There are going to be drastic cutbacks in the size and scope of the national junior tournament schedule in 2011, and while the details are nebulous, one casualty will be The Copper Bowl as we know it. The Copper Bowl used to immediately follow the Super Nationals and start on Jan. 1; however, beginning this year, it will start on Jan. 22 and will surely attract fewer juniors, especially Eastern juniors.
The Copper Bowl promoted itself as the largest junior tournament in the world, with more than 1,000 participants in the Girls and Boys 12-18 Divisions. The economic impact on the city of Tucson is estimated to be in excess of $3 million, and it was a remarkably well run tournament especially considering it's enormous size. It will be played on a much smaller scale now.
Over the years, I have taken at least 100 top, and not so top, players to The Copper Bowl and I have many fond memories of those trips.
I've heard the argument that a cutback in the tournament schedule will limit the opportunity for "point chasers" to artificially inflate their ranking by traveling to every event. While this is a valid argument, I think that there will always be ways to exploit the system to gain an advantage, and those who wish to so will still find a way. The current system is more inclusive, and despite its drawbacks, it provides greater opportunities which help to grow the sport than the new system promises.
This limiting of competitive opportunities is a step in the wrong direction, and the loss of The Copper Bowl for Eastern players as part of a Chrismas/New Year's Arizona trip is a really bad loss.
Steve Kaplan is the owner and managing director of Bethpage Park Tennis Center, as well as director emeritus of Lacoste Academy for New York City Parks Foundation and executive director and founder of Serve & Return Inc. Steve has coached more than 1,100 nationally-ranked junior players, 16 state high school champions, two NCAA Division 1 Singles Champions, and numerous highly-ranked touring professionals. Many of the students Steve has closely mentored have gone to achieve great success as prominent members of the New York financial community, and in other prestigious professions. In 2017, Steve was awarded the Hy Zausner Lifetime Achievement Award by the USTA. He may be reached by e-mail at StevenJKaplan@aol.com.