full-time players at the usta has hand-written letters from the "local pros" who recommended those players to be there. It's an application process, not hand selection.

Just the Boca center alone has over 400 players per year, has been invited to play/practice/drill/train, etc. So it is NOT only a few select kids.

People fail to realize is that the usta only started coaching juniors since 2007, NOT 1999 as alot of people are saying. The usta had supplemental coaching roles for 20-some years.

Thank you to those to view an issue then make solutions, instead of just critizing - you sound like a typical American tennis parent.

And for the 3 players who partied and got accepted back - have you read Agassi's book? or been involved with any teenagers? Kids to dumb things - EVERY kid - unless you want to be the Pope.

Americans have turned into a country of complaining and worrying about what other people have or got. STOP IT. Be thankful for what you have.

Susan Wrighte said...

In response to Barry Buss

You state "let the market place decide" about ten and under tennis.
There is no market place involved.
THIS IS A MANDATE.

In other words, the USTA has decided that this is what is best for ten and under kids.

I can't have my 8 year old, or 9 year old, or 10 year old play regulation ball, nope it is with a different ball.

No thought or consideration that thousands of kids would be affected.

Their answer is PLAY UP.
Do you know that certain sections are now NOT LETTING JUNIORS PLAY UP.


I am not against new things. I am against mandates and shoving it down people's throats with their attitude - IT'S MY WAY OR THE HIGHWAY!

That is what happens when you have a monopoly.
You can't vote them out or go to a different tennis organization.

Coach in Florida said...

I am utterly confused.

Did Patrick McEnroe read all of Mr. Bryan's open letter?

There was a whole section devoted to foreign college tennis players taking spots from Americans.

Many posts here were from parents expressing their unhappiness about the fact that some college teams have NO Americans on them.

If Patrick McEnroe is in charge of the USTA Player Development program does he think this is not an issue to be addressed?

Over and over again at tournaments and at tennis facilities, I hear parents complaining about foreigners at state schools using state dollars, taxpayer dollars.

I guess the majority of tennis players doesn't matter to someone like Patrick, he couldn't even bother to address it....

Brian said...

I wish Wayne Bryan ran the USTA, he at least has a clue how the parents feel in this country.

Patrick is really out of the loop living in his ivy tower.

David said...

One questions the USTA and the player development staff whose coaches were instrumental about the new changes.....

Changes that you feel now with smaller reduced draws, unless you have a wild card.

And changes that are coming in 2014. I read the proposal and the 64 draw is for Hard courts ( Kalamazoo) and Clay courts ( Memorial Day weekend will be the new timing).

Transparency - no.
Open about the changes - no.

Why is is such a secret from all the due paying members who spend thousands of dollars on junior's tennis. We would like to know about it before it happens, so we can voice our complaints. Not after the proposal is passed this March.

Now you know why folks were asked to not fax or email the proposal. It is bad for the majority of players, unless you have the golden ticket, the wild card which btw they increased. Surprise. Surprise.

Tennisdad said...

Bring in lots of new recreational players with Quickstart, and get more due paying members.

Take your serious players that play 5 days a week, and shut them out of national draws.

Wow, way to grow the long term game.

Tennisfan said...

How do we get Wayne Bryan to run the USTA?
At least he knows what is going on with the general tennis public and feels our pain.

Stan said...

I love when you complain about how foreigners are taking over American college tennis - you are a typical tennis parent. Well,the typical American tennis parent is not going to continue paying for tennis lessons, group lessons, clinics, academies, tennis clothes, sneakers, racquets, strings,and balls if there is no light at the end of the tunnel. The handwriting is on the wall when people look back and wonder why tennis died in this country. Too bad no one could bother to read it, but Wayne Bryan.

Igor said...

Pretty frustrating when your kid is on a wait list as an alternate for a national tournament, and a kid lower ranked and way down on the wait list gets to play over your junior because he is a PLAYER DEVELOPMENT player.

Hard work should be rewarded on merit.
No wonder we can never win an Open these days.
The cream never rises to the top with all these wild cards. Thanks Patrick..

Tennisdad said...

Too bad that in accomplishing your goal of :

"As General Manager of Player Development, my specific charge is to help produce more Top 100 players with the goal that we have more of them competing into the second week of the majors."

hurts all the other junior players who are shut out of the small national draws as your coaches thought this was best for the "player development" players.

Are you so afraid that someone from the outside might win over your players?
I guess the answer is yes, otherwise why would you reduce all the draws and increase the wild cards.

Edwin said...

Patrick addressed Wayne Bryan's letter, but did he read only 1/2 the letter?

Here it is, still waiting for Mr. McEnroe to acknowledge that this is a huge problem for AMERICAN JUNIORS.

Wayne Bryan wrote -

1) Address the glut of college players in American college tennis. This is the big elephant in our tennis living room. The USTAhas never taken a stand on this. They even put out a White Paper saying basically that there is no problem. I chaired a panel discussion on this two years ago and the four USTA Staffers at the table all said American kids are “no good” and “lazy”. Huh?! There are several million dollars in tennis scholarships going to foreing players whose parents do not spend dollar one in taxes for education in this country. In this dire economy this is unconscionable it seems to me.

There is more, but there is a limit on these comments.

TennisFan2Day said...

Patient for talent - Just for your information Patrick McEnroe was in Texas for the junior comp meeting that was discussing all level 1, 2 & 3 draw sizes.

Steve Thomas - People don't criticize private local coaches, academies, country clubs, the private enterprise because they have the choice on whether to support them financially. Those who don't succeed in the private sector fail on their own, they don't have an endless supply of money coming in no matter what the results are. As far as the "local pros" who sent hand written letters that is a joke. Those "local pros" are friends of the system. There are 2 players down there training full time who have never even won a level 3 tournament let alone anything higher. As far as the 3 players partying, it isn't like it happend once and were let back in. It has happened multiple times. Nick Bollettieri owned the academy at the time Agassi was there, it was Nick's right to handle it any way he chose to.

