Jan/12

16

Wayne Bryan’s Letter To The USTA


This is a long read but a very interesting and inspiring perspective on developing tennis in the U.S. by Wayne Bryan, the father of the Bryan Brothers, to the USTA. I found this letter on Johan Kriek’s Facebook page…

Wayne Brian’s letter..A MUST READ!!! Love this guy!!

Here is a letter Wayne Bryan wrote to one of his friends who just took a position with the USTA. But I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did. His sons just rolled to another victory in Sydney and I think that makes #76 for ATP Titles! xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx Dear Anonymous USTA Exec,

Again, so very appreciative that you asked my opinion re the U10s Mandate and U10 Initiative.

Let’s chop some wood and this will not be a formal submission and I will just type and roll this stuff out as fast as I possibly can and off the top of my head and hope it is helpful and hope you find yourself nodding in agreement every once in awhile:

1) The USTA has built a half mile bridge over a one mile river. Jump Street is age 6 not 10. Ask AYSO soccer. T Ball. Softball. That’s when kids start skateboarding. Playing computer games. Great rodeo stars and singers and dancers are doing their thing at 6, not getting on that horse at age 10 or singing that first tune for grandma at 10. Inner city kids are doing those amazing dance moves at 6, not 10. Incredible NBA stars are already playing on the asphalt courts at 6, not 10. World famous music teacher Dr. Shinichi Susuki has little children playing amazing orchestral concerts. Can you start tennis at 10? Sure. No prob. Come on in and have a blast playing the great game. But you want the best chance to be successful and play on your HS Team and in collegeand dream the dream of playing in the pro game some day? – - – You better be dragging that little stick around as soon as you can walk. Get a little racket in your hand at age 3, 4, or 5 and start doing little fun games at home and on the driveway and in the backyard and at the club or park. No video games or TV or skateboards at 6, tennis!! Early and often. Making this costly campaign 10 by the USTA was a huge error and waste of funds. 10 is too late. Most kids are already rolling in other sports and other things.

2) Champions are not created by million dollar slick ad campaigns! Tennis will never grow from Madison Avenue! It grows fromMain Street. Local parents. Local groups of kids getting going. Local parks. Local schools. Local clubs. Local coaches. Tennis grows from solid and fun and dynamic programming and charismatic parents and coaches and club pros. It grows with bells and whistles. With energy and enthusiasm. With fun. With laughs. With trips. Hit records are purchased because people love the song. You go to great movies that your friends recommend. Word spreads about a great restaurant – - – good food, good service, good atmosphere. Ad campaigns are overrated for sports or entertainment. People go to the US Open, not because of flyers or posters or ads, they go to see that dazzling tennis at that majestic facility. People might buy Crest rather than Colgate because of an ad campaign. They might drink Coors rather than Bud because of an ad campaign. They might fly Southwest rather thanAmerican because of an ad campaign. They will not go see the Dodgers or the Angels or Lakers or Jets or Giants or Mets orYankees because of an ad campaign. Our current US Davis Cup Team does not sell out 12,000 and 15,000 seat arenas the past few years because of ad campaigns – - – they sell out these stadiums in 11 minutes cause people like this team and want to watch them and root for them.

3) You want to help the environment – - – plant a tree in your yard. Plant two trees and you will provide yourself enough oxygen to breathe for one whole year. You want to help tennis, have your child or your nephew or that girl next door play the great game. Not trying to be negative, but all those USTA PD coaches through the years? Their kids don’t play the game. Those administrators telling us about this wonderful U10 Initiative? Their kids don’t play. If they play at all, they are sure not champions. “So, my humble opinion is that if you are a good junior coach, you will have multiple, great junior players in your program and if you are a great junior coach, some of those players will be your own children!!” Doug Pielet, South Carolina.

4) The USTA crows that it has gone out and gotten input on this U10 Initiative from across the country? No way. It is all fromCommittees. That’s why there is such a huge blow back from the tennis people out in the trenches – - – I have a large e mail list of irate parents and coaches. The coaches that are producing players and parents whose children are passionate about the sport and doing well – - – they don’t have time for Committees, but their opinions were never solicited or considered. My Mom always said that “a Rhinoceros is a Horse that was designed by a committee”. My pal at the SCTA Henry Talbert laughing says, “There is nothing worse than two Generals and a Map.” Massive changes in our tournament structure are coming from top down and not bottom up. That’s no way to run a car company the Japanese have taught the world.

5) Those USTA Staffers that have called me or who I have been on conference calls with have all said three things over and over to support this harmful and ill conceived U10 Mandate that they have seen from 35,000 feet as they said repeatedly (which is their main problem):

1. All 10s dink: As someone who has coached lots of top SCTA 10s through the years, all three of those pillars are erroneous. I can show you all kinds of kids around the country at 8, 9 and 10 that can flat nail the ball and have very complete games. Mike and Bob play short doubles matches with little kids around the country at all their Exos and Charity Events – - – usually the kids are U10s. The points are astonishing and they always use yellow balls. For these kids green balls are a joke.

2. It doesn’t matter how you do in the 10s: Did these USTA staffers ever see Tracy or Andre at 6, or Jenny Cap, orChrissie, or Lindsay, or Michael, or Pete, or Venus, or Serena at 10? Andy, Mardy, Mike, Bob, Sam, Vania, Donnie, or Ryan? Does that mean that every top 10 will be a world class player? Of course not, but every world class player was passionate and getting after tennis as a very little guy or gal. Read the ATP or WTA Media Guides.

3. It doesn’t matter if the top 10s play up: Players should never play up unless they are flat out dominating their division. Oh, play up every once in awhile to see what it’s like or play up in a weaker tournament – - – sure. Actual Story: Joey(named changed) has been playing at his club since he was 4 and 5. Loved the game. Club rat. Dad the head pro. Mom played. Starts playing the 10s when he’s 6. Gets killed. Stay in there and does better as he becomes 7 and is regularly winning matches and even wins some tournaments at 8. At 9 he is in the top 10 in the South. And now finally he is an official second year 10 and is going to give it everything he’s got to be #1 in the South. Oh – - – there is a new slick ad campaign announcing that now all 10s haveto play with these soft green balls. “Huh?”, says Joey. He wants to play with regular tennis balls like he always has. He has a big forehand, solid two handed backhand, crisp volleys, nice serve, nice kicker, sweet slider- – - good doubles player too. His Dad the pro tries to explain it to him. As a top player he is invited to a USTA Camp for the top 10s – - – but, by the way, “We will only be using green balls”. Huh? His Dad, the pro, calls me and ask me what he should do? And should he use the green balls or play up in the 12s. He plays in the 12s and after a good part of the year he gets all the way up to #121 and bless his heart, he is now in the top 100 in the 12s. “Stay in there”, says his Dad, “Hang in there”, says Coach B. How many kids have a pro Dad or people telling the player to stick out this injustice? Other players who play up simply quit and lose interest because they are always losing to older and bigger kids. I bestir myself to battle this harmful Mandate because of Joey and so many others like him.

6) QS is a tool, not a program. Most every top teaching pro I know believes in graduated learning. Works for not only tennis, butdrums, piano, surfing, dancing, speaking – - – all kinds of worthwhile endeavors. Mandating that every tournament for 10s in the US has to be with a green ball is over the top authoritarian and heavy handed and is even seen by many as mean spirited. Why oh why not a dual approach, as JP Weber of Georgia has suggested? Have all the U6 and U8 and U10 tournaments that you want and use all kind of colored and soft and even Nerf balls if you want, just don’t eliminate regular tennis for 10s!! Let kids and parents and coaches decide. This is American for crying out loud – - – let the market place decide. In a typical junior tournament you have some 20 divisions for boys and girls in the 10s, 12, 14s, 16, 18s and singles and doubles. Having some soft ball events in addition would add maybe two to four to six more divisions. If after a year or two no one enters regular 10s tennis, then you don’t need to offer it on the entry blank anymore. If they don’t play the U6 or U10 red or orange or green ball tournament, you could eliminate that after a year or two. If everyone in Virginia loves the green ball tournaments and no one ever enters the regular ball tournaments, they after a good amount of time, don’t offer it. If one county or city has all kinds of regular ball players in the 10s and not one single green baller, go with that. A little autonomy goes a long way.

7) Let’s get some empirical data going. Right now there is not one pro player on the ATP or WTA that grew up playing competitive tennis with green balls in the U10s and the last time I looked there were some pretty dadgum good players out there. And bingo, the USTA is mandating (and the ITF to be fair) that you must do it this way only. Our way uber ales. Bet: You give me 100 kids and let me do my thing from age 6 to 10 and let me do the whole program with JTT and trips to college matches each week andtournaments each weekend and team events against other clubs – - – and you take 100 kids and keep them on the soft colored balls until they are 11 and then track both groups on out until they are all 18 and see who has got the goods. I know where I would put my money . . .

8) There are “bribes” and “threats” being used to sell this QS and the Mandate in. I have lots of anecdotal evidence of this and put your ear to the ground and you will hear all about it. If the Mandate is so great, why do you have to resort to that?!! So many coaches and parents are afraid to speak out against it. The pros in the South have formed a regular 10s tennis circuit and it has gone very well with a good amount of entries. The green ball tourneys have been small. Now the local USTA staffers are calling the various parents and kids telling them not to play or x, y, z will happen. Various pros have had their jobs threatened for not adhering to the QS line.

