It’s been a very long time since I’ve been the New Kid on a tennis team.
For those of you who don’t live in the Atlanta area, you may not be familiar with ALTA, the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association, the largest tennis league in the country. For those of you who do live here (or have lived here in recent years), you understand the importance of ALTA and how your team may or may not define you as a player (yes, I’m exaggerating a bit here, but . . .).
Anyway, this season, I have decided to try my hand on a new team. For the past several years, I’ve played on the ladies A team in my neighborhood. We have a great group of players, and it’s really the one social thing I do with my neighbors. I’ve made several close friends as a result – the team is competitive but not overly so, so the matches are fun and the atmosphere is light. All very good things.
A few seasons ago, though, I was asked to join a different team, one that plays out of the club where my son trains. I politely declined, wanting, instead, to stick with my neighbors. Each season, I would get asked again, and, each time, I declined. This season, I decided to give it a try.
Today is my first match with my new team. I’ve only attended one group lesson with them, so I’m not really familiar with their styles of play nor they with mine. Today I’m playing with a partner I haven’t met yet (ALTA is all doubles at the adult level). To add to my stress, I just had my racquet restrung yesterday with a new type of string, and I haven’t had a chance to hit with it yet. Okay, so it could get a bit rough out there this morning . . .
I’m trying to stay focused on the positive, just like David Benzel talked about on my radio show this week. I’m telling myself that it’s good for me to step outside my comfort zone. I’m telling myself that it’s good for me to get to know some of the other women where my son trains. I’m telling myself that it’s good for me to be a little nervous, that it will keep me on my toes. I’m telling myself that it’s good for me to experience a little of what my son experienced when he moved to the club a year and a half ago. I’m telling myself that, every now and then, it’s good to be the New Kid.
The following is the official announcement I received just a few minutes ago from LetUsKnow.com. Given that I’m going on the air in less than 15 minutes, I haven’t had a chance to read through everything yet. I welcome your comments below.
We are writing to let you know that the U.S. Tennis Association has taken another positive step toward approving some significant changes to the previously approved 2014 national junior competition structure during the Association’s Annual Meeting this weekend in Weston, Fla.
In recent months, the proposed changes to the national junior competition structure have been socialized extensively. This includes at the USTA National and Sectional levels as well as during nine Listening Sessions held throughout the country, which drew more than 600 attendees, and through the Letusknow@usta.com e-mail address, where approximately 150 unique individuals provided feedback. There has also been considerable junior competition content posted on various blogs and via social media that has served to inform and provide a forum for discussion.
Below are the links outlining and explaining the recommendations—as put forth unanimously by the USTA Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee—which were discussed extensively and unanimously approved by USTA Section Leadership during the Association’s Annual Meeting on Monday, March 18. These changes will be officially voted on by the USTA Board of Directors in mid-April.
A few of the changes that have been recommended include creating more national play opportunities and more competitive options for junior players, while upholding the ideals of earned advancement and driving more competitive play locally (i.e., to the sectional level). The goal of these changes is to create a structure that best serves juniors who compete at all levels—and with it, the sport of tennis as a whole.
Thank you very much for your thoughtful feedback and consideration. If you have additional questions or comments, please continue to direct all correspondence to Letusknow@usta.com.
USTA Communications Department
This just in from Bill Mountford:
The JC&S Committee had the first of two scheduled meetings earlier today and then an open forum in the afternoon. There will be another meeting tomorrow morning. The USTA will issue a release after the annual meeting concludes on Monday.
I’m not sure anyone even noticed, but I’ve been out of town all week on a Girls Trip with my daughters. My middle daughter and I were visiting her big sister in Los Angeles. Yes, the Indian Wells tournament was in full swing. No, we did not attend. Sometimes hiking and shopping and Disneyland trump tennis. Sometimes.
Anyway, I have been following all the comments posted on my article about our options regarding the 2014 calendar. Wow! A lot of emotion coming through. Obviously, I have many passionate readers here who fall on both sides of the 2014 changes. That’s a good thing. And unexpected. At least, I don’t think USTA had any inkling that all this passion would emerge a year ago when it announced the changes.
There’s another big meeting this weekend down in Florida. I have no idea how all of this is going to shake out. I just hope, whatever happens, that junior tennis in the US continues to grow and to thrive. I think – despite our differences of opinion on just how that should look – that’s what everyone hopes.
There seems to be some (a lot!) confusion about USTA’s governance procedure as it relates to the 2014 changes. After reading through the USTA by-laws in their entirety, I can tell you that I’m not any closer to understanding the intricacies of how this terribly complicated organization operates. I have asked some people who have been involved with USTA for way longer than I have to please explain to me what our options are moving forward. Here’s what they have told me.
At next week’s meeting (see my email exchange with Lew Brewer for more info), the Sections will discuss then vote on whether to approve the Proposed Changes to the already-approved 2014 Junior Competition Calendar.
