Thursday, September 20, 2012

USTA Rethinking Junior Competition Changes?


The USTA released a statement today suggesting the junior competition changes passed back in March may be revised or at least revisited.  Here is the statement, in its entirety:

This past Monday and Tuesday, Steve Bellamy, Robert Sasseville and Kevin Kempin were able to spend several hours speaking with USTA leadership, (Dave Haggerty, Gordon Smith, Kurt Kamperman) about the Junior Comp changes.  We are pleased to say that we had a very open and candid exchange of ideas.

We shared many, if not all, of our concerns about the proposed new competitive structure, and the USTA definitely listened.  We also got a better understanding of their long term objectives for making these changes.  Long story short, we requested that the USTA hit the “pause button” for the 2013-2014 junior comp changes before instituting these changes.  This obviously comes with some procedural challenges for the USTA, however, they were open to the recommendation and said they will discuss it internally and give it full consideration.


In addition, the USTA acknowledged that moving forward they wanted to seek input from a broader group of constituents, i.e. parents, college coaches, tournament directors.  To that end, the USTA will be getting back to us with some suggestions.  All in all, we felt that our meetings with the USTA were very productive, and we believe that we should all hit the “pause button” for a short time to allow the USTA to come back to us with their plans for moving forward.  Recognizing that time is of the essence, we anticipate hearing back from the USTA within the next two weeks.


This is obviously good news for those of us who, while we may support some of the objectives of the changes, did not feel there was adequate input from all those who would be affected on a daily basis.

The plan as approved in March drastically decreases the number of national opportunities, where playing against others from all sections is possible, for all age groups. Here are some hard numbers on that:

BG18s  3232 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 542 in 2014
Only 16.77% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2690 opportunities – or a decrease of 83.23%

B16s   3104 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 583 in 2014
Only 18.78% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2521 opportunities – or a decrease of 81.22%

G16s   3072 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 583 in 2014
Only 18.75% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2489 opportunities – or a decrease of 81.25%

B14s   

2944 national opportunities in 2009 ->  2304 in 2012 -> 580 in 2014
Only 19.70% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2364 opportunities – or a decrease of 80.30%

G14s   2976 national opportunities in 2009 ->  2304 in 2012 -> 580 in 2014
Only 19.49% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2396 opportunities – or a decrease of 80.51%

BG12s  2656 national opportunities in 2009 ->  2304 in 2012 ->  416 in 2014
Only 15.66% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2240 opportunities – or a decrease of 84.34%


No one has asked me, but I would much rather the USTA go to the standard worldwide tennis format of qualifying tournaments immediately preceding any and all major national events.  If the majority of selections are made by sectional endorsements/rankings and a national ranking list, I would be delighted to see a 128-draw with 16 qualifiers, just like the US Open, here in Kalamazoo for the boys 16 and 18 Nationals.

Have I considered all the implications of such a format? Probably not. But (and I know I'm repeating myself from earlier posts on the topic) why are we reinventing the wheel every few years in this country?  For all the good intentions, it just ends up confusing coaches, players and parents, who must figure out, all over again, what to play, when to play and where to play every time the system is revamped.  Yes, point chasing is easier for the well-to-do, but the points-per-round system has proven to be, on the ITF, ATP and WTA levels where it has been in place for years, the best way to rank tennis players. No system is perfect, and those who can't abide Caroline Wozniacki or others who ascend to the top ranking without winning a slam, object loudly and clearly, to the WTA's system of rewarding those who play often.  Yet the tours want their top players to show up, so any alternatives that discourage that also have consequences.

These are complicated issues that only become more so when new wrinkles are introduced. The change I'd like to see? A simple, easily summarized tournament structure that can't be changed for at least a decade. And then we could all get back to concentrating on substance of the game, not the structure.

13 comments:

Concerned said...

1Encouraging..somewhat. Am a little alarmed..alot alarmed by the comment that the challenge this will cause with USTA procedures. They govern themselves, commentate on their players and coach their players against other members. Judging by their players record and ...mostly behavior on court, there is very little regulation or results.

We the masses really loathe the USTA. We really do. We have so much ammunition it's just makes skeptics out of the best of us. Hard to fathom the USTA is trying to make this whole thingout be a points race. Don't punish all for just a handful..really a handful..really.

I am skeptical, but hopeful.

Tennis5 said...

