Monday, April 13, 2020

USTA Extends COVID-19 Hiatus Until Through May, Cancels Junior Summer Team Competitions; Rinaldi and Kinnear Lead Off USTA Youth Development Learning Seminar

Three weeks ago, the USTA announced it was canceling all its sanctioned events through May 3. In that three weeks since the USTA's announcement, Wimbledon was canceled and the ATP, WTA and ITF extended their shutdowns until July 13, so it seemed just a matter of time before the USTA followed suit.

But the current end date is now May 31, not mid-July, so it's obvious the USTA would like to put off a decision on the Clay Courts and National Hard Courts until then. In their announcement, they specifically mention the Clay Courts, which are scheduled for the week of July 13, as remaining on the schedule, but both the 18s National Team tournament, held the week before the Hard Courts  (as per USTA, the 18s National Team tournaments are still on the schedule as of now), and the 16s Intersectionals, held the week before the Clay Courts have been canceled. The list of USTA sanctioned tournaments canceled is a long one, with adult leagues, Junior Team Tennis, Tennis on Campus, and many others on it. A FAQ on the cancellations is available here.

One of the reasons the USTA gives for canceling and not moving some events to later in the year is their wish to promote more local play when tennis competition is again allowed. This makes sense from a practical standpoint, as some locales may be able to play sooner than others, and putting national events on the calendar would disrupt that.

The announcement also mentions that there will be no more National Standings Lists, with the March 18 rankings serving "as the most current until tournament competition resumes."

I attended today's USTA Player Development Learning Series on Youth Development, with Kathy Rinaldi, the head of women's tennis, and Kent Kinnear, the head of men's tennis leading off the webinar. Rinaldi focused her time on the importance of learning to volley, a skill that can be practiced alone and in confined space during this time away from tennis courts. I love a good all-court game and I find it encouraging that Rinaldi is emphasizing that as a goal for all players, whether amateur or pro. And, as Jose Higueras had done a week ago, Rinaldi and Kinnear both suggested keeping a racquet in your hand as much as you can.
Kinnear focused on the serve, another shot that can be practiced alone, and he mentioned this break as an excellent time to work on the service toss.

Mark Lerman spoke on the mental skills that can be worked on during this downtime, and an academic paper by Lerman and three others, on the subject of producing confident and resilient players, can be found here.

Johnny Parkes, senior manager of Talent ID and Development, hosts the seminar, and he did a segment on making tennis fun. USTA trainer Laura Paczesny discussed injury prevention, and Net Generation head Leah Friedman provided more information on their Tennis At Home program that has been ramped up in the past month.

If you did not get the opportunity to participate in the live webinar, it is now available on demand here. You are also invited to submit questions to any of the participants via the email TeamUSA@usta.com. Next Monday's webinar, at the same time, 3 p.m. EDT,  will focus on Wheelchair Tennis.


Peace said...

Happy”what ever Holiday” you celebrate Everyone. Peace!

Brent said...

I saw the Twitter discussion about moving to a 4-singles, 2-doubles, simultaneous-play format for college matches. My question to that would be 'what problem are we trying to solve?' My position that chasing TV ratings or live attendance numbers is a futile effort. There isn't a format that can manufacture interest in the sport. Yes, good marketing can help but it isn't going to solve it. So, if not serving a fan interest problem, who does a 'less is more' format serve? Are the players asking for that? Are the coaches asking for that? I'm interested in the other arguments here.