Other Misc. Input:

1) Address the glut of college players in American college tennis. This is the big elephant in our tennis living room. The USTAhas never taken a stand on this. They even put out a White Paper saying basically that there is no problem. I chaired a panel discussion on this two years ago and the four USTA Staffers at the table all said American kids are “no good” and “lazy”. Huh?! There are several million dollars in tennis scholarships going to foreing players whose parents do not spend dollar one in taxes for education in this country. In this dire economy this is unconscionable it seems to me.

UCSB Story: I made my annual trip up to see my ol’ school UCSB beat UOP on Friday and made a little check contribution to the team, but it broke my heart to see most all the players on both teams being from Hong Kong and Denmark and France, and everywhere but the USA.

Baylor wins the NCAA Team Title a couple of years ago with six foreign players. What do we do? We make their head man theITA Coach of the Year!

And I had a nice long chat with a Freshman who was watching and supporting the team from Washington DC who couldn’t quite crack the lineup at UCSB and he was saying that he “just wasn’t quite good enough”. That broke my heart and I remembered back to my wonderful days playing there in the late 60s and having everyone on the squad from California (they are all close pals to this day – one a doctor, two lawyers, one in real estate and two still in tennis) and we played maybe one team all year that had one foreign player.

With 65% of the players being from overseas, it is criminal and most of all, it is a crying shame that American college tennis is now a world class sport. It should be for our American youngsters to enjoy and to derive the wonderful benefits. Are those parents of the players from Europe and Asia paying taxes to support UCSB and all the other colleges in this country? To ask the question is to answer it.

European soccer and Japanese baseball have quotas re foreign players. As Steve Bellamy points out, to be Miss America you must be from the US. To be President of the United States you must be Born in the USA as Bruce Springstein would sing.

One foreign player per team? – - – fine – - – helps international good will and is a nice broadening experience for the guys on the team – - – six foregn
players?! – - – I say the emperor has no clothes. I say burn it down and start over again. Time for a revolt. Carthage must be destroyed!

I have been spectacularly unsuccesful in getting this elephant in our American living room removed. I have made speech after speech to coaches and parents in this country and they are 100% behind me and I’ve spoken to the college coaches national meeting in Florida on three occasions in recent years and I’ve hit this topic as hard as only Wayne Bryan can – - – to no avail.

Lamp Story: Light the lamp in the living room at 8:30 in the evening and it lights up the room and puts a warm glow everywhere. Take that same lamp outside on a Summer day at noon and you cannot see any shine coming from it at all. It is all drowned out by the bright sun. Have only American kids playing college tennis and the crowds will be even bigger and the tennis just fine and exciting. Open college tennis up to the whole world and make it world class and our US kids are diminished. Why not make High School Tennis world class too? Why not have all the foreign coaches come over and take all the jobs away from our American coaches? College tennis should not be a world class sport. It should be for our American kids. And the scholarships should go to them and be helpful to their parents who pay all those taxes and who have supported their children and their tennis and their academics every step of the way.

It is time for the USTA to stand up and be counted on this issue. It is our USTA juniors who are losing out and paying the price. This glut of foreign players is chilling US junior tennis. When their is no fruit or flowers on the top, the vine dies.

2) Restore Junior Doubles Rankings. More programming, promotion and coaching for doubles. If we had more doubles programming, promotion, and coaching we could quadruple the number of kids playing tennis. Doubles gives our sport more width and breadth. Doubles is fun for juniors and it really rounds out skills and teaches additional life lessons – - – and some youngsters just love the “team thing”. Plus, it gives them a second chance if they lose their singles match at a tournament. And don’t forget Mixed Doubles – - – boys and girls truly love that and there are also great life lessons inherent in Mixed.

3) More emphasis on JTT. More zonals and intersectionals.

4) More support for HS Tennis. Have State Championships. Then a National HS Championship at the US Open for the top boys and girls team from each state.

5) More trips to college matches for juniors.

6) More trips to pro matches – - – be they Futures,Challengers, ATP, WTA or WTT Events.

Get rid of USTA Player Development altogether.

1) Having observed it up close and personal for the past 23 years, I say USTA PD has been and continues to be the biggest impediment to the growth of tennis in this country and also the creation of champions. Each regime issues one harmful Mandate after another, only to then be overturned by the next regime. Can give example after example:

Example #1: The national tournament schedule. A couple of years ago, the USTA radically increased not only the number of national and regional events, but also draw sizes – - – some up to 256. It was a huge knee jerk and resulted in hurting sectional play. Three years ago only 1 of the top 20 players in the 18s in SoCal even played the Sectional. Back in the day, all 20 of the top 20 always played. Only way you could get to the Zoo. Now this latest regime has radically knee jerked in the other direction and eliminate lots of tournaments and greatly reduced draw sizes. Again, a massive pendulum swing that has so many juniors and parents and coaches totally anger and dejected. Again, no checking with the rank and file players who enjoy going to play nationals. Shhhh . . . the answer lies somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. Ha. Ha. “If you want to know how to do it, just do things the way they were back in 1987 before Player Development came along and messed things up.” Jack Sharpe, Chicago.

Example #2: Getting rid of 12 Nationals and rankings when PD first began. Very, very similar to the Green Ball Mandate. Mikeand Bob were the top two 12s in the country at the time. What did they do? Yep. They played up in the 14s so they could play the Nationals.

Example #3: Their thrust to get rid of the influence of parents and local coaches. That has really always been lurking for the full 23 years. I could write 10 pages on the negative effects of this, just suffice it to say I think that is extremely harmful to the development of a champion and a person.

Example #4: At first Key Biscayne had the magic and the pixie dust and that was where each top junior had to go to train and get the USTA blessings. No. That didn’t work. Let’s move it out to Carson. Woops. No results. Let’s go get the magic from Boca Raton. Woops. No real players coming out of there. Hey, USTA, there is no magic place or magic bullet.

Example #5: Getting rid of junior doubles rankings. Huh? I could write page after page about the harm that has caused.

Example #6: the U10 Mandate. See above.

2) As I am writing this way too long of a piece some 2 e mails have come in from Mike Kernodle and JP Weber:

“Please keep in mind that the USTA does not develop players. They find players that have been developed by grass root coaches, dangle money etc. as a carrot, bring them in to training centers and often watch them digress.” Dr. Mike Kernodle, North Carolina

“The 10 and under stuff is just the tip of the iceberg for the USTA. While we elect a new president to that org every two years there are people who work there all the time and over the years who see opportunity in growing the org even bigger and bigger and securing their jobs for longer and longer (and making higher and higher salaries). That is the number one reason in my opinion they should not be in player development in the US.” JP Weber from Georgia

3) Other recent E Mails from the truckload that I have received on these issues:

“Just a quick note to thank you for your voice and support of individual coaches ideas and efforts. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of great coaches and people out there teaching tennis that really want to do the right thing. We need always to keep the coaches empowered and believing that their own ideas and initiative are embraced.” Chuck Kriese, Maryland
“I think over the past 22 years, that is what the various and ever changing USTA Player Development regimes have done in perhaps an unintended – - – or maybe an intended way – - – the have emasculated all the local pros and coaches and parents across the US. They say in one form or fashion, “You can’t coach these kids to the top. Only we can. Send them to us here at Key Biscayne or Carson – - – or now at Boca. We’ll train them and raise them..” Or “Hey, we are taking over now.” It chills the rank and file coaches across this country. And it has never worked as they do not have one single player to show for it. They’ll try like hell to claim or put their USTA stamp on a player, but everyone sees that for what it is.” Wayne Bryan
“The lack of top players was in part due to administrators micro-managing the talent by assigning coaches to players rather than letting them choose their own development paths. There’s no evidence that more dollars are going to help the game anyway, otherwise Great Britain would have many more players than they have. You’ve got a situation here where coaches are assigned to players and that’s not an ideal scenario. I just believe in a different philosophy where the player gets to choose their own coach and that builds the trust and respect and that should be supported financially and in non-financial ways. I think a much moredecentralized system and a system that has more freedom in it is the sort of environment where talent and creativity can flourish. I think the model we have now suppresses creativity, which you need to produce players.” Paul McNamee, Australia
“And, I will add one last comment to this thought about the USTA trying to control/be involved with tennis player development: NO OTHER SPORT DOES THIS! AYSO soccer doesn’t try to govern how soccer coaches develop in the private sector; Football – NO, Baseball – NO, Basketball – NO. Not even FIFA, which could be considered one of the most powerful sport organizations in the world doesn’t get involved in player development – they let the professional soccer clubs develop their own talent from age 4 on up to pro level in each clubs own system.” Chris Boyer, Pasadena
4) They always give lip service to growing the game, but USTA Player Development only thinks about Pro Players. And, truth be told, after 23 years and well north of $200 M dollars and really probably close to $300 M, they do not have one player to show for it. Try that in the private sector.

