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Thursday, July 26, 2012

Sean Hannity's Response to Tim Russell; Kozlov Reaches Quarterfinals in Godfrey; Cohen into WTA Semifinal

Sean Hannity's rebuttal to USTA's Junior Competition Chair Tim Russell (or Patrick McEnroe, as he titles it) came out last week, but due to my girls 18s Clay Court coverage, I wasn't able to post it until now.  Similar to Hannity's first post, it's long,  no doubt because he addresses nearly every counter-argument that Russell raised in his 17-page response to Hannity's first post.  Skeptical of Russell's claim of landslide support from the junior tennis community, Hannity offers to pay for a survey of USTA membership on the issue.

At this time, I would like to restate my challenge to you to institute an unbiased survey on these schedule and draw size changes – a membership survey that, again, I would be more than happy to provide financial support for if the USTA will agree to abide by the outcome, regardless of what the outcome may be. Should the membership vote to keep the schedule and draw sizes, we can begin to work on ways to improve the legitimate concerns the USTA says it has.

I do not think the USTA will take Hannity up on this offer, so then what?  I hope the discussion continues, but I fear it will not.


Junior Development Coach Tom Walker, whom Russell sites in his 17-page rebuttal, but has been against the changes from the beginning, has written another response directed as a letter to Hannity. Walker pulls no punches in the letter, and calls for the dissolution of the USTA Junior Competition Committee. An excerpt from Walker's letter:

All participants must go! Even the well intentioned members lacked the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up and fight what was occurring. Their fear to speak out allowed this situation to occur. This committee could reverse the present proposals before implementation in 2013. To do so...these positions must be filled with junior development coaches from around the country. All must have coached actively or represent top tournaments, colleges, top international players, past professional players, or top sectional players. Each section of the country must be represented. Meanwhile, the current administration is hard at work to try to continue their hold on this committee. Political payoffs are being attempted. These can be broken up by the nominating committees by vote at the US Open. Most importantly, the new incoming President must be made to see the necessity of appointing a completely new competition committee. He will have complete authority to do this.

Walker's complete letter is here.

For another, briefer view of the issue, see Lisa Stone's post on her website Parenting Aces. Stone is also starting a weekly internet radio show on Sunday nights, so if you would like to call in and talk with her about this issue or any others, I know she would love to hear from you.

Stefan Kozlov defeated Harrison Adams today in the Godfrey, Illinois Futures 7-6, 2-6, 7-6 to reach the quarterfinals. He will play former Michigan No. 1 Jason Jung, who is also unseeded. In fact, there is only one seed remaining in the last eight players: No. 2 Caesar Ramirez of Mexico, who plays TCU's Nick Chappell Friday.  Ryan Thacher and Dennis Nevolo, two recent college graduates, have also reached the quarterfinals.  Kozlov and Henrik Wiersholm lost in the doubles semifinals 6-2, 6-2 Thursday to former Illinois NCAA doubles champion Ryan Rowe and Marcelo Arevalo of El Salvador, who played for Tulsa University. 

Complete results can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

At the $50,000 joint Challenger in Lexington, Ky., Mallory Burdette reached the quarterfinals with a 7-5, 6-0 win over Jessica Pegula. Burdette faces 17-year-old Madison Keys, the No. 8 seed, on Friday. Burdette and Lauren Embree beat No. 2 seeds Karin Knapp of Italy and Erika Sema of Japan 7-6(5), 6-2 in the first round of doubles yesterday.

Complete results can be found at the Pro Circuit page at usta.com.

In Baku, Azerbaijan, the site of this week's only WTA event, Julia Cohen, the former all-American at Florida and Miami, reached her first WTA semifinal with a 3-6, 6-3, 6-4 win over Magdalena Rybarikova of Slovakia. She will play unseeded Olga Puchkova of Russia on Friday.

With the Olympic tennis competition scheduled to start Saturday at Wimbledon (draws here), there won't be as much attention as usual on next week's CitiOpen, which is now a combined men's and women's event in Washington DC (the men's event was sponsored by Legg Mason for many years).  The women's qualifying draw of 16 includes 14-year-old Tornado Black, a wild card, 17-year-old Allie Kiick and 18-year-old Lauren Davis.

21 comments:

T. Board said...

Nice to see the Illini Nevolo and Rowe doing well too! Nevolo has a chance for a breakthrough here.

Arien said...

Nice surprising to see Kozlov win two rounds. Both matches were against fellow junior players.

McLovin said...

Sean Hannity with his wealth is the type of family that could easily exploit the old system. It's no wonder that he is against the new system where his kids have to proove htmeselves regionally before progressing to national venues. No end around for the Hannity kids, they will be on even ground like the rest of us.

barry buss said...