- If approved, the Board will vote on the Proposed Changes at its April meeting. If approved by the Board at that meeting, the Proposed Changes will go into effect January 1, 2014.
- If not approved, the original 2014 Junior Competition Calendar will go into effect January 1, 2014.
However, a third possible scenario – one that has not been mentioned by the Commenters on my previous posts – is that the Sections can combine efforts to garner at least 30% of the vote and can propose a “call item” to ask for a pause on the 2014 changes. This “call item” would then go to a Board vote, I’m assuming at the April meeting. If approved, we could see the Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee go back to work to develop a world class junior competition schedule with a competitive structure that:
- Is fair to all the sections
- Allows for a logical progression from sectional to national to super-national play
- Results in the best players competing against the best players in the country
- Is accessible, easy to understand, and cost-effective
- Provides choices to families and parents in allowing them to build a tennis schedule that suits their individual needs
- Most importantly, promotes true earned advancement
I have spoken to someone in my section’s (Southern) leadership and am hopeful that they will work with some of the other sections to harness enough support for a “call item” to be proposed. If you are in favor of a pause, I urge you to speak with your section leadership as well to gauge their stance. Each section should vote in such a way that benefits its own junior players – that’s why these sections exist, after all. However, I suspect there is some political pressure from the National office for the sections to support the stance of the President and Board, so it’s important that we constituents put some pressure on our representatives to support what’s in the best interest of our kids.
The link below is to an Excel spreadsheet comparing Boys 18 entries by section between the actual 2012 Winter Nationals tournament and what the numbers will look like if the proposed 2014 changes are approved. The numbers for SoCal and NorCal may be off by one or two as there was some confusion as to which of the two sections certain players were from. Please take some time to read and understand the differences and feel free to comment below.
Please refer to my post from earlier today to understand how the process will work going forward. In the meantime, here’s the 28-page document outlining the changes to the 2014 Junior Competition Schedule as well as the shorter 5-page summary version along with the new proposed national schedule. I haven’t taken the time yet to analyze it fully but I plan to do so over the next couple of days. If any of you would like to offer your opinion, the Comments box below is open!
Today is March 6th, the day USTA said we would hear something from the work done by the Junior Competition & Sportsmanship Committee last week in Dallas. I emailed Lew Brewer this morning for an update. The following is my email to him along with his reply. I hope it lends clarity about the process. . .
Lisa to Lew:
“Good morning, Lew! From previous communications, it seems like today’s the day for USTA to reveal publicly the changes made to the 2014 schedule during last week’s JCSC meeting. If that’s the case, can you please include me on any releases sent out? Thank you.”
Lew to Lisa:
“Thanks for the email. Yes, today is the day of days.
I’m sorry that I could not tell you more earlier but we really had to inform our USTA leadership about the proposed changes before we released it to the public. There are two versions of the changes. There is a 28-page version which is very detailed and a 6-page version which is more of a layperson’s description. I assume you will want both.
We want people to know about the proposed changes and the Sections will weigh-in on them at the USTA Annual Meeting. It is important to note that the proposed changes were approved unanimously by the new Committee.
The process moving forward will be as follows:
We’ll release the information to everyone today.
- The Sections will discuss within their Junior Competition structure between now and the USTA Annual Meeting (March 16-18, 2013). All the Sections have been informed that this information is coming so they should be ready to discuss it internally.
- The USTA Leadership (Section Presidents, Section Delegates, Section Executive Directors) will discuss this on March 16, 2013. These are the key voting groups in the USTA (except the Section Executive Directors).
- We will have an open forum for all the attendees during the meeting and the Executive Committee will take a straw vote during the Annual Meeting. Technically it is not an official vote because of some technical governance issues but we have asked the Sections to treat this as if it were an official vote.
- Assuming the Sections give it their approval, the USTA Board will vote on the plan at its next meeting in April.
- In mid-April we will notify folks of the result and announce that bids are open for those who would like to host a 2014 event.
- I’m confident that the revised plan will be approved. I expect that people on both sides of the issue will not be completely happy, but the new plan reflects what we heard on our listening tours and through other means while remaining consistent with the principles of the currently approved plan.
The information will be released in the afternoon and I’ll send it to you as soon as it is available. I’m sure you will get it from someone else before I send it to you.
As I interpret Lew’s email, the Sections still have to approve the proposal before it goes to a full Board vote in April. Therefore, it is crucial that we all continue to communicate with our Section Leadership (click here for the list of 2013 Section Presidents with email addresses) and voice our opinions on the changes once we see what comes out later today. We’ve all worked so diligently on behalf of our junior players – let’s stick with it and see this thing through!
I just received the following via email from Lew Brewer:
The statement can be found online at http://www.usta.com/Youth-Tennis/Junior-Competition/usta_junior_competition_and_sportsmanship_committee_update/
I have some very strong thoughts on this statement, but I will keep them to myself for now. In the meantime, please know that I have emailed Lew to ask him for more information on exactly what the proposed changes entail. Stay tuned . . .