The top 19 & 20 year old pros right now, Sock, Harrison, & Kudla are not products of the USTA PD, they are products of the private sector. That should tell you something. The only reason Berger and Higueras were in Sock's booth at the US Open was because Sock knew that he would need wildcards down the road. The person who should have been sitting there was Mike Wolf.

Schneider even said in his interview after winning the Boys 16s in Kzoo, “I’m not one of those USTA kids,” “He (Luca Corinteli) and Nikko (Madregallejo) and Thai (Kwiatkowski) are going to get wild cards into either the main draw or qualifying, no matter what. I knew this whole week I can’t leave it in their hands. I had to take care of it. I felt like I deserved it anyway, but who knows?”

Rather than spending millions of dollars on running a failing program, that money could be spent partially paying for hundreds of players in the private sector.

Florida Coach said...

Come on Patrick, there were also plenty of valid points in the comments of Mr. Bryan! I understand you want to defend your position, but this is not the way to go about it. Yes, I happen to know the USTA has done some great work with many juniors and pros in the past, however Mr. Bryan's ideas come from working out in the country with juniors in the sections, just like many other coaches. I agree with him, that the USTA has recently taken some strange steps to improve the 10 and under devision. I totally disagree with the method of development that seems to be thought up by non-coaches that liked to re-invent the wheel. The new path Patrick and Mr Higueras have taken has that arrogant, "our way or the highway", "one way to fit all" approach, that hurt the USTA so much in the past. And in speaking about the coaches that take less money than they could earn elsewhere, that does not apply at the moment with this economy Patrick. And you forgot to mention that so many good coaches left the USTA recently, dissatisfied about the approach and direction the development program has taken. I still believe the USTA can play a vital role in assisting players to reach their goals. But the board has to start waking up and realizing that hiring high profile, high payed, ex-players over and over again, is not the answer to helping and developing players. Being star struck on the top players of one country (As the spanish system seems to be the chosen developmental path) does not reflect the true effectiveness of the program. For example, Spain has not produced any young and upcoming players for some years now after Nadal. It also causes players and coaches in this country to feel inferior and to loose their own identity and game style that fits with the US Open. By the way, anyone that watches the current developments on the world scene will see the that the game has become faster all the time and that the slow clay court play style is becoming less dominant. On a different note, how are we going to make our juniors more tough when we have eliminated the third set in sectional events with a 10 point tie-break? How are we going to accomplish that with constantly decreasing the draw sizes, Sectionally and Nationally? The large draw sizes in the younger age groups was one of the reasons we were developing good juniors under 14!
There are so many of these things that need to be looked at, but with your 10 days a month commitment and with Jose not leaving his ranch/academy in Palm Springs, not much will change like that.....
Your arguments sound very passionate but don't address the problems and we are no longer developing the amount of top juniors we once had.
You don't have your ear to the ground on what is going on with junior tennis and have shown bad judgement in choosing your team and you and they operate. Time to move over....

Gave-up on Tennis said...

Wayne Bryan is a hero because he actually listens to the whole tennis community....

I have been a long follower of tennis, played as a kid, played for my high school, and played for college.

But, the present tennis situation is dismal for our juniors. The draws are so small, that no one can actually get in. She and her mom actually flew to a tournament as an alternate, ( the TD said she would most likely get in) and then was passed over by a kid who got a wild card from the USTA. This girl is lower than my daughter in ranking, but obviously had a connection to the PD.

I love tennis, but my daughter is going to switch to volleyball now. There are many opportunities for he to play and more options in college.

Sadly, this is a trend among the teenagers of leaving tennis now. They can build the bottom of the pyramid with thousands of QS kids, but there is no where for them to go with the small national draws.
I guess the college coaches will just be looking at a few kids, mostly the PD kids who are suppose to go pro, but end up at college anyway.

Robert from Texas said...

Thanks for posting this TennisFan2Day -

TennisFan2Day said...
Patient for talent - Just for your information Patrick McEnroe was in Texas for the junior comp meeting that was discussing all level 1, 2 & 3 draw sizes.

I heard that Patrick and his coaches were intrically involved in reducing the national draws.
The PD coaches said it was better for the PD players.
How ironic that the only concern is for a dozen players. Perhaps, the parents in this country would like their kids to be seen by college coaches at national opens? Well, those days are gone. Patrick only cares about a few players, and the rest of the country doesn't matter. Realistically, all the college spots are being filled by foreigners. I guess it really doesn't matter anymore.

Danny said...

Dear Mr. McEnroe,

We are middle class parents who will be sending our son to a fabulous state school, and the only school that we can afford to. Our taxes are quite high, and a good percentage of that money pays for higher education. We are very saddened that our oldest boy, a senior, who is a 4 star player, will not be able to play on his college STATE team, as the team is 100% foreigners.
Years of hard work by my son, and thousands of dollars spent by us , and the end result is he is shut out of college tennis by an all foreign team....
We are the older parents, and our son's story has spread though out the community. We are the cautionary tale that college tennis is not for Americans anymore.

William - NJ said...

TRN ran a very interesting article about 8 questions for the New Year.
One of the questions/comments was about the 2014 changes. I was able to get a copy of the proposal, it is now floating all over the internet and being emailed by angry parents. It is very disheartening that the USTA tries to keep the parents in the dark until after the proposal is passed. If you haven't read it yet, it is a must. One highlight is the draw sizes. If you thought they were small now, take a deep breath. The draw size for Winter Nationals is now 16 kids, with 6 wildcards. Basically, your junior will have zero chance of playing for a GOLD BALL unless you are a PD kid. And while you are at forget Kalamazoo, 64 draw. We are now forgetting tennis.
Too many secret changes, and a totally rigged game by the USTA PD staff. This is what happens when a monopoly runs things - no one can vote these people out.

Now a Lacrosse dad! said...

50-70% foreigners in college tennis ruined this for us.

Boys are now in lacrosse.

Tennismom said...

Thank you Wayne Bryan. You speak for all of us who don't have kids in the PD program.

Ga coach said...

