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.
July 6, 2021
I read your newsletter. I was particularly intrigued by your critique of USTA SoCal. It seems to me that what you isolated there is endemic to the whole organization. The differences are a matter of degree. The organization suffers from the decay of any autocratic entity when they focus their energies on rooting out the competition and become self-serving. I could see this in NorCal and I am only a passenger on their train.
The USTA represents the inevitable outcome of a monopoly – their constituencies (clubs and players) are no longer regarded as customers, but rather subjects to be controlled.
Mill Valley, California
TCB JULY ISSUE
July 7, 2021
Great issue! Ken DeHart's comment summed it up well.
High school tennis received a lot of coverage.
The SCTA saga was interesting. Many USTA divisions have similar stories.
It seems like your podcasts and Monday morning sessions are bringing new people into the fold. That is great.
TCB is really important. It provides people with a voice in a world that doesn't welcome a voice. That encourages others to speak up.
TENNIS INDUSTRY UNITED EMAIL ABOUT A WEBINAR SERIES
July 8, 2021
I don't know what to think about this email.
These topics are a great idea, they are timely topics. It is good for the newcomers in the sport to hear presentations about these topics.
At the same time, these topics were part of USPTA conferences many years ago. I'm sure the speakers will be good and have good ideas, but why doesn't the USTA let the USPTA and PTR do their job? Is this because the teaching organizations lack initiative, aren't as smart as the USTA, and are genuinely incompetent? OR is this yet just another example of blatant overreach by the USTA?
Maybe the USTA should just take over the USPTA and PTR since it feels it is their place to do their job. TIU=USTA.
Tie this together with Javier Palenque's recent discussions such as the one about the Mid-Atlantic Region having a $2.2 million budget - most of it for payroll?
Let's assume that the following presentations have merit. How will they impact the bottom line? What can be done to move the needle?
HIGH SCHOOL COACHING-The Sleeping Giant?
JUNE 7 ON CLUBHOUSE
July 12, 2021
Wimbledon’s finals over the weekend were a very good watch. The ladies championships brought a fresh feeling with the popular Ashleigh Barty winning in a quality skilled match against tough competitor Karolina Pliskcova. The traditional setting and atmosphere, as usual, were ideal for a colorful match. The shotmaking, the non-screaming on each shot…that’s a relief, the cordial spectators, and the Trophy presentation by The Duchess, is just is as classy as it gets. All the details make, The Championships, the championships of our sport.
If this event doesn’t get young girls and their families “hooked on tennis” I’m not sure what will. I know it’s a Fortnight of special coverage and attention but Tennis Industry and USTA, please capitalize on Wimbledon and what this game can offer. Let’s keep highlighting the very best and inspire young girls to “Dream about Centre Court” and becoming future players. I understand American tennis is doing positive things for the kids but why aren’t we getting more winning results with our resources, etc. Tennis better not look back because something might be gaining on you…for instance, golf with its rebirth in popularity, POP Tennis, Padel, and of course, Pickleball. I know this isn’t a new revelation but come on man, do something.
I know, I know I’m preaching to the choir but someday and/or year, the Big Three will retire or not be at their best. So American men, let's pick-up-the-slack and challenge for the trophies like past generations. Other countries have their sights on the “Prize”. Example Canada with their top contending young stars, as well European countries staying in the mix. So let’s not only have kids play tennis but become tennis players. The recipe for USA golf pros is a major success, so maybe we need to take a page out of their playbook to develop a winner’s roster on the tennis court. Golfers always credit Tiger for getting into the game and tennis has Roger, Rafa, and Novak. By my count, that’s 3-1 in favor of tennis hero’s to golf. Come on guys who are out there, you can do this.
American tennis, the “Stars are Aligning ” and hopefully a breakthrough will happen soon…Player’s ready, Play.
CHEATING IN JUNIOR TENNIS
July 18, 2021
Easy answer: More officials .. who are better trained in the field.
And are also employed to travel to work with coaches and kids in non-tournament times.
We never teach kids the rules let alone properly explain our expectations of them in normal tennis events where 99% of the time there is no official on court with them.
Tennis is a tough sport .. we set them up to fail.
We teach them to watch the ball onto the racquet.
Then we demand they watch the ball onto the court so they can call.
The two techniques are polar opposites.
So in UnUmpired matches, we introduce the notion of ‘benefit of the doubt’ with calls.
Yet soon they will have ELC which condemns people in millimeters.
At the average junior event, kids have to play, call the lines, be ball kids, keep the score, know the rules, live up to the expectations of their parents ... it’s a lot to ask any kid.
And when there’s a problem .. they have no one out on court to ask for help.
This sport is nuts when you think about it.
Education and character-building start at home.
Tennis etiquette starts at the tennis lesson.
Officials can play a huge role in shaping kids before they get to their first competitive situation.
So parents, coaches, and officials together must take on the responsibility jointly to mitigate against the layers who choose to sidestep around the rules.
But the fact is, given at every event maybe a million calls are made .. many close calls but mostly a no-brainer.
And really, the number of calls that result in arguments is pretty minimal.
So we build this belief that junior tennis is actually rife with cheating when in fact I truly believe most kids are playing to do the right thing and grow.
But I’ve always said Junior events are a reflection on society.
Most people just want to get the best experiences out of the short time we have.
A small proportion will do anything to take advantage of other humans.
We put all the processes we can in place to protect most juniors as they develop.
To nurture them to understand right from wrong.
When one transgresses ... we firstly treat it as an honest mistake and educate them.
When it’s a pattern, the sport needs to be strong enough to act.
Our role is to protect the majority of kids who want to love this great sport from the minority who are only looking to get ahead.
So the underlying themes ....
Parents + coaches + officials shape our kids.
Officials when better skilled and supported can be a huge asset to the sport.
A majority of kids do the right thing .. so message THIS aspect rather than the negativity of the minority.
Embolden the sport to firstly educate, then if necessary, remove the minority
Problem solved !!!
Taree, New South Wales, Australia
TEACHING AT A PUBLIC FACILITY
July 27, 2021
I have attached the below picture of a group lesson at a highly regarded local public tennis facility. I watched the lesson that I took a picture of for 10-15 minutes.
Who is more bored - the teaching pros or the kids? (The lack of enthusiasm and engagement did not vary the whole time I watched). The primary skill that was taught was standing in line. The primary purpose of the female instructor appeared to be to get a tan and collect a pay check.
I think it is important to have great teachers at the entry level. Sadly, some of the worst teaching takes place at that level. The two teachers on the court walked around liked their dog just died. How can you get kids engaged in that type of environment? The industry, particularly USPTA and PTR, have to set higher standards for the pros. (Actually the pros have to do it because the USTA, USPTA, and PTR will not set those standards.
Later in the day I watched another lesson for 5-10 minutes. There were 7 kids on the junior court with one teacher. (similar results)
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