It you've been following the battle between Wayne Bryan (representing players, parents, and coaches) vs. Patrick McEnroe (representing USTA PD) concerning a variety of issues related to junior tennis, you know things are really heating up. But from what I can see, it's not even close...In fact, it's WB-4, PM-0.
Over this past weekend, we traveled to Daniel Island, SC for a junior tournament. The weather forecast was 100% accurate (for once) and Sunday's 100% chance of rain did just what it was supposed to do (which was completely wash out the day and the tournament, unfortunately for all) but Saturday was beautiful and we saw lots of smiles and lots of good tennis. Danny and I were extraordinarily busy (our customers requested matches at the the main site AND at the three alternate sites), but I had the opportunity to speak briefly with 4 parents of junior players in the Southern Section. These parents know we not only care about their videos but we care about their juniors... So, here's a report FROM THE TRENCHES:
1. We've known this mother of two juniors (older daughter, younger son) from Hilton Head for at least five years. We'd barely finished greeting each other before she said she just COULD NOT UNDERSTAND THE USTA!!! She told me she was thrilled with Wayne Bryan's letter and that she herself has written a long letter to the USTA because she is so upset about the reductions in draw sizes and other changes to tournament schedules. Thankfully, her daughter is on her way to college but her son still has a few years to go...
2. We've known this father of two juniors (both girls) from Hilton Head for at least five years. He was having a friendly chat with another set of parents from Columbia (we've known their 15 year old since she was just 10) and when I greeted them and asked what they thought about the battle, I learned that they had no idea it was even happening. As I briefly explained it to them, the father from Hilton Head shared that he LOVES Wayne Bryan!!! He also told me he'd spent time recently in south Florida and that a high-level coach at the USTA told him there was NO WAY they were going to develop any top players anytime soon.
3. Next, I chatted with a mother of three (14 year old girl, 10 year old boy, and 18 month baby) from Cary. She was VERY frustrated by the changes that she felt they were forcing her son to play quickstart even though he practiced with his older sister using regular tennis balls on regular sized courts. She was VERY interested to know about the Wayne Bryan letter (she said she was so thankful that someone was speaking out) and she planned to google it as soon as she could. Along with her extreme frustration at not having any choice when it came to her 10 year old son, she expressed the opinion that tennis was almost too expensive for them, even though she and her husband both work.
4. Last, I chatted with a mother of four (three girls and one 8 year old boy) from Alabama. A busy mother of 4, she told me she'd barely had time to follow the situation, but admitted she was a little confused because though she saw the benefit of quickstart for her son, she was very glad that 2 of her 3 daughters didn't have to play quickstart because she felt it would have been bad for them. She said it was her strong opinion that all kids are different and what works for some does not work for others...in fact, it's a waste of time for others.
So that's all I had time to gather from the trenches at a junior tournament on Saturday. I have said before and I will say again that I could kiss Wayne Bryan ON THE LIPS to thank him for using his big voice to speak out on behalf of junior tennis players. I certainly don't claim to have any answers to the many, many issues surrounding junior tennis...but we attend 30+ junior tennis tournaments each year and I can assure you that we hear this stuff constantly from 99% of the people we know. Obviously, there is a significant problem somewhere and I should hope someone is paying attention. I hope that, yes, but I don't really expect anything to change anytime soon.