Are there elections where we can vote for Wayne Bryan to run the USTA and PD? I know Wayne would do anything in his power to get more Americans playing college tennis.

Done with tennis said...

When did college tennis become an event that is only interesting if the team is all foreign playing against another all foreign team? Parents in this country would rather see their daughter or son play another junior FROM THIS COUNTRY, than some guy from Serbia, or South America. We have no say over foreigners in college tennis, but we do have say over how we spend our hard earned money.... I am closing my wallet to tennis.

nice try said...

to igor, if your kid is on an alternate list for nationals, then maybe tennis isn't the right sport for him/her

Tim Seals said...

I believe Patrick wrote this, it sounds exactly like him and I actually think he makes some good points. I too, though agreeing on some, found many holes in Wayne's letter. Look, the USTA is just like an insurance company, it's a numbers game. Patrick is correct, the job of the USTA is to make a larger player base and to get them to remain USTA members for as long as possible. That is a sound business model. The USA has no God given right to produce (x) number of great players any more than any other strip of land mass in the world. In the 60's Aussie's dominated, in the early 80's Swedes were everywhere. I also agree with him that as a coach it can be hard once a player reaches a certain level as to what to do with them. Do you give up your other business in hopes that your player becomes a star(and can help you pay your bills) or do you have to send them out for additional coaching while you continue with your other students club etc? Can be a tough choice that if incorrect can be costly. Even if you stick with a player and they hit a slump, they can fire you in an instant, happens all the time. One issue that I did take note of was this comment, " But if the governing body of the sport isn’t making the rules, then who will?" Well exactly who anointed the USTA as the end all governing body of tennis? Perhaps the USTA with all it's financial resources should commission an independent panel of coaches players and tournament organizers to make rule suggestions that make sense for everyone instead of relying on back room hidden agenda type decisions that just get rolled out to it's membership. As many of you know I hated, I mean REALLY hated the 10 and under tournament rule changes at first. Now after having watched my players compete in over 50+ matches in this format since Sept 2011, I am now in favor of it. Lastly, I have not found that the USTA embraces the LOCAL coaches, nor have I found many of the National coaches filled with that PASSION that he speaks of. In fact at the 2010 Eddie Herr, Holden Seguso and I were training two junior players at an apartment complex that a friend of mine lives in when a couple of National coaches dumped off 2 of their top players there to hit(and the coaches left) after I asked the kids if they had permission to use these courts, they said no our coach just saw them driving by and pulled in.. Well I guess that kind of sums up the player development program in a nutshell, doesn't it?

Tenniscrazy said...

If Patrick is not too busy with all his other jobs, hope he can find the time to address Wayne's point about the elephant in the room.

Evan said...

Thanks Colette for putting Wayne's letter on Zoo.
Tennis parents are really unhappy with all the changes, and I am glad that Wayne is speaking up for us.

Barry Buss said...

@ susan write...I hear what you are saying re the heavy handidness of the mandate about ten and under tennis...It's even worse than you may know..the ITF is involved and threatening to fine National tennis foundations if they buck the system and do not fall in...It is this kind of heavy handed decison making that opens doors for off shoot groups to develop and start their own organizations and I would not be surprised if this occurs not too far from now..rumblings are already started about such activities occurring in the ten and under levels...My advice is not to panic...If you're in for the long haul and it sounds like you are, no tennis career was made or lost in the ten and unders...I am in way telling you or anyone how to raise their kids, but the whole concept of ten and under competition meaning so much is problematic in and of itself...It really should not be that important...take the time now and use it wisely developing your child's game at home if the whole new ball, court scoring system is just not for you...kids should learn to practice just like they play..use the weekends now freed up and have your kid play countless practice sets against all comers and his/her game will develop just fine until he/she is age eligible for the 12's etc..
Stepping back a step, the wayne bryan letter here is the topic..and he makes many just very poorly argued points and broadside assumptions...I know Mr Bryan and have played one of his kids and have been involved in the USTA as a player for close to 40 years now...If Mr Bryan had all the answers, don't you think at some point the powers that be would have sought his input and had him involved on the inside helping make these decisions??? hes been around a long time, obviously has great standing in the tennis community for raising two champion children,as well as many others who are not his children...To those of us who have lived the sport for a long time at its highest levels, his arguments just don't hold up to scrutiny...and I'm sorry to inform you od such..they just don't..his attacks on the usta and pd are just grounded in any factual consistent basis...I by no means of absolving the USTA of engaging in some less than stand up behavior at times...and I am not defending all of their methods and practices here, but this debate is a response to Mr. Bryan's long far sweeping indictment of the current state of US tennis...and frankly he needs to be called out at every turn, for he really should know better than what he put in the letter...and as you are beginning to see, the push back has begun and will continue..and hopefully more people will see that wayne Bryan not only should not be president of the USTA, he should be right where he is, in the private sector, for he is deficient in many areas of critical thinking and problem solving that are quite apparent in his long letter..But I hear your frustration and wish you the best of luck as you go forward...Its a long haul this jr tennis player developmet stufff..all you can do is work hard today and continue to educate yourself about the process for there are so many moving parts to understand..peace

Long Time Tennis Fan said...

@ Mr. Buss...

Your comments are well noted, but the one that struck a chord with me (and not in a good way) is where you indicate that if Mr. Bryan had all the answers, why haven't the powers that be sought his input etc? Try asking the coaches who have left PD over the last 12 months, some with not having other jobs to go to. Talk to the Senior Director who just left PD after only being on the job for three years. It is a my way or the highway regime. "Yes" men/women need only apply. No independent ideas/brain storming is encouraged/allowed. PD/USTA has become and is now a dictatorship under the current leadership.

Whether you agree with Mr. Bryan or not, what needs to be addressed is that the masses are responding to this message, not the author, because it's how they are feeling. Look at all the comments on this page. All but a handful speak of the bad feeling, ill will and lack of trust they have towards the USTA. These are tennis' 99%.

