Monday, March 19, 2012

USTA Passes Changes to Junior Competition Schedule; Sandgren Wins Rain-Delayed Calabasas Futures

Today at the USTA meeting in La Costa, Californina, the proposed changes to the formats and schedules of junior competition were passed by a vote of 16-1, with the Southern section the only section to vote against the proposal.

As I noted back in February, it is much too complicated for me to go into detail about, but here are some of the major changes for 2014:

  • 18s Spring Championships will be eliminated
  • The Easter Bowl, now including the 12s, will be reduced to 32 draws except for the ITF, which will remain 64
  • The clay and hard courts will be 128 draws (starting in 2013) for the 14s, 16s and 18s,; the 12s will be 64 draws.
  • The Winter Nationals will now be team events for the 14s, 16s and 18s, with the 12s competition eliminated.
  • There will be a National Doubles tournaments for the 16s and 14s age divisions.
  • Two new "Sweet 16" events for 14s and 16s and a new "Grand Masters" event, with small compass draws in 14s, 16s, and 18s have be introduced.
  • Quotas have been changed to emphasize strength of competition in the section, not simply membership, which is the case now.
  • Regional tournaments are restricted geographically.
For those interested, I published coach Tom Walker's objections to this plan last week. The vote was decisive in favor of the plan, so now the task of explaining all these changes, clearly and concisely, to every junior player and his or her parents and coach is the USTA's next major undertaking. I look forward to learning along with all of you.

I do not have the proposal as actually passed available, but it's my understanding that the only changes were in the regions. Everything else is as it is explained in this document.

Please remember that if you are going to comment, do so using a name. Anonymous comments will not be posted.

Tennys Sandgren won the $15,000 Calabasas Futures singles title today, after rain Friday night and Saturday required one quarterfinal and both semifinals be played on Sunday. The unseeded Sandgren, who turned pro last summer after two years at the University of Tennessee, beat former UCLA Bruin and No. 5 seed Dan Kosakowski 6-3, 7-5 in Monday's final. Top seeds Carsten Ball of Australia and Andre Begemann, the former Pepperdine All-American, won the doubles title 7-6(7), 6-4 over No. 2 seeds Nima Roshan of Australia and Artem Sitak of New Zealand.

For more on today's final, see Steve Pratt's article, available at Tennis Panorama.

The men stay in California for another $15,000 event, this one in Costa Mesa, where qualifying will be completed on Tuesday.

US Open girls champion Grace Min reached the final of the $25,000 Clearwater Pro Circuit event, but evidently her three consecutive three-set wins, including one over WTA No. 65 and top seed Anastasia Yakimova of Belarus, took their toll. She fell 6-0, 6-1 in Sunday's final to 18-year-old qualifier Garbine Muguruza Blanco of Spain, who received a main draw wild card into the Sony Ericsson this week.

Monica Puig also lost in the final of a $25,000 ITF tournament in Mexico yesterday, with No. 2 seed Yaroslava Shvedova of Kazakhstan defeating the unseeded Puig 6-1, 6-2. Puig had beaten top seed and WTA No. 95 Patricia Mayr-Achleitner in the semifinals.

Two former college stars collected Futures titles over the weekend, with University of Wisconsin's Mortiz Baumann of Germany winning the $10,000 Futures in Switzerland and Baylor's Denes Lukcas of Hungary winning the $10,000 Portugal Futures.


tennisforlife said...

A spectacular own goal by the USTA. This is going to set junior tennis back years....all in the name of less travel and earned advancement!!


I've talked about this to dozens and dozens of parents/coaches... Have met not a single person in support of a single thing the USTA is doing - NOT A SINGLE ONE. And so it begins. We don't have to like it but we do have to accept it - and adjust our plans accordingly. Fortunately, these changes don't go into effect until 2013 and 2014.

It's my opinion that this is bad news for junior tennis in America - and it's an absolute fact that this is bad news for HIGH-TECH TENNIS. Not trying to be dramatic, but this changes everything. :( We'll still try to help tennis players where it makes sense but starting TODAY, our priority will be HIGH-TECH SPORTS VIDEO. Soooo sorry for young tennis players...

