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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

USTA Releases Sample Calendar for 2014 National Junior Events; DecoTurf Boys High School Championships This Weekend; Pollock's Attorney Speaks Out

The USTA today released an official announcement of the changes to the national junior tournament structure which were ratified earlier this month at the annual meeting in La Costa California. The complete release:

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y., March 28, 2012 – The United States Tennis Association today announced a series of reforms to the National Junior Tournament Schedule designed to make the system more efficient, effective and affordable for current players and those who will enter the pipeline through the association’s 10 and Under Tennis initiative. The new system also aims to foster more local and sectional competition as well as fortify two historically important elite national championships in the summer—the USTA National Clay Court Championships and USTA National Championships. The new structure aligns the Junior Tournament Schedule with the current USTA Player Development philosophy and goals for training and competition.

The changes were proposed by the USTA National Junior Competition Committee after more than a year of research. The amendments received overwhelming support from the USTA Executive Committee (comprised of the 17 USTA section delegates, the USTA board of directors, presidential appointees and past presidents of the USTA) at the USTA Annual Meeting held earlier this month.

“The changes to the Junior Tournament Schedule were not taken lightly; they were heavily researched and well-vetted, ensuring we proceed down the right path to develop future world-class players as well as lifelong players and fans,” said Jon Vegosen, Chairman of the Board and President, USTA. “These changes are part of our overall long-term strategy to grow tennis in the United States and make sure tennis is the sport of opportunity for everyone regardless of their socio-economic background or geographic location. With more kids coming into the sport through 10 and Under tennis, this new calendar will make sure that there are more opportunities for kids to compete locally, translating to lower travel expenses and less time away from school.”

The majority of changes will take effect in two years. A sample of the 2014 USTA National Junior Tournament Schedule is attached.

“We believe this is the right way forward for developing players at all levels of competition,” said Patrick McEnroe, General Manager, USTA Player Development. “Our goal is more competitive matches at the right levels along with more opportunities to train, and this new approach works well on both counts. It also places a greater premium on sectional and regional competition, meaning more players will have the opportunity to challenge themselves and compete close to home.”

Changes to the schedule include:
· Converting the USTA National Winter Championships to a team event in 2014
· Eliminating the USTA National Spring Championships in 2014 to avoid a major national championship being contested during the school year
· Create more local player opportunities and enhance the standing of the current flagship national events—the USTA National Clay Court and USTA National Championships
· Change in draw size to 128 singles players and 64 doubles teams for the USTA National Clay Court and USTA National Championships for the 18s, 16s and 14s age groups and to 64 singles and 32 doubles for the 12s
· Creation of new tournaments including the USTA National Grand Masters (a progressive event that will feature the top finishers in younger divisions advancing to compete with the best older players), the USTA National Winter Team Championships and starting in 2013 the USTA National Doubles Championships
· Creation of more local competitive match play opportunities while reducing the expense and time of travel through new regional events

A sample of what the junior calendar will look like in 2014 can be found at this link.

There is no reference to the Easter Bowl, other than the ITF Grade B1, but note the calendar says, "the intent is to sanction the BG18 Easter Bowl ITF and To Be Named Event at the same site." This is a 32-draw for 12s, 14s, and 16s, but it appears a third "Masters" for the 14s and 16s has been introduced that wasn't in the proposal I linked to back in February. If it is held concurrently with the To Be Named event, it obviously weakens the TBN event and further segregates players at an age when breakthroughs from one level to another are common.

I can't see how this furthers the goal of making the system "more efficient, effective and affordable," and I don't understand what problem that particular scheduling is solving.

I'm sure many of you will have thoughts on the calendar, but remember to use a name, as anonymous comments will not be posted.

The DecoTurf High School Boys Tennis Championships are this weekend with 24 teams competing for the title in Louisville Kentucky. The girls championship, held last weekend, was won by Baylor, who beat Girls' Prep, also from Chattanooga, Tenn., 5-2.