It's not the schedule...part 1

One saving grace of this whole back and forth between Hannity and the USTA is that the larger world has much better things to do and tennis as a sport will likely get a free pass for this embarrassing display. This debate again is supposed to be about “the future of American Junior Tennis development”..a term so broad and scope and misleading in name it has lost all meaning. If there was ever any doubt that the USTA powers that be really don't give too big a giant hoot about your kids, this should be the final straw. The USTA wants/needs to produce the next US Champion, one that plays on the final weekends of a Grand Slam event regularly, to justify the obscenely bloated player development budget and salaries that are being paid out year in and year out with little to no return on their financial investment. Imagine the cork popping and back slapping celebrations that would transpire if a USTA developed player made a deep run at the US Open this summer? How many more years can this current administration justify their budgets and salaries when the best the US can produce after ten years and millions on top of millions of dollars invested is a Christina McHale or Ryan Harrison third round effort at a major? Nothing against them personally, but that just is not cutting it.

One of the many quizzical aspects of this debate is the USTA's defense of the importance and assumed efficacy of changing the schedule, yet it is not being implemented until 2014??? Why??? If this is such a genius game changing maneuver why the delay in implementation? The entire schedule could be reworked over a nice dinner, yet they are taking two years to start it??? Logically, if this really was to believed to have any real positive net affect on American Junior Tennis they would have implemented it yesterday..as stated, one of the many quizzical aspects of this. Both sides in this debate are criminally negligent in their lack of any supporting statistical hard evidence to support their cases…These arguments are being conducted completely in the abstract…Tennis is played on a court, by tennis players..one point at a time..one shot at a time…If anyone believes a bunch of older non competitive tennis players sitting around in a board room, tweaking the junior tennis schedule a little more this way or a little more that ..by adding more opportunities for play on a national level versus providing less, will have anything close to any impact on American Junior tennis Development...one is failing horribly in the critical thinking department…

barry buss said...

Its not the schedule..part 2

None of this back and forth matters..None..Take the politics out of this..take the personalities out of this..The argument being proffered here is that somehow changing the tournament schedule is going to have some decided effect on the production of American junior tennis..We are talking about kids who are not even playing at the college level yet..that somehow, starting two years from now in 2014, that if they played a couple more big tournaments or a couple less big tournaments, like that is going to make the difference in American junior tennis development..People, we are just not thinking clearly..both arguments are horrible slippery slopes..that when extrapolated out to their absurd lengths teeter toward the insane…If more is better, hell have one every week..if less is better why have any at all…Like somehow there is some magic number that is going to make everything work out just right, and everyone gets to keep their jobs or get their scholarships..and we all play tennis happily ever after...

I’m sorry, but as someone with a background in critical thinking….and that is what this is all about..this is problem solving..troubleshooting..we are trying to amend a system in the hopes of better future results..This abstract not factual non quantitative bluster by both sides of this is a complete and utter waste of time and energy..Lets try to stick to the issue at hand…”the future of American junior tennis development”…In statistics it’s called correlation is not causation…The schedule is just so far from being the issue here as to why people believe “AJTD” is sputtering right now..a term nobody can truly define..Seriously..Everyone needs to take a deep breath, get your kids to practice on time, keep them healthy happy and motivated, encourage them to work their asses off, and let the chips fall where they may…The Usta is not really the problem…aspiring tennis players will make it or not on the court, not via the decisions made in a board room..and Hannitty is not the solution…he’s a concerned tennis parent like so many before him that is all in with his kids tennis and thats a great thing..but the emotions involved in having a child playing high level competitive tennis has been shown to cloud judgment at times..this is another of those examples..his heart is in the right place..but his reasoning just is not....The solution??? I'm not sure...There is not one for everyone for everyone wants something different out of all this..but the rising and falling of one's tennis fortunes has little to nothing to do with the schedule, that I am sure of.

comments said...

Once again, several reputable coaches and parents at the recent Junior Clays were asked about being asked for input about the JC changes. Not a single one was approached. Further indication that the Chairman is just not telling the complete truth.

Barry Buss and Tom Walker bring out further excellent points about the whole situation. The ultimate issue is whether the USTA leadership is willing to take action and make changes, as drastic as they may be required. Ie. annulling and further studying the possible solutions, appointing knowledgeable and responsible people to analyze the situation and acknowledging that mistakes have been made and they are willing to correct them. This is a tall order and it goes counter to the culture of the organization but these considerations are needed to avoid a total implosion of the Association.

One hopes that the leadership, specifically the current and incoming President, is reading these hundreds of comments and they are willing to undertake changes in a public and transparent way.

LovetheGame said...

Wouldn't the new system be fine if they went back to a who you beat system (bonus for wins over higher ranked players, as opposed to round based)? Every single college coach looks at who a player beats as opposed to what round they are in.

tennisforlife said...

