USTA Elite Meet And Table The Vegosen And Russell Reforms

This past weekend the USTA met with a small group of individuals who claim only to have the best interests of the game at heart. Each of them put aside their own interests and met in order to better the game of tennis for juniors across the entire USA. For that I am thankful. The top guys at the USTA met with a media mogul/club owner, a political analyst, a tennis goods merchant, a news broadcaster and a successful tournament director. What came of the meeting was a 2013 “pause” to the further implementation of proposed changes which were actually not scheduled to go into effect until 2014.

So what will happen next? Is this an end to the enormous body of work presented by Dr. Tim Russell’s USTA Competition Committee this past year? Is it the end of a proposal which won by a “landslide” victory where 15 out of the 16 sections voted overwhelmingly to pass the proposed changes to the national schedule according to Mr. Vegosen? Will we see other reforms within the USTA? How far will this go?

I would love to know what Dr. Tim Russell thinks of the “pause”.

What does this mean to the coaches across the country? Let me give my small readership an example. From my narrow perspective it is not good for the coaches who work with the kids day in and day out. In my case I met with one of the top officials from the USTA in the Southern section of the USA. When we met I explained to him our park had all the required lines and all of the required “rainbow” spectrum of balls needed to coach in the USA and comply with the 10 and Under Mandate.

Our park is located in a great area where players could be helped from very low income homes and families. But I was told if you are not 100% with the mandate you will get no help from us at the USTA. “You must be all the way with us or you are not with us”, was the statement I was given to work with. This has not changed, the phone is not ringing and I have yet to have anyone from the USTA tell us they were going to reverse course and offer us assistance where they can. As long as we differ with the USTA we will not get their help no matter how deserving we might be.

But from all of this coaches/pros should see where they stand in the list of priorities that important and elite people come up with when governing the tennis game in the USA. This is one of the reasons why you will hear me stating the USPTA and PTR are “irrelevant” when it comes to the big picture. When something of this nature happens in the USA and not s single coach is included and the USPTA or PTR does not demand a seat at the table then you can see where coaching is headed in the USA. At the same time look at what is being said about the great coaches we have here in the USA. The head of USTA Player Development thinks the tennis coaches in the USA are a “joke” and France is where it is at when it comes to coaching tennis. It is not right to me that at least one coach such as Jack Sharpe, Mark Bey, Jerry Baskin, Gery Groslimond, or Gary Englebrecht were not asked to sit in and participate in the meeting. The coaches in the trenches just like in 1987 are the last to be asked what they think.

Below is the accord struck between the “leaders” of the industry and the USTA. Judge for yourselves.

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4 Comments

  1. very interesting perspective, j.p., one i hadn’t considered. why WEREN’T there any top coaches at the table in chicago???? will coaches be asked to give input now that the pause button has been pushed? i certainly hope so!

    • In 1987 the USTA began to discuss implementing changes in the form of creating the Player Development Programs for top juniors around the country. When this happened they simply did not ask or consult the “grunt” pros with proven track records of success producing juniors what they thought would work. At the time these coaches were called the “coaches in the trenches” doing the work every day. They went back after much of the structure was in place and asked the coaches what they thought would be best but it was too little and too late. Since that time they have constantly struggled with trying to come up with the right formula for approaching the coaches who do the work day in and day out every day on the courts with the players. I am afraid if they do not include from inception knowledgeable coaches in the process they will again struggle to gain the kind of acceptance they really need in order to have success. The reason they are not included has to do with the fact they have been and are for the most part at odds with the coaches on many issues. They do not like reaching out to the coaches on these matters. Many of the best coaches are real busy coaching and in order to get them to express their feelings on these matters you really have to pin them down for the answers. Many of the best coaches out there are not the best speech givers and they are not the kind of polished politicians with their messages.

  2. I see nothing in the statment that would affect the 10 and under initiative. I know that some people are looking for a rollback and restoration of yellow ball 10 and under but I just can’t believe the USTA leadership would bend on this. 10 and under changes are unaffected by whatever the “pause” represents.

    • I do not want them to repeal or rollback anything they do. If they want to keep it I think it will be a great thing. It would be good if they would not take things away too. I would just love for them to create a dual path for the 10 and Under segment.

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