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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Play Begins Monday in USTA Spring Team Championships; Sportsmanship is Theme of Second Practice Day

Photos of each team's eight competitors were posted today

©Colette Lewis 2014--
Mobile, AL--

The second day of the USTA Spring Team Championships was similar to the first, with beautiful weather, two-a-day practices and team bonding.

Several of the teams developed huddle cheers to use prior to their matches, and a few coaches set up scrimmages with other teams to get their players ready for the competition.

After the first boys practice and before the girls first practice, an extremely well-attended player meeting was held with the topic of sportsmanship the focus.

USTA Director of Junior Competition Lew Brewer opened the meeting by asking for a show of hands from those who had received a bad call during a match.  Predictably, most hands were raised, but when he asked how many had given their opponents a bad call, only a few confessed.  Brewer went on to make the point that everyone makes mistakes, and not every bad call is evidence of cheating. But he emphasized that in the majority of USTA junior matches, the player must rely on his opponent, and reminded his audience that the Golden Rule was an excellent model for all players to use.

Brewer then asked 18s competitor Jessie Aney to read the new USTA Junior Player Promise to the group, with the Olympic oath mentioned as an inspiration for it.  Brewer said this will be a part of every National Championship beginning this year, and hopes that it becomes a part of sectional play as well.

I recognize that tennis is a sport that places the responsibility for fair play on me. I promise to abide by the rules of the game, which require me to give the benefit of the doubt to my opponent. At all times, I shall strive to compete with the true spirit of sportsmanship, recognizing that my behavior on the court is a direct reflection of my character. Whether this match ends with my victory or defeat, I promise to conduct myself in a way that honors my opponents, my team, those who support me, and the game of tennis.

The 32 national coaches, most of whom are affiliated with USTA Regional Training Centers, have been asked to lead their teams in reciting the promise before matches begin on Monday.

In the next part of the meeting, former Davis Cup captain and current USTA National Coach Tom Gullikson spoke about the concept of sportsmanship at the highest levels of the game.  Gullikson asked who the ATP sportsmanship trophy is named after, and was suitably impressed when one of the older competitors in the tournament responded with the correct answer--Stefan Edberg.  Gullikson spoke of Edberg, his career and his new coaching arrangement with Roger Federer, who was the first and nearly only choice of the audience when asked for the game's current top sportsman or sportswoman.

The first matches begin with the boys, at 8:30 am CDT.  All eight dual matches will be played at the same time.  Four doubles matches will be played, followed by the four matches in the 18s and 16s, then the four matches in the 14s and 12s (this schedule is for the first day only). At 1:30 pm, the girls take the court with the same schedule.

Obviously, it will be difficult for me to cover all eight matches (I struggle with two at NCAAs and Team Indoors) and to know when a match is critical. Say what you will about the college format, when it comes down to the last match on at 3-3, everyone knows what the score is and what's at stake. Here, with 12 points on the line, not seven, a team may know they will win if they have a 6-5 lead, but with a formula needed to decide who wins the match if it's 6-6, the true sudden death element that you find in college tennis is not possible.

The results should be available at the TennisLink site, but I will try to tweet them as soon as I can confirm them.

As of now, the girls lineups are available on TennisLink by choosing the "Select a Flight" option. I'm sure the boys lineups will be available soon.


Uh? said...

Maybe I am missing something, but why do we care about the results of this?

love-tennis said...

I have heard extremely positive comments about the new team Spring National event over in Mobile, AL, so far, knock on wood. Root beer floats, 4 NIKE shirts, video game room, ping pong tables, sportsmanship talks, and lots of food. So nice to hear positive things!

Midwesttopspin said...

Bad timing for a tournament. Best players not playing. Not a single player out of the Midwest playing in the 14s. 2 ok players in the 12s.

Good intention said...

Probably although with good intention, this tournament serves little purpose. The better players are mostly not playing, it is more expense for families, what if you wind up on a Team that gets blitzed, another week off school even home school. And so on, on...

Another hare brained idea of the JCC and the USTA. Gullickson as a speaker is a great idea but Lew Brewer? The same guy that has managed to insult and mistreat parents and players wholesale? Come on folks, get real!

Thank the Novak's said...

Give the credit to Lorraine and Scott Novak and the people of the Tennis Center in Mobile. They put everything into any event they host. The energy and effort they put into Spring Nationals for all those years they are putting into this. They know how to run an event.(Wish it was still Spring Nats) But with all the effort aimed at foo foo fun, isn't this really Zonals 2?

10smom said...

I don't want to hear about all the freebees players are getting of a tournament that my kid isn't allowed in

Lisa Stone said...

I love reading about all the fun elements included in this event. I just wish the kids didn't have to miss an entire week of school to attend (or are all the participants homeschooled?).

Colette Lewis said...

It's the only gold ball national event on the USTA junior calendar now that does require, realistically, a week off from school. (Those within driving distance could attend school Friday) . Are you suggesting one is too many?

Lisa Stone said...

Well, given that there are plenty of opportunities to schedule during traditional school breaks, yes, I guess I think one is too much, especially for the high-schoolers. It's in direct contrast to USTA's stated position on reducing missed days of school.

ridiculous7890 said...

It is Spring Break for us this week. Timing was perfect!

Colette Lewis said...

Could you give an example of what traditional break you are referring to? July is really the only month all schools nationally are out.

Lisa Stone said...

Since it's a week-long format, maybe July is the right time to hold it then (though July in Mobile can be brutal!). I guess it's a question of prioritizing events as well. To hold it during Winter Break would conflict with Winter Nats. To hold it during Easter week would conflict with Easter Bowl. Even Nat'l Hardcourts now require some kids to miss school since there are school districts starting the first week of August, so, okay, maybe it's a no-win for USTA.

