| By Ricky Becker

Maybe it's because I'm not a parent of a tournament age player, but I love this new tournament format.  Lew Brewer of the USTA was interviewed on tennisrecruiting.net and said it perfectly.  This news system makes a child earn his/her way to the next level.  No more, "my child can't qualify for sectional main draws so he'll play National Tournaments in Georgia, Illinois and and Ohio so he could play National Opens in Texas so he could win a backdraw match, get ranked 800 in the country and make SuperNationals in the 12's or 14's.  And then l'l know that he's doing a good job!"  Now, with the National Opens and Level 3's harder to get into, kids will need to really break through in the section which makes it a merit and not monitary system.  The Level 3 National Cut-Offs this year aren't even that drastically different..maybe 200 or 300 spots.  Biggest difference isnt necessarily  that the unqualified kids are getting in...its more that the unqualified kids can't play every single Level 3, because they are at the same time.

Having being introduced to Quickstart tennis this year at Sportime, I am a big fan!! I don't think mandating  it as the USTA has, is going to make a difference because as Steve Kaplan pointed out, not a lot of kids are siging up for the tournaments.  I do think it is a great teaching tool though and lets younger kids have more fun playing tennis because they can rally with each other and it gives younger kids confidence they can play in a tennis setting.  Any kid who knows what a puffle is and could rally is a good thing.

Ricky Becker is the Director of Tennis at the prestigious Pine Hollow Country Club for his ninth year, coaches high-performance juniors throughout the year and has been the Director of Tennis at three of Long Island’s biggest junior programs.  As a player, Becker was the Most Valuable Player for the 1996 NCAA Championship Stanford Tennis team and ranked in the top-five nationally as a junior.  He can be reached at rbecker06@yahoo.com, 516-359-4843 or via juniortennisconsulting.com.