5) Ask each pro player in the US what they think about PD. Ask the Roddick family for example. Williams sisters. Donnie Young. Most are afraid to speak out. We need more pats on the backs for our juniors and our pros and not so much neg. Note that Alex Bogomolov is ripped for saying “yes” when Russia asks him to play for their Davis Cup Team. The USTA now wants to get their money for their financial support for his tennis. For the thousands of dollars they may have given him in support does not even come close to what USTA staffers make each month. Several make two or three times what the President of the United States makes! And the USTA is a non profit!

6) There is no one way. A national approach to coaching is bound to be a failure. What if they are wrong? Was it Shakespearewho wrote: “Who will watch the watchmen?” It would amaze you the things that I have heard National Coaches say through the years. Coaching is one part technique, one part science, one part art, one part motivation, one part inspiration, one part fun, one part laughing, one part trips to college matches, one part drying tears, one part social – - – it is Mark Bey’s Tie Dyed t shirts, pizza, movies, dinners, dances, talent shows, beach parties, camp outs, and lotsa magic. There is no one way. No one knows what makes a hit record. We know it when we hear it but there is no cookie cutter for music. There was a hit song with just whistling and a refrain repeated over and over. Don’t Worry Be Happy sold millions of copies. No one knows what makes a hit movie. Gone With the Wind was a hit movie but so was Dumb and Dumber. Andre played his way. Pete played his way. Mc played his way. Bjorn played his way. Pat Mc played his way. Jose played his way. No one ever played like Jimmy. No team ever played doubles like McEnroe-Fleming. No one played doubles like the Woodies. No one has ever played doubles like the Bryans. The Beatleswere the best and most creative musicians of all times, but none of them could read a note of music. None of them studied music at a National Academy. They didn’t learn their music from National Coaches. They learned from their ears and listening toChuck Berry records and Little Richard and Elvis. They learned from playing gigs for 4 straight hours and never taking a break. They loved music and taught themselves. I always say Champions take it in through their eyes and not their ears. You have to see it before you can dream it and you must be passionate about it before you can achieve it. Attending one motivational tennis event – - – like an exciting and raucous and well played college match or pro tournament – - – is better than 30 days of practice. Juniors return to their club or park or school more fired up for tennis than ever – - – and somehow magically improved.

7) A national approach stifles creativity. And also enthusiasm. It crushes dreams. I have seen so, so many players harmed by the USTA PD program. Non of those National Coaches that come to positions of power walk on water. When they are finally fired as they all have been, they go back to the real world in the private sector and keep right on coaching. Many advertise to get lessons. Rather than making big six figures they hope to crack a hundred thousand dollars a year, teaching lotsa hours each week.

8) The USTA should provide the Main Frame Computer and not the Software. They should provide a level playing field for all. Fair rankings. Great programming. Not be in coaching. Coaching bleeds into a rewards system. Go to Boca Raton and wear aUSTA tatoo on your forehead and we’ll get you a WC in this tournament or that. We’ll grant you these dollars and that and take you on these trips and those. If you don’t play ball with us, you will get nothing. We will even sorta root against you. I have seen that repeatedly.

9) Reducing all those coaching salaries and there could and should be a fabulous junior WEB Sites, where you could find any junior singles or doubles rankings for any age group and any sex in any section. It should be a storehouse for records. Articles. Pictures. Upcoming events.

10) Reducing those massive staff expenditures and you could make ever entry fee in America half of what it is today, maybe even free. You could give ever kid who could not afford it a racket. Maybe even a club membership. Lessons. Shoes.

11) Reducing those massive staff expenditures you could send the top 1,000 ranked juniors in the US to the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup, and the NCAAs.

12) If the USTA is in coaching and knows it all and there is one way, then have them answer these simple questions:

1. Semi Western Forehand, Western Forehand, or Extreme Western Forehand? Should you hit the forehand like Rafa or Roger? The backhand like Wawrinka or Del Potro? Serve like Andy or Isner?
2. Two handed backhand or one?
3. Take it back early or take it back with rhythm, the back swing being part of the forward swing?
4. Tell kids to turn to the side and take the racket back early or have them face the net and throw them the ball and have them feel the kinetic chain turn and rhythm of the swing?
5. Bananas before, during or after a match? Vitamins or not? Supplements or not?

6. Gatorade or water? Salt tabs or not?
7. Backhand grip on the serve or continental?
8. Continental grip on the volleys or Eastern grip changes like Todd Woodbridge and Jack Kramer?
9. Private lessons or group workouts?
10. Singles ‘n doubles everyday or private lessons?
11. Tournaments every weekend or periodization schedule?
12. Most important to tennis success: Sports science, Technique; Fun; or Motivation?
13. Who’s at fault if the kids have no enthusiasm at a tennis workout?
14. Nationally, is it better to polish the top of the pole or work the base?
15. Quick Start for a week, a month, a year or four years?
16. Start ‘em in tournament tennis or in Junior Team Tennis? Tennis a good team sport?
17. Singles and a backdraw singles only at each tournament or singles and doubles at each tournament?
18. Should we have more Mixed Doubles tournaments for juniors?
19. Would better programming, promotion and coaching for doubles quadruple the number of kids staying in tennis and coming into tennis?

20. What is the best age to start tennis?

21. Lift weights as a juninor or not? One hour of off court training a day or not? Or more? One hour of tennis a day or two? Or three? Or four?

22. What kind of education do you get at Boca Raton? What kind of values are being imparted by the surrogate parents/coaches/mentors there? How is the behavior?

23. Why has no National Coach ever produced a champion? Why do their own children not excel at tennis?

My computer is running out of ink. I could write for another few hours, but I’ll stop. If you are still reading, you need a psychiatric examination. But, if by chance you are, thanks very much. And this will teach you to never ask my opinion again . . .

Best and hope you just make half of what the President of the United States makes.

Wayne Bryan

No tags

46 comments

  • Andrew Miller · January 16, 2012 at 6:07 pm

    Sheesh…where to start? First, what a letter. Man – there is a lot of wisdom in this info-packed diatribe. Second – and I think I disagree with Mr. Bryan only in one way here – the global players that do come here sometimes improve players – as in improve the coaching, improve the talent, and improve the competition. I’m not saying “let’s subsidize foreign players 100 percent”, but let’s definitely look at whether there is a benefit. Yes, there is talent to develop in the U.S.’ own multicultural neighborhoods, where in Idaho or New York or Alabama (I firmly believe that it’s already there and that Mr. Bryan is right about this). But Yes, foreign players can play a part in the development of the U.S. talent.

    My reason for saying this? Heck when I was playing my mom would talk with as many of the coaches as possible – not the top coaches (who were more administrators), but the men and women feeding the balls to us. And, like the U.S., they came from everywhere. The Yugoslav junior college player who played Monica Seles, who was amazing for my little sister and younger sister and me until she left for home. The two french pros who worked with us on our serves and drop shots, and who worked on my little sister’s forehand. The Australian pro who worked on my sister’s inside-out forehand until it was timed just right. The inner city pro who had played college tennis during segregation and won a Florida regional championship against a swedish player, by moon-balling him, and who then introduced US to coaches who believed in giving back to communities through free lessons on courts that sucked, but whose courts were also filled to the max with people playing tennis, people from the communities.

    We had so many coaches, and most of the foreign ones were as good as the U.S. coaches – the point is it was even “global” in the 1990s, and arguably that was the time that players like Roddick, Fish, etc. – a pretty good U.S. crop of players – got their coaching and advice.

    Otherwise – to me Mr. Bryan’s points are – really, can anyone argue with them? I sense a little bit of “Tea Party” in him but other than that, I really can’t argue with him. He’s saying stop cookie-cutting.

    All that said: would be nice for Mr. Bryan to look at whether the USTA has done some good work. My sense is they have and to dismiss it completely is to make a big mistake

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · January 16, 2012 at 11:16 pm

    Andrew you make many interesting points about the coaching experiences. I agree, Wayne Bryan should be the USTA president someday in the near future. The man is more than qualified for the position, if he wants it. That was a fascinating letter, I really believe he will drastically alter for the better American tennis development, if given the authority to do so.

  • Kenneth Bodenstein · January 17, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    RIGHT ON! The foreign student abuse of tennis scholarships is a real problem.

  • Harris · January 17, 2012 at 5:50 pm

    Kudos for speaking out !!! Lets face it, since the 80′s how many so called champions has the USTA produced by themselves? We have our kids fighting over rankings and not developing their games for college because of the limited amount of us spots. The USTA quietly stopped giving the USOPEN wildcard to foreign players that win the NCAA’s but never made any kind of stink about it (They might have been able to make changes). Get on the ball USTA, you make MILLIONS and US tennis could eventually improve if you truly put your money where your mouth is……….

  • HIGH-TECH TENNIS · January 17, 2012 at 5:51 pm

    AWESOME!!! Soo helpful that someone is finally SPEAKING OUT on behalf of junior tennis players! Haven’t digested even half of all that’s here but we have been hearing this stuff non-stop over the past seven years as we travel to 25+ junior tournaments per year in the Southern Section. HATS OFF to WayneB for having the courage to use his voice!