Tennis5 said...

EASTER BOWL - 32 draw....
Try to understand how limiting this is - the 16's for example goes across 3 grades.
16's -
you have kids who turned 15 already in 9th grade already...,
you have 15 year olds in tenth grade that are turning 16 in the spring.
and you have 16 years olds in 11th grade that turn 17 late spring/summer.
32 draw means blue chips will not even get in.

Replaced with team tennis - defined in original proposal as:

USTA National Winter Team Championships - Level 1, a Gold Ball tournament
where the 16 top players in the country in the 18s, 16s and 14s divisions
are waterfalled so that each team is comprised of players in all three divisions,
( later it says)
Selection shall be done using wild cards and the most recently published National Standings List.
The Committee has yet to determine the number of wild cards and will be making this decision prior to the submission of call items.
( 16 kids for a Gold ball? And some are wild card in?)

CLAYS AND HARDS are reduced soon...
by 2013.
Many less kids are going to get exposure to college coaches.
And remember the kicker, they increased the wild cards from 8 to 16,
but decreased the tournament from 192 to 128.
The 12's for clays and hards are really being shrunk to 64.
So sad, how do you shrink the younger age groups as they haven't even begun?

USA Looking Better said...

Congrats to Tennys Sandgren for winning a Pro Circuit title for the third time.

As for the tournament changes - CALL your Section to see why it was passed 16-1. With change comes discomfort so alot of people feel that. Juniors should play in their sSection and only a select few should play Nationals - its embarrassing how many juniors are playing Nationals today. Way Too Many!!! Happy for these changes.

Also -USA is back to having 2 Players in the Top 10 on the Men's Side--great news.

Good luck to ya said...

I am glad my son is out of juniors and has his scholarship to a lower level D1 because with this new schedule he never would have been exposed to college coaches! It looks like tennis college showcase will be the future for recruitment because the top 64 kids will be the only ones getting exposure....and guess who will swoop up those scholarships? Yep, more foreigners because it will be near to impossible to acquire enough national points to get notice.

In sections like So Cal with lots of players and so many good ones...they kids in the top 50 in the section are going to be closed out-this is ludicrous-they will have to move to Montana to be a big fish in a little bowl-you wait and see, it will happen.

USTA Development should now be called "Destroyment".

The Dude said...

Following my earlier comments supporting the changes, I am disappointed that the Easter Bowl has shrunk it's draw size to 32. I had always liked their 128 draw size in comparison to the other Supers that played a 192 draw sizes and the fact that the girls also played at the Palm Springs area venue. The Winter supers were a tournament that always interrupted the holidays and played in low 40 degree temperatures. It was the one national you wanted to missed but couldn't as every other player is flying there to compete for points. It's unfortunate the USTA didn't exchange it for an indoor national in the Midwest or Northeast area of the country as much of college tennis is indoors and college coaches could see juniors coping with indoor play. Kudos to the regionalization of the sport as it takes away the money element to game points away. Quotas emphasizing strength of section is important to eliminate the severity of competing in Socal and the ease of some sections. Most of all, good riddance to the level 3 regionals disguised as nationals where the points system was the most abused. As the sport becomes more affordable, good things will evolved. I am not surprised that 15 sections voted for the changes. Sections have the ear of their constituents and the cost of competing in junior tennis is on the majority of families' minds. Now you have to compete regionally before you can get to the national scene. Tennis is a regional sport, you need to exhaust the local competition before you move ahead. This is the way it had been back in the day before the money and the abuse of the system.

An insider said...

Sectionals were put under enormous pressure to vote for the changes, or overall funding for that section would have been reduced.

Daniel said...

The USTA heads who are in charge of finding the next US champion are paid enormous salaries to do just that.

Having players come from the outside ( Jack Sock, Ronnie Schneider ( who just won the tournament, Boys 18's Spring , that they are now getting rid of ) are an embarrassment to the Player Development program that has millions of dollars invested in a few players.

The Dude said...

