Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Why Qualifying Points Don't Count in Har-Tru Wild Card Challenge; USTA Junior Wild Card Update; Get to Know 12s Spring Champion Adam Neff

A couple of days ago, I responded to a comment about the USTA's French Open wild card points accrual with the statement that in 2012, the qualifying points were counted in determining the winner.

This is incorrect. Qualifying points earned do not count in the standings now, nor did they last year, when Brian Baker and Melanie Oudin won the French Open wild cards with their performances in the designated tournaments, now known as the Har-Tru USTA Pro Circuit Wild Card Challenge. 

The fact sheets for the 2013 Har-Tru Challenge, which can be found on the Pro Circuit home page at usta.com, state "The wild card will be awarded to the American player with the highest total of cumulative singles main draw ATP (or WTA) ranking points..."(emphasis mine), and I'm told that was the same as last year, and Baker's point total from last year bears that out.

Why qualifying points wouldn't count, although a minor issue, is a question that has been raised by a few readers, and Lew Brewer, who is the USTA point person on this, provided me with this answer.

"Our opinion is that we think that's the most fair," Brewer told me in a telephone conversation. "I understand why people would argue why you would want to include the qualifying points--because it's hard to qualify, they've played matches already. The other side of that is that they get extra points if they qualify. They've been around the site for a few days, so they've acclimated, especially if someone is coming from another tournament, and they've had that opportunity to get used to the courts, the facility, the water, all that stuff. I think a lot of times that's why you see some upsets in the the first round, because qualifying players have had a chance to get used to the whole atmosphere. We feel it is just more fair for everyone just to count the main draw points."

I personally would like to see the qualifying points count, while recognizing that it's probably never going to matter and is a small part of an otherwise great system for awarding a wild card.  My feeling, which I relayed to Brewer, is that the minuscule points on offer for qualifying, where you must win 2 or 3 matches, make this an "advantage" that is very expensive in terms of physical exertion.  And if the ATP (or WTA) is awarding points for a result, they have determined it has value, so I don't think it's necessary to exclude it from this competition. But my thoughts are just that, and the fact sheet provided the notice necessary to the participants, so the discussion is now just expressing opinions now that I've gotten the facts straight myself.

Another means of receiving entry into a tournament is via wild card, and this year, as in the past several, the USTA has published the performance-based wild cards awarded for results in junior competition. The wild cards are not always used; for example, last year, both Easter Bowl ITF champions Taylor Townsend and Mackenzie McDonald received entry into the US Open juniors based on their ITF junior rankings. But they are a means for players who do not play the ITF circuit regularly to get into the US Open juniors. Caroline Price, the 2010 USTA 18s Clay Court champion, played the US Open juniors that year due to her wild card, and this year's Easter Bowl ITF champion Gage Brymer is now assured of his place in the draw in New York this September.

Girls Easter Bowl champion Mayo Hibi, however, is another story.  Hibi is a Japanese national, who has lived in Southern California for nearly 15 years and is eligible to play in USTA events because she meets the USTA's requirements, but because she has not taken the step necessary to certify herself to represent the USA in ITF team competitions, she cannot be granted the US Open junior wild card she earned with her win at the Easter Bowl.  This also extends to a much more important and lucrative wild card into the US Open main draw that goes to the USTA National 18s winner in August, should she win that. My understanding is that Hibi's status isn't permanent; in other words, she could notify the USTA of her intention to represent the United States and be eligible for that US Open main draw wild card (or qualifying wild card if she were to make the 18s final), but as of now she has not done so.

Here is the language, which I don't recall seeing before, on the junior performance-based wild card restrictions.

Rules and Restrictions Related to Results-Based Wild Cards:

  • Players/teams qualifying for a wild card are not required apply for the wild card by the deadline; however, an application is preferred - see ITF Junior Tournament Wild Cards and USTA Pro Circuit Wild Cards above.
  • Only those players who have not expressed an interest to compete for another country or have not represented another country in ITF team competition are eligible to receive wild cards. Players must have made every effort to become eligible for USA International Team Events and be Jr Davis Cup or Jr Fed Cup eligible.
  • Players must be age eligible by ITF rules to receive wild cards for US Open Junior Championships.
  • Players receiving US Open Junior Championship singles wild cards are expected to sign-up to play in the US Open Junior Championship doubles event.
  • Doubles wild cards are awarded to teams - players must play with the same doubles partner.  For example, if a team wins the The USTA National Championships (Hard Courts) and one of the partners is not age eligible for the US Open Junior Championships, the team will not receive a wild card.
Because I am at the Easter Bowl or other concurrent USTA events, the only chance I have to see the 12s during the year are at the Eddie Herr and Junior Orange Bowl.  I had seen 12s Spring Champion Amanda Anisimova at the Plaza Cup, playing in the 14s in January of this year, but I wasn't familiar with Adam Neff, who won the boys 12s Spring Nationals and a trip to Paris during the French Open to play in an international competition there sponsored by Longines. The Tennis East Coast blog has an interview with Neff's coach Lance Luciani, which provides a look at the young Bradenton resident's training regime and game style.


