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USTA DAVIS CUP BLUNDER

Reno Nevada? Excuse me?

 

CONTEXT: The Davis Cup Qualifier tie against team Colombia was played March 4-5 at the Reno Events Center in Reno, Nevada. The U.S. team swept Colombia decisively by winning all 4 flights. They are now one of 16 teams that remain in the competition and will compete in the 2022 Davis Cup Finals.

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Photo: This is Reno

Since the USTA is the NGB for tennis in the U.S., it's their responsibility to organize the team and almost everything else during a tie. The rules say, "Ties are played at a venue chosen by one of the competing countries. The right of choice is given on an alternating basis. Therefore, countries play in the country where the last tie between the teams was not held. In case the two countries have not met since 1970, lots are drawn to determine the host country." 

I assume the last time the two teams met in a tie was in Colombia although we still remember our loss to Colombia during the 2021 finals in Turin, Italy.

 

WHAT HAPPENED: Well, we unearthed another one of those USTA blunders that resulted in spending a lot of money and missing out on a beautiful chance to market tennis to a huge group of potential players: Hispanics. So, picture this: We were going to play Colombia! Do you think the powers to be at the USTA would capitalize on that very unique opportunity to grow tennis and pick Miami as the match location? I can see McNulty rolling his eyes seeing my question. "What? Is he crazy? Davis Cup is not about growing tennis in the U.S. at all. It's about winning!" I agree to a point but if you have a chance to promote tennis, you are OBLIGATED to do it as NGB. Don't you think?

We'll probably never find out who picked Reno, Nevada as the location. I doubt it was the person in charge, Megan Rose, Managing Director, Major Events, USTA. Managing Director levels don't make decisions at the USTA. I heard that the USTA expects cities to apply with check-in-hand of anywhere between $250K and $500K. Had they even considered asking Miami? Was that maybe a case of someone owing the NorCal section something and this was payback. I mean, come on! RENO? 

Imagine what would have happened in Miami: Tens of thousands of Columbians would have wanted to buy tickets and wave their flag. What a chance to sell tennis, the USTA, the Florida section. Just before or after the Miami Open with a great, big stadium ready to play and promote tennis to an entire Hispanic population. That would have been a moneymaker for sure. Right?

Instead, they're taking the entire group of what looked like 30-40 people incl. support staff to Reno. And guess what, there is of course no tennis court inside the Reno Events Center. Similar to the San Diego debacle a few years ago, where some braindead Poobah decided on bringing Italian clay into Petco Stadium, they had to build a court inside the Events Center and laid it out with carpet. Who does that?

That's how you lose money. No wonder Michael Dowse resigned! How can any normal thinking businessman stand being around such a group of amateurs?

Someone should hang the USTA's mission statement as a big sign over the desks of all executives, in the boardrooms, and in all toilets.

I am inviting Megan Rose, Mike McNulty, or anyone with some say at the USTA to comment. 

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USTA MID-ATLANTIC TURMOIL

CONTEXT: When I'm being told that USTA National staff members think one of their sections is a joke and that they're regarded as the laughing stock of all sections, I listen and I dig deeper. When I then hear rumors about a 50+% staff turnover and deep resentments toward the leading executive, I get into action. Because it's ALWAYS that executive who's responsible for shenanigans and malpractice in a section. We know that by now. So here is the newest member on our "List of Shame": The USTA Mid-Atlantic section and specifically their leadership.

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Looking at the Herndon, Virginia location of the USTA MAS is like recognizing some of the most important areas in American history. Images of George Washington and the Civil War come to mind. Potomac, Chesapeake Bay, Manassas, Leesburg. And then there, in close proximity, is the U.S. government in Washington. When I lived on the East Coast close to Philadelphia, this was one of my favorite areas to visit.

