Proposed USTA National Junior Tennis Changes not all that popular with some Pro’s

Zoo Tennis ran an a call to action from TomWalker, a leading Tennis Teaching Professional.  Here are some excerpt’s

The changes being voted are dangerous and destructive to junior tennis within the USA. The idea of reducing costs and making the system more affordable is a noble cause. However the premise of hacking off events and players as a remedy is based upon ill-conceived assumptions. Why should we cast at developmental levels with smaller nets? This philosophy will seriously undermine our game’s status. USTA tennis has had a track record of radical action with each outgoing president. Gentle tweaking is what is required instead of wholesale amputation of the National schedule.

The sections must Stop! and Think! Before acting, produce a study that has been initiated showing the impact on first year player and the opportunities afforded by larger draws. Are their proposals simply based on a personal assumption that smaller draws are more concentrated and thereby more efficient? Players that excelled in the hand-picked Orange Bowl fell to unseeded players in the Winter Nationals. Why limit these kinds of playing opportunities?

For the entire article – CLICK HERE

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 Here are a few of the comments so far (NOTE: Colette Lewis is the editor of Zoo Tennis):

prevent injuries! said…

Add to the argument: players who are sidelined for more than a few months due to injury, illness, family death, emergencies, etc, will lose so much ground they will likely not recover their rankings. Players and parents will feel compelled (even more than they already do) to push through injuries just to maintain rankings, jeopardizing the players’ health and long-term best interests.

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The Dude said…

Looks like I am in the minority but I like these changes. We all know players’ parents who have learned to game the system with money. They would fly to the least competitive level 3 national to gather points. They would fly to the weakest draw in the national opens rather than drive to their regional national open. They are not ranked in the top 30 in their section but somehow they manage to gain entry to every supernational only to lose 6-1,6-0 in first rounds. (Yes, these are the players and 1st rounds the USTA are trying to eliminate from supernationals which adds additional costs for every player in the draw). They hire the best coaches and travel everywhere to game the system. They end up on the bench in college but playing nationals helped them get in over the hump. Then there is the player that is legitimate a 25-40 national ranked player. However that is not good enough for his affluent parents. They game the system the same way. Although he cannot beat 4-5 players in his own section, he is the top ranked national player from his section. He never has to compete in his section, he loses his first round feigning injury defaulting 0-15 in the minimum sectional required tourneys so he can get his sectional endorsement. He also gets into an Ivy , or Duke because he gamed his national ranking to top 12 although he has only reached the round of 32 of any supernatioanal ever. He sits on the bench but his parents are happy becuase they have gamed the sytem so he could get into a top academic school. We al;l know these people in junior tennis!

Forcing players to compete in their own section and region will lower the cost of tennis for everyone which I believe should be a mandate for USTA junior tennis. Cream will always rise to the top, it is the obfuscating of a gamed ranking system that makes recruiting more complex and time consuming. This rew rule will take a lot of the money gamesmanship out of junior tennis for the good. It will only hurt those are not good enough to compete locally. You can be top 30 nationally with only playing sectional and regional national opens which will qualify you for every supernational, (ask me how I know). As far as college coaches and recruiting, most only come starting the round of 32, they could are less about the first 2 rounds. No one comes for the round of 192, which I believe is a worthless round in Supernationals and burdens everyone who is not seeded with additional costs.

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Colette Lewis said…

@The Dude:
Interesting take on the issue; you are the first person I know who is for the changes.
I would like to point out that the Easter Bowl is almost always played during the NCAA Signing Dead Period, so college coaches can’t recruit there. There were many of them here, and the ones I talked to do feel eliminating this tournament will make their recruiting more difficult.

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goodsports said…

College coaches go to tournaments to look at players, not rankings. They may arrive for later rounds to see those who have advanced by on-court performance, not those who have accumulated points. Smaller draws will actually make the round of 32 less attractive to coaches because many deserving players will have been filtered out by the ranking system, rather than by on-court play.

The USTA ranking system is actually the USTA entry selection system. According to Mitchell Alpert, USTA ranking chairman, USTA rankings using points per round create ordered lists that are reliable (can be duplicated) but are not predictive (don’t indicate who will win in a head to head match between ranked players).

Since the rankings don’t reflect players’ on-court abilities, it is imperative that the opportunities to compete at the national level be expanded, not contracted.

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