I think Mr. Bryan does use critical thinking, however his thinking does not fit into the USTA box. I have been around enough high level people in the game who disagree with you, as well as the ones in the trenches. They are glad that Mr. Bryan is shaking it up. The USTA can't touch him, blacklist him or compromise his earning potential. He is speaking for those who are afraid of retribution should they dare to disagree with or speak out about the USTA.

Igor said...

To Nice Try,

Yes, my kid is on the alternate list. My anger is not directed that they are on an alternate list, but that a PD kid was given a wild card over my junior, when my junior is ranked higher. Selection into the nationals should be based on ranking, not being a player in the PD program. What is the point of working hard for a goal when the system is corrupt.

Tennis Dad & Fan said...

Although I'm sure it was not the USTA's initial intent, the USTA Tennis Centers have become the equivalent of Aristocratic Country Clubs. There's a division among American junior players and USTA junior players.

The USTA kids are expected to win and if they don't their reign at the Country Club can be very short lived. The USTA finds and accepts kids who have already been coached into being very strong players by outside tennis professionals, then have to sign a contract with outside training being discouraged. A real slap to those that help build the junior into the prominence of being noticed by the USTA in the first place.
You'll definitely find that the majority of the USTA player's parents with kids in the program will keep outside training on the down low to avoid repercussions.
The junior players in the program are by and large hanging by strings living within a never ending "trial period" and if they don't keep up impressive tournament win records, will inevitably be cut from the program.
Anyone close enough to, or living within junior tennis know very well that The USTA centers do not have their primary focus on making great players, but rather demanding that you deliver the results of a great player or you're out of the program.
It's a little thing called job security. Those running the program need the results to show that the program is working. "If you can't bring the results for us, we'll find another kid who will."

If you truly spend time and ask around within the junior tennis community, and sincerely talk to players and parents outside the USTA centers, inside the USTA centers, and those once inside then escorted outside the USTA centers, you'll find that the above is a reality not a complaint.
Personally, I have 2 daughters that are nice, fun human beings, really love tennis, are having a great time in the sport, have lofty goals and are currently highly ranked in Southern California. We have never been to nor have a desire to enter the USTA program primarily based on everything we hear directly from friends that are either in the program or have been pressed through that mill.

I've seen USTA kids walk off a court crying after taking a hard loss and be met by the head of the USTA Home Depot program with the first line being: "What do you think you could have done to win that match?"

I can't math the increase of US Pro Players by the USTA purposely shrinking and restricting the number of kids that can play in national tournaments, however I can math how with less players in the tournament, the more likely that a "protected" player will not get knocked out of the tournament by an "outsider." Hey, if you make the draws small enough and you can eliminate the "outsiders" all togther! That would be awesome, then the USTA programs will have ALL THE TOURNAMENT WINNERS! YEAH! Whoops, this was all a big smoke screen... no US pros!

Let's get rid of the concept of Exclusive Country Clubs and "outsiders." Let's get the USTA establishing initiatives and programs that support and promote ALL US JUNIOR PLAYERS AND COACHES. Encourage hard and healthy competition with not only a focus on winning but a bigger focus on the clear benefits one can pull from a victory and a defeat. Don't make one bad, use both for future success!

I applaud anyone at the USTA that has the courage to take a moment in time like this and step out and speak the truth. I do not believe that the present challenges were formed with a malicious nature, but the present path is not promising and someone from the inside needs to speak out.

Ted said...

Hi Barry,

So basically you are saying if Bryan had all the answers, they should have hired them. The USTA track's record isn't so great with who they hire... They got some smart people over the years, and then they fired them when they didn't agree with the USTA's mandate. Not sure why anyone would want to work there anymore.
Check it out, you would be surprised how the place works - no one can tell the emperor he is wearing no clothes.

Steve- Ca said...

To: Barry

They loved Tim Mayotte, until they fired him.

Mayotte resigned as the head of a program in Flushing over what he called “very openly spoken reservations” about the U.S.T.A.’s approach. In a recent interview, he criticized “antiquated coaching methods” that emphasize long hours swatting balls rather than learning technique and movement.

Mayotte also said the U.S.T.A. was too insular, opportunistically luring talented players and putting them under the tutelage of inexperienced staff. He favors the approach of the French tennis federation, which identifies and supports independent coaches who do good work.

Ellen in NJ said...

Everyone is afraid that if they speak up, their junior will be punished.

Thank you Wayne.

Tennislover said...

Every rule, every change, every reduction that is made to the National tournament schedule is to benefit the PD players.
Patrick - are you so afraid that a nobody will beat your players, you had to reduce all the draws?

Robert - GA said...

Thanks Wayne. You are a needed voice. Now, if they would just listen!

Fed up in NJ said...

1) How about instead of pouring thousands and thousands of dollars into a few players, you actually get some refs for the tournaments. How about addressing the cheating epidemic that is occurring in this country among our juniors AS THERE IS NO OVERSIGHT at the tournaments!

Coach/GA said...

Loved how Patrick cherry picked Wayne's letter and skipped over the foreigners in college tennis. Obviously, not of any importance to Patrick.

Nancy - Miami said...

Tennis is in a sad place when this many people are unhappy with the USTA's direction.

oldschool said...

John Isner -"just a college player" Sam Querrey - "not a top level junior player.." Lucky for those guys they aren't junior players now.

AndyM said...

If anyone is going to quit tennis because the draws got smaller, I would say you don't love it enough to make it anyway. Stay home and practice. Someone flew to a tournament as an alternate = insane. Too much emphasis on rankings and chasing points as it is.

In tennis, the cream does usually rise. I'm sure there is favoritism and politics, that's life. No one is saying you can't practice 8 hours a day if you want to.

Maybe some kid will get a chip on his/her shoulder Tom Brady style and bust through out of pure spite.

tennisfan said...

It is my sincere hope that the USTA and Mr Patrick McEnroe read all the comments. Are we to all believe that only USTA detractors read Zoo Tennis? 95% of all the comments are pro Wayne and anti USTA, for various reasons. I find this the most damning point to Mr. McEnroe's belief that the USTA is doing everything 'right'. After all, this is a member-organization, and should members be polled? Moreover, what is the big deal about offering the 10s an opportunity to play with real balls in a sanctioned USTA tournament? Why cant these two options reside side-by-side providing players with a CHOICE?