russ said...

Wimbledon has put out a you tube video of its master plan to upgrade its facilities.


Looks good, maybe the USTA can learn something and demolish arthur ashe! The ugliest and the worst place to watch tennis ever constructed.

Another USTA Question? said...

i'd like to know why the USTA Futures and USTA Challenger events use an X out version of the US Open ball? It plays different than any ball in the entire ATP World. It plays like a rock and completely favors a player with more power but potentially less skills. The slower ball makes it favorable for players that don't move as well and makes it difficult for players to move larger slower players. Why doesn't the USTA use the same ball that is used at the US Open. The word is that they use this ball because Wilson can't sell this defective ball and the USTA gets them for free. However' their free ball hurts the natural development of players that would make it on the ATP tour. I know for a fact of players that compete and win against top 50 ATP players in practice mathes that have difficulty getting through the futures and challenger levels because of the slow balls used ONLY IN THE UNITED STATES BY THE USTA FUTURES AND CHALLENGER EVENTS! I would love to see some comments on this subject

Florida Coach said...

Incredible how qualifying points are not used. This is the time for the USTA to showcase their leadership.

However this shows a standard that they would rather give out main draw wildcards than make their players earn them through qualifying. Not the message you want to send out to the public, parents, juniors, regional training centers, academies and teaching pros.

Lew Brewer said the qualifying players could be tired going through qualifying, get used o the courts/water - LOL - seriously? Is that why Larry Stefanki is calling our players soft? Terrible decision Jay Berger and Lew Brewer!

QUALIFYING IS THE ONLY WAY TO GO if you cannot gain entry into the main draw - except for USTA players who ALWAYS gain main draw wildcards.

The standard and message is NOT send through the National Office. A SHAME.

Dunboyne said...

According to the article on Adam Neff, Neff spends 6.5 hours per day on tennis. He’s 11 years old. His father, a doctor, has put in two courts at his home and is working on a third. They imported European red clay for one of them because the coach believes “he’s got to grow up on the red.” His game is based on Agassi’s, says the coach, which begs the question, did Andre “grow up on the red”? (Laughing, but not out loud.) They also purchased a CVAC pod for the boy. The pod, by the way, runs about $75,000.

If you want to spend this kind of cash on a tennis dream, so be it. No one said the playing field was level, or has to be, because we all know it costs a lot of money to develop an elite player. However, to be honest, there is something really unsettling about the whole quest or thirst for sporting/financial glory that leads adults into deciding that an 11 year old is best served by spending 6.5 hours a day training for tennis. Or for that matter, gymnastics or violin or dance or math or whatever that one thing is in which a child shows promise. Clearly, we live in an age of the “specialist”, and boy does it start young.

Adam is homeschooled, obviously. I would be very curious to know just what kind of rigour the boy has in his daily educational curriculum. Does it match the effort that his guardians seem to be pouring into his tennis? Should it? I guess his father knows best. After all, he’s a doctor.

I also have to question the motives, the sense, and the ethical implications of using a CVAC pod for a young boy. Good grief. Talk about trying too hard. If you look at the WADA (anti-doping) code, there is a line in there about identifying substances/aids that are “contrary to the spirit of sport”. Surely, persuading an 11 year old to spend time in a hyperbaric-like chamber—to help him recover faster so that he can train longer/better—is contrary to the spirit of sport. This is excessive and wrong.

I hope the tennis dream works out for Adam because I’m not sure (from the thrust of the article at least) that his handlers are allowing him to have any other dreams. Unfortunately, the same can be said for legions of kids these days.

not hopeful said...

The Adam Neff story is a fascinating view into people's ability to spend pretty much unlimited funds to develop a junior player. Adam may or may not make it, hard to tell since he still very young. He will get the best help available but ultimately his physical and mental assets will be the key to his success.

