Sean’s analysis on USTA

For a very thorough analysis of the proposed USTA rules changes for national tournaments starting in the year 2014 who else is there to turn to but Sean Hanitty! Wait, Sean Hannity, the guy on the radio/TV? Yes, that Sean Hannity? Sean has fairly high ranked tournament players and has done his homework on a subject that is near and dear to his heart.  He devoted a recent column to the USTA rules.  Whether you agree with him or not, his writings are well reasoned and a good starting point for discussing the issues.  Here area few excerpts.

As you may or may not know, the USTA Board of Directors approved a proposal at its annual meeting in March to radically change the competitive structure for American junior players, beginning in 2014. Compared to the 2011 schedule, this new structure will reduce the total number of competitive opportunities for junior players at the national level by about 50 percent. The reduction in opportunities for national play outside of one’s region will be over 75 percent. These changes will most radically adversely affect those players ranked below the top 30 or so nationally.

If you are as frustrated as I am that American tennis has been on a steady decline, both professionally and at the college level, with more and more colleges giving scholarships to foreign students because American players are falling behind, as well as, the loss of college teams, the loss of high school teams, and the significant loss of tennis courts in major metropolitan areas, then I hope you will join me in urging the immediate reversal of the USTA’s “new rules” for juniors competition.

This slashing of the number of competitive opportunities is troubling. But there is more: The USTA will be re-instituting the “Good Birthday/Bad Birthday” dilemma for national level juniors. A player born in July will always be the youngest player in the national rankings and national tournaments. Without full-sized national championships at times other than the July-August window, the USTA is retreating to the problems associated with “birth year” age control dates. Beginning in 2014, a September birthday will be treasured, while players born in July and August will pick another sport. Has anybody at the USTA ever read the book Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell?

It is difficult to justify corralling all players within their regions – and then only allowing the very best players in the nation the opportunity to compete against out-of-region opponents. Reducing out-of-region playing opportunities by at least 75 percent makes no sense from a developmental standpoint, to say nothing of how it will affect the players motivationally. All players should have the chance to be exposed to as many different opponents as possible within a framework that meets their personal schedule, and not be limited to the very rigid July-August time frame.

Read the entire article – HERE

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