Joe - SC said...

In my small neck of the woods, people are furious about all the foreigners taking college tennis spots from Americans...
Why couldn't Patrick give it one sentence in his very long rebuttal. Not worthy of his time?

Doron - California said...

Andy M,

When your kid is #2 on the alternate list, and a lower ranked player takes his spot because he is a PD player, let me know how your son feels after he worked so hard. Sad lesson to learn the system is corrupt when you are 12 years old.

Been There2 said...

USTA PD holds the 2 trump cards for junior players:
1. Money
2. Wild Cards

You play their game by their rules. It is absolutely their way or the highway. You obey the rules and keep your mouth shut , your kid receives money and WC's. You dare voice an opinion about the direction of your kid's training, or God forbid a complaint, you're in the doghouse and probably cut off. It is that simple.

Stuart from California said...

I am a dad who grew up playing tennis, and I love the sport. But, the USTA has no accountability to its due paying members. Any letter I have written complaining about a ref shortage at tournaments were never answered or acknowledged. My daughter put a smile on her face after she tried to get a ref, and was told they were short. She was cheated badly by another girl and that was the final straw of a series of tournaments with a shortage of refs. But, for my daughter...she no longer plays tennis anymore. I am sad that she will not carry on the tradition of tennis playing with her kids.

Richard - CT said...

I wish Patrick and the PD staff (coaches) would get out of the rule making business. Bit of a conflict of interest if their salaries depend on who wins the tournaments.
Of course, by making the draws so small and increasing the wild cards, they pretty much guarantee their continued success and salaries.

Tenniscoach - NJ said...

The USTA is the most vindictive organization.
No one can complain, or they penalize you.

I am a coach in NJ, and am very unhappy how my players who are ranked 200 nationally can not get into the national tournaments. The parents look at this trend, and put their younger kids into other sports. On a personal, monetary note, juniors are leaving tennis and this hurts us the coaches as our groups are now much smaller.

Patty said...

Wayne, thanks for speaking for us.

Dad- California said...

Understand playing on a mini court when you are 5, ok.
But what about when you are 9?
Are they kidding?
Hate this attitude where they know best.
American parents have trained their kids to be great players, who has the USTA ever trained to be a great player?

Samantha said...

Two words to Wayne - THANK YOU.

Tennisnuts said...

Wayne, you are the best!

usta can't solve the problem said...

Joe - SC, USTA can't do anything about the "problem" of foreign players in college tennis. It's the NCAA and college presidents and they don't care. Waste of space and energy to debate it.

HIGH-TECH TENNIS said...

I am no genius, but what I am is a person who attends 30+ junior tennis tournaments each year. I talk to and LISTEN TO tennis parents practically every single day and I can assure you that Wayne Bryan is speaking on behalf of 99% of the people we meet. And for whatever it's worth I could kiss him ON THE LIPS for doing so.

We formed HIGH-TECH TENNIS to help tennis players play better tennis... On a personal note, we have struggled with this (and see no end in sight) so we are now branching out to HIGH-TECH SPORTS VIDEO.

Sad, sad, sad.

Patient for talent said...

There's a lot to debate, but note for so many siding with Mr. Bryan, often the only real bond with his ideas is not a shared philosphies, but just the general idea of taking a swipe at the only target in front of them, the USTA and USTA PD in particular.

Bryan advocates for smaller national draws, yet many of his 'supporters' above cry because they can't spend a few thousand dollars to fly around the country when they are ranked 200 in their age group?? The idea in reducing draw sizes is not to protect PD players (more below), but to save a ton of cash by playing sectionally or play up if your section is weak. Current system lets you buy ranking points if you have the cash to fly around and hit every L2 and L3 in sight.

Here's the biggest crack in the story - Bryan and many complain it's only a select few, and undeserving that USTA pick and support. Lets assume this is the case as so many claim. But then, how can we hold the USTA accountable for lack of US success? If its so few players we're talking about, this means that most are NOT cherry picked as Mr. Bryan complained. And the one that are are just pretenders so what the matter. Thus the 'real' talent must still be under the local pros/parents...so with this line of thinking, how does lack of international/professional success fall on PD?

Others have stories of USTA PD demanding titles and rankings or "you are out"? But the next comment is how 'low ranked' PD players are getting wildcards? Thats a little bi-polar. If USTA had no patience for low ranking, a) what's the 'low ranked' kid doing with PD; b) I seriuosly doubt they'd give such a flunky a WC. (There's also the fact that WCs are given out BEFORE draw is made...WCs are not given when a draw spot opened up because of withdraw...I suspect something was lost in translation there.)

Another empty claim is that all these national tourney changes are to support the PD players, including small draws. That doesn't make sense either. Bigger draws are the best way to rack up wins if you are looking to pad wins. Take 256 and seed out 32 players and then close your eyes and walk through the first two rounds while you get used to courts, climate, etc, then play a low seed...Hey..I'm in the rd of 16! Works like a charm. Look at some of those draws...Hardly ever an upset. On the contrary, now with the 32 draw sizes at L2s...whole different deal. Talent is much less spread out and even if you are a top seed - if you are not ready for the courts or climate, you could have a real short tourney.

I guess to sum it all up...if PD is so bad at developing talent and so exclusive, why all the complaints and frustration with who and how they pick/favor? Just pretend they don't exist and consider yourself lucky since all real champions are developed by parents and private coaches anyway. And one better, hire Mr. Bryan to develop you into a champion since he even wrote a book on it.

Finally, USTA isn't the only organization that might support a player that turns into a lemon. IMG and other private academies scholarship many juniors and nearly all of them fall short of professional career. Noting that they also 'cherry picked' these kids and offered them scholarships.