  • tennis parent · January 17, 2012 at 8:49 pm

    What a great article!! So refreshing to hear what so many tennis parents have been seeing and experiencing for years. The USTA needs to be revamped!! Do they ever talk to the parents of American juniors who have supported the Usta since their kids started playing tournaments when they were 10??

    Having a daughter who is a freshman on scholarship at a top 10 school, I was completely shocked when we attended her first college tournament to see atleast 75% of the women in this tourney were foreign!!!How is this possible? Something needs to change! The cost of raisng a tennis player is virtually cost prohibitive for many families, and to have the possibilitiy of a scholarship being given to so many foreigners is unacceptable!!

    US tennis needs Mr. Bryan!! Thanks for speaking out!!

  • It's a Racquet · January 18, 2012 at 12:44 am

    I have just gone from being a critic of Mr. Bryan (apparantly for no good reason) to a huge fan and supporter after getting to know him better through his comments. I agree with much of what he said and feel someone with his passion, knowledge and experience should lead the USTA (now!).

  • Lawrence A. · January 18, 2012 at 3:02 am

    Good job Wayne, I don’t know why it becomes odd to speak out, But here’s some extra input:
    A lot of money, a lot of prestige paid by the government, No administrative transparency towards the parents and the staff, No regard to the discipline issues with the boarding junior players, a lot of “god knows how it works..” and more..

    all this;guaranteed will never “produce ” a champ, at the contrary , it may waste a talent the parents sacrificed a lot to bring it up.

    the country can not afford wasting money this way, the parents should not be fooled , and the players should not divert their effort to issues other than promoting their talents..

    Can we really produce any tennis champs at all ??.. I don’t think we even have the right ingredients..

  • Tom Butz · January 18, 2012 at 3:59 pm

    I could have written about the same thing. I agree with all! I’ve got a son now playing at the University of Florida on a top 10 team. I managed all his coaching and development from the age of 7 on. I have seen it all and more often than not I was left scratching my head at the USTA. Go get em Wayne!

  • John Doe · January 18, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    you are idiots

  • Dallas Tennis · January 18, 2012 at 10:38 pm

    What can we do about the College scholarship situation?
    As the parent of a tennis player I worry that when it comes time all the spots on the local college team will be filled by Eastern Europeans.

    I know as a fan I would attend more local college tennis matches if the kids playing were from the States.

  • Bill Patton, USPTA/PTR · January 19, 2012 at 5:29 am

    Wayne,

    You are awesome! Immediately after reading your letter, we began to make changes to our junior program, and quickly advanced some kids to higher level programs. We will now condense our QS program, rather than expand it. It has a place, but a small one.

    Bill Patton

  • another tennis fan/mom · January 20, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    I am very interested to see how the college tennis scholarship situation affects the USTA junior participation. The colleges that are focused on winning and not so much on educating are simply trying to field the best team possible and we will continue to see the use of the older foreigners in place of 18 year old American juniors who have been playing USTA junior events (and paying dues, entry fees, etc. to support those big salaries for the PD and top level executives of USTA) for the last 10 years. When college coaches and the universities themselves make a commitment to find true student/athletes the American juniors have a fair shot at a scholarship. It is surprising that the USTA has not forseen the day that the universities who award scholarships to 20 to 22 year old foreign freshmen might bring about deceasing participation in American junior tennis. There are many players that cannot afford junior tennis but a lot of them continue to play in hopes that they will be able to secure a college scholarship/education while getting to play tennis for a few more years, in effect paying up front for their college education. What will happen when it becomes well known that getting a college scholarship is not a done deal for a 3 or 4 star athlete who has participated in national events for years? They will have to reduce their time playing tennis to get jobs and start saving for college. It is becoming a grim reality that the expense of junior tennis is not just paying up front for a college education anymore. When parents realize this there will definitely be fewer junior players – the only children that will be playing are the children whose parents can afford both the expenses of junior tennis AND a college education.

  • Carla · January 22, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I absolutely agree with Mr. Bryan on this issue. For the players who are advanced and did not have the chance to move up to the 12′s, a full day of matches with green balls is going to cause injuries… My daughter came home from her first 10 & under “new quick start format ” tournament with a sore arm and neck from her 50 ball rallies and three back to back tough matches because of the no seed format. I don’t think the USTA thought about this at all. It should be our choice if we want our daughter to move up to 12′s or play Quick Start. The USTA has no right to tell us what is “best” for our daughter. I think with the proven track record of the USTA & player development in the United States over the past 10 years, most USPTA pros would agree. As a former nationally ranked junior player, collegiate scholarship player for USC and USPTA tennis pro, I think I know the path that will make my daughter a successful tennis player.
    Unfortunately, it is players like my 10 year old daughter who are the guinea pigs with this transition. We were not notified by the USTA in time that she was going to be stuck in the 10 year old tournaments for the next year. The balls are great for intermediate and beginner players, but to force a child who has already gone through the proper red, green, yellow ball transitions, is just ridiculous. They have absolutely no business in telling me how she should progress. It is our decision, not the USTA. I can’t imagine that any of the top independent tennis academies in the US are having their 10 year old top ranked players practice every day with green balls. The USTA paid off everyone to endorse this program to try to save face because of their deteriorating effort and millions of dollars wasted in trying to produce world class professional tennis players.

  • Ed Wolfarth · January 24, 2012 at 2:53 am

    As a USPTA pro and former NCAA college AD, I agree with Wayne on so many levels. We need to fix the foreign tennis scholarship issue. It stifles our kids’ development and simply smacks of injustice! The USTA is beginning to look like our current administration! Mandates that are not thought out, over-paid administrators that do not reflect their constituency and no apparent transparency. Is this any way to run a country? I mean a tennis organization. As an alternative methodology to teaching tennis, TAUT has merit. More committees, more rules and mandates, will not develop better players. It will, however, serve to justify the dollars spent promoting a ‘nice’ system to teach and some over-inflated salaries. Respectfully,,,,,,,,,,,

  • Mike · February 1, 2012 at 4:50 pm

    I agree with most said with the exception of the international players.

    We are in a global society now and one that will be an ever increasing one as time moves forward. To say that college tennis is taking scholarship positions away from US juniors may be true, but it is not taking scholarships away from US players capable of competing in the game today at a D1 level as it exists.

    Limit the playing field to US players and you will have 10-20 top programs..if that. And as with Maryland and Jacksonvile who ecently dropped their programs, you would have more universities questioning the rational of fielding weak teams at considerable expense. Your Stanfords of the world will get the top US players and excel and the others will fail. Then watch the further dilution of US junior tennis. College tennis gives US junior tennis some perspective because of the level of competition. Water that level down and take the 1000 kids you propose to take to college tennis matches and you will do nothing but encourage and condone mediocrity. (unless you take them to only top 10 schools..there are 261 D1 schools). A diluted talent pool would simply allow a Stanford to win 10 more titles.

    There are also profound and long lasting global effects of training and educating top international athletes at US universities and sending them back to their countries with a better understanding and appreciation of the US. Throw that all away so that little Johnny can get a scholarship is not a good trade off if you want to think beyond the insular world of junior US tennis on a more global scale.

    How about the internationl academic scholarships awarded each year by most major universities. Do these not as well limit the number available to US students ?

    Elmininate their availibility to non US residents and give little Johnny, with his 1000 SAT, an academic scholarship. Does that help or hurt US students.

    It hurts education in the US just as eliminatining international athletes at the D1 level would hurt US athletics.

  • Golf gone tennis · February 2, 2012 at 1:45 pm

    This was a great article for my husband and I to read. I have a 11 yr old daughter who was caught in the U10 change, is now playing in the 12′s and doing great. I have an 8yr old now under the new systems and since this was not a national mandated program her development has been a hot mess at the tournament level. We show up in FLA to play and the u10 is on full court regular ball, We play in GA and they are on the short court with the orange and yellow ball (sometimes they play best of 4 games and sometimes they play full sets), we sing up for T2 (A local league here in Atlanta) the u10 is on full court regular ball and best 2 out of 3 sets. She has no consistency and is struggling and not loving the game like older one because of that. We are blessed to have a coach who’s focus is on the long term development of the players and is teaching her a full court game. He has been ahead of the USTA from the start, with my older daughter, and continues to produce junior players who can actually play the game of tennis.

    My older daughter was chosen for a CTC (Competitive USTA Training Camp) in the 12′s and as we watched the first session, the parents began talking about the players seemed to be over swinging on each shot. Come to find out they were playing with the green dot balls. No one was made of aware of this from the beginning and we as parents questioned this decision as all of these players were ranked in the 12′s both in GA and Southern Section and would never play with the green dot balls in competition (they are only using them in GA for the 12′s level 5 and level 4).

    My husband and I both played golf growing up and junior tennis is so very new to us. The one thing that is missing nation wide from the USTA and junior tennis is consistency. Roll out a program but make it mandatory and nationwide. It is so hard on these kids to show up and not know what ball, court or scoring system they are using. It makes no sense why each state in the country is not doing the same thing under the USTA Junior umbrella. The USTA needs a shake up and a serious commitment to grow this game from the ground up. The game is not going in the right direction and it is sad to see, especially as new family into this tennis world.