So insider, you are implying that the USTA management are vindictive if the sections don't go with them on this? Well one thing I do object to the doubling of the wild cards from 8 to 16. The USTA should design the structure and allow their system to play out, then the cream will rise to the top. Taking control and seeking credit for success is dubious and doomed to fail. It should not matter to the USTA if future top players are privately developed. As Chinese, Deng, said, "no matter if the cat is black or white, so long as it catches mice."

Christian - see it before said...

To Dude,

Well, I am not an insider, but it is well known that the USTA is vindictive.

And yes, it looks very bad for the USTA when a kid like Ronnie Schneider wins ( kid in regular school too.) It matters greatly to the USTA if future top players are privately developed because they are pouring millions of dollars into USTA PD juniors THAT THEY PICKED.

Their jobs are on the line if these kids are not successful. What better way to ensure their success than to get rid of the competition.

TennisCoach - NJ said...

To Dude,

Wild cards had to be doubled for PD players.

Hard to age up with out them.

Funny, how the USTA has one system for us and another system for their own players, who don't have to follow the new rules.

TennisDad said...

The changes approved will be disastrous.
1) College impact - Many kids including my first child caught their coach's attention at Clays/Hards. My child would have never have made it to these events under the new rules and yet my kid kept working hard and had a successful career at a major D1 school. Reducing the size of these two tournaments is a HUGE mistake. Hello, Tennis is a NON-REVNUE collegiate sport. Do you really think the hundreds of schools out there will have the budget and time during the year to travel section to section? No, they'll recruit locally or go foreign.

2) My younger children would have never have taken up the support if my oldest hadn't played the sport. They both would have qualified under the new proposal for majors and one has also earned a D1 scholarship at a major school and the other is on track as well. But the allure to be the 'best in section/region' doesn't have the allure to attract families to the game. At the end of the day, we have to grow the sport. We shouldn't make an exclusive sport even more restrictive. These kids today who are lower ranked still get college scholarship opportunities, grow into adults that buy tickets to pro events, solict their clubs/park districts and introduce their children to the sport. In the end, it's those type of people that will keep growing the game and feeding much needed money into the sport.
3) If this is such a great system, then we should see the High Performance kids play the system. All those wildcards for them would be unneeded and could go to higher Sectional Quotas. It's hypocritical to tell the Junior player population that this is the best system, but for the high performance kids, they should play something else (ITFs, etc). One thing is for sure, no one has the absolute formula on how to produce the next top 10 pro player. So don't dash the dreams of those willing to give it a try and pay for it on their own.
4) Playing in one's section is nice, but the best advantage we have in the USA is the diversity of our players. Ever see the difference of a Cold climate player when they first go outside? Ever see a warm climate player go indoors? The games between an indoor and outdoor player is a big deal. And we are better off playing different styles of players when we can.
5) It would be one thing if the vote reflected the population, but the straw vote on Saturday clearly indicated dissention. Somehow folks were "convinced" to agree by Monday. Congrats to the Southern section for having the courage of their conviction to stand their ground.

Good luck to ya said...

TennisDad make a great point! If the USTA is trying to develop all around top players but limit play to local/regional areas how are these kids suppose to develop a multi-surface game. Our son, who grew up in So Cal, had never played on a clay court until he went to the National-in Florida in the 12's. We had to drive 1 1/2 to even find a clay court to practice on-and it was at a private club we had to beg to get him into! Then, while in Chicago when he was 17, he had a hard court tourney rained out and they sent him to an inside court--not only had he never seen one (They had do not exist in So Cal) but the sound of the ball and a roof totally threw his game off. It was a learning experience that he never would have had if he not left the state to play. Coincidently enough, he playing primarily indoors now and thanks to his indoor experience at 16 he knew he had a game condusive to indoors and not clay ! Go figure...

GeorgiaDad said...

The Southern Section is really taking it on the chin here. Not only are they suffering a further reduction of numbers into the "Super Nationals", they must travel nine states to play their Regionals. At least before their loss of slots into to the "Super Nationals" were mathematical in support of the minimum requirements per section. They should petition to become at least three or four sections if you want to reduce their cost to compete. With the stripping of population as basis for entry into "Super National" tournaments there is no reason, other than institutional defense, for Southern to remain so geographically large. Even divided into four the numbers would still make them good sized sections based on membership.