There is a ton to debate on how to develop a world class junior player. PD has their way. IMG has theirs. Mr. Bryan has his. And many great parents and coaches around the country have their own cocktail as well. Lets hope they all have some success and we see some US talent challenging for GS titles down the road.

new ideas here.... said...

At this point, why can't we organize another level 1 tournament with 128 draw, or whatever the size deemed to be adequate. Let's say $100 per entry will give tournament $12,800 for maybe 5 day event. I think it's practically feasible. Or if we like, we can have level 2 with 64 draw in multiple locations. We can start from grassroots base tournament and if it grows successfully, we can have our own ranking systems and we even don’t have to be USTA members anymore! Why do we have to have only one organization if we want true competition and development?
While 16 USTA players are competing among against each other, we are playing somewhere else.

Donald Anderson said...

Easy Solution

Instead of all the big talk being said on this site without having to reveal yourself

Have Patrick McEnroe and Jose Higueras have an open forum at the Easter Bowl - so Wayne Bryan, parents and private coaches can talk in person for a couple hours. That would be the best thing for everyone.

Of course the 2 main points in all these comments - foreign players in college - that's for the NCAA, NOT usta and smaller draws in tournaments which the Sections gets to vote.

Also - wildcards for Nationals have representatives from the Sections who vote.

College Tennis said...

Why should Patrick comment on the amount foreign players in college?

That is an NCAA issue which he has no control of.

Fed up with the spreading of non truths. said...

To: Patient for Talent,

I am not sure why you posted inaccurate information, but it is as shameful as the USTA not reporting the new proposal.

You state:

Current system lets you buy ranking points if you have the cash to fly around and hit every L2 and L3 in sight.

Really? The current system in 2011 or this year, 2012 lets you "buy ranking points if have to cash to fly around and hit every L2 and L3 in sight."
Wow! Let me explain how a good lie might work - THERE NEEDS TO BE A SHRED OF TRUTH TO MAKE IT BELIEVABLE.

How in the world do you get into a L2 or L3 when the draw is only 32 juniors.

Howard Harrington said...

I would really like to know who the "patient for talent" is because he/she has more common sense than most of the bashers on here.

There are so many people talking about wildcards it makes me sick. Wildcards should be forbidden in any tournament. Get in on your ability. Since the reality is that wildcards are available - that does not mean your son or daughter deserves it, even if they are next in. Start worrying about getting your child better than worrying about who gets the wildcards. Even with the massive draw size, your child still cannot get in. Wildcards are a curse and NO ONE has developed faster because of them.

Wayne Bryan has done a great job with his boys - but even if they are the best doubles in history and winning Grand Slams - TV and the media do not seem to care because as many Grand Slams as they won and being ranked #1 in the World - US Tennis is still being heavily critized. I'm sure Mike/Bob feel like what about us - but frankly it seems like the majority do NOT care about doubles. That is a shame. Same with Mixed Doubles.

Please stop with the college talk - because that is an NCAA issue NOT McEnroe issue.

Lastly - it seems like more people can rant on here and fill their egos but why not pick up the phone and call Jose Higueras? Call Patrick about these issues.

But of course the easiest thing to do to keep on with this complaining behind closed doors. American junior players do not need to toughen up....American Parents do!!!!

Robin said...

Wish they would just hire some more refs at the tournament. Millions and millions of dollars in the coffers of the USTA and the TD of the tournament say they can't afford it. This is how you grow tennis in the US?

Tennisfanatic said...

So, what is Mr. McEnroe's salary anyway?
It is a not for profit company, is his salary now a secret too?

Neil said...

To answer Patient for Talent,

You really need to know the actual players who go to the PD centers. Their ranking before they got there, and what it is at the end. You make this statement:

"But the next comment is how 'low ranked' PD players are getting wildcards? Thats a little bi-polar. If USTA had no patience for low ranking, a) what's the 'low ranked' kid doing with PD; "

I know many juniors who went in with a high ranking, and after time spent there left with a low ranking.
Nice. After parents pull their kids out of school at the PD's request, btw. The first speed bump they hit, they are out. GReat for a kid's morale.

Sergio Cruz said...

This looks like the Desperate Housewifes series.

The marriage has failed, the house is in disarray, the children pay!

Amazed said...

Colette

I appreciate your website, admire what you do and your love for the game but people can fire away blindly and so incorrectly about important issues that it is ridiculous. This is harmful to the integrity of this website, but most importantly to the readers. It is disgusting the way people misuse this website and it's purpose.

I'm finished with following for a while. good luck

The real reason said...

Bottom Line

What is wrong with American Tennis equates to why USA has no Grand Slam Champions......

Illona Young ruined the biggest US talent in decades in her son Donald; Brian Baker hip injuries; Scott McCain & Kelly Jones fired from USTA Pro coaching; Kuznetsov/Oudsema/Simmonds/Jenkins/Evans/Sweeting era gave a poor effort, Spoiled American Parents, clothing companies sponsoring every decent junior tennis player, sport agencies signing players that should be going to college, etc etc etc.

NOT because of National Open draw size or Patrick McEnroe, etc. Those will take affect in another 5-10 years, positiviely or negatively, but right now NO ONES knows.

Today's issues are a result of what happened 10 years ago NOT what is happening now.

Barry Buss said...

@ Bottom line...Your information re the firing of Kelly Jones is incorrect...he resigned from USTA PD to work privately with Mardy Fish...I just communicated with him 5 minutes ago...People, they are a lot of impassioned feelings flying around here...A lot of frustration, finger pointing, blaming etc...Please try to keep your comments factually correct...There is already enough angst here re the USTA and its policies...Let's not fan the flames anymore with misinformation and more demagogery...peace

Patient for talent said...

A few more thoughts..

First, yes, fly around and buy points. Just so we're all on the same page, the 32 L2 draw mentioned above and implied as 'elite' is not. Its four sites, 32 at each site. That's 128. If you are ranked in top 250 it's nearly automatic that you'll get in. Yes, it was a 64 in 2010. So thats 256 and nearly EVERYONE got in...we're talking rankings in the 900s. And there are NO WCs in L2s.