    I only hope someone who is willing to do something to change junior tennis for the good, will read this and listen to what Wayne has to say and what junior coaches are saying. These are the voices, of players like mine who keep getting the shaft from the USTA, that should have a say. These are the voices that should be heard.

    Fingers crossed… Praying for the best…. little hope!

  • John Virgin · February 2, 2012 at 6:29 pm

    Dear Wayne,
    First thank you for speaking out. Your letter reflects my own angst at the current state of our game that I so love. It is my belief that real tennis champions, tennis genius is developed by a healthy sport. Yes coaches, parents, academies play their part. But I posit that true champions are fueled by their own desire, deep inside the individual to reach a potential that they believe is within themselves. Installing or instilling that belief at an early age is the key. These special people ask of themselves an effort that no one, coach, parent or association, community or country could ever ask of another human being. If you doubt, just watch Roger Federer during practice or while playing a match, in between points or rallys, he is totally focused on controlling the tennis ball with foot, hand, or racket, to bend it to his will and control its course in a joyful expression of his obsession. Tell me Bob and Mike are not the same way?

    If we rebuild our game from the ground up. Tennis date by lunch break hit. Kids going with mom and dad to play. Weekend tournament by court side board room meeting. “Son, lets go hit a tennis ball,” by honey lets do something new and fun together. If we rebuild it, they will come. RE: USTA PD: It is purest hubris to believe that any governing body could mandate genius.
    USTA has evidenced exactly that hubris for 23 years with USTA PD.
    Wyane, Well said!
    John Virgin

  • Bill Behrens · February 2, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    Mr. Bryan makes some great points. We just have to face it that we are playing catch up as coaches to
    places like France and Spain. I played many years in
    Europe and I saw the coaching was very similar in all the European countries. In the United States we have a USPTA and USTA system where there are huge differences in coaching. You can go to three different coaches and get three totally different lessons on the same stroke, footwork or strategy. Some are correct but most are wrong. The players will never know here which is very confusing. The problem is the test to become a certified coach is a joke. I think it is money driven to get the coaches to pay and pay their dues to these organizations and the quality of the coache’s knowledge does not matter. In golf you have to score in one day two rounds each under 80. In tennis, I could teach a beginner tennis player to pass the test to be a certified coach in about one month. This is one of our main problems. We have coaches who still do not know when a player should hit open stance and/or step in. They still coach players to start the racket head low, catch every forhand over the shoulder and go low to high on every ball. In Europe, the young kids are already starting the take back correctly, showing the kids all the finishes and spins (top spin, side spin, diagonal spin, slices and flat.) This alows them to hit all the different heights and aim in all the spots on the court at a very young age.
    We have some great coaches in the U.S. but they mostly came from the European tennis programs and/or played tennis in those countries. Do not get me wrong, some great coaches are born here and coach here. But this is a very small number of coaches. The chance of a very talented kid who would have been our next great American hope will get taught incorrectly is way too high in my opinion. This is why I suggest we have a much tougher or stricter system for alowing someone to say they are a certified tennis instuctor.

  • You're Wrong Wayne · February 4, 2012 at 12:26 am

    Mr. Wayne Bryan, I agree with you on a few points, but very few. You take some aspects of the facts and you munipulate or your just not that knowledgeable on what is going on in 2012. I know you use to be on the SCTA Junior Tennis Council and so you should know better than anyone that if you want to create change you need to work within the structure. (You use to get mad when your sons got penalized for defaulting to one another in the jrs, but you joined the JTC to see why decision were made) If you really want to grow tennis then start teaching again and get the masses out in the Ventura County. Perhaps you are spending too much time on the road at speaking events and this has all gone to your head.

    First you are wrong about 10 and under tennis. 10 and under tennis is great and how would you know. Have you been to any of the Southern California designated tournaments for the 10′s? 10 and under tennis with green balls is great for many reasons. First it teaches the kids to hit through the ball. Second it allows the kids to be all court players and transition to the net and not worry about being lobbed every time they get up to the net. Third it creates longer rallies and makes kids have to develop points. Lastly the ball doesnt bounce super high so then kids dont have to hit every ball above their head. Are there kids who will transition away for 10 and under equipment. Yes but the cream of the crop will always rise to the top.

    You are all about getting kids to have fun and enjoy the sport, which is great! So wouldn’t you want kids to have more success from the beginning?

    Second I agree that too many college scholarships go to foreign players but that should be our mission as coaches to grow players to become the best that they can be! If we have soft kids then we need to stop babying the kids so that they wont leave us because we are worried about losing the player to the pro down the street. You talk about Baylor being selected as coach of the year. When did the ITA become the USTA. Does the USTA get blamed decisions made by the ITA? Again it seems like you need to spend some time getting involved and listening in pretending you know everything from when you were involved a long long time ago.

    Next USTA Player Development didnt get rid of the 12′s. Those we the USTA Committees that voted to do that, which are volunteers from each of the 17 sections. So get your facts right. Doubles Rankings were changed by ….You guessed it more USTA Committees made up of volunteers from 17 sections. Why dont you put your energy into getting on a committee and making a difference! Also you talked about the National Structure and the horrible changes. Was that Player Development…Nope…You got that one wrong too! It was the USTA Committees. (Great job on the Optimum Schedule). Player Development is blamed for everything in your eyes. Has Player Development done a good job always NO! There were a lot of years of disfunction and bad leadership. But the leadership has changed and players are developing. Wayne maybe you would know that if you took some time to read more than your own press clippings.

    Mr. Bryan also werent your sons apart of the USTA National Teams. I guess you were interested in being apart of the USTA PD programs.

    So Mr Bryan! Take your ethusiam for the game of tennis and use it to grow tennis in Southern California and the rest of the US. And before you write your 20 + questions, why dont you sit down and rethink if you are just going to be a problem or if you want to be a partner in the solution. Perhaps you can sit down with USTA Player Development staff and LISTEN and understand what is going on with US Tennis and Player Development.

    If you really love the game…You will put aside your ego and do what is best for T E N N I S!

  • Steve Dries · February 7, 2012 at 12:25 am

    Enjoyed your comments and whilst from the other side of the world I am concerned at the principles of 10 and under tennis and whilst I have made provisions to implement certain aspects I am very critical of the mandate for 10 and under events and the use of the green ball.I too have much experience in dealing with this age groups and I have watched many a long rally with the conventional yellow ball bu 10 and under players.The modified approach is for club but when the kids that can compete at tournament level then full court and yellow ball is a must.Well i could go on also but want to mention its beyond me how Americans are so kind to foreign students handing out scholarships ,, some of my students have received college tennis scholarships and it always amazes me that they get them…I agree this needs a huge overhaul in the scheme of American Tennis and the economy. Your letter was great reading.

  • Andy · February 8, 2012 at 6:38 am

    Totally agree!

  • Greg · February 15, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    Wayne is 100% correct! I think it is time someone creates another junior tennis organization with no USTA involvement. The USTA has too many hands in the cookie jar. This new organization would be developed from the ground up around high-performance junior players. The top 5% who are willing to work hard and be competitive. At the same time, NCAA should limit each team to one foreign player. This would provide the player path, incentive and roadmap to developing our juniors.

    I completed an analysis of all DIV I men’s players on the roster two years back. Exactly 65% are foreigners – just like Wayne says. My guess is that they take up around 90% of the scholarship funds awarded to DIV I players. How would you quantify the impact this has on US boys as an incentive to work hard at improving their game during their teens? The USTA has been holding classes at Zonal’s about preparing for college tennis. What they don’t tell the parents is good luck at getting any scholarship money as the colleges are giving it away to foreign students. It ends up being too late for most parents and kids, however, the USTA seems to keep them in the blind until they try and get on a team. Then the kids are out of the junior development cycle and everyone has cashed in lessons, tournaments, etc.

    The USTA keeps parents right where they want them…writing checks the tournament directors, clubs and tennis pros running 30-40 kids around at one time.

    The USTA is stepping out of its boundary. Any parent with a junior in the system knows this. The USTA has too many folks running it nationally and regionally that have NEVER had a son or daughter play tennis.

    I think it is time for another organization solely dedicated to high-performance juniors. What do you say Wayne…want the job?

  • Donald Marriott · February 16, 2012 at 1:56 pm

    Wow….tennis who would have thought it could get so tense. I agree with Wayne on many issues and points he makes in his “letter”.

    Nevertheless, lets figure out “the problem”….but the USTA method…… is usually NOT the answer.

    Lets get some “tennis people, making tennis decisons”.

    Donald Marriott
    Tennis Professional

  • Tennis Dad & Fan · February 16, 2012 at 7:32 pm

    Quite a letter, Wayne, and very timely.

    Although I’m figuring it was not the USTA’s initial intent, the USTA Tennis Centers have become the equivalent of Aristocratic Country Clubs. There’s a division among American junior players and USTA junior players.

    The USTA kids are expected to win and if they don’t their reign at the Country Club can be very short lived. The USTA finds and accepts kids who have already been coached into being very strong players by outside tennis professionals, then have to sign a contract with outside training being discouraged. A real slap to those that help build the junior into the prominence of being noticed by the USTA in the first place.

    You’ll definitely find that the majority of the USTA player’s parents with kids in the program will keep outside training on the down low to avoid repercussions.