Tennis5 said...


Almost all public and private and Catholic schools are NOT off this week.

Many schools have spring break the 2nd to last week in March, the last week in March, the first week in April, the second week in April, or a tie into the Passover/Easter week.

As you can see there is a huge variety of weeks.

Lisa Stone has a valid point. If you say you want kids to go to school, then it is a bit strange to plan a week long GOLD BALL event when almost no one is on vacation.

Maybe..... if you are 12 years old, who cares if you miss school. But, for high school kids, it is a big deal.

When are all kids off from school?
Xmas break and July.

But, at this point, the country, the US,
doesn't need such small exclusive events to GROW tennis.

We just need to go back to the larger draws with many pathways there.

I do appreciate the talk on sportsmanship, but let's face it some kids, and everyone knows who they are, are just cheaters. And all the talk in the world doesn't do anything for someone who has no morals. We have kids who now brag about what good cheaters they are....

The USTA needs to get more refs. Period.
Put your money where your mouth is.

love-tennis said...

This mean spiritedness is really just too much for me. Here they try a new idea (which YOU ALL requested from your meetings for more doubles & more team stuff) and many negate the effort.

1. The entry fee is $162.00 so it's a lot and not free. Yet obviously the Novaks (et al) are trying to also make it fun. Lots of tournaments charge over $100.00 nationally and do nothing to make it extra fun.

2. Yes, it is supposed to be like zonals--fun team atmosphere.

3. There are lot of top 14's from our section here.

4. It is Spring Break here so no one is missing school.

5. If you did it in July, it'd conflict with zonals.

6. Yes, it'd be great to open it up for more kids. Did your kid really apply though? Our section sent out a notice that they wanted more to apply because it hadn't filled up yet.

Are you part of the problem or part of the solution?

Best of the bunch? said...

Bit surprising, looking at the 18's boys, this has to be one of the weakest group of players in a long time.
And what does it say about the USTA when not one PD player even chooses to play this?
Not one kid who plays high level ITF juniors is even here?
The old USTA March Nationals bore some resemblance to Easter Bowl, not here.
I see even a 3 star player...

Igor said...

To Uh?

Not missing anything, top kids are now playing high level ITFs.

ridiculous7890 said...

This is the first tournament that we didn't have to miss school (unless it's during the summer), so for "Florida" it was great timing. The schedule is ALWAYS going to conflict with some states. Can't please everyone!

PJ M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jim K. said...

Instead of an oath how about just putting adults to supervise every match like every other sport has? Take the $100 million wasted on high performance program with zero results and put it towards making junior tennis a refereed sport, every match.

Tennis player said...

Reading all the comments about missing school days you would think the same parents that are complaining about how bad American tennis is would realize these are some of the sacrifices you have to make in order to be great. And all the critism of the players that go strait pro as apposed to college is a bit ridiculous. I'd like to know the last great champion in the past 20 years that went to college? There's maybe a handful a players in the top 100 that went to school, yet anytime a college player wins a future we have to read about it like college tennis is the best way to develop a young player. Then anytime a player that went strait to the pros loses a match parents want act like they made a mistake...then complain about the American players being a disgrace... I'm just trying to figure out which is it? Give an example of 1 of the thousands of college players that makes it to top 50 and act like college tennis is the answer? Or critize all the young players that have already cracked the top 100 that went strait pro and anytime they get in a slight slump act like they made a bad choice? Also all this critism that parents give the USTA because there child isn't one of the top caliber players in the country is silly, it's not the USTAs fault you or your child isn't good enough. There's no secret strategy or secret coaching.. Sure a good coach can make a difference but at the end of the day it takes hard work and dedication and lots of it as well as many big sacrifices in order to be great. If a player really wants it bad enough they'll find a way, regardless of coaching or lack of funding from the USTA. Chances are if your not getting funding help from the USTA then your child isn't a top caliber player, plain and simple. So take your bitterness, excuses and aimless complaining somewhere else.

Jim K. said...

Your comment started out great, the true talents will go straight to the pros like they almost always have.

But you then went badly off track defending the USTA. They have wasted $200 million on high performance the past 16 years without a single male player of note. Yet their tournaments are many times horribly run and full of cheating. Great athletes try tennis then go back to other sports where talent is rewarded, not cheating or arguing for hours.

The average USTA tournament has 3 hour argue matches and courts back up. Junior tennis is not a real sport, its arbitrary at best. So yeah, the USTA is very responsible, they spend money on all the wrong things and thus can never attract great athletes and keep them in tennis.

Tennis player said...

The road to the top in tennis is more difficult than any other sport, you have to learn how to deal with all the different adversities. You can't just pass it off to a teammate if you're having a bad day. If players can't handle the adversity of learning to deal with cheating then they were never gonna make it in this sport anyways. My comment defending the USTA was directed towards the parents whose child has no real chance to make as a pro yet they spend hours complaining about no funding help. Then leaving comments talking about the USTAs "chosen ones" getting everything, acting like there being mistreated. These so called chosen ones are the best and top prospects proven by there results. Players that aren't receiving the same help aren't getting it because they've proven with there results there not good enough. It has nothing to do with your wasted fabricated number of 200 million. No player is ever developed from a young age by a federation no matter what country you're from.

Marty Collins, Esq. said...

The tennis parent echo chamber of complaint is being increasingly challenged by USTA, coaches, noobie parents. Let the games/conversation continue.