This example does show that tennis unfortunately continues to be a sport where if you have the money to spend the chances of success get better. Let's hope there are some children out there that have the talent and the passion to succeed still shine and are not held back for lack of resources. However, the odds are stacked against them.

Tennis5 said...

This takes the cake....

It is almost like the USTA is auditioning for a comedy routine, unfortunately the laugh is at "our" juniors expense.

The time, money, and most importantly physical exertion on our juniors players in a qualy is not worth any points.

You see they have acclimated...
Uh, more like they are going to be moving their feet LESS.

Of course, if everyone looks at every reason through the prism of what is best for the PD players, you will understand the reason.

They don't qualify. They receive the wild cards.
Giving points to our players in a qualy hurts them.

Following college tennis said...

Unfortunately, this level of training taken to the extreme seems to be more of the majority these days than the minority.

What's really sad is that these homeschooled kids are completely bubbled in a life that leads to one path, except that usually injury, burnout, and/or most likely just not the rare freak of nature talent ....
Leaves these kids with a very limited education in terms of the higher level of course work. How many tennis homeschool kids do you see that take 5 AP's a year? AP Physics? AP Calc? Not many, but as an administrator, I see more of these kids struggling in college , taking the easier classes, and ending up with a degree that serves no purpose in terms of getting a job.

USA Coach said...

What a poor effort by the younger American Pros: Sock, Johnson, Kudla, Klahn, Williams, Sandgren in the clay court challengers.

Williams did make a semifinals in Houston but then backed up two awful weeks in Challengers.

Usually these are the guys who make up the wildcard tournaments for Grand Slam but now you open the field up to everyone and they do not win.

Those players are used to receiving wildcards and things given to them.

great to see Kuznetsov and Odesnik having more fight and toughness - and leading in the wildcard tournaments. Now only them and Young have the only chance. The 3 players the USTA fear the most will get it.

How much time will Patrick give the Mens program before they make a change? Jay Berger's job seems to be a tenure. They claim accountability on players but NONE on themselves. They have not produced anyone and had no success. Only injuries and kicked people out of program.

Dan - GA said...

Agree about the homeschooling kids.
While, they seem to be taking the easier majors in college that are worthless in terms of job marketability, I wonder who is choosing these majors for them?
The students who don't have the science or mathematical background to begin with, or the college coach that steers them in that direction.

The end result is that these kids end up right back in tennis. A few are still really passionate about the game and make great junior coaches, but a lot of them seem like an unhappy bunch. Sad.

Tennis5 said...

Sorry, can't resist when this is in black and white -

Quotes from this article ( notice the use of the word fair)

"Our opinion is that we think that's the most fair,"
( Except your opinion sets the rules for what is "fair")

"I think a lot of times that's why you see some upsets in the the first round,
because qualifying players have had a chance to get used to the whole atmosphere.
( It couldn't possible be that the qualifying player is just the better player?)

We feel it is just more fair for everyone just to count the main draw points."
( is it really "fair" for everyone? Or is it just "fair" for their players?)

Hatorade said...

So what if you are ranked 150 in the world and you don't have to play qualies? Why should you be punished because your ranking is higher than the guy or girl who has to come through qualies?

Why is everyone always out to blame the USTA. They don't have to even do this. They could just give it to the highest ranked American out of the main draw. People are a bunch of haters.

Mark - California said...

To Hatorade,

Maybe, you need to do a quick study of how the USTA rewards wild cards, and you will have a better understanding of how it is usually given to the same players.

Unknown said...

No doubt Mr. Berger's job is a tenure.

HooSC said...

USA Coach,
I think you're being overly harsh in your criticism of the younger American pros. Sure, it'd be nice to see one step up during this clay court swing, but I wouldn't necessarily term it a poor effort so far.

Last week in Sarasota, among Williams/Sandgren/Johnson/Sock, only 1 player was going to make it out of the 2nd round because of their position in the draw. That's not necessarily a poor effort. That's reality regardless of the quality of play. Sock retired injured against Johnson (after a tight first set) and Sock isn't 100%
Johnson, who made it to the quarters, lost to the eventual champ Kuznetsov in 3 sets.

In Savannah, Williams lost to Kuznetsov who is obviously playing with a lot of confidence at the moment.