    The junior players in the program are by and large hanging by strings living within a never ending “trial period” and if they don’t keep up impressive tournament win records, will inevitably be cut from the program.

    Anyone close enough to, or living within junior tennis know very well that The USTA centers do not have their primary focus on making great players, but rather demanding that you deliver the results of a great player or you’re out of the program.

    It’s a little thing called job security. Those running the program need the results to show that the program is working. “If you can’t bring the results for us, we’ll find another kid who will.”

    If you truly spend time and ask around within the junior tennis community, and sincerely talk to players and parents outside the USTA centers, inside the USTA centers, and those once inside then escorted outside the USTA centers, you’ll find that the above is a reality not a complaint.

    Personally, I have 2 daughters that are nice, fun human beings, really love tennis, are having a great time in the sport, have lofty goals and are currently highly ranked in Southern California. We have never been to nor have a desire to enter the USTA program primarily based on everything we hear directly from friends that are either in the program or have been pressed through that mill.

    I’ve seen USTA kids walk off a court crying after taking a hard loss and be met by the head of the USTA Home Depot program with the first line being: “What do you think you could have done to win that match?”

    I love the sport, I love healthy competition that can directly lead to invaluable life lessons, all things that the great sport of tennis has to offer. When things become any version of a clear division of “us against them” and/or an elitist element introduced to our sport, it makes me sad.

    When I go to a tournament with my girls, I want to see them win just as anyone else would, but I don’t need them to win. Often times a healthy loss can help their game and improvement infinitely more than a victory. This shouldn’t be about winning and losing but having a great time while getting better and better and if the child is so inclined with personal passion then better and better leads to BETTER and BETTER and BETTER. Then the sky can be the limit.

    I can’t math the increase of US Pro Players by the USTA purposely shrinking and restricting the number of kids that can play in national tournaments, however I can math how with less players in the tournament, the more likely that a “protected” player will not get knocked out of the tournament by an “outsider.” Hey, if you make the draws small enough and you can eliminate the “outsiders” all togther! That would be awesome, then the USTA programs will have ALL THE TOURNAMENT WINNERS! YEAH! Whoops, this was all a big smoke screen… We didn’t beat the competition, we just prohibited them for earning points so they can’t qualify to play… Equals = No US Pros!

    Let’s get rid of the concept of Exclusive Country Clubs and “outsiders.” Let’s get the USTA establishing initiatives and programs that support and promote ALL US JUNIOR PLAYERS AND COACHES. Encourage hard and healthy competition with not only a focus on winning but a bigger focus on the clear benefits one can pull from a victory and a defeat. Don’t make one bad, use both for future success!

    I applaud anyone at the USTA that has the courage to take a moment in time like this and step out and speak the truth. I do not believe that the present challenges were formed with a malicious nature, but the present path is not promising and someone from the inside needs to speak out.

  • Dave D · February 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm

    I have no dog in this hunt — I’m simply a middle-aged American USTA league player, tennis fan and parent of two kids, 9 and 11, who play tennis casually in lessons, clinics and internal club tournaments, which I expect will be the extent of their tennis careers.

    I’m also a soccer fan.

    Relative to $ investment, size and quality of talent pool and investment of time and energy, the US lags horribly in soccer. Mostly because at the youth level we are too organized, too young, with too much emphasis on winning as soon as possible as much as possible.

    We get our butts kicked by the Brazilians because their kids play 8 hours a day in the streets and alleys.

    We get our butts kicked by players trained in various EU clubs because their kids are trained in a truly systematic, scientific way that focuses on identifying and developing individual talent, with winning to come much later when the “total player” has been developed.

    US tennnis and US soccer suffer from the same malaise. It’s a combination of the feel-good “everyone’s a winner, everyone gets to be a select team” American pluralism plus the American corporate approach to problem-solving that believes if enough $ and organizational expertise is thrown at a problem that it can be satisfactorily solved.

    It ain’t working.

  • R · February 17, 2012 at 10:18 pm

    Mr Bryan,

    I commend you on your letter and several of the ideas/thoughts that you have expressed in it. Clearly, you have the best interests of American Tennis at heart.Also, congrats on the successes of your sons, Clearly you are a very good tennis coach. No questions /complaints there.

    Here is my ONLY bone of contention with you:

    a) Irrational and unwarranted fear mongering when it comes to Non-American players. You contend that there is a glut of foreign-players in college and the ONLY reason foreign tennis players should not be allowed is because , they player’s parents don’t pay any money in taxes (to the United States Federal Government).
    Here is my answer – If indeed you are concerned about the tax payer’s money going towards foreign nationals, and I am a tax payer – when did you, Mr Brian assume sudden responsibility for all the tax payers ? If I am paying taxes and If I am ok with my tax dollars supporting the best college tennis team that can be put forth (regardless of nationality), then – what is your problem with it ? My hard earned tax dollars is my concern – NOT YOURS. If you so want to dictate where YOUR tax dollars go, then please feel free to do so. One can clearly see the impracticality of individual-tax-payer-determined-dollar usage ! I guarantee you, it is no more impractical than American-ONLY-College-Tennis Teams.

    b) NO WHERE in your article, do you provide proof of the fact that American tennis players were unfairly denied playing opportunities in favor of foreign players. Are foreign nationals being recruited to play in the USA just because they are foreign ? OR is it because they are actually good tennis players (if not better when compared to US players) – AND most importantly, in addition to tennis, they are also immigrants – here to get a degree, a life and a career. If every immigrant were to be asked to pay their fair share of taxes upfront (or worse, the parents of the immigrants), before they can “Start using services”, then the USA as we know would not exist. Ellis Island would sit empty ! So, you complain that Baylor won the championship with 6 foreign players. If the Headcoach at Baylor were smart enough to recruit the BEST possible set of 6 players for the job and infact, if they did win the championship – then isn’t that a matter of pride for Baylor ? That coach has a great eye for talent – simply because, in the quasi-social hierarchy of US Academic institutions, Baylor is NOT the first name that comes up in the mind of a foreign national. Think MIT, Harvard, Stanford etc. Infact, I had to double check the facts regarding Baylor, and full marks to the head coach at Baylor.

    c) Why don’t you also complain about the likes of Navratilova, Sharapova and the plethora of tennis players, who come to the US – ONLY for the sake of tennis (without having paid a single tax dollar) ? I’ll tell you why – because they goto private institutions (Eg Nick Bolletieri’s Tennis Academy). Similarly, if a private institution like Harvard or Stanford or Vanderbilt wants to have foreign players on their roster, I don’t see why you have a problem with it. From the responses to your article, I see a variety of comments where parents complain about “their American kids” having no tennis scholarships because colleges “give them away” to foreign nationals. Once again, Mr Bryan – I sincerely ask you, do you have ANY empirical evidence or data to show that colleges “simply hand” scholarships to Eastern Europeans just because they didn’t have a US passport at the expense of Americans ?

    d) Why is it such a “crying shame” that American tennis is a world class sport ? Every other sport in this country is world class. I don’t hear you complaining about everything else in this country that is world class. You suggest “one foreign player per team is fine and broadens international good-will”. Let me point it out to Mr Bryan, college tennis teams are about winning NCAA championships, if you want to influence international good-will , you might better talk to the President about his foreign policy. Your talk about “American kids getting diminished” and “crowds will be even bigger” and “take all the jobs away” speaks to a poor understanding of what America is really about. While you must be a very good tennis coach (judging by the tennis-related questions you asked here) and the remarkable success of your sons, unfortunately Mr Bryan your foray into questioning the status of Collegiate tennis leaves a very bland taste in the reader’s mouth. If I were to jump the gun and over-react, I’d say you are a xenophobe.

    e) Last but not the least, have you ever considered the fact that, foreign nationals who come here and get a ‘free ride’ actually go onto have careers and lives and actually become tax-paying-citizens of this country. They buy homes, cars , make investments in the USA, bring their talents over – and actually make the USA what it is. So, according to your distorted logic, they might actually be “making up” for the taxes that their parents never paid. After all, isn’t that the crux of your point ?

  • Isapak · February 18, 2012 at 3:51 pm

    Mr. Bryan,
    This is GREAT letter and insight on your behalf, infact voice for thousands of parents & coaches. My son who is 7 and is been coached by a wonderful, wise, experienced and talented ex-pro since 2 years, he has similar concept, like yours. Let the player develop their own style, have their own flair & create his own individualism.

    Soon after we started to hear rumors about 10U rules, it was very disturbing that USTA wanted to RULE the way they think tennis should develop. Have they even seen players like my son and thousand of others who are much beyond the QS soft & colored balls? Have they given a choice to parents? Did they talk to grass root coaches about their opinion? Just because they are sitting on top of the pyramid, they think they know it all. Seems like it all comes down to USTA wants a part of a players success whether they developed them or not.

    My son coach & i have decided to continue playing with yellow balls. We will support him playing as fas as he goes with his tennis. I wish there is solution to this at the earliest & also wish that efforts like yours do not go to vain.

    Please keep pushing this and there are thousands & thousands of people to support you!