I want to preface my article again with an assurance to the remaining staff of the USTA Mid-Atlantic section. You are the salt of the earth and you deserve our appreciation. Without you, there wouldn't be any league tennis, junior programs, sanctioned adult tournaments. It is never the staff's fault when a CEO or an ED goes bonkers or acts as a slave driver. If it was up to me, I would cut their income in half and give the other half to you. Do you understand where I'm coming from? Our motto is "We empower the powerless." We work for you and your rights. Never forget that.

When a staff member of the USTA's PNW section wrote me last year "Rich, they're looting our section!" we exposed them. But we also pledged to never let up. We will be watching all sections and expect their executives to grow tennis, be professional, and treat their staff with respect.

We will never let up! We will be watching all the sections and expect their executives to grow tennis, be professional, and treat their staff with respect.

WE EMPOWER THE POWERLESS!

HERE'S WHAT TRANSPIRED: At first it was just one phone call. "The USTA's Mid-Atlantic section is in a mess. Lost half of their staff in the last year. Leadership sucks." Ouch. That's how it also started in PNW. Then came the confirmations. "CEO runs the section with an iron fist" and "They are the laughing stock in Orlando."

I needed to get to the bottom of this and emailed a couple of staff members including the CEO, asking for comments. None of the staff members I approached did which is typical in such situations. Because they fear serious repercussions, they rather keep their mouth shut. When a CEO manages staff with fear, it's like a worst-case scenario. The opposite of how employees are treated at good companies and organizations. Needless to say, the CEO didn't reply, either. USTA executives LOVE the mantra they were given years ago when dealing with TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS: "Ignore the noise!"

Then came the first email from the section's Director of Marketing and Communications. I saw that she and the CEO worked together at the National Recreation & Park Association in Ashbury, Virginia, before joining the USTA-MAS. Dutifully, she wrote about the most wonderful organization, beloved by their staff, held up high by their peers, and addressed my "misinformation and inaccuracies." Tell you the truth, I can't blame her since I don't think she's the problem. So, my reply addressed her "smoke and mirror" approach and requested a little more honesty.

Her second email gave me a little more clarity about their strategic plan regarding the planned new mega tennis center but she also unnecessarily turned quite combative. Too bad. Missed the opportunity for some meaningful dialogue.

ESCALATION: And then a current staff member, who received my original email, came forward indicating that my allegations were "spot on" regarding the state of affairs at Mid-Atlantic. Boom. I knew it. That doesn't happen when everything is hunky-dory, right?

SPECIFIC ALLEGATIONS: Let's look at them and see what our readers think.

 

1. CEO INCOME

We'll let the numbers do the talking! In our August 2021 report about the USTA sections, we looked at Mid-Atlantic and gave them 4 out of 5 stars. Everything looked pretty good but they lost 1 star because of excessive CEO overall compensation. 

SECTION: Mid-Atlantic

2019 REVENUE: $6,134K

2019 EXPENSES: $6,064K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $70K

RESERVES: $3,541K

2019 CEO INCOME: $301K

2019 COO INCOME: $167K

2019 DIR INCOME: 120K
2019 DIR INCOME: 104K

CEO IPE: 5%

TOP 4 INCOME: $694K

TOP 4 IPE: 11.4%

COMP: $2,815K = 46.4%

TCB SECTION RATING

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IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: This section is top-heavy. The CEO's salary is excessive.

Overall compensation was pretty high because of the COO making over $160K and others over $100K. But the CEO's $301K is 5% of expenses. That's outrageous. In the case of PNW, this was described as "looting" the section. Let's look at some comps.

SECTION: Northern California

2019 REVENUE: $5,833K

2019 EXPENSES: $5,590K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: 243K

RESERVES: 1,844K

2019 ED INCOME: $153K

CEO IPE: 2.7%

COMP: $2,509K = 44.9%

TCB SECTION RATING

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IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: Overall, the USTA NorCal section looked healthy at the end of 2019.

Northern California is a good model for comparison. Similar revenue and overall compensation level. But the NorCal ED makes only $153K which is about 2.7% of expenses. Let's look at a section where the CEO made about the same income, over $300K.

