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  • The Tennis Tea Party and Ten and Under Tennis

    Let's hear what you thought of Barry's Buss' latest, "The Tennis Tea Party and Ten and Under Tennis"
    Last edited by johnyandell; 02-08-2014, 09:37 AM.

  • #2
    It was just a matter of time before someone who is brave enough wrote a piece on this topic. Kudos to Mr. Buss.

    It's hard to think of a decision by the USTA that was more polarizing.

    Some coaches applaud the efforts of America's governing tennis body. Others despise it. My opinions have changed over time with this issue. Naturally, as tennis players, coaches and humans, we are very reluctant to change. But I do applaud USTA's efforts n making the change. It isn't easy to do something of this magnitude. I feel many coaches are taking this this ten and under initiative way too personally. They feel its some sort of attack against them and the direction of tennis.

    Lets just say what 10 and under tennis really is...glorified mini tennis. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Many countries start their kids out like this and past generations of our own kids in the US began this way. The genius of USTA was to package it in a way with different colored balls with less pressure and junior nets and racquets. I have a degree in marketing. I get it.

    So many coaches feel offended that they somehow have been handcuffed or told how to teach. This isn't the case at all. In fact, they are free to teach their kids however they want...and if they feel that their young student is talented enough, have them play up in the 12's. Nothing wrong with that.

    USTA developed this plan to make it easier for kids to play and enjoy the game of tennis. Which means they are trying to grow the game, isn't that something we can all appreciate? More kids playing tennis and sticking with it means more business for us. Job security anyone?? Now, trying to find the next champion is probably not going to come from this grassroots project and I'm ok with that. The next great champion may in fact be talented enough to hit from the baseline at an early age, and to that I say great. But what about the thousands of kids who will never be tennis champions? They still deserve a chance don't they?

    One of my biggest concerns with USTA is the quality of teachers that are actually instructing the kids. I've heard horror stories about some of the volunteers that are administering and instructing. If we introduce kids to this sport, we have to do everything to ensure a positive first impression from the game, the skills they learn, their success rate and especially from the volunteers or coaches that are in charge.

    I'm not the biggest fan of the USTA for my own personal reasons but I do respect them and think we need to cut them some slack. Thanks again to Barry for writing an article that makes us think and allows for debate.

    Kyle LaCroix USPTA
    Boca Raton

    Comment


    • #3
      I just subscribed. That story about Wayne Bryan and Wilt Chamberlain is one of the funnest things I have ever read about tennis! Going to read the rest of Barry's stuff now.

      Comment


      • #4
        USTA's credibility

        I have no opinion on how to teach youngsters tennis, and no qualifications there either <g>.

        But I can sympathize with instructors that don't want to be dictated to by the USTA given its dismal record. My favorite part of Wayne Bryan's diatribe/ online-dialog with Pat McEnroe was Bryan saying, "Someone that works at a nonprofit shouldn't be making 4x as much as the President of the United States." Ouch. And, it's certainly not incentive pay based on achievement.

        I'll leave the instruction part alone, but note that if the USTA's job is to promote tennis in America, it's hard to find any metric that argues for its success. Why no top pros? Many factors, but I'll quote one foreign pro, Lleyton Hewitt, as I roughly remember it, "Local pro tournaments given kids examples to follow and motivate them." In the U.S., ATP-level tennis has become the near-exclusive domain of the East Coast. The so-called "U.S. Open Tour" has more events in Canada than in the entire Western 2/3 of the country with a population of perhaps 200 Million. Where are future US pros to come from? Exclusively from the Eastern states?

        Where was the USTA when San Jose, one of the oldest tournaments in America was exported to Brazil -- and upgraded? When LA was exported? Should the USTA be re-named "East Coast Tennis Club"?

        There are more ATP events in each of Umag, Zagreb, Montpelier and Delray Beach than in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago -- combined. That has nothing to do with market demand, economics, or number of fans, tennis players, nor protective sponsors, and everything to do with the efficacy of local tennis organizations to promote the sport.

        Sorry, had to vent

        Comment


        • #5
          Unfortunately, many people running the rules/game here are scum.

          Comment


          • #6
            No need to apologize!!

            Originally posted by jimlosaltos View Post
            I have no opinion on how to teach youngsters tennis, and no qualifications there either <g>.