BG18s 3232 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 542 in 2014
Only 16.77% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2690 opportunities – or a decrease of 83.23%

B16s 3104 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 583 in 2014
Only 18.78% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2521 opportunities – or a decrease of 81.22%

G16s 3072 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2432 in 2012 -> 583 in 2014
Only 18.75% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2489 opportunities – or a decrease of 81.25%

B14s
2944 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2304 in 2012 -> 580 in 2014
Only 19.70% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2364 opportunities – or a decrease of 80.30%

G14s 2976 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2304 in 2012 -> 580 in 2014
Only 19.49% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2396 opportunities – or a decrease of 80.51%

BG12s 2656 national opportunities in 2009 -> 2304 in 2012 -> 416 in 2014
Only 15.66% of the opportunities will remain in 2014 vs. 2009
This is a reduction of 2240 opportunities – or a decrease of 84.34%


Folks, what is very important to note here in these numbers,
is that some of the tournaments have been lost forever,
unless the USTA goes back to the system before 2010.

A little too late said...

Fully support all above comments. The USTA has succeeded in accomplishing perhaps one of their goals. All love of their dissatisfaction and complete disdain for the USTA. Well done. Hard to unite this group

usta not so good... said...

The proof is in the pudding and it has been eloquently articulated here. The USTA has blown it on many levels, and that is why they haven't been able to produce ANY great champions. The recent great American players have all come from outside, private coaches and/or parents...

Curious said...

Collete

Was it the USTA that released the statement or was it the group that met with them. I say this becuase on the tennis recruiting site it doe snot say who the communication was from, and it seems to be written from the perspective of the group who met with them, not the USTA.

debatable said...

Just so you know this was not published by the USTA but from the other side. If you read what you copied and pasted it is pretty obvious. Also those numbers clearly come from the other side and are quite debatable at the least.

Colette Lewis said...

As I understand it, the statement was approved for release by the USTA, but it was not supplied by them.

am said...

I disagree about points based ranking systems being better for juniors, TR rankings are more accurate in my opinion.

USTennis said...

Another example of USTA incompetence, which unfortunately flows through from handling of Junior competition to Futures to Challengers, ie the grass roots of US tennis - where are our upcoming players? They are so disallusioned with the system that a lot of promising players are being lost to the game. Give these promising US players some choices, other than go play overseas! A Future every second week in a market of this size - absurd.

debatable said...

The first sentence in this article remains incorrect. The USTA did not release this statement. Arguing opinion is fine. Arguing fact is not.

Denard McLendon said...

Aren't the Nationals designed for the BEST players? Why do we want to allow EVERYONE in the USTA National events. Its not fair that if you can afford to fly across the country you can develop ranking points. Even if you are not one of the best players.

Also during the golden days when the US dominated tennis (junior years of Sampras, Chang, Agassi, Courier) there were even fewer National opportunities. Did that prevent them from winning Grand Slams.

Lets teach our kids to earn spots in Nationals and develop into a world class player,

Georgia Dad said...

Someone posted that the Tennis Recruiting standings are more accurate. I agree with that assessment, under todays circumstances. Back when the STAR system was used by USTA for rankings unfortunately a player could go out play a few tournaments and if they caught the right people on a good day for themselves go hide out and stay high in the rankings. it happened all of the time. With the current PPR standings in the USTA the players are pretty much forced to play a lot to get ranking points. The result has a very desirable effect on the TR rankings. I still feel the TR rankings do not adequately reduce the value of older matches won or loss.
The real irony of the new USTA position is that PPR was introduced because at the time the feeling was that our players were not getting enough matches. The desired level was 100 per year. Which was pretty much accomplished in the PPR prior to the recent changes. You see some players with 120 to 140 matches chasing points of course, and so be it. I personally think the need for matches if you are to compete at a high level internationally is still valid.

Oscar Wegner said...

It's interesting how the USTA is experimenting in many areas, but not addressing the major one, found in a USTA and tennis Industry survey in the early 1990s: developing (or adopting) instruction that makes tennis easy to learn. I did that for Spain in 1973, for Brazil in through the 1980s, then influenced the Russians and South Eastern Europe with my 1989 and 1992 books, Latin America with my ESPN work starting in 1994, etc. Many coaches in these countries liked the methods and the results have been astounding, Tennis CAN be much easier to learn and to succeed at. You can all help by letting people know about this methodology. You can test it yourself. Read more about it at my tennisteacher website. Not only make it fun for kids, but actual players that can rally in an easy way, but which resembles the pros. Gone are the misconceptions that some of these new techniques are harmful for the body. On the contrary, they are better for the body, more natural, more efficient. Even health care professionals agree!