SECTION: Southern

2019 REVENUE: $13,139K

2019 EXPENSES: $11,605K

2019 PROFIT/LOSS: $1,534K

RESERVES: $11,896K

2019 ED/COO INCOME: $307K

CEO IPE: 2.6%

COMP: $2,578K = 22.2%

TCB SECTION RATING

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IRS 990 FORM

COMMENTS: It's hard to argue about an executive salary when that section is doing so well and the person also functions as COO.

Aaah, the Southern Section. Crown jewel of the USTA empire. Very well managed by John Callen (whom I want to wish all the best with his failing health) and only a 2.6% share of the expenses.

One of the most egregious aspects is the jacking up of the CEO's salary over the years. We don't know what went on in 2016 because there must have been some good reason for her $86,300 at a little over $2M in revenue. Maybe the $88,673 was back pay from 2014 when she joined in the middle of the year?

2015 - $161,795 + $17,544 (other) = $179,339

2016 - $86,300 + $88,673 (other) + $26,687 (other)  = $201,660

2017 - $201,366 + $22,678 (other) = $224,044

2018 - $254,308 + $35,319 (other) = $289,627

2019 - $279,114 + $22,532 (other) = $301,646

I wonder what kind of pay increase the rest of the "normal" staff received at the same time?

When I take into consideration that the Executive Director preceding the current CEO made only $133K, what happened here reminds me eerily of what happened in Southern California: A non-tennis person is hired as ED, gets the Board to jack up the salary for no other reason than big words and promises, and gets them also to change the title to CEO since that looks so much better on a resume. Once the Board agrees to all these goodies, there's no turning back, they are usually completely in the pocket of the CEO and agree to everything that person does. Is that what happened in PNW? Or here in Mid-Atlantic?

2. CEO BEHAVIOR

When there is an unusual staff turnover (I was told more than 50% in the last 2 years) you can not make this allegation go away by blaming Covid. It is ALWAYS a sign of leadership maltreating their staff, making bad decisions, or "going bonkers" as one USTA national staffer puts it.

When there are rumors that inside people want to leave the section, you know that they don't feel appreciated. Again, that's a leadership issue. The usual companions of these issues are nepotism, low wages compared to the executives, very little promotion, firings at will. In other words a hostile work environment. And all these companions have now been brought to my attention. Oops.

The email sent to me by the Communications Director referred to 2 staff members who "separated voluntarily in 2021." Nice try! With a little digging, I found out that these were two exemplary employees who never dreamed about leaving but were confronted with an unbearable environment and no support from their higher-ups. To quote one of the ex-employees, "Truly some of the very best talent and passionate workers have left, either by quitting or being fired. It's a mad mad world at USTA-MAS."

In their letter, I was made to believe that "USTA Mid-Atlantic has consistently been recognized as a Best Nonprofit to Work For compiled by The NonProfit Times and Best Companies Group, earning recognition on this list three years in a row." Well, I'm being told that those ballots filled out by staffers aren't worth the paper they're printed on because when the CEO calls in employees to go over their vote then the entire process is a joke in my opinion. Who in their right mind would give them honest feedback when the fear of being fired for it is very real?

3. NEW MEGA TENNIS CENTER

My allegation that the strategic plan concerning the mega center has changed 5-times in the last few years and is based on the hopes of having sugar daddy USTA foot the bill has turned out to be false. The section letter to me pointed this out and it got confirmed by a third party. I apologize for that. Apparently, to build the Tennis Campus, they are planning to "actively fundraise through a capital campaign for this project as well as anticipated sponsorship deals." Good for them.

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I have written about my opinion regarding USTA sections building huge facilities with many courts in the past. Based on my passion for looking out for clubs and pros, no one has so far been able to explain to me why this is a good idea other than putting a feather on the CEO's cap. What likely happens is this scenario: To pay for the upkeep and get the 36 courts busy, all other clubs within a hundred miles will be purged from lucrative tournaments. Mark my words, folks. I have yet to come across a USTA section where looking out for tennis clubs is important.

