here, and for those of us who are having a hard time keeping up with what's changed, there are helpful strike-throughs to highlight the differences), so the hope that there would be a permanent pause or a complete rebuild is gone and unlikely to be addressed again.
So with that in mind, my questions centered on what I thought was most important now, which is the dates when all these changes will be carved in stone, so that families and coaches can begin to make plans and schedules. Please note these are dates for the NATIONAL portion of the new junior competition schedule, not SECTIONAL qualifiers, which obviously now need closer coordination since there is no other way to enter the Nationals.
Here are the dates I was given by Lew Brewer:
April 16, 2013: Invitations for bids to host sanctioned tournaments sent out
May 19, 2013: Deadline for submitting bids
June 1-2, 2013: Sanctions and Schedule subcommittee meets, makes preliminary recommendations to Junior Competition and Sportsmanship Committee
On or about June 24, 2013: Announcement of awarded bids, complete with TennisLink tournament ID, site, director, etc.
There are two new events--the National Doubles Championships, which is now a gold ball event, and the 2013 Masters--that were part of the original plan and were not paused, and those events are close to being finalized. Brewer assured me the Masters will be in Boca Raton in October, and the doubles event in August of 2013, and that final information on those two tournaments should be available by the beginning of June.
With the sections holding so much power in national entries now, I asked Schultz and Brewer if they would support more uniformity in endorsing players, as there are currently major differences in endorsement requirements from section to section.
"I think sections that have what we call onerous endorsement requirements will pretty much go out the window," said Brewer. "They don't need to be onerous anymore, because the only way to get in (except for wild cards) is through the section."
Brewer said he has be advocating for better alignment of sectional endorsement critera for years.
"We're going to talk with the sections on the 8th of May, getting down into the weeds of these endorsement policies, and if it's possible to have a pretty uniform policy, then that's what we would like to see happen," Brewer said.
Schultz, who has experience as an endorser when he worked in the Midwest section, agrees there is a need for more consistency now.
"I know sections have different thoughts on this, but what I think we should do is try to lead them down a path that makes the most sense. So for instance, when Tracy Austin was playing and she was invited to Wimbledon, let's hope her section didn't make her play the section's qualifier to play the Nationals. There are reasons that kids ought to be excluded from their section qualifier and still get automatic bids into the Nationals, and not have to rely on a wild card. There are also players who get up to the top part of their section and suddenly have all these injuries, and you've got to try to avoid that as well. But I do think with the help of Lew and our staff and other section folks, we should be able to come up with something more uniform, and in general do that across the board.
"But as Lew said, at the end of day, the sections do have some autonomy. We would like to be as consistent as possible."
In addition to the actual 29-page document I linked to above, the USTA has also recently released several less detailed announcements on the changes in the past two months, including the proposed 2014 calendar, which does not include sites for any tournaments and may not be completely accurate as to dates and this five-page summary in pdf form of the National Junior Competitive Structure.
The usta.com page for Junior Competition has been providing updates, and I will post or link to any other releases I receive regarding the calendar for 2013 and 2014.