            But I can sympathize with instructors that don't want to be dictated to by the USTA given its dismal record. My favorite part of Wayne Bryan's diatribe/ online-dialog with Pat McEnroe was Bryan saying, "Someone that works at a nonprofit shouldn't be making 4x as much as the President of the United States." Ouch. And, it's certainly not incentive pay based on achievement.

            I'll leave the instruction part alone, but note that if the USTA's job is to promote tennis in America, it's hard to find any metric that argues for its success. Why no top pros? Many factors, but I'll quote one foreign pro, Lleyton Hewitt, as I roughly remember it, "Local pro tournaments given kids examples to follow and motivate them." In the U.S., ATP-level tennis has become the near-exclusive domain of the East Coast. The so-called "U.S. Open Tour" has more events in Canada than in the entire Western 2/3 of the country with a population of perhaps 200 Million. Where are future US pros to come from? Exclusively from the Eastern states?

            Where was the USTA when San Jose, one of the oldest tournaments in America was exported to Brazil -- and upgraded? When LA was exported? Should the USTA be re-named "East Coast Tennis Club"?

            There are more ATP events in each of Umag, Zagreb, Montpelier and Delray Beach than in San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago -- combined. That has nothing to do with market demand, economics, or number of fans, tennis players, nor protective sponsors, and everything to do with the efficacy of local tennis organizations to promote the sport.

            Sorry, had to vent
            I am going to quote my own post in this thread

            http://www.tennisplayer.net/bulletin...5090#post25090

            this train of thought that got to more investment in competition from the USTA started in post #22

            "…As for what it takes to succeed in this game, it is good fundamentals to create the opportunity to legitimately compete; and then there has to be a lot of competition. What I see is kids ducking competition all the time. What I see is good kids having to play kids who can barely get 2 games off them in early rounds of designated tournaments. Those better kids should be playing more matches against comparable opponents. And those weaker kids should be playing against someone against whom they can employ the skills of competition in a meaningful way. Here is SoCal, the USTA should be setting up practice challenge matches at least 2 days a week to supplement weekend tournaments. The reason all those players come out of Buenos Aires and Barcelona is they all go to one place to train against one another and they drive each other up. The USTA should stop wasting it's time trying to be in the developmental business and run competition. Then use its resources to support the players who excell.

            Can you imagine what the situation would be like if the USTA really went after competition? Most of the USTA local sections each have the economic base of a Spain or Argentina or Belgium. Imagine if the ratio of the number of futures tournaments played in the US to the number of futures played in Spain mirrored the ratio of the sizes of our economies: US:$16.7Trillion, Spain: $1.4 Trillion, Argentina: $0.77Trillion. If the USTA ran those events (about 5 a week nation wide) and then turned around and tried to arrange good practice facilities for our players and also some housing in return for practicing with some of our local juniors. How would that look? Different I think…."

            And in answer to one of Stotty's questions. In SoCal, they have largely eliminated the feed-in draws. The mainstay of the schedule are the designated events. Of course the seeds might get a bye, but in a draw as large as 256 where there are really only 16 kids who play at the top level in any age group and there are as many as 32 seeds, having to work their way through 7 rounds means they have to play two or three matches before they even run into one of the other seeds, who will necessarily be outside the top 16. Those top 16 kids should be playing each other two or three times a week. And the ones that excel should be playing against pros in the weekly year-round futures events that should be taking place just in Southern California. There is a $25K Challenger down in Rancho Santa Fe this week and there are a half dozen 14, 15 and 16 year old juniors who made it into the main draw. What good does it do them to play these 256 draw local designated tourneys even if they do get a bye?

            don

            Comment


            • #7
              Intersting article and subsequent discussion...

              I think tennis_chiro's observations on competition are extremely valid. Not only that, the competition structure must be carefully thought out and have at least seven tiers of standards at junior level. Here in the UK we fine tune the competition structure all the time.

              But I cannot help feeling America is someway behind Europe. In the UK it's been mandatory for kids to use the appropriate coloured balls and equipment for a long time now. It's become "tennis law" that cannot easily be bypassed. Kids who play LTA sanctioned tournaments MUST all play with the correct ball relative to their age.

              Very advanced kids can get a "passport" to play up a colour, but this is granted only in exceptional circumstances. And there is really no need to play up a colour if enough quality kids are around to compete with each other. Small tennis catchments with few quality kids sometimes have to break protocol and allow a good quality kid play up a colour...but that's just common sense. You don't get thrown in prison for that one.

