Below is a revealing email correspondence between Craig Jones and Wayne Bryan regarding the summit in Southern California at the Riviera Country Club. The email was entitled “Thinking of CJ Roddick”. Good Stuff! (Earlier I confused Craig Jones with Craig Cignarelli on this post. I am wrong more than I want to admit and sometimes I am just an idiot. Good thing this is not the New York Times though.)
Thanks for coming out to rainy SoCal yesterday to share your ideas and sit in on that panel re the U10 Mandate. We had a fair and frank and hard hitting session and I think tennis is the better for it. What a great turnout and special thanks to Chuck and Craig and Andrew for setting up that event and thanks to Steve Bellamy for coming on the panel and adding his considerable wisdom and vision . . . It was good for me to put the face with the Craig Jones name and be reminded of other good times we have had together in the past. Mark Bey says good things about you and your coaching.
I feel we are kindred spirits on so many of these issues. I loved when you said to the crowd of 100 coaches gathered there at the venerable Riviera Country Club banquet room, “If I was a parent of a talented young player who had worked hard for years and this USTA Mandate came along, I would be mad as hell too.” Or something to that effect . . .The other thing that sorta shocked Steve and I was when he said, “Let’s just take a quick poll in the room – – – How many of you think that 10s should never be allowed to play a tournament with yellow balls?” Only one hand went up – – – a nice lady pro to the left of the stage.
Even your hand did not go up and I chided you and said, “Craig, you are getting paid, raise your hand for cryin’ out loud!”
Look, I want harmony. I love going out and giving my talks and doing my coaching and emceeing all over the US. I do not like discord one single bit and I do not like the political side of tennis. One of my brothers is a respected Superior Court Judge in NorCal and the other a successful corporate atty in San Diego . . . although I went to law school and have a law degree, I did not go into law because I do not like legal battles. When the behemoth and all powerful USTA issues these harmful and ill-conceived mandates through the years, I have to stand up and speak out. I do not want to. I do not enjoy it one single bit. I have no hidden agenda. I just have to do what is right for our sport and for the kids.
You have seen what the USTA PD Gods and Generals have done with meat cleavers through the years. You even said you have been as opposed to them as I have.
Let’s bore down here:
1) There is a hue and cry against this Mandate across the country. For gracious sakes alive, only one coach in the entire room voted for the Mandate on Sunday!!! That was shocking even to me and I know the level of disgust and despair out there on the main streets of tennis better than anyone – – – cause that is where I live most days of the year.
2) Tweak the thing for crying out loud. You’ve had a big enough sample. You see the draws dropping all over the country. Oh, you can power point presentation it to death and show all kinds of pie charts and colored charts and graphs, but this dog won’t hunt. Show the people you are truly listening. Have a dual path. Have your blessed green ball tournaments, just allow juniors that so desire to play with yellow balls. Let the market place decide. Believe me, if playing with red, orange and green balls from age 6 to 10 will make kids future pros for sure, every parent in America will jump in hook, line and sinker. If it is the latest gimmick and the latest nutso Mandate from the USTA, it will fail, like all the other Mandates have done.
3) Grandfathering in the current 10s to be allowed to play with yellow balls for the next year or two is not the answer. It is a moving target – – – there will always be a certain percentage of dedicated juniors, parents and coaches who are going after this sport early and often and with all their heart and soul and they will want to be playing with yellow balls. They will not want to and nor should they play with soft balls for four years . . .
4) As to the argument that the ITF has adopted the Green Ball Mandate – – – the last I looked, the ITF did not have a standing army and they have no missiles or nuclear weapons. Tell them to go to hell. Or be nice like Steve Bellamy and tell them you are gonna keep their blessed Mandate, but you are gonna offer another little path for those that choose to walk it. It’s called this novel special new American idea – – – regular tennis for 10s!!