4. BOARD OF DIRECTORS

Looking at the MAS bylaws you can easily see that members have no voting rights and the Board is responsible for all decisions. Interestingly, only one of the Officers is a tennis guy (the Section Delegate). Unless anyone tells me otherwise, I'm suggesting what others have told me: the Board is in cahoots with leadership. The question is: Do they care at all about employee concerns?  Is the USTA-MAS non-executive staff even allowed to talk to Board members? We found out they weren't in PNW.

Here's what the President of the USTA-MAS Board of Directors wrote me, which is in itself highly unusual:

Mr. Neher, 

 

On behalf of the USTA Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors, I am responding to your inquiry to members of our Board. I am also aware of your outreach to our Section staff and the information that has been provided to you in response to your request. 

 

The USTA Mid-Atlantic Section Board of Directors is fully confident in the Section CEO. The Board and Section CEO have in place effective governance policies and procedures, and adhere to best practices and standards for governance and management. This includes appropriate oversight and accountability of the CEO, and this means that there is appropriate authority, leadership, and decision-making. We are accountable, transparent, consensus oriented and efficient and that goes for the CEO as well. 

 

Thank you, 

 

Kathy Renzetti

President

CONCLUSION: Sorry, Miss Renzetti, I'm not buying it. When even your Chief Programs Officer jumps ship, things are not OK. Remember the old saying 'where there's smoke, there's fire." So, I'm calling on the CEO to either resign or get her relationship with staff back on track. Become a leader people like to work with. I was told they like to work for tennis in the Mid-Atlantic, but not for their CEO. Create an environment staff likes to walk into in the morning. If you can't do this, you should resign. We will continue to watch this section from now on. Any employee wanting to come forward and talk to us will be guaranteed anonymity.

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USTA CEO Search - My Prediction

Friends told me they observed lots of energy at the annual meeting in Orlando last month. Understandable since it was 2 1/2 years since the last face-to-face meeting. The only thing missing was the coffee at committee meetings, haha. A sign of someone tightening the belt? 

The final dinner with live band and VIP area for watching the fireworks at Epcot Center was very nice.

 

I was told the latest shortlist for CEO Candidates: Stacey Allister, Andrea Hirsch, Katrina Adams, Todd Martin, John Embree. Here's what I think are the criteria the Board of Directors has established for every candidate they'll be looking at:

1. Needs to be a woman (obviously) Ooops, sorry Todd and John.

2. Needs to be a "Company Man" or, sorry, "Company Woman." I think all 3 women qualify.

3. Can't be an outsider (Ooops, sorry, Stacey, I think you're still regarded as an outsider)

4. Must either know where the skeletons are buried or must have been one of the undertakers. (Ooops, sorry, Katrina, you haven't been there long enough...)

There's only one candidate left: Andrea Hirsch, Chief Legal Officer, and current Interim CEO. If anyone knows about skeletons, it's probably her since she's been with the USTA for 16 years now and knows all lawsuits and out-of-court settlements like the back of her hand. I assume all the paperwork and the 'creative accounting" that went on while the organization piled up that massive debt of over $710M went through her office, as well. See, Andrea Hirsch knows too much, haha. Did I sound like Tony Soprano right now? Anyway, she's my pick for CEO.

World Tennis Number (WTN) for juniors only

Craig Morris had to apologize for another glitch in the plan to roll out WTN this year. He mentioned that there are still improvements needed (read: we couldn't make it work) and they therefore cannot launch WTN for adults right now. It'll only be usable for juniors.

NTRP will be with us for a long time, folks! Is it time to put NOG back in place?

