Red Ball, Green Ball, Orange Ball or None of the Above – Part 2


Wayne Bryan – his claim to fame is his sons – Mike & Bob Bryan, but there’s so much more.  Wayne’s programs produced many top junior and college players. This is excerpts from a letter he wrote to the USTA about the new 10 and Under initiative.  The letter was reprinted on Johan Kriek‘s Facebook page and many other places.  Excerpts will be posted on the blog over the next several days.

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Dear Anonymous USTA Exec,

Player Development

Again, so very appreciative that you asked my opinion re the U10s Mandate and U10 Initiative.

1) The USTA has built a half mile bridge over a one mile river. Jump Street is age 6 not 10. Ask AYSO soccer. T Ball. Softball. That’s when kids start skateboarding. Playing computer games. Great rodeo stars and singers and dancers are doing their thing at 6, not getting on that horse at age 10 or singing that first tune for grandma at 10. Inner city kids are doing those amazing dance moves at 6, not 10. Incredible NBA stars are already playing on the asphalt courts at 6, not 10. World famous music teacher Dr. Shinichi Susuki has little children playing amazing orchestral concerts. (Editor’s Note:  The USTA initiative is 10 and UNDER not age 10 but Wayne’s point is that these other athlete’s are doing great things with adult equipment at ages younger than age 10) ….

2) Champions are not created by million dollar slick ad campaigns! Tennis will never grow from Madison Avenue! It grows from Main Street. Local parents. Local groups of kids getting going. Local parks. Local schools. Local clubs. Local coaches. Tennis grows from solid and fun and dynamic programming and charismatic parents and coaches and club pros. It grows with bells and whistles. With energy and enthusiasm. With fun. With laughs. With trips. Hit records are purchased because people love the song.  …

3) …  You want to help tennis, have your child or your nephew or that girl next door play the great game. Not trying to be negative, but all those USTA PD (PD = Player Development) coaches through the years? Their kids don’t play the game. Those administrators telling us about this wonderful U10 Initiative? Their kids don’t play. If they play at all, they are sure not champions. “So, my humble opinion is that if you are a good junior coach, you will have multiple, great junior players in your program and if you are a great junior coach, some of those players will be your own children!!” Doug Pielet, South Carolina.

4) The USTA crows that it has gone out and gotten input on this U10 Initiative from across the country? No way. It is all from Committees. That’s why there is such a huge blow back from the tennis people out in the trenches – – – I have a large e mail list of irate parents and coaches. The coaches that are producing players and parents whose children are passionate about the sport and doing well – – – they don’t have time for Committees, but their opinions were never solicited or considered. My Mom always said that “a Rhinoceros is a Horse that was designed by a committee”. My pal at the SCTA Henry Talbert laughing says, “There is nothing worse than two Generals and a Map.” Massive changes in our tournament structure are coming from top down and not bottom up. That’s no way to run a car company the Japanese have taught the world.

5) USTA Staffers … all said three things over and over …

a) All 10s dink: … I can show you all kinds of kids around the country at 8, 9 and 10 that can flat nail the ball and have very complete games. Mike and Bob play short doubles matches with little kids around the country at all their Exos and Charity Events – – – usually the kids are U10s. The points are astonishing and they always use yellow balls….

b) It doesn’t matter how you do in the 10s:  Did these USTA staffers ever see Tracy or Andre at 6, or Jenny Cap, or Chrissie, or Lindsay, or Michael, or Pete, or Venus, or Serena at 10? Andy, Mardy, Mike, Bob, Sam, Vania, Donnie, or Ryan? Does that mean that every top 10 will be a world class player? Of course not, but every world class player was passionate and getting after tennis as a very little guy or gal. …

c) It doesn’t matter if the top 10s play up:  Players should never play up unless they are flat out dominating their division. Oh, play up every once in awhile to see what it’s like or play up in a weaker tournament – – – sure. …

To Be Continued in the next few days

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I am writing a book, I got the page numbers done – Steven Wright, Comedian

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