Almost all of the chatter surrounding the 2014 changes revolves around the effect on the middle to lower tier of national players through the reduction in national opportunities. In fact the top players are going to be affected as well. The just completed (or uncompleted) 18's clay courts featured 2 semi finalists from the Midwest and 2 from Southern California - arguably 2 of the strongest sections in the country. Of the 4 only one of them qualified for the event through sectional play and 3 out of 4 of them played one sectional event between them. Look at the entries to Kalamazoo...one of the top 20 kids got in through their SEL and only 20% or so of the top 40 got in that way. The equivalent kids in 2014 will have to play a radically different schedule involving mostly sectional play going forward. Jared Hiltzik looks like he deserves his spot as the top acceptance to Kalamazoo and it doesn't look like he got their as a points chaser. His record over the last year is 54-5 without playing a single Midwest event. What does the 2014 version of him do going forward?

Chicago said...

Mc Lovin.

I have 4 kids playing USTA national events. I'm from Midewest. Now sectionals now include the state of Washington. Not only do I now have to pay a coach to take at least 2 of them to these regional events, but now we must fly through 3 time zones to compete in our region. Ridiculous. Ludicrous. Mind boggling.

Please don't tell about how this is a money saver.

Just Curious said...

I recall that Sean Hannity mentioned that he has 2 or 3 kids who are active in junior tennis. However, one thing I can't understand is that there is no listing for any kid named "Hannity" in the entire tennisrecruiting.net data base. Do they go by their mother's name? This is very puzzling because the Tennisrecruiting database should have any kid that has ever played any sanctioned tournament for the year. So, I can't understand why they wouldn't even be listed.

If anyone knows the answer to this mystery then please let me know.

Thanks.

Brent said...

Has anyone seen an official explanation of why finishing the Clay Courts on Monday was a non-starter? I just read the comments from Hiltzik in the Marcia article and he clearly felt bad about it. Makes no sense that they couldn't complete it, especially if the players were obviously pushing for it.

Tmom said...

Dan Rather

where are you?

Austin said...

Heck, have them finish it at Kalamazoo on Thursday before tournament starts!!

Colette Lewis said...

@Austin:
Yes, I think we could find a dry clay court for them to use. (I believe both are playing the Team Championships, so maybe Champaign would be better).

junior parent said...

Barry Buss - Your argument that the new schedule will not by itself produce a Grand Slam finalist is convincing. But I think you are missing Hannity's (and mine, and many other's) point. The point being that Junior tennis is not just about the kids at the very top. It is about all the kids who play. When you take away the ability to play national tournaments for many, many kids, you reduce the attractiveness of the game itself. Fewer kids will play tennis, at the margin. Instead they will opt to play other sports. And to that extent it hurts the game. Not just juniors, but the game overall. Lower participation in Juniors will eventually lead to lower participation as adults as well.

non liberal said...

Tmom, Could really do without the repulsive thought of such a liberal as Dan Rather. Lets keep this site tennis.

russ said...

junior parent I absolutely agree with your opinion. If the changes are being made to reduce the cost of traveling, those costs are relatively trivial in the entire scheme of tennis expenses. The loss of overall participation and the motivational goal for many juniors could be a real killer. You never know how or why the next champion appears. It's always different; but by reducing the level of passion and participation you're casting a smaller net and your chances of landing the big fish are reduced.

Tmom said...

No polititics here. Dan rather guy willing to pick up rock and look at what's underneath. And by the way, what gives you the moral authority to deem someone a liberal A's if it were an offense.

This site is tennis. Thue prevIling thought is that the USTA is making unilateral decisions , despite what the membership may feel...who in thisday and age can do that?

Non liberal ..honestly do you want to drag politics into this..there is no place for it.

coach said...

lets see. we think junior players need to be able to earn their way to nationals by winning in their section.

we consult nobody

so we redo the formats and take control of more wildcards so we can give them to whomever we want

yes that makes sense.

only if you realize that the competition committee is a bunch of egomaniacs then it makes sense

Non liberal again said...

Tmom, you dragged politics in it.. Dan rather has been a diehard liberal newsman his whole life..why would you bring his name into tennis.. And yes, i happen to think Liberals are incredibly hypocritical. He epitomizes that. Telling only half the story most of the time.

Progressive said...

Non-liberal- You have it exactly backwards. It is the right wingers who are the most hypocritical and who only tell one side of the story. See 700 examples of right wing hypocrisy in the arhives of the Daily Show from Fox News, Bill O'Riley, Rush Limbaugh, Glen Beck, Michelle Bachman, Sean Hannity and Mitt Romney.

The Republicans even have their own one sided network: Fox News.