Elliott Pettit

While we always support it when tennis professionals get promoted and move up in the world we sometimes wonder how these things happen. Example: Elliott Pettit. A tennis pro from 2008 until 2013 he became USTA Youth Program Lead at the BJK National Tennis Center at age 29, National Manager Growth & Innovation in Orlando at age 32, Director, School Tennis at age 33, Director, Program Development at age 35, Director, Grassroots Tennis at age 36, and now Senior Director, Strategic development at age 37. Wow. I was asking around how someone could move up the ladder so quickly. And then I found out he is Scott Schultz's son-in-law! I'd say if he is as smart as Scott, tennis wins!

USTA Sued by Kylie McKenzie

That news hit our office like a bomb on March 30. A publication called AZCentral posted this headline on March 29: Phoenix tennis player Kylie McKenzie sues USTA over alleged sexual assault from coach.

In the article, they detailed what allegedly happened to her at the USTA National Campus. The tennis coach in whose care Kylie was, is named as Anibal Aranda. She also accused the USTA of allegedly knowing that Aranda had a history of assault before assigning him to be her coach. 

Anibal Aranda is originally from Paraguay and played briefly on the ATP Tour. The way he allegedly assaulted Kylie from very early on is just too disgusting to mention here. The story has since been picked up by every publication, from the New York Times to Sports Illustrated.

The article goes on, "Prior to McKenzie's alleged assault, Allard (Kylie's attorney) said Aranda had assaulted a high-level functioning executive within the USTA and alleged the organization knew about this event. Chris Widmaier, USTA Managing Director of Communications, said in a statement the USTA didn't know about it." Also, "Prior to the incident reported by Ms. McKenzie, USTA and USTA Player Development had no knowledge of prior harassment or inappropriate conduct by Anibal Aranda."

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However, the article also stated that "SafeSport, a nonprofit organization that aims to end abuse in sports, determined Aranda had sexually harassed and assaulted McKenzie after an extensive investigation that lasted several months, according to Allard. They issued Aranda a two-year ban followed by a two-year probationary period."

My question is: How on earth did Aranda pass the SafePlay requirements?

Attorney Robert Allard and Kylie McKenzie

Photo: Michael Chow/The Republic

Diversity Spending

I'm always looking where the USTA is spending money lavishly. I found another place in the most unlikely of places: Diversity & Inclusion. Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer: Marisa Grimes had 4 open positions last time I checked. Let's say they only pay them $80K (probably more) that's at least $600K with payroll taxes et. That's insane, don't you think? Spending out of control! Prove me wrong!

USTA Executive Salaries

Remember at the beginning of the Pandemic when Mike Dowse announced that big pay cut for all employees? Well, apparently it didn't hit all of them. Some even ended up with a pay raise in 2020. Don't believe me? Take a look at the below lists.

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Let's get over some of them one by one.

Lewis Sherr, CRO

I can imagine that Mr. Sherr has to work overtime and apply a lot of creativity making those 990 forms believable. Therefore his salary was raised from $1,124M to $1,377 during the pandemic - plus $43K "other." Amazing, isn't it? How come one person is worth so much at a non-profit. Oh, he oversaw the biggest debt increase by the tag team of Smith/Kamperman. I'll stop here, folks.

Gordon Smith, Former CEO

So, Smith left in January of 2020 and he still earned $756K for that year. For one month of work? Wow. Why did he ever retire with that kind of income? 

Andrea Hirsch, CAO & General Counsel

Her pay increased from $918K to $944K - plus $21K "other." Nice.

Stacey Milkovich, CEO, Pro Tennis
Her pay increased from $870K to $873K - plus $46K "other." 

Kurt Kamperman, Former CEO, National Campus

KK took a pay cut in the year he left the organization. From $718K to $655K - plus $40K "other." 

Amy Wesly, Chief Marketing Officer

Amy also took a pay cut from $668K to $666K (I hope she's not superstitious) - plus $48K "Other."

Edward Neppl, Chief Financial Officer

Edward got a raise from $677K to $690K - plus $40K "other."

Craig Morris, CEO Community Tennis

Ha, he got a pay raise from $535K to $659 - plus $46K "other." Wow! That's a 23% increase during a pandemic, folks. 