Next, I do know a lot of kids that get PD support. And its interesting to see who. It's definitely not granted based on gold balls (much to the chagrin of some gold ball champs)

Any kid PD takes on, they invest a lot of time, energy, and money in. You see some PD kids ranked 50 and not moving up, but they continue to get support. Others, higher ranked, are suddenly 'out'. There's generally a story behind each and no kid is thrown out at first speed bump. Some of these higher ranked kids are 'out' because they won't work hard (and got placed on warning several times). Or because they don't respond to what the PD coaches are trying to get them do or there is a coaching conflict with the parents or outside coaches. I'm obvously not going to name the cases, but these are facts. Others lose support because it's PD's OPINION they have a ceiling on their game and professional tennis just isn't in the cards anymore. (By the way...feel free to prove them wrong..sometimes that's the best motivator!)

Yet some lower ranked players might stay with PD because they have a quality that PD wants to give time too. Maybe it's a 6'7" boy or 5'11" girl. Maybe a freak with a 30 inch vertical. Maybe a kid that can push himself in some unholy way.

But any kid getting PD support (or wanting PD support) needs to know that PD has one goal...to develop pros. And if THEY don't think that's possible, the support will (and should) stop support. It might stink but instead of the kid (or parent) thinking it's some deserved entitlement, it needs to be looked at as a gift/assist that may or may not continue

I also had to do a double take at some of the 'criticism' of the national coaches above. Asking a player what they could have done differently to win? Isn't that what they should do? Or would it be better to just start TELLING them everything they did wrong like a lot of parents tend to do? Dropping kids at some courts to hit? I see no problem with that unless they snuck past a membership desk.

10U tennis? I'm glad to see see the 6 and 7 yr olds hitting balls in their strike zone and their form looking years ahead of their age. Proper grips, full swings accelerating into contact. Sorry but it's not going to hurt anyone. In fact, I'd throw out that teaching pros may lose out on a lot of revenue because they won't be fixing grips and teaching swings so much. More kids will have better technical foundations as 9, 10, 11 yr olds. This extends to footwork and shot tolerence also since reps will much higher for the entry players also. (i.e. rallys of 2 will become a rally 6 or 8...over and over. I liked the comment above where the guy was against it...but after seeing it play out in front of him, he's all in now. Even if we don't grow the numbers, maybe we have more juniors with a better technical base at lower cost (i.e. not needing so many privates)

Still patient.

Informed said...

@ Amazed

Most of the comments here are from insiders who have 1st hand knowledge of the inner workings of the USTA PD. For fear of retribution, this is a website where they can express their true feelings.

Colette, I commend and thank you for being a true journalist and allowing all points of view to be expressed even though you may not personally agree with them.

Wayne Bryan, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU.

Bob said...

Patrick McEnroe's 2010 USTA Player Development salary was $809,480. He received $237,581 of other compensation from related organizations, I assume the USTA for Davis Cup.

Other 2010 USTA PD salaries + related income:

Jose Higueras $386,629 + 83,155
Tom Jacobs $272,737 + 108,720
Martin Blackman $273,028 + 90,687
Ola Malmquist $185,757 + 70,529
Ricardo Acuna $145,818 +43,390
Michael Sell $134,760 + 17,250
Jay Berger $189,415 + 62,509

Including those listed above, USTA Player Development employed 22 people with reported compensation above $100,000 in 2010.

The source for the above information is the 2010 Form 990 filed with the IRS by USTA Player Development Incorporated.

Georgia Tennis Dad said...

It is simply amusing to watch all of the “issues” thrown at the feet of the USTA. The first point that I would make is that the USTA is membership driven. Even with the structure of the rules that would make it almost impossible for the membership to take over. I believe a large enough number of the membership adopting a position or group of positions and going after control of every section could likely impose their will upon the organization. These issues will not make it because once you get past knocking the USTA and start developing a platform there will be no common positions on the issues.

That said, I do not agree with the assessment of the naysayers. A majority of the strong voices opposing USTA are people that make their living from teaching tennis. The problem with growing the game of tennis and having the US regain a top position on the professional side is quite simply money. All of the outreach programs can find talent. Outreach can not however provide adequate funding, the daily scheduling, the single minded purpose that is required to develop a player.

Everyone critical seems to know what the USTA is doing wrong. They all seem to think the answer is leave the kids along with their parents checking accounts to “us” and we will do what is best. Well the “us” include a lot of self declared experts many of whom have no track record of personal accomplishment on a tennis court or list of top 100 players they have developed. Mr. Bryan developed two great “doubles” players, beyond that I have seen him lobby for changes in doubles rules and self promotion, and more power to him for that.

I do not hear much from the “us” that have tangible results in way of criticizing the USTA. It is not likely because they agree with what the USTA is doing, it is likely because they are to busy developing their next generation of top 100 players.

I m convinced you could take any one of the naysayers or group of them and they would not solve the problem. They would just have themselves happy and the rest of the naysayers would go after them.

As to the comparisons to how all of the team sports do not try to develop players, that is the reason, get it they are team sports and there are what, teams right. Teams to support the growth of the players. A talented player in tennis that does not have family money must attract a coach willing to train them for what the parents can afford and help with the travel as well. I can tell you there are not many of those opportunities out there. It is further exacerbated if your talents place you as a somewhat late bloomer.

My final shot at the nay-saying experts is they essentially have no interest in the girls side of tennis. Well, there has been a winner in the last three grand slams that were full time residents at USTA Boca. Doubles, Wimbledon, Singles US Open, Singles, Australian Open. As well as Eddie Herr’s International Spring ITF and Pan American ITF. If all of the Pro’s outside USTA were as altruistic as they present themselves they would rejoice in these accomplishments. The ones that developed them to get to the USTA should also be rejoicing for them.

As to the palpable fear of saying anything anti USTA it is my guess these same folks have not hung out on the parents side of many of the junior academies. Being outspoken there can have bad results as well. I can assure you if you were on scholarship at one you probably need to accommodate that organization as well.

