We are allowing anonymous Letters to the Editor because we understand your position and have experienced USTA backlash to dissenting voices ourselves. Please be aware whenever a letter is signed with The Commish it's always a tennis director, a teaching professional, a vendor or a USTA insider who is in fear of retribution. Thank you. We look forward to the day when everyone can voice their opinion freely and without fear.
June 1, 2021
The Naomi Osaka headline news cycle continues. The latest episode is her withdrawal yesterday, from The French Open at Roland-Garros leading up to her second-round singles match. This seems to be the result of her mental health conditions and well-being. The emotional stress and pressure involved in professional sports both mentally and physically have taken their toll on the young champion both on and off the court.
Osaka is coming off back-to-back Grand Slam titles winning the US Open in September 2020 and the Australian title this February. Being seeded #2 and one of the favorites to win her third straight consecutive Major in Paris, it possibly became too overwhelming for the young tennis athlete. 2020 has been a difficult year for everyone due to the Pandemic, and the civil and political unrest added fuel to the fire. Naomi has also taken on the racial stand and being a visual spokesman for equality and justice. Because of her notoriety and sports hero worldwide popularity, she also was being featured as the Olympic star for Japan. Her plate has been full+ since her rise to stardom with her controversial and emotional win at the US Open in 2018 over Serena. We all remember that episode in front of the sports world and beyond.
With her sometimes shy image, she certainly has grown up to take a position on policy and rules. If press coverage is a challenge, she needs to take a page out of Federer’s and Nadal’s playbook. Handle it, win or lose, and live for another day. Champions are able to control the moment under pressure, whether it’s a play, a point, or a question from a journalist. Bill Belichick of the Patriots and Gregg Popovich of the NBA Spurs, are not the best examples of pleasantries but they survive and move on.
I hope that Naomi gets the attention and care necessary to move forward and continue her illustrious career. This has put Planet Tennis in the spotlight once again for better or worse. Our sport is used to controversial issues, so we’ll take account of this debacle and cooler heads will prevail after the dust settles down.
You would think if I only had to hit a tennis ball…
USTA PLAYER DEVELOPMENT
June 1, 2021
I enjoyed reading your article about the USTA Development.
I think someone like me who was on the inside for so long, I think there are various things (decisions) USTA made that affected the development and play of high-performance players.
A couple of items to think about that changed slightly before and/or after Roddick.. as he was the last Grand Slam Champion.
1. USTA League tennis for junior players was during the week, switched to weekend play (which caused people to choose between tournaments and Leagues)
2. Ranking systems changed from Star to Points (so serious head-to-head competition changed), became a points chase.
3. CTC (competitive training centers) were across the USA, every section. it was much bigger in the 1990s. CTC started in 1988. They started to change the development model from gathering local talent and bringing them together with their coaching team and then trying to compete with IMG, Macci, and great private coaches in the USA.
4. College (which you touched on). However, very few male pros come from College.
5. Court surfaces in the pro game. (Darren Potkey and I had tremendous discussions about this.) compared to the surfaces the players grow up on… The USA is a Hard Court Nation.
The courts changed and gave USA players a tremendously unfair advantage in development.. fact.
I would say change the tournament calendar to 1990 and watch things change.
I would say look at the tournaments in the 1990s
Some really great people to speak on this would be:
Alec Horton | Fitness and Wellness Director
USPTA, PTR, USTA HP
Dorado Beach Resort & Club | TPC Dorado Beach
HIGH SCHOOL COACHING-The Sleeping Giant?
JUNE 7 ON CLUBHOUSE
June 7, 2021
Enjoyed today’s presentation! A few points I wanted to bring up was the fact that according to my experience, around 80% of high school coaches are not prepared to coach tennis. Another fact from my years of experience is that learning how to play tennis while in high school it’s too late to play at a college level. Most parents of experienced high school tennis players go with the advice of their kids’ professional instructors and some of them consider playing high school tennis is a waste of time. All the ranked players train for sanctioned tournaments.
(Just my opinion based on many years of experience)
HIGH SCHOOL COACHING-The Sleeping Giant?
JUNE 7 ON CLUBHOUSE
June 7, 2021
Thank you very much for including me in the chat this past Monday. I just wanted to pass along some data that I received today in a meeting with the New York State Public High School Athletic Association for which I serve as the Girls' Tennis State Coordinator- a position that I have held for the past 27 years.
According to the most recent NYSPHSAA state survey, the latest participation numbers for our federation are below:
421 Varsity teams- 6,156 players
146 Junior Varsity Teams- 2,213 players
135 Modified Teams-1,802 players
475 Varsity teams- 6,478 players
130 Junior Varsity Teams-1,853 players
147 Modified Teams-1,119 players
Total Girls and Boys: 20,437
Please note NYSPHSAA is one of four federations in NY, there are also the Alliance of Independent Schools, the Catholic High School Athletic Association, and the Public School Athletic League of NYC which has over 1,000 members.
So high school tennis is indeed a sleeping giant.
NEW USTA TOURNAMENT SOFTWARE
June 15, 2021
Our junior tournament turned out fine despite the rain. We played fast-4 sets to make sure we could finish it on time. Interestingly enough, the fast4 format did not change the outcome of any matches. When it rained there was one feature that I liked about the new USTA software – I could send out a text to all players when there were rain delays. Other than that, the new version of the USTA tournament software is horrible. It is clunky and hard to use. Whoever designed it should be fired..
TENNIS CLUB BUSINESS
June 17, 2021
Always such a variety of information, you challenge the old guard, promote new ideas and reach out to a wide range of tennis communities.
Director of Racquets
Alpine Hills Tennis & Swimming Club
Portola Valley, CA
COME ON, MAN, YELL!!!!
June 19, 2021
Instead of enthusiastically promoting tennis to new players far and wide, the new plan is to ask volunteers to spread the word whether they play tennis or not and call them Champions. Why is the USTA leadership so hesitant and reluctant to scream from the rooftops about how great, cool, nifty, fun tennis is? Who is the USTA's pied piper selling our great game? Everyone is so bland, blah, and uninspiring. We need someone to proudly, enthusiastically, loudly scream to one and all from the rooftops about how great our great game is. Why is everyone so hesitant? So afraid? So timid?
Come on, man … YELL!!!!!
THE INDUSTRY IS IGNORING HIGH SCHOOL PLAYERS
June 27, 2021
The high school associations, and the schools, promote multiple activities including band, rodeo, computer sports, and tennis. Tennis is not a priority for them, the way it is for the tennis associations. The high school associations are interested in getting the season over and going to the next sport.
Only in rare cases like Florida, Arizona, or Texas do high school coaches set up their own organizations. Great things happen in those states. Possibly the head of those organizations could write an article. I think this whole thing falls under advocacy - advocating for the players that have the potential to be the "next generation." That falls on the teaching pros, i.e. USPTA, PTR, and ITA.
Here is the irony of the situation. High school tennis runs a two month program each year that touches 4,000 high school girls, 15-18, in 185 Colorado locations and they are not even a tennis organization.
How many unique junior girls aged 15-18 play in USTA events and activities in Colorado each year - JTT, HP, minority programs, etc. I cannot imagine that it would be over 10% of the total of high school players. I did not mention the boys.
Every year the high school programs bring the industry 4,000 Colorado girls (some are repeats) and what does the industry do to capture them? This is a gift to the industry that goes unnoticed and untapped every year. I heard that the team that wins the high school girls championship this year had well over 100 players in their program this year. They have developed a tennis culture at their school.
The industry is in the process of throwing away the "gift" of 3 million players (assuming it really existed) just like they have ignored the high school players for years.
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