Paul Maya, Chief Technology Officer

Another substantial increase. What is going on here? From $510K to $556K - plus $46K "other. 9% pay raise. 

And one more look at one of USTA's affiliated organizations: the National Tennis Center

Daniel Zausner, VP + COO (the last available 990 is from 2019 ?!?)

In 2018 Mr. Zausner made $995K plus $37K. In 2019 he made $1,383K plus 27K. Nice? Not bad for an organization that lost $27M on revenues of $110M.

Asking the hundreds of readers from the USTA national and sections: How much increase did you all get in 2020 or in the past years?

USPTA-Romana Husaru

The new USPTA Director of Education held a great webinar titled USPTA WOMEN EMPOWERMENT - HOW TO ADVANCE YOUR CAREER on March 17. Very impressive panel of speakers led by a competent host!

Trish Faulkner suggested we need to do a much better job to attract women into tennis. I agree!

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USPTA Webinars

I've always wondered why so many USPTA webinars are not free for everyone. Instead of the requirement for entering your USPTA number, wouldn't it make more sense to promote tennis and the organization by making it free to anyone? Add a link on how to become a member instead. No?

Women's History Month - Progress!

This is not tennis-related but still interesting imo. Morning Brew, my go-to morning newsletter, reported:

During last year’s women’s college basketball tournament, Oregon forward Sedona Prince posted a viral TikTok video that showed shocking differences in the weight training facilities between the men and the women. Because of that video, this year’s women’s tournament, which tips off today, will look a lot different:

  • The field was expanded to 68 teams, matching the size of the men’s bracket.

  • The women will receive the same gift bags as the men.

  • And, if you can believe it, this is the first time that the women’s tournament will be branded as “March Madness.” That moniker had been exclusively used for the men’s tournament.

Nice!

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Photo: AP

Goodbye Ash Barty

Mike Hytner wrote a very good story about the retired champ for The Guardian: Ash Barty’s greatest hits: the moments that defined retired tennis star’s career. Australia’s humble champion spent 121 weeks as world No 1, crowning her Wimbledon win with an Australian Open trophy.

Rod Laver

The legend tweeted: Dear Ash, news of your tennis retirement has stunned the world. You march to your own drum with humility and a beaming smile. You are a winner in every sense and I admire you greatly. I wish you great happiness and health. 

Fox Sports

Fox calls it out. "What is happening in this sport’: Tennis world condemns ‘absolutely absurd’ tantrums"

Barely a week after Nick Kyrgios almost hit a ballboy after hammering his racquet on the ground, two more ugly incidents involving tennis stars and near-misses with ballkids occurred at the Miami Open.

Australian star Jordan Thompson and America’s Jenson Brooksby are the latest to find themselves in the crosshairs of the tennis world.

Whatever happened to Monica Seles?

When I saw this photo of gorgeous Venus Williams (I'm a big fan of her!) I thought who is that person next to her? In the body of the article, it said it's Monica Seles. Hu? I'm worried about her health. Check it here. 

"THERE'S SO MUCH JOY IN PLAYING THE SPORT": MONICA SELES EMBRACING INFLUENCER ROLE

The Hall of Famer spent time with WTA stars at the Citi Taste of Tennis event in Miami earlier this week.

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Photo: Getty Images

Matthew Willis in THE RACQUET

"Ah pickleball. The sport that’s growing so fast in parts of America that it’s absorbing and repurposing tennis courts like some bastardised blob of racquet sport growth."

Wow!

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Is the USTA Self Destructing?

By Scoop Malinowski

 

A parent/coach of a prominent American junior tennis player expressed some alarming complaints about how the USTA operates business for junior tennis tournaments in Florida.

“Fifty years ago it was because of the love of the game somebody would do a job to run junior tournaments. Now it is for love of the wallet or some kind of power…”

“Organizers of local tournaments the same……making thousands of dollars a weekend and not giving anything back. Just showing they have power and bullying people around. Doing anything to squeeze every dollar out of their events… canceling play for the day at 6 am due to rain so they don’t have to pay for court rental and officials that day and squeeze all the matches the next day by playing short sets, no- ad scoring and all that crap.”