  • Rob Wheale · February 20, 2012 at 2:20 am

    Dear Byan

    As a father who coached soccer for 10 years I understand where you are coming from. I started coaching my son and daugher and thier friends in the neighborhood when they were at the age of 5. We lived in Fairfax Virginia at a time when the Cosmos and other American professsional teams were trying to make this world wide sport take hold in the USA.

    I was very fortunate to have an exceptionally talented son join his friends and find the passion with the game. Our team evolved to a traveling team where only the best players from Northern Virginia could make the team. Our team was but one of many so the competition was strong. As my coaching partner came from Peru and grew up with the sport I instantly become the assistant. We taught our kides to play the South American style by ball control. We even had the oportunity to have several Brazilian World Cup players give clinics which inspired the kids to be masterful with ball control. The popular English and American version was to boom the ball down the field and hope that you had a faster foreward to gather the ball and out run the defense. Our method was to teach juggling, dribbling and finese. When our kids reached 10 years old they traveled to other states ,Canada, and Mexico. We played a major tournament in Tampa Florida called the Orange Bowl. The competition came from all over the country as far away as California. There were International teams as well. Two from Mexico, Two from Toronto Canada and one from Germany. Once connecctions were developed form this torunammet our team traveled Internationally on several occasions. Our boys developed the skills to win the tournament.

    However, when the boys grew up and entered High School they all tried out for the HS team …became very discouraged and they all quite before the season was half over. The reason… the high school coaches were teachers and not qualified as soccer coaches. They demanded that the kids boom the ball and not use the short pass control skills and finese which makes soccer a game special to watch and to play. Needless to say every kid that I coached quit and started to participate in another game….lacrosse. Most Americans don’t like soccer as they don’t understand the finese of the game. It was not until the USA woman’s soccer team grew and succeeded did the sport really take hold in this county.

    This true story relates to what you are saying about tennis. I agree and support your observations. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    All the very best to your amazing sons. I only wish the Tennis channel would share the passion and skill in doubles with its viewers more regularly.The net works appraoch doubles as an after thought. As we age doubles is the only way most of us enjoy the game. Mixed or not doubles is a fantastic game.

    You were very wise to encourage your sons to groove their game to be the very best the world has seen. Congratulations!

  • richard fredericks · February 21, 2012 at 12:46 am

    Wayne Bryan is spot on and remarkably restrained. If the USTA and Patrick McEnroe care at all about tennis development, they will immediately respond affirmatively to Mr. Bryan’s proposals. Unfortunately, I am afraid it will be business as usual, and nothing will change. Thank you Mr Bryan for taking the time to provide the USTA with such a diplomatic and constructive open letter. Incidentally, I have never understood the need for ANY foreign collegiate players. Great job, Mr Bryan!

  • The Future of US Tennis · February 21, 2012 at 2:43 am

    10 Years from Now we will all look back at this a see how narrow sited these old folks where. Lets look and see how great American Tennis will be in 2022. Wayne God bless you and your old ways, Dude Let it go. (lets go back to wooden rackets and long white pants. :)

  • Player/Coach...20+ yrs · February 21, 2012 at 10:57 am

    Wayne,
    I’ve heard your are a great tennis enthusiast and you did remarkably well with your two boys! They are exceptional doubles players.
    However… I dont believe you have your facts right regarding green dot tennis balls for u10s. I heard the Swedes were bit ahead of the world and started playing with softer balls already in the 60s…who dominated tennis in 80s?
    Then I also know they moved away from softer balls cause it wasnt the in thing anymore…where are the Swedes these days??
    Now I’m fulltime in this business and work with some great French coaches..and guess what..the French has been using softer balls for years as part of their programmes and they very seldom have less than 10 players top 100.
    Just my 2cents worth of experience..
    G
    Ps..i dont give speaches or hold clinics. I only work closely with my own players and thanks to the Great American College system, I have more than 15 players all over the States on scholarships!

  • Rich Neher · February 24, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    I agree with many of Wayne’s remarks and at the same time see some good U10 features. But since I’m not a teaching pro I am not qualified to really comment on the issue per se.

    However, the arrogance of the anonymous person hiding behind “You’re wrong, Wayne” rubs me the wrong way. It is the same arrogance I’m seeing with a number of so-called tennis aficionados in Southern California who
    a) are as old as the sport itself
    b) will never change
    c) keep the sport of tennis in the SoCal dark ages
    d) fight everyone tooth and nail who is not on their side
    e) are solely in their positions to celebrate each other

    While I do not forget the contributions of those individuals, the aforementioned arrogance is appalling to me. Wayne Bryan is not only one of the greatest coaches and promoters of tennis, but he also has earned to right to speak and to be heard.

  • Tim · February 25, 2012 at 5:59 am

    Usta pd should find a way to promote and improve high school, middle school and even primary school tennis competition. The feeling to play for a team as your school should be extended up to the age of 10. This brings excitement ( which is so absent in usta junior competition) and also will increase the desire to practice and compete, just as kids do with soccer, baseball, football or basketball. This will teach our kids to play doubles and mix doubles early.
    This could also make some schools to hire good coaches, and prepare our children for the NCAA and later on a shot at the pro level, at a lower coast to parents.
    In fact, many of us pick up our children from schools that have empty tennis courts, and take them to busy clubs and academies where they barely could find space to play, and at such a high price; with coaches that have no reason to be passionate, and spend their
    time looking at their clock for the end of the session.

  • R.J. · March 16, 2012 at 3:19 pm

    I did not see Wayne Bryan’s letter until a couple of days ago. I found myself nodding in agreement all the way through. I immediately sent it to a few of my friends in my local CTA, and we’ve had a good time discussing the issues raised by Mr. Bryan. Some of them we’ve discussed before, while others we had no idea.

    As a teaching pro and High School Coach, there are two things that were not really mentioned in the letter, that I think need to be addressed. The state of High School and Middle School Tennis and the number of FREE public courts.

    First, high school/middle school tennis. I’m not sure what is happening elsewhere in the country, but here in my home state of Tennessee, tennis is treated as a fringe sport at best. In my county (Hamilton), the schools only pay for one coach. This coach is in charge of both the boys’ and girls’ teams– including JV! In Tennessee the boys and girls seasons run concurrently. You would probably not be surprised to learn that the extra salary given to the tennis coach is less than the assistant coach on most of the major sports teams.

    Why aren’t ex-tennis players flocking to coach tennis at their alma maters as do players from other sports? Well, if they are talented enough to coach, they know that they can make much more money in the private sector. There is no incentive for them to do so. If there was a system in place to pay actual teaching pros for their time working with middle/high school teams, we would increase the level of play and we would increase the level of participation.

    Although the season is short, it affords many players the opportunity to practice five days a week. At the private club where I also teach, a 90-minute clinic costs $20. I coach my kids for two hours M-F, and usually have some kind of extra practice on the weekend too. If they had to pay for that, it would cost them well over $100 a week—a price even the most affluent among them would probably balk at. In addition to practice, the schedule allows for 16 matches during the regular season, and every team in the district qualifies to play at the district tourney. A match consists of singles and doubles, so that is a lot of quality playing time—again, pretty much for free.

    In my area it seems that one of two things happens to the best players. Either they go to one of the elite private schools in the area (where, by the way, they can practice year around—TSSAA rules or not) or they decide to Home School. What if I’m a parent that can’t afford to do either of these for my child? I’m probably going to push my child to play some other sport or focus on academics. Either way, tennis loses.

    Now, on to the lack of courts: My greatest gripe about the USTA’s current push for 10U’s, is that they aren’t doing a darn thing about creating new courts for these players to use. Oh, they will tell you that they have set aside money to help pay to paint new lines on existing courts. Have you played on a full size court that had the smaller dimensions painted on them? I have, and I can tell you most adults don’t want to. You want the 10s and 8s playing on smaller courts? Then build them! How many courts could the USTA have built with the money they have invested to promote the program? As it is, they are promoting a program and the infrastructure is not here to support it—at least not in my area.

    That is just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. As I drive around town, I see dozens of run down courts. There are four unplayable courts at the High School where I coach. Why? Because no one can afford to fix them. Not the schools, not the county, not the Parks and Rec departments.

    I also suggest that they do everything in their power to keep these courts completely FREE. I’m no superstar when it comes to tennis, but I have been playing virtually my entire life. I can tell you without any equivocation, that if I had to pay for court time growing up, I never would have picked up a racquet.

    In closing, I would just like to say: Thanks Wayne, keep up the good work!

  • rich · March 16, 2012 at 7:51 pm

    To whomever wrote the “wayne, you are wrong” piece:

    Yo wonder you went anonymous. You are corrupt to the core and obviously incentivized to continue the complete destruction of the game that you and the USTA is undertaking.

    Let me guess: you are over 65 years of age, are very well off financially, but still work “in the system” or for the USTA now, and truly only “work” a 5 to 10 hour week, but are paid a salary of anywhere from $60,000 (if part time) to $300,000 (if full time) annually by the USTA, and have almost zero “hands on” experience with or observation of Junior Tennis as it is currently happening in this country.

    You sit back, collect your obscene income, and imagine that your decisions make sense, despite the legions of us “in the field” who see first hand what is happening and all that is completely absurd about the system that you defend.