There are plenty of excellent players heading to the Bluegrass State, with Jared Hiltzik playing for New Trier,(Ill.), Brett Clark for Baron Collier(Fla.), and Blaine Willenborg and Roy Lederman for Pine Crest (Fla.). For more on the tournament, including results from the girls competition, see the USTA Kentucky website.

Georgia Tech men's assistant tennis coach Conor Pollock was arrested in Atlanta over the weekend, charged with rape and possession of marijuana and cocaine. His attorney, J Tom Morgan, is quoted in this Atlanta Journal-Constitution update as saying his client is "absolutely not guilty."


tennisforlife said...

It was explained to me by out section representative that having smaller draws meant that the better players didn't have to spend an extra day at the tournament beating up on lessor opponents and so saving money. It begs the question why stop there...in fact why even hold the tournament...The value of playing as the favorite as well as playing close tight matches and playing as the underdog seems lost on the USTA

Tennismom said...

Smaller draws mean less kids get to play. nobody is forcing these kids to enter tournaments.

Compressing the tournaments into a 3 days vs 5(the change the USTA) made for the national opens was ridiculous. My child won this event and was a finalist in the doubles in the 14s last , the first year for this change. Consequently he played almost 30 hours of tennis over 3 days. The number of kids defaulting due to injury( or early loss) was remarkable.

The USTA says they did extensive research regarding the changes. It makes me wonder who they asked and what the research entailed.

I have had a kid ranked nationally in the top 15 for the last 3 years and have 2 younger promising kids. We will be seriously be reconsidering going the tennis route for the younger kids.

By regionalizing tennis, so many plusses for the sport go by the wayside. It's a small enough pond to begin with, why make it smaller? We prefer our kids to have the opportunity to be exposed to more..not less. I can't even imagine what this means for college coaches. It's tough enough for the American kids now.

The Dude said...

Tennismom, if your kids are the cream that rises, they will have no problem with the new system. However if you gamed the system and spent money where many families could not afford, then that avenue has been taken away. The new system levels the playing field and makes money less of an neccessary attribute to success. Most families should applaud the new system. This new system brings it back to the good old days when tennis was a regional sport and playing nationals were a reward for excellence and not a right of participation. There are many tourneys to regionally participate but you have to earn your way to nationals.

Tennisforlife, yes it was a royal PITA to have to play in the round of 192 in a lopsided one way match which would take away another day of school and add another $250-300 in expenses so liitle Johnny could tell all his friends that he played nationals albeit he was dusted 6-1,6-0. Many 192 rounds were non-competitive but you had to book the extra day because you didn't know what the sceduled draw would be before you had to book your flight!

Although my child is now playing D-I college tennis, I only wished they had this system in effect when he was playing juniors. It would have saved us a fortune over the years and his results would be the same as he was always #1 in his section and never played those silly level 3 nationals. However 90% of the kids in this very strong and affluent section were flying everywhere locating the weakest draws to game points and qualify for supers. And it worked for them as they painted a pretty picture for college apps although many of them are current bench players.

Tennismom said...

Dude. Agreed some eople do job the system, but that is a very small minority.

Compressing the tournaments into a shorter time period is not good for the kids.it's to much intense tennis in a short amount of time. It's very short sighted. I felt like I was transporting a bunch of old men around....these kids had ice bags taped to their shoulders and knees and were popping Arbil like crazy.

Making decisions regarding junior tennis based on finances alone is not good for the sport.if money is such an issue, perhaps the USTA should consider offering more financial support to those in need. We have paid literally thousands of dollars in entry fee. I would be interested to know how this money is spent.and how the 16 wild cards will be awarded.

work-hard-tennis said...

Well, I have to say there is one good thing to the changes. Taking my child out from Saturday through Wednesday (the old National Open (NO)schedule), NO after NO after NO, was killer for missing school days. Despite the fact that the grades were fine, the school system in our state was very strict. Trying to do those plus the regular national tournaments that take a week, left no option for ITF's.

So this new format of missing less school is far better for the 2nd child.

** get used to the constant ice bags. All the college kids live with them after a match.

Gary said...