“I have so many stories now. Referees bullying parents and coaches, bending and inventing rules as they wish. Organizers committing fraud on credit cards by raising the entry fee overnight after you agree to be charged etc etc etc.”

“USTA awarding more and more tournaments to the scumbags and leaving the organizers who still do it with passion with nothing, not understanding why they are getting less and less.”

“Referees bullying people by telling them where they can watch matches and where not. Even if it is always outside from the court fences. I saw a ref giving someone problems because he was standing at the entrance of a court and his shoe was touching the court by one millimeter, saying he cannot be ‘on’ the court.”

“And people are really frightened because they threaten to default the child if they talk back to them.”

Question: Bullying can be effective?

“USTA staff in the office advising not to file grievance forms to avoid filers from being sued by organizers.”

“High entry fees and service is crap.”

“And then the USTA is surprised when some parents snap and go crazy attacking officials.”

Question: You’ve seen attacks? No… only heard about them. I saw a fight in the Czech Republic last summer between the German/Turkish father of a cheating 16-year-old and the coach of the opponent. They were wrestling on the ground between 12-13 year old girls who happened to stand right there when it started.”

“The fight was interrupted quick by a detective whose daughter was playing also.”

The person making these anonymous complaints is a former professional player who has won ATP titles.

In defense of the USTA, it does want to do everything in its power to prevent the kind of conflicts like these that happened in the 1990s in the Sunshine State…

  •  At a sectional qualifying tournament, a highly-touted junior player won the title but was disqualified because his parents got into a fistfight with the parents of his opponent during the final.

  • At anm FTA Designated tournament, a father punched his son, fracturing his nose, because the kid lost a match his father thought he should have won.

  • A Tampa Bay-area tennis coach was accused of beating up one of his teenage students because the kid lost a match.

 

Another tennis parent in Florida also expressed criticism of the USTA's business plans and methods...

 

"Why does the USTA exist? It doesn’t do anything productive. There’s a better way to manage things. Build regional centres that are hubs for tennis (instead of one big one in Orlando). Let states/regions figure out tournaments, etc. No need for one centralized place. The only thing the USTA needs to do is keep track of records and points."

"I won’t share my own horror story about dealing with the USTA, but suffice it to say my kid couldn’t play in two tournaments a month apart, because their “system” wouldn’t let her. (Reasons not important — I got it fixed after I suggested I might record my phone calls with them and place them on Facebook.)"

"What the USTA is engaging in is called “empire building” in firms. But firms live in markets that discipline them in case of bad performance. Who’ll do that to the USTA? The USTA doesn’t have a programme that has produced any players. It bungles player development and always runs after the shiny baubles. How does the USTA measure performance? I think if the USTA would be honest about what constitutes good performance, and what their goals are, we would have a better idea of how well it actually does. As it stands, these guys collect a lot of money, and fritter it away."

Like a striving tennis player, stuck in a slump of disappointing results, the time may have arrived for the USTA to take pause and refine, improve and correct some of the methods it currently employs which are not drawing rave reviews from the customer base.

A final thought: Reilly Opelka, currently the highest-ranked American tennis player at no. 17 was recently asked by Inside Tennis magazine: What is the best decision you've made?

Opelka answered: "To leave Orlando (USTA national training center) and start doing things independently. Working with Jay Berger, paying more of my own bills. I was spending my own money. So you want to make the most of it. You don't want to take shortcuts. You become a professional a lot quicker." 

 

THE LAST WORD...

... belongs to Althea Gibson this month:

"Fighting an amateur tennis association is worse than trying to fight City Hall; at least the men in City Hall are responsible to the people who elect them, but the tennis poobahs are responsible only to themselves, and they never forget."

Quote from Althea Gibson's book I always wanted to be somebody.

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