              Red and orange ball can look spectacular with two talented kids pitted against each other. It just makes sense to play with manageable rackets on manageable court sizes. Keeping kids within the correct racket sizes is also imperative. Kids will develop better technically. I think all coaches know this...or ought to by now. When you see Lew Hoad aged 10 years in the player archives battling with a full sized wooden racket you realise just how lucky kids are today.

              http://www.tennisplayer.net/members/..._lew_hoad.html

              I think in small countries like Britain policies filter across the nation quicker. With America being so large, perhaps it's harder for the USTA to install policy?

              When Britain's mini tennis programme was installed, we were told by Steve Martens (then LTA Player Director) renegade coaches who fought against change would find themselves driving the wrong way up a one-street. He was right. Coaches found it impossible to oppose a system where it was mandatory for ALL sanctioned competitions to use the relevant ball per age group.

              Children taught by renegade coaches would go to tournaments and find themselves playing with orange, red or green balls instead of a yellow ball they had been coached and trained with. Parents soon caught when their kids were caught ill prepared for sanctioned tournaments because they had been training with yellow balls on a full size court. Game over for the renegade.

              Very few renegade coaches are now left, most, one imagines, went broke.

              The one downside that has developed over the years is that we find children are leaving the sport at 10, 11 and 12 years old. The overall feeling is that starting kids as young as 5 often leads to them having had enough six or seven years later. One way the LTA are countering this is by trying to make tennis appeal to the whole family. They are launching more adult programmes to attract parents in to the game. The idea is that if you make tennis a chosen sport for a family it will become a way of life. Plus, the "family" offers a great cushion when results are going through a rocky period. Whether the LTA has any success with this policy remains to be seen, but they are, to their credit, always trying.

              We just have to find a way to keep kids in the game right through their childhood and beyond. It's not easy.

              You have to feel sorry for governing bodies because success stories at world-class level are by default incredibly low. The LTA are the easiest target going over here. But at the end of the day, they are doing the best they can.
              Last edited by stotty; 02-12-2014, 04:44 AM.
              Stotty

              Comment


              • #8
                Check the numbers

                Originally posted by tennis_chiro View Post

                Can you imagine what the situation would be like if the USTA really went after competition? Most of the USTA local sections each have the economic base of a Spain or Argentina or Belgium. Imagine if the ratio of the number of futures tournaments played in the US to the number of futures played in Spain mirrored the ratio of the sizes of our economies: US:$16.7Trillion, Spain: $1.4 Trillion, Argentina: $0.77Trillion. If the USTA ran those events (about 5 a week nation wide) and then turned around and tried to arrange good practice facilities for our players and also some housing in return for practicing with some of our local juniors. How would that look? Different I think…."
                Sorry, but quoting myself again. But I thought I would just check the numbers.

                First I checked the USTA site:

                2014 USTA pro circuit (http://www.usta.com/Pro-Tennis/Pro-C...c=proleftnav):
                Women through November: 11 x 10K, 15 x 25K, 11 x 50K, 1 x 75K and 1 x 100K
                Men only through August: 17 x 10K, 6 x 15K, 6 x 50K, 4 x 100K

                Then I looked for another source, so I pulled up the ITF calendars:
                Men for 2013: http://www.itftennis.com/media/132503/132503.pdf
                Women for 2013: http://www.itftennis.com/media/132537/132537.pdf
                Note: the full 2014 calendars are incomplete at this point.

                The ITF schedule is all the futures events so it does not include the ATP challenger events, but it does include the women's events below $125K and the men's schedule is all the 10K and 15K men's futures.

