Back in January, I criticized the USTA Tournament system because it was in direct conflict with their stated mission which is "To promote and develop the game of tennis." I believed that national junior tournament participation would be reduced by the new USTA tournament cut off system. Thanks to Ricky Becker's tournament tracking we have proof.
Here are the facts as presented by Ricky:
1. The top 350 players or so have been unaffected by the new system.
2. Players outside the top 350, specifically those ranked in the 350 -1,050 range, are profoundly, negatively affected by the new system since they are excluded from tournament entry.
3. National regional tournaments are easier to gain entry into.
Thanks to the new system, fewer players are traveling to nationals now. Perhaps the USTA expected that those denied entry to national Opens would seek entry to national regionals instead, but clearly, that is not the case.
Fewer players are "point chasing" now because there are fewer players. I actually don't buy into the concept of point chasing. All players enter tournaments with the intent of progressing their ranking and game. Those players still playing, gladly accept the points they are credited. To call lower-ranked players "point chasers" because their parents brag about their child's accomplishments is condescending and a thinly veiled example of elitism. Now that the system is well on the way to shrinking each age groups' national player base to one-third of its previous levels, those parents with children ranked 350 can no longer take pride that their children are the best of the age group, they are now at the bottom of the list.
I love to hear parents brag about their children's accomplishments in TENNIS. Too bad that now, because of the new USTA tournament system, these parents may be now shamelessly bragging about their children's accomplishments in other sports.
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 New York 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.