5) And as to your argument of an earned path to the yellow ball – – – you said it best off mike to me and under your breath in a soft voice. “Yeah, I know, Wayne, who am I to say that a junior has earned that right?” Bingo. Could not agree more. That is up to the kid, the parent and the coach.
6) Again, I promise to never come to picturesque Augusta, Georgia to tell you how you must coach. Or to tell you what colored balls your kids must play with. And precisely what age they have to move from one colored ball to another. I will not tell you how to coach the volley. And you can wear that US Davis Cup jacket while you sit next to me, but don’t you dare tell me how I must coach the volley or any other stroke for that matter. Do not tell me how to inspire and motivate. Do not tell me how to run a winning and successful junior program. And do not tell Dennis Rizza or Craig Cignarelli or Robert Lansdorp or Vic Braden or Chuck Melkent or any of the thousands of other great and experienced pros in SoCal or across the nation. Suggest, yes. Offer, yes. Require, hell no!
7) You want to read my book? Happy to have you read it. You want me to come and speak to your local pros or high school coaches or juniors or parents? I happy to come there and do it and share what has worked for me in all my years of coaching. Will show you my favorite drills and games. Tell you all the extras that go into making a champion. But I will not Mandate that you have to use my methods or techniques or use my art and magic.
8) You want to truly help American tennis? Roll up your sleeves and get back on the court and get out of this administration thing. Same thing I used to tell all those overpaid National Coaches at the USTA’s Key Biscayne. I looked out on all those beautiful courts at 3:30 in the afternoon and the courts were empty and there was not one single local kid out there hitting balls. What a waste. What a joke. They said they were too busy administering to go out there a coach. I think the real reason is that they didn’t know how to create a vibrant junior program. They did know how to load up a bus load of their juniors and take them to a college match. Didn’t know about vibrant and enthusiastic and fun filled group workouts and group games. Did not know about socialization. Group breakfasts and group warm-ups at tournaments. JTT. Team Events. Talent Shows. Dances. Mark Bey’s Tie Dyed T Shirts. BBQs. Beach parties. Trips to amusement parks. Miniature golf. Hikes. Museum trips. Campouts. Art. Magic.
Hey this is all blabber and mumbo jumbo. I had a grand time being with you and getting reacquainted. And I liked chatting with you about tennis for the ten minutes after the session way more than I did going hammer and tong on this silly U10 Mandate. Just walk a mile in my shoes – – – what if you were doing your thing and creating and helping lotsa junior players there in Augusta and I came down and told you you had to do it my way? You had to use certain colored soft balls in your tournaments and at certain ages. How would that sit with you and the coaches in your area? I’d rather have our juniors battle on court at the nationals. You take your 85 kids and work like a dog with them night and day, seven days a week, and seeya at the 12s, 14s, 16s, and 18s Nationals. See ya in D1 College Tennis. Seeya in the pro ranks. Let’s get it on and see who wins. That is the proof the pudding to me. Who has the most kids and who has the best kids . . .
What a great guy you are to come to SoCal and to spend some time . . . not easy and you did a super job of presenting the USTA party line. Dr. Kamperman woulda been proud.
Heading off to speak in New Bruanfels at the Texas Coaches Convention, then doing clinics and emceeing John Isner’s Charity Event in Chapel Hill, then down to Dix Bay for three days of clinics, then emceeing the Necker Island Pro Am ‘n Charity Exo for Richard Branson at Necker Island with Novak Djokovic, the Bros., and Tommy Haas, then emceeing exos in Atlanta and Sarasota. Then I’m gonna take the last two weeks of the year off . . . although I will be out here in Camarillo on court sharpening up Mike ‘n Bob for the Australian circuit in January. Hope you and your USTA Intelligentsia don’t mind if we do it our way . . . been working pretty well for us through the years . . .
I dream of a day when talented and hardworking little CJ Roddick will be allowed to play tournaments in the 10s with regular tennis balls, rather than have to sadly watch through the fence . . . I will battle on for him and all the boys and girls like him all over the US . . .
Best and, again, good to be with you,0
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