                Take a look at that men's schedule:

                Compared to Australia's 10 events (maybe that is Austria?), the USA seems to be doing ok with 31 events, until we consider the relative sizes of the populations and economies. Some other nations: Great Britain: 23, Greece: 20, Israel: 15, Italy: 30, France: 21, Germany: 20, Croatia: 17, Serbia: 14, Argentina: 20, Mexico: 20. But note well, Spain: 42, Egypt: 35 and Turkey: 51. Proportionally to Spain, according to the sizes of our economies, we should be running 400 Futures events a year around the country. And compared to Turkey; give them an A++ for effort. It would be interesting to see a similar comparison of budgets for national training staffs.

                don

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by tennis_chiro View Post


                  Take a look at that men's schedule:

                  Compared to Australia's 10 events (maybe that is Austria?), the USA seems to be doing ok with 31 events, until we consider the relative sizes of the populations and economies. Some other nations: Great Britain: 23, Greece: 20, Israel: 15, Italy: 30, France: 21, Germany: 20, Croatia: 17, Serbia: 14, Argentina: 20, Mexico: 20. But note well, Spain: 42, Egypt: 35 and Turkey: 51. Proportionally to Spain, according to the sizes of our economies, we should be running 400 Futures events a year around the country. And compared to Turkey; give them an A++ for effort. It would be interesting to see a similar comparison of budgets for national training staffs.

                  don
                  How come Turkey and Egypt have so many events. I thought these two were barely on the tennis map.
                  Stotty

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Louis CK...and 10 and under tennis

                    Originally posted by licensedcoach View Post
                    When Britain's mini tennis programme was installed, we were told by Steve Martens (then LTA Player Director) renegade coaches who fought against change would find themselves driving the wrong way up a one-street. He was right. Coaches found it impossible to oppose a system where it was mandatory for ALL sanctioned competitions to use the relevant ball per age group.

                    Children taught by renegade coaches would go to tournaments and find themselves playing with orange, red or green balls instead of a yellow ball they had been coached and trained with. Parents soon caught when their kids were caught ill prepared for sanctioned tournaments because they had been training with yellow balls on a full size court. Game over for the renegade.

                    Very few renegade coaches are now left, most, one imagines, went broke.

                    The one downside that has developed over the years is that we find children are leaving the sport at 10, 11 and 12 years old. The overall feeling is that starting kids as young as 5 often leads to them having had enough six or seven years later. One way the LTA are countering this is by trying to make tennis appeal to the whole family. They are launching more adult programmes to attract parents in to the game. The idea is that if you make tennis a chosen sport for a family it will become a way of life. Plus, the "family" offers a great cushion when results are going through a rocky period. Whether the LTA has any success with this policy remains to be seen, but they are, to their credit, always trying.

                    We just have to find a way to keep kids in the game right through their childhood and beyond. It's not easy.
                    One of the more interesting conversations going on in tennis these days revolves around children that are 10 years old and younger. One only has to think about the ridiculous nature of this conversation to realize what dire straits the sport of tennis is in. I would just love to bring Louis CK into this discussion.

                    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wtrpj7lF5o

                    "Give me some water...Pepsi is not water..."

                    Wisdom...in the guise of comedy.
                    Last edited by don_budge; 02-14-2014, 12:12 AM.
                    don_budge
                    Performance Analysthttps://www.tennisplayer.net/bulleti...ilies/cool.png

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Family and community...that's the ticket

                      Originally posted by don_budge View Post
                      One of the more interesting conversations going on in tennis these days revolves around children that 10 years old and under. One only has to think about the ridiculous nature of this conversation to realize what dire straits the sport of tennis is in. I would just love to bring Louis CK into this discussion.

                      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wtrpj7lF5o

                      "Give me some water...Pepsi is not water..."

                      Wisdom...in the guise of comedy.
                      But it is only stupid in the sense that the tennis industry makes it such a big deal. Think about it...10 years old and younger. All this talk about "renegade coaches". Just a little scary.

                      There is no arguing that the "10 and under" business is holding the whole thing afloat. Without this facet of the industry the whole thing just might collapse. Don't get me wrong...tennis is a wonderful activity for youngsters. Afterall...if their only other choice is computer games or their cell phone activity...Tennis to the fore!

                      But of course youngsters must play with suitable equipment. It makes absolutely no sense to send a couple of post-toddlers out to the full sized tennis court with a couple of new tennis balls. Things are happening way too quickly for the little fragile egg shell minds to figure it out. 99.99999 of the time...statistically speaking of course. Along comes Mozart or the chosen one.

                      Trying to gage our respective tennis programs on the performance of little ones so young is a big mistake. Something must be done to attract the 12 year old and older set first. Stotty's comments about adult programs and tennis being a family activity ring true to me. That is afterall the way that tennis found me...my parents started playing and I followed them to the court. It works every time.