This week, #2 seed Russell was drawn with Sandgren/Klahn/Johnson. Again, only one of the four was reaching the quarters. I'm not sure it's that big of a disappointment for Michael Russell to be the guy who gets past the second round.

Klahn has lost first round to a seeded guy each tournament. Not great results, but not poor.

Klahn/Johnson had a nice doubles run in Sarasota losing an entertaining doubles final (with no breaks of serve) in a long 3 set TB.

Congrats to Kuznetsov for his play and winning so many matches in a row. Though I'm not sure how the fight and toughness (as you say) applies to Odesnik too. Odesnik has not faced a seeded player in either event until today in the quarters of Savannah. He got crushed in the finals against Kuznetsov.

Furthermore, you criticize certain players, yet make no mention of the fact that Ryan Harrison lost first round in Sarasota and Mardy Fish lost first round in Savannah.

Williams is up to #119 in the world. In less than a year of full time play, Johnson has made it to #128. Hopefully, they will both be earning automatic entry into the Main Draw at Slams.

HooSC said...

I meant: Hopefully, they (Williams/Johnson) will both be SOON earning automatic entry.... Maybe by this year's US Open.

Hatorade said...

People always knock the USTA and say they shouldn't coach players full time and they should leave it up to the private sector. Then they let the private sector coach the players and everyone on these sites knock them for having poor results.

How is it the USTA fault Sock doesn't want to work. The guy tanks and quits. How is this Jay Bergers fault. This guy never tanke a day in hiis life. Harrison is too busy out doing photo shoots and is impressed with the press clippings. The guy doesn't even have a legitimate tour coach. How is this Jay Bergers fault?

The players the USTA are working with full time or providing supplemental support to are rising through the ranks like wild fire; Johnson, Klahn, and Kudla. Williams gets support in Boca, but is coached by his cousin. David Nainkin is coaching Querry who is close to a career high.

What you haters seem to forget is that only 3 players in the last 26 slams other than Fed, Rafa, and Nadal who have won a GS. there are constantly around 8-10 players in the top 100 in the world. That is second or third only to Spain and France. How many GS have the French won in the last 20 years? People always want to compare te US to the French. Has anyone looked on their site and seen their budget. It is close to 3x bigger than the US.

As a coach from the private sector coaches we need to get off our butts and look into the mirror. It is always easier to blame others. If we don't want the USTA working full time with players then we must shoulder the blame if we don't have American champions.

Everyone should stop hating. Drinking too much Hatorade....take some of the passion from this blog and take some responsibility and develop more players. We can't have our cake and eat it too. The private sector has let US tennis down not the USTA. I am to blame just as much as everyone else. The private sector needs to work with the USTA not against. If everyone works together only good can come from the relationships.

West Coast Coach said...

Hateorade .. Jay Berger is not solely to blame but he is in charge of Mens Tennis. In case you were not aware.....Jay Berger did does coach Jack Sock along with another coach - Jay Berger provides a trainer and money to Jack Sock - Jay Berger assigns his coaching staff to other young pros: Frantagelo, Krueger, Klahn, Johnson, Kozlov etc. Jay Berger decides on all wildcards for America Future and Challengers and Super National wildcards. Given alot of funding and a trainer to Harrison. Jay Berger has kids move from their homes to live full time in Boca. This takes players away from their sections which weakens sectional play which is the backbone of American tennis. I also heard Boca off court training is like a track club and not developing individual needs.

Look at the top 100 mens players and how many of them left home, away from their parents and families to train? zero

The USTA PD provides the junior foundation with tournaments, training camps, grant money - so of course they are mostly to blame.

The private sector is the only way to build a champion NOT a Federation.

All those players in Boca would not be there if the USTA didn't pay everything for them and give them wildcards.

USTA needs to return to supplemental coaching in juniors. Players develop better as people and players.

Hatorade said...

West Coast Coach,

So why don't you outline who you would give WC's to? People bash the lack of players coming from the US so my initial intuition tells me that the private sector isn't doing anything.

Are you not going to give credit to PD for helping Kozlov? Keys? Townsend? Min? Crawford? Frantangelo? Johnson? Klahn?

If the USTA was in full control of Harrison or Sock I could say the USTA is responsible for their blunder. Then if the USTA pulled all of their funding then people would take the USTA over the coals. Seems like they are in a lose lose situation.

So what you are saying is the USTA should give all their money to private sector. Outline how that money will be distributed? Give your plan since you have all the answers.

