Monday, June 8, 2020

USTA Announces Major Restructuring, with Significant Cuts to Player Development; Registration Open for UTR National Clay Court Tournaments at Greenbrier Resort

The USTA has announced a major restructuring of the organization, and these changes will result in a much smaller footprint for Player Development. In January, Michael Dowse took over the position of  CEO and Executive Director from Gordon Smith, so some of this is the result of new leadership, while the pandemic has forced the USTA to reassess its own expenses in order to help the industry recover from the shutdown. From this afternoon's release:

The plan includes the following reduction in expenses and key changes:
  • 110 National positions will be eliminated via a reduction in force and or taking advantage of the recently announced voluntary departure program. 
  • The announced phased closing of the White Plains office with remaining  staff relocating to a yet to be determined new location in New York.      
  • Significant cuts in business units and other investments that are not aligned with the USTA’s strategic priorities.  This includes merging player development, facilities, and USTA-U into Community Tennis along with other downsizing initiatives.  
  • Significant reductions in meeting and travel expenses including for the years 2021-2023 whereby the USTA will only host one live attended meeting per calendar year for its volunteers and staff across the country to meet and discuss key business initiatives.
  • Exploration of a shared services platform to minimize and eliminate redundancy of backroom expenses of Sections and Districts thus allowing the strength of our Sectional and District volunteers and local staffs to service and support local facilities, providers, and players to grow the game.
This obviously impacts every facet of the USTA, but Player Development moving under the Community Tennis umbrella will have a big impact on junior tennis, as will the new Tennis Service Platform, which will replace TennisLink in 2021.

Although the release makes no mention of individuals, and I have no official confirmation, I have heard that Player Development had numerous national coaching positions eliminated, although in my understanding GM Martin Blackman, head of men's tennis Kent Kinnear and head of women's tennis Kathy Rinaldi are not affected. Peter Bodo at ESPN has a bit more information not included in the release, including the detail that those who have been with the USTA more than 15 years and are aged 50 and up were offered buyouts. I hear there are several Player Development employees who accepted this offer, so coaches and parents who are in regular contact with junior competition or national coaches should be aware that they may no longer be available for consultation. Stephanie Myles has provided several names of national coaches let go today at her OpenCourt website.

As I am not expecting any further details from the USTA, I would welcome any departures you have personally confirmed in the comments.

With the USTA Clay Courts being canceled, a UTR tournament has been organized to step into the void. The American Clay Court Nationals will take place the last two weeks of June at the Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs West Virginia. This is the site recently selected for the World Team Tennis season, beginning on July 12, so this is something of a warmup for that event.

The 18s are scheduled for June 21-25, and the 16s for June 28-July 2. Entries are by UTR ranking, with the Top 48 receiving entry. The format is a round robin, after a qualifying round to start, with round robin winners advancing to the quarterfinals. The entry fee is steep, $170, but there is prize money, and a guarantee of three matches.

I hope to get more details from the tournament organizer for an upcoming Tennis Recruiting Network article, but here is the release I received today:

West Virginia’s Greenbrier Resort Offers A National Junior Clay Court Championship
The Greenbrier Resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia will host a new premier junior tennis event, the American Clay Court Nationals, for boys and girls in the 18 and 16-and-under category. The boys and girls 18s event will be played June 21 – 25 while the boys and girls 16s event will be played June 28 – July 2.  The event was created to help create competitive opportunities for junior tennis players in the absence of the cancellation of the USTA National Junior Clay Court Championships due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The event, which will be run on the MyUTR tournament platform, will feature fields of 48 players for singles with $5,000 in the college scholarship prize money being offered. Payouts begin in the quarterfinals with $1,250 being paid out to tournament winners. More entry information can be found here: for boys and girls 18s  https://app.myutr.com/events/23216?_ref=tennison710 and for boys and girls 16s here: https://app.myutr.com/events/23263?_ref=tennison710

The first 40 entries will be invited to a special two-and-a-half-hour “boot camp” training session with former U.S. Open singles finalist and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Kei Nishikori of Japan at The Greenbrier on June 21.

The event will serve as warm-up act to the 2020 World TeamTennis season, which will hold its entire season at The Greenbrier July 12-August 2, featuring many of the world’s top players.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has been tragic and a major distribution of normal life as we know it and with this event, we are trying to bring back a bit of normal to competitive junior tennis players across the country who want to come to the Greenbrier to compete,” said Mark Sarver, the event organizer and the founder of TennisOnMain.com, a tennis teaching and services company based in Bland, Virginia. “The Greenbrier Resort is turning into the epicenter of tennis in the United States this summer and we are excited to host some of the next generation of tennis standouts on our clay courts for this special tournament. It is our hope that we can bring more and more competitive tennis events to the Greenbrier in the months and years to come.”

West Virginia has been one of the least affected states during the COVID-19 pandemic. Greenbrier County, site of the resort, only had nine total COVID-19 cases during the duration of the crisis to date.

The Greenbrier is a luxury mountain resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia. With a history dating back to 1778, the 710 perfectly-appointed Signature Resort Rooms, Classic and Historic Suites, Legacy Cottages and Estate Homes are situated on The Greenbrier’s breathtaking 11,000-acre playground. Play championship golf courses or experience more than 55 activities. America’s only private casino features table games, slot machines and FanDuel Sportsbook. The Greenbrier’s full-service mineral spa is widely recognized as one of the most luxurious in the world, and the Retail Collection is comprised of 36 boutiques, shops and hand-crafted works of art. The Greenbrier Restaurant Collection includes 20 restaurants, caf├ęs and lounges. The Greenbrier Clinic has been practicing diagnostic medicine since 1948, and The Greenbrier Sporting Club is the pinnacle of luxury real estate. Follow The Greenbrier on Facebook at The Greenbrier, on Twitter at @the_greenbrier or on Instagram at the_greenbrier.


Jon King said...

I do not think this will have any impact on player development at all. The academies, parent coaches, private coaches can do the player development. USTA player development should never have been a thing, they have wasted millions over the past 25 years.

This was predicted by several of us in comments here months ago.

Boca Tennis Mom said...

Reading the salaries being paid on Stephanie Myles' website makes me livid. They are paying Martin Blackman almost $600000, and others salaries in excess of $200000? That is disgraceful. Mr. Blackman was a pretty good coach at a park in Boca Raton. But how can you justify that kind of money!?

The USTA tournaments at some levels have taken to giving out plastic medals instead of trophies, there are few roving refs to help with all the cheating, and these people are making that kind of money? Wow, unreal the amount of money wasted at the USTA.

Lisa Stone said...

I'm doing a Facebook Live on the ParentingAces Facebook page today at 5pm ET/2pm PT with the American Clay Court Tournament organizers. Those that tune in live will be able to ask questions in the Comment area. The direct link is https://www.facebook.com/ParentingAces/videos/288733032260418/. Thanks!