                      I am not buying into the silly paradigm though that our countries tennis fortunes are somehow connected to our 10 and under programs. Tennis is not for everyone...it is especially not for children per se. Not on the mature level that is. It is an individual sport and it takes the rare individual to think for himself. Especially these days with the hyper promotion of herd mentality. There will never be the day when people will show up in droves learning how to play the game that we love and know. But it starts in the family and then it morphs into a community and that is how tennis players are born. Close to home in normal family and community environments.
                      don_budge
                      Performance Analysthttps://www.tennisplayer.net/bulleti...ilies/cool.png

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Maybe the greatest never picked up a racket...

                        Originally posted by don_budge View Post

                        Trying to gage our respective tennis programs on the performance of little ones so young is a big mistake. Something must be done to attract the 12 year old and older set first. Stotty's comments about adult programs and tennis being a family activity ring true to me. That is afterall the way that tennis found me...my parents started playing and I followed them to the court. It works every time.

                        I am not buying into the silly paradigm though that our countries tennis fortunes are somehow connected to our 10 and under programs. Tennis is not for everyone...it is especially not for children per se. Not on the mature level that is. It is an individual sport and it takes the rare individual to think for himself. Especially these days with the hyper promotion of herd mentality. There will never be the day when people will show up in droves learning how to play the game that we love and know. But it starts in the family and then it morphs into a community and that is how tennis players are born. Close to home in normal family and community environments.
                        I can only speak for my country on this, but the LTA feels it has to attract kids in to the sport very young before other sports snatch them up, which it's started to do quite successfully. It's the feeling of having to compete with other sports that's the problem.

                        I deliberately started my children quite late at tennis to avoid them burning out at a ridiculously young age. I want it to be a game for life for my children...and it hopefully will be.

                        My oldest asked just yesterday who is the greatest player that ever lived. I said I'm not too sure..."there have so many down the years". I told him the "greatest player ever" has probably never played. He's probably stacking shelves somewhere with four kids a mortgage round his neck...or living in the bush in Africa. No one ever gave him the opportunity or introduced him to the game. Wouldn't it be great if the whole world had the opportunity to give tennis a go...
                        Stotty

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Getting back to Barry's piece, he hit quite a nerve with Wayne himself and has received multiple emails from a surprising range--including Andy Roddick's mother if you can believe it.

                          Wayne sent me a nice email as well praising Tennisplayer and I told him I thought he came off better than Wilt in Barry's piece. Check out Wayne's line by line rebuttal!


                          http://www.tennisplayer.net/members/...dex_wayne.html

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Explosive stuff

                            Originally posted by johnyandell View Post
                            Getting back to Barry's piece, he hit quite a nerve with Wayne himself and has received multiple emails from a surprising range--including Andy Roddick's mother if you can believe it.

                            Wayne sent me a nice email as well praising Tennisplayer and I told him I thought he came off better than Wilt in Barry's piece. Check out Wayne's line by line rebuttal!


                            http://www.tennisplayer.net/members/...dex_wayne.html

                            Well if that isn't explosive I don't know what is!

                            I debated John's judgement here just for a moment. We don't want article writers routinely blown out of the water like this. But after reading Barry's article and digesting it more fully, I came to the conclusion Wayne had the right to reply...and perhaps in a way more powerful than posting a reply in the thread.

                            Here in the UK there are arguments for using yellow ball with advanced U10's. I prefer green ball for coaching reasons, the lower bounce deters the full western grip more effectively. And you certainly do get high bouncing rallies with yellow ball, moonballing used to be commonplace...not anymore, not with green ball, bounces almost never get above shoulder line. Overall green ball works best, but a physically big 10 year-old with ability should be given a passport in to yellow ball...the U12's.

                            If everyone reposts the link below as we go along, then it won't get buried as we meander like we normally do. It's explosive and a "must read", here it is:

                            http://www.tennisplayer.net/members/...dex_wayne.html
                            Last edited by stotty; 02-14-2014, 02:23 PM.
                            Stotty

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Stotty,

                              It never hurts to have a credible person like Barry be brutally honest--and not that this necessarily tells the whole or even part of the story about Wayne or Bob or Wilt Chamberlain for that matter. But the amount of response he got shows that these are real issues. I mean Roddick's mom jumping in?? Having read a bunch of the ones that Barry sent me I conclude he did pretty much get a tea party hanging. Not that I think he really cares.

                              Comment

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