If all of the energy that the complainers put into shooting at the USTA was spent on improving their own product it would be much more beneficial for them. Maybe not as much fun or as easy. But then they would be like the ones that have a track record of developing top 100 players, namely, too darned busy to waste time bellyaching.

jay lassiter said...

Patrick Mcenroe is a whiner who has yet to mold a proper champion on either tour.

Mr. Bryant did the USTA a huge favor by airing his thoughts. McEnroe should STFU and listen.

Architeuthis said...

"We’re not in the business of exclusion, we’re in the business of inclusion and enhancement."

So why is the USTA excluding three eight year old girls in Texas who dominated 10s and are successfully playing up in 12s championship level by not inviting them to participate in local USTA training while they invite 8yos playing quickstart who have done relatively nothing???

They apparently would rather promote their agenda than promote genuine talent.

Tennis Parent for 9 Years and DIV I Men Player in 80's said...

Part 2

NOW…ABOUT FOREIGN PLAYERS TAKING SCHOLARSHIPS IN COLLEGE TENNIS
I did an analysis and found that 65% of all Division I men’s team players are not US citizens. I also found that foreign players made the majority of the top four players on teams. I think we should assume that somewhere in the neighborhood of 75-80% of all Division I male scholarship money goes to foreign players.
USPTA pro’s don’t talk about it. The USTA doesn’t want to talk about it. Why are both of these organizations frightened of addressing the issue? Well…if they face the issue than they will have to tell all those junior players and parents in the commercialized junior tennis player system that their “real” chance of getting a college scholarship for tennis is practically zero. If this happens, you will see a mass exist of junior players out the system. This is what keeps the USTA and USPTA up at night and this is why they want to ignore the issue.
Let’s face it…every teenager eventually gets motivated by seeing a “light at the end of the tunnel”. So, let’s give them some light by having the JTA lobby the NCAA for changes in foreign scholarship award policies or even limiting the number of foreign players on the team. In addition, the JTA could even provide their own methodology of tennis scholarships at a higher level than the token USTA scholarships.
THE BOTTOM LINE…
The monopoly that the USTA has created around junior tennis is failing as most monopolistic situations do over time – this is a fact. If the USTA and USPTA want to commercialize junior tennis for the majority that so be it. However, for the sake of juniors who want to develop, let’s offer an alternative organization with goals more in-line with what are good for high-level junior players and lets have the free-market decide which is better. My bets are on the JTA. What do you say pres Bryan?

Chuck said...

Who us Patrick McEnroe. He was a good junior, a good college player and not so good pro. How does je become
The player development coach for the USTA? I think Rick
Maci would of been a better choice.

Ernie B said...

Ernie B...tennis parent of 10 yr old twin boys.

I also believe that Wayne Bryan would be the right person to run the USTA Player Development or any past US champion, such as John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras or even Jim Courier, because they all know what it takes to get American tennis back on top in the professional ranks and especially in our college institutions. Patrick McEnroe is an excellent tennis commentator,a decent Davis Cup captain, but was never a tennis champion who know what it takes to be the best!

Lawrence Roddick said...

This is a classic USTA response. Don't listen to anyone who has lived in the trenches of tennis and who has had some success at high level tennis. Instead, insult them and throw them under the bus. My family has been around the USTA and tennis for 30 years at the highest levels and this is another clear example of the arrogance of the USTA. My family has been treated in the same manner as Wayne Bryan. I know Wayne Bryan. I respect Wayne Bryan. For the director of junior player development not to give him a seat at the table demonstrates how incompetent the USTA Player Development Program is. Not to mention the USTA as a whole. I can also tell you that my family has never been contacted by the USTA in any capacity to help, advise etc. in regards to what may be best for United States tennis. Wayne Bryan's letter was a home run and could not have been stated better although I do disagree with him in regards to some aspects of his college tennis positions. The new 10 and under rules are a disaster and will need to be aggressively addressed.

CalTennis said...

As a parent of two amazing junior tennis players, I have discovered a great deal about tennis parents and the investment that they put into their child. If you are looking for a monetary return or for college scholarships, go for academics instead of blaming the USTA. If your kid is going to make it, they will do it with or without the USTA. If your child has talent, true talent, and desire, then they can make it. I know my kids love the game and have extreme talent and ability to listen and respectfully learn, and I will be thankful for any help and support from the USTA. All organizations have flaws,so just work on helping your kids by taking them to lessons daily instead of just once a week, or develop them more and then put them in tournaments when they are 12. I myself do not play tennis, and leav all the training to the coaches. Find a coach that has developed top players, even if its 100/hr it will be worth it at the beginning. The right grips and do sprints. What is sad is that the kids find no joy in tennis, and its all about the parents. If your child is truly great there is nothing that will be able to hold him back from becoming number one.

tfortennis said...

There are many great comments about Mr. Bryan's letter and Mr. McEnroe's response. I tend to agree more with Mr. Bryan for many reasons but one that is my biggest problem wu=ith the USTA is their insistence that Jr tennis be a hard court sport! If you really cared about the children and developing them for a tennis life after age 20 then you would push and promote soft courts!! The Europeans play on clay: they learn to construct a point and don't destroy their children's bones on cement! Look at the injuries and where are the most hurt --Americans who have pounded their young bones on these hard courts!! Don't say you can't have soft in public parks--they do in Europe! No excuses--just lazy! The USTA is not helping with the new Jr rules--its not how good you are but how much you pay and play tournaments--all about the points! A poor player can play 15 tournaments and get ranked higher than someone who plays just a few and is much better--just another way to add to the usta treasury!!Wrong!

Richard - California said...

GREAT POINT ABOUT SOFT COURTS AND JUNIORS!!!! THE INJURIES ARE STAGGERING FOR THE KIDS IN THIS COUNTRY PLAYING ON HARD DAY AFTER DAY.

WHY CAN'T THERE BE MORE TOURNAMENTS ON CLAY? WHY CAN'T WE HAVE MORE PUBLIC PARKS WITH CLAY? EUROPE DOES IT....