USTA Announces Plans for New Home for American Tennis; Wall Street Journal on Taylor Townsend, Columbia Men's Tennis
This huge project has so many facets, with the intention of creating a "new home for American tennis," that even the many journalists from all over the country on the call couldn't begin to inquire about every possibility. There is much that the three USTA participants in the conference call--Chairman and president Dave Haggerty, Executive Director Gordon Smith and General Manager of Player Development Patrick McEnroe--could not answer, with the completion of the project more than two years away, but three things are clear. Community Tennis, which now oversees junior and collegiate tennis, is moving from White Plains, New York, Player Development is moving from Boca Raton, Florida, and the USTA received so many incentives from the developers and the local governments that the deal was too good to turn down.
A question about the status of the USTA's National Training Centers at the Billie Jean King USTA National Tennis Center in New York and at the StubHub Center in Carson, California was answered by McEnroe:
We're obviously going to look into everything that we're doing. I think it's safe to say we will have a presence still inNew York at the home of the US Open, at the National Tennis Center there, and we will have some presence in Southern Cal. We'll have the next year or so to really look into that and evaluate what is going to work best with the resources we have.
My questions, which I've published below, were centered on the project's impact on the collegiate and junior scene, with the unexpected disclosure that 12 of the hard courts would be dedicated to collegiate tennis, and would become the home courts of the University of Central Florida's men's and women's tennis teams.
Q: I understand from the release you're going to have 12 courts that are dedicated strictly to collegiate tennis. Are you considering a bid for the NCAAs and any other sort of tournaments that would be related to college?
DAVE HAGGERTY: The fortunate thing is the University of Central Florida is here, as well. The 12 courts that we talk about will be their facility. They'll be using them for their tennis matches. They'll also continue to have some practice courts on their campus. We think that gives the opportunity to really have a couple of dual matches at the same time. They can have their men's and women's
teams playing simultaneously. Many schools don't have the capability of doing that. Could this be a place down the road for a college event? Absolutely. But I think first we have to take it one step at a time. We'll work with the University of Central Florida and see what might happen there from any event scheduling that makes sense.
Q. Patrick, is there some idea there will eventually be national junior tournaments maybe from all the age divisions like we saw at the Easter Bowl that will be scheduled to take place in Orlando?
PATRICK McENROE: We're not looking to take any tournaments from already great locations. What we do think is possible is to have new tournaments and create some new tournaments for kids, again, I think down the road, just like the collegiate question that you asked. Certainly we'll have the ability to host big tournaments, whether that's adult leagues, junior events. So all those options will certainly be on the table. I think it's very exciting for junior tennis that we'll be able to do that. Like you said, there's not many facilities that can have multiple age groups in one location and we'll have the capability to do that at Lake Nona.
DAVE HAGGERTY: To add to that, we don't see having every event at Lake Nona every year. But I'll give you an example. We know that
parents have to fly to multiple locations with their children around holiday periods at times. There may be an 18s and a 16s event, there may be a 14s and a 12s in a different location. Parents aren't able to be with their kids, there's multiple locations.This could be an opportunity every couple of years to have an event like that here.
I don't foresee Kalamazoo or San Diego or places like that coming here. But I think that will be part of our transparency, part of our communication that we'll have in the upcoming months as we begin to do the planning for the future.
Q. It sounded like maybe the Winter Nationals, or haven't you gotten any specifics?
DAVE HAGGERTY: No. I use that an example of timing. Certainly that could potentially be one, but we have no plans at this point to say that the Winter Nationals will be here in 2016, for example. We don't have that, no.
The full transcript is available at ASAP Sports. The University of Central Florida's release, with a more detailed artist's rendering of those 12 courts is here. The USTA's article on the many facets of the facility is at usta.com.
The Wall Street Journal published two articles on tennis today. Tom Perotta, who broke the story about Taylor Townsend's issues with the USTA over her fitness at the 2012 US Open, followed up today with a look at Townsend's current coaching arrangement with Zina Garrison and her place in the upcoming French Open main draw.
Jason Gay provides an excellent look at how daunting a task it is for a student-athlete at an academically rigorous university to focus on both their studies and their tennis this time of year. Gay details the stress on the Columbia men, who have reached the Sweet 16 for the first time, but believe me, their dilemma with finals is not unique for any of the competitors who have chosen a challenging major.