TheDude: As a longtime junior parent, I can definitely attest to the fact that these smaller regionals are great for the sport--but to restrict them as the USTA has in these new changes is terrible. It will just end up with the same kids playing each other over and over...not allowing different kids from different sections to play each other.

I get that the USTA is trying to make the sport less expensive, and this is certainly a problem. However, this new system is NOT the answer. Coaches that aren't recruiting the very top kids will get next to no exposure to the mid level kids, and the result is more foreigners will get these spots. You're trying to grow the sport, in a country that has to compete against soccer, little league, basketball, football, etc etc, and reducing draw sizes this drastically will discourage kids from playing. USTA PD kids WILL get the wild cards, and this new proposal will make the system more a system of elites than before. Patty Mac is a moron.

Great Lakes 10s said...

Sad to see the Midwest section fired Andrea Calvert Sanders this week.  Her passion as director of midwest junior tennis has brought forth many great changes in the midwest(many that were adopted by national).  She has helped so many players, parents, and coaches mitigate the junior pathway through all the changes over the years.  Anyone that thinks you can voice your opinions without consequences, here is another example that it just is not true(as a player, parent, coach, or employee).

The new changes have been force fed and now it is time to figure out how to deal with it.  Its obvious that the majority do not believe in the new pathway and unfortunately they were not consulted.  Everyone will have to follow the pathway except those putting it into play.  If the system is that great, why so many wildcards?   If QuickStart is for everyone, where are the lines at usta national training centers(Boca, Carson, NY)?  Why aren't smaller racquets being used there?

I am sorry but this has turned into bad parenting!  Do as we say and not as we do!  Everyone is being forced and the integrity is being lost.  No parent, business, organization, etc will be successful without gaining trust.  The new pathway was done with politics, anyone that speaks out is shunned, and the usta is losing the trust and faith of many members and past members at an astonishing pace.

So sad to see

John said...

Midwest - that news about Andrea makes me (very) sad. She was a shining light for me in helping navigate junior tennis for a Blue Chip player for a parent with very little experience.

She was knowledgeable but more importantly, her service and attitude made her a pleasure to work with.

Mich dad said...

Hopefully the replacement will be able to look beyond the Indy players. The midwest is a big region with lots of players.

Parent of top 5, mainly top 3 kid, sometimes number 1 kid in Midwest never...ever asked to Midwest training center. Bizarre,

John said...

Michigan dad - sadly I don't even know what you are talking about (Midwest Training Center - is that something in the last 4-5 years?). There were district training centers but those weren't for the top players.

Either way, I don't put that on Andrea....class act all the way (and I'm no Hoosier :-) !!

Tennis fanatic said...

Why don't people on this blog get their facts straight before they post factually inaccurate information. All three national training centers have permanent lines. Boca has one court, training center east has 8 courts, and Carson just lined the courts they are playing the ITF event on.

It is always funny to read these posts as the people who complain (which are the extreme minority) are the parents who have players who aren't even good enough to make it out of their local districts. These players have no business playing national championships. Why don't the "majority" of these complaining parents go check out how other youth sport organizations advance their players to nationals. Last time I check only 8 teams advance to williamsport and only the beat 128 players get a chance to play the main draw of the US Open.

These parents should just focus on getting their kids better. Too much time is focused on making excuses for their children. Get off the blogs and be a developmental leader for your children with a focus on the long haul.

11tennis said...

Tennis fanatic..easy easy. What are you ttalking about?
aboutI'm not happy with the changes either. Not sure what you are talking about. The USTA is very clubby..everything based on birth year..... Are you a 97 98..results. My kid highly ranked in nationals..top 15. My kid goes to school.. Doesn't attend all ntl...def not itf.does well when he plays and routinely beats the USTA kids. Unfortunately with new system of decreased draw and more wild cards.....and he cant play USTA during high school season(state rules) he is at a big dis advantage he will enter summer season at a huge disadvantage..

Or maybe not.
Who wants to play an unseeded kid..who may have a good chance of beating them...not good for any body