West Coast Coach said...


So why don't you outline who you would give WC's to?

(You can do many things with wildcards but because there are too many wildcards to distribute does not mean you have to use them. Here are other options I would use: 1) You can give them to the american who is next in the main draw; 2) Give them back to the tournament in agreement they give it to an american. 3) limit 3 main draw singles wildcards per player per year which includes US Open, ATP, and Pro Circuit and juniors events.

(I would do those three things first before giving wildcard after wildcard to the same players which historically has hurt those golden spoon players more than helped. Just because you have a wildcard does not mean to have to use them.)

People bash the lack of players coming from the US so my initial intuition tells me that the private sector isn't doing anything. (i agree - the private sector is not doing a great job along with academies).

Are you not going to give credit to PD for helping Kozlov? Keys? Townsend? Min? Crawford? Frantangelo? Johnson? Klahn? (PD does deserve some credit for helping those players - the PD staff works very hard - just a really flawed system. PD staff gets a lot of credit for Keys. More credit goes to Kozlov's dad than PD staff, what has Frantangelo, crawford, min or klahn has done recently? Johnson credit goes to his dad and Peter Smith who did a great job).

If the USTA was in full control of Harrison or Sock I could say the USTA is responsible for their blunder. (USTA is not in full control of those players but more involved with Sock than Harrison. The USTA staff does give them alot of money and staff help which they should. But Sock has been a huge disappointment with tanking, terrible practice habits, not in great physical shape while being gifted with so many wildcards).

Then if the USTA pulled all of their funding then people would take the USTA over the coals. Seems like they are in a lose lose situation.

(Not in a lose lose situation just does a poor job making decisions and not trusting the private sector. Its either USTA way or no way. mandatory 10&Under rules, How can the USTA go to already established programs (aka regional training centers) and tell them how to coach, tell them how run their center. Arrogant and Selfish. and not working.

So what you are saying is the USTA should give all their money to private sector. Outline how that money will be distributed?

(no - they should invite alot of players to competitive training camps, take many players to davis cup ties, lower tournament fees, host more competitive junior tournaments, buy pro events to in States to have kids attend and experience, hire more top american coaches and trainers and stop hiring foreign coaches)

Currently you have Jose Higueras live in Palm Springs while (apparently) running the coaching staff but Boca is run very differently. Boca does not even have their own facility - embarrassing.

Tim Mayotte said...

After years watching the USTA PD from the inside and out my biggest ccncern is that the top people have not articulated, communicated and implemented cogent and valuable teaching methods and policies. One look at Jose's teaching philosophy on the website shows there is little in the way of valuable content on this very complicated critical subject. McEnroe has no management experience and it shows. He has failed to identify valuable goals, is inconsistent in his implementation of those he does and gets angry when he is asked to communicate his thinking in the face of serious questions. There are many good and hardworking coaches in the USTA PD so they will develop some good players, but the organization is a mess with a poor culture, hence resources are wasted, many good players do not develop and parents and others are alienated.

PD needs CHANGE said...


You are correct. There is ZERO accountability on the leadership in Player Development. You cannot preach accountability onto others if you have NONE on yourselves.

This leadership has proven to hire foreign coaches, have over 12 National Coaches leave, year after year of no development of players, a current frustrated PD staff, most Boca players injured or change coaches (some players on their 3rd or 4th coach), Jose Higueras, director of coaching, only in Boca a couple weeks a year. If this leadership is suppose to be a role model for the rest of the country, this leadership could not be doing a worse job.

I wonder if the Board of Directors, The chairman of the Board and Gordon Smith have any idea what is going on inside Player Development.

If USTA Player Development want to change the culture then THEY should change. This leadership is broken and needs a fix.

Strategy Zone Tennis said...

In response to the blog about Adam neff. Adam tests in the 98th percentile of the country. He has a dream to become the best player of the world. The "handlers" of Adam think of his well being all the time and therefore understand why Agassi didn't have to grow up on the red clay; he was 5'11" and Adam will be 6'5" so his body needs a softer surface. Also today strategically we fail to understand the teachings of Sun Tsu "know yourself, know the enemy, never fear the result of the battle. Monetarily developing a player is expensive. In the past big corporations or small federations picked up the expense. In other countries the player was expected to return part of their earnings back to the federation for funding their development path. Instead of bashing Adam and his dream America should embrace his enthusiasm and dedication. This is his dream and the people around him support him fully.