Here are my picks for “suggested resolutions” the USTA could adopt going forward into 2013. I read these in this order on the We Coach Tennis radio show on December 30th, 2012. Hope somebody was listening. If not, now I have written them out so they might be better understood.
10. Resolve to change the “USTA Regional Training Centers” to “USTA Regional Competition Centers”. Juniors and Coaches can be there as long as the participate and compete. Coaches run drills in the AM and in the PM matches are played. Room, Board and all is part of the deal if you keep a winning percentage. Lose and you go home to train and come back another day. If these became true places where all were welcomed and afforded an equal opportunity to compete I think you would see all sorts of local coaches support them.
9. There is a third arm to the USTA. We commonly think of the “Player Development Arm” and the “Grow The Game Arm”. But we forget to mention the “Legal Arm”. The “Legal Arm” scares the rest of the admins at all levels of the USTA into all sorts of policies that are killing the game. Much of the concern the “Legal Arm” expresses is about “what if’s” and “might be’s”. Probably couched in a lot of risk management talk the USTA administration needs to resolve to stop allowing legal arm to effect the basic character of the game with needless worry and fear.
8. Resolve to restore legitimate junior doubles rankings and tournaments. The fact that doubles is no longer a staple across the USA landscape falls directly on the USTA. When I played as a kid almost every single tournament had doubles draws along with the singles draws. You knew when you signed up it was part of the game and you had the opportunity to get a legitimate ranking with your partner. Bring back the importance of doubles. It is one of the primary reasons “healthy” people enjoy and play tennis for a lifetime.
7. Resolve to eliminate the phony nationals. About a decade ago the USTA upped the number of tournaments they called “national” tournaments. To my way of thinking this diluted what a true national tournament means and is played for in the USA. Resolve to get back to a schedule that a child can understand and work toward on all levels from an early age. This makes for clear goals going forward for the kids playing and striving over a very long developmental path.
6. Resolve to support those collegiate teams that win and do it with rosters made up of American players. Reward the heck out of those teams that have Americans with checks of $10,000 per year. Let them use it money for whatever purpose the coaches deem necessary. These coaches are choosing a path that in some ways costs the schools and teams in the short-term. But in the long run it is one of the best investments the USTA can make in the future of our young players being able to compete at all levels.
5. Resolve that the USTA coaches need to be be of American origin and these coaches work solely for the USTA. If you go to the USTA Player Development website you will find most of the coaches coaching for the United States are not from the United States. I do not know how this came about but I think it is backward. One or two of the coaches might need to be from other countries but why the majority?
4. Resolve to award coaching positions for junior and professional international competition based on a coach’s record of success. From what I have seen of the USTA over the years it resembles a large “good ol’ boy’s club”. If it is not giving out positions for “cronies” then it is also awarding positions to look good on paper from the stand point of racial appointments. Give the positions to the coaches who over time have shown an ability to coach and have a record of players to show.
3. Resolve to eliminate the USTA Player Development program completely. Sponsor and build up a truly American system. Build up our great system of free enterprising coaches and the capitalist system which makes it truly the fairest and best in the world. If you look at the people who are leading the coaching in other countries you might find Americans in those positions. What you also might find are coaches who came to the USA in the 1980′s and 1990′s and spent a good deal of time over here learning how to coach.
2. Resolve to create a dual path for training and tournaments for 10 and Under children in the USA. It is time the USTA realizes what might work in one country or part of the world is not always going to fit in the USA. The 10 and Under Mandate is one of those things. It is largely an idea which was begun to attract more kids to playing the sport of tennis. After that is was hijacked and has been used for all sorts of other causes. The USTA simply can create a dual path for coaches, players and parents here in the USA and everyone will once again be under their umbrella.
1. Resolve to lessen the changes. Most of the changes are done for the sake of change and not for the right reasons. The changes we see take on an irrational flavor these days in the USA when it comes to tennis. When there is not enough winning the the fingers begin pointing and things are on the chopping block or things are added to the mix. What is happening right now is too much change too quickly. Unfortunately much of the change which is happening now can be described as “throwing the baby out with the bath water”.0
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