    You are so full of selfish pride that you did not digest what Wayne wrote…instead just picking out certain aspects to attack, while purposely ignoring the context that those things were written in and the combined benefits that would result from applying his rationale.

    If you still don’t get it or want to defend the system, please reveal who you are so that we can witness an open dialogue between you and someone like Wayne to then decide upon and form a sensible future for this wonderful game.

    Wayne…Rock On! Form a group or organization to compete with the USTA and thousands of us will finance you instead of them…

    Rich S.

  • Dr. Tom Blakely · March 18, 2012 at 2:33 pm

    Wayne Bryan’s letter wins the match, 6-0, 6-0, 6-0! From 17 years experience coaching several high-performance daughters through USTA juniors and in top college tennis, I can say Wayne Bryan is right on track. The current official approach to junior tennis in the U.S. has many good intentions, but is too much “The Road to Hell, Paved with Good Intentions”. It reminds us more of the monopolistic, overly-centralized Soviet Union planned economy (now crashed and burned) than our much more robust more-free-market economy. In tennis in the USA, let lots of flowers bloom. Let’s have MANY tournament possibilities and a CORNUCOPIA of coaching ones too, not overly restricted ones. Let’s have BIGGER draws, not smaller ones. We should have the matches on real tennis courts in a WIDE VARIETY of tournaments (with real balls) decide who is best in junior tennis, NOT by decisions to restrict access and restrict possibilities for inventive creativity that are made in our committee rooms.

  • Stan M · April 10, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    Here in the Southwest District, “green-dot” tennis has been mandated for the 12s since Jan 2012 for all tournaments (except regionals). That’s not a typo: 12s = “green dot” in the the Southwest. My 9 year old has to play 14s in order to hit w/ a regular yellow tennis ball. How is THAT good for her? Can the USTA say
    “arrested development”. A 9 yr old forced to play in the 14s OR be part of a USTA experiment? I’ll take the former, not the latter.

  • martin rogers · April 13, 2012 at 6:37 pm

    Agree with WB concerning mandated universal teaching/coaching. Makes no sense at all. Juniors are all different and, as such, require different approaches to extract their best. A connect with one may be a total disconnect with another. Teacher/student relationship must be one of belief, trust, mutual respect and a host of other binding factors that solidify as time progresses.
    Concerning QS tennis. Good tool for initial exposure for very young children. Also great for creating excitement. But they must graduate incrementally yet as quickly as possible to the real ball. Hey, they have very steep learning curves anyway. Must get onto the real ball as soon as possible…within reason. How quickly this happens depends on the child and the, hopefully, observant coach who recognizes the kid is ready to move up.

    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2012/02/22/quick-benefits-from-quick-start-tennis/

    Regarding foreign players on dominating American college tennis. It stinks!
    I’ve posted regarding European and S. American domination of the slams over the last nine years. American college tennis should be principally for American players. That gives us some chance to further develop our top collegiate players. Diluting the pool with foreign players and benching our own is essentially sabotaging our ability to have more John Isners.

    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2012/01/24/something-is-wrong/

    Agree that player development in this country is not on the right track. Have posted previously regarding that and started conversations on linkedin.com in the hope of fostering change, if even from my small position in the industry.
    The Wayne Bryan letter should be required reading for all industry execs and for all who love the game and are devoted to growing it.
    Thanks for sharing the letter.

  • Author comment by Scoop Malinowski · April 13, 2012 at 6:59 pm

    Okay, the US is not producing Slam winners lately, but which nation is? Spain doesn’t have any new youngsters since Nadal who look like future major champions. Andujar is about 25. Neither does France, Russia, England, Argentina, Australia, Germany, Croatia, Serbia. The new wave of young players – Tomic, Dimotrov, Harrison, Raonic, Dolgopolov – have all had very gradual ascents up the rankings. It’s just very hard right now to produce players like Pete Sampras, Agassi, Federer, Nadal, Djokovic. Yes there are flaws in the USTA system, as have been pointed out, but surely there are flaws with the development programs in the other tennis nation powerhouses as well. Spain could be entering a lull right now, post Nadal, that the US is currently in. Just wanted to poke that thought into the debate, thanks everyone for commenting on this issue.

  • martin rogers · April 14, 2012 at 1:50 am

    Your position regarding champion production or lack of same from other countries is quite true. I can’t contest it because only time will tell. I can only speak to what I see in our country. It’s indisputable that we haven’t had a male singles slam winner since Roddick in 2003. I’m neither slamming our present crop of pros nor American tennis. I’m simply debating the merits of our present system of junior development. Is it not possible that we should be tweaking things a bit? Should we take a “wait and see” position?
    I don’t profess to have a wealth of concrete answers but I do think critical analysis of our current system is not a bad thing. It could prove productive. I’m confident that we have a wealth of athletes capable of becoming champions. Identifying them and getting them into a loop of teaching/coaching that can bring about competitive development designed to be on par globally is essential. So if we or when we ID the potential, I feel it’s paramount to have a viable system in place. We can only have that if we are willing to implement change where needed.

  • Everlyn Lopez · April 27, 2012 at 2:22 pm

    Just soooo amazing! and true!! Leaves me to think we don’t have a chance in the real tennis world:(

  • Andrey Chaldyshev · June 3, 2012 at 5:37 am

    I have two kids that I started playing tennis at the age of 3 and 4. Now they are 6-7 and there is no tournaments for us to play because they are to advanced for u10 and not strong enough for u12…. Usta sucks

  • R · June 17, 2012 at 5:03 am

    Apropos Mr Martin Rogers,

    Regarding foreign players on dominating American college tennis. It stinks!
    I’ve posted regarding European and S. American domination of the slams over the last nine years. American college tennis should be principally for American players. That gives us some chance to further develop our top collegiate players. Diluting the pool with foreign players and benching our own is essentially sabotaging our ability to have more John Isners.”

    a) Mr Rogers – What do you mean my domination of American tennis ? Could you please explain further – some facts ? What is the metric you are using to define domination ? What time frames are we talking ? Are we talking D1, D2 or D3 ? Private Colleges (Stanford etc) or Public Universities ?

    b) Could you explain (once again) how foreign collegiate players have diluted the pool ? (The pool of what – Potential US born Grand Slam Winners ?). Could you also give some examples mentioning how , US born players on Collegiate Tennis teams have been systematically benched in favor of foreign players simply because of the fact that, the former were US born and hence deserved to be benched without merit ?

    My general point here is this – It is very easy to spread fear, misinformation when you don’t reference specific facts/numbers/metrics. Generalized statements referring to very macro concepts are subject to open interpretation. While I do agree with most of Wayne Bryan’s tennis related comments, I do not agree with his xenophobic attitude towards tennis. NOT once, does he use any solid/concrete facts or studies to prove his point.

  • martin rogers · June 27, 2012 at 5:47 am

    R. My reference was to European and South American players dominating the grand slam tournaments, not college tennis. There has not been an American slam winner since Roddick won the US Open in 2003. Read my posts below for more specifics.
    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2012/02/15/the-american-male-slam-drought/
    http://martinstake128.wordpress.com/2012/03/14/americas-flawed-system-of-player-development/

    Basically, I feel that with the trend towards slower playing conditions, our American juniors need be training in a more effective way.
    The old methods of hard court training are no longer viable in modern tennis. We need altered mindsets and patient players willing to develop a point rather than think one big serve plus one or two big forehands is going to win matches. It’s not going to and American slam results for the past nine years supports that conclusion.
    I’m only one man attempting to foster further discussion that might prove productive.

  • nat smith · October 1, 2012 at 2:17 am

    In the 70′s, the avg. time between shots was about 3.3 seconds. Today it is about 2.2 seconds. The game is faster…much faster, and the spins with the newer strings and rackets make the angles covered more severe. So…with these FACTS in mind, it is no surprise that players who grow up emphasizing movement will flourish. Why doesn’t the usta put money into footwork rather than mandating one size fits all quick start. Quickstart is great for beginners and intermediate youngsters and for participation, but not for any kid 9 or 10 who is already advanced. You see NO quick start at IMG bolletiere or Rick Maci, despite what their “endorsement” of quick start misleading make one believe.
    The USTA doesn’t know the difference between correlation and causation. They see quickstart in Europe and think that is why they produce champions. That is a correlation, not causation. The more likely causes are the huge numbers of players worldwide today, the fact that so many of these players grow up on clay, and that so many play soccer. Wayne is right. Mandates from people like Pat McEnroe (really, has anyone ever heard this guy do commentary? )will make sure that American tennis is held back while coaches like Wayne will do their best to show that the Emperors (USTA) have no clothes.
    Any teaching pro knows that keeping the ball in the strike zone of a developing player is important. We have all been doing this for decades. We don’t need to be told to do it. We also know that gradually increasing the difficulty, teaching cut-off and half volley skills, etc. is a very long process and again, a skilled teaching pro does this gradually when teaching the transition to yellow balls. Deciding that 11 or 12 is the magic age at which a kid can attempt to do this will put those kids so far behind the curve.
    Anxiously awaiting Wayne’s letter #2! Thanks Wayne.

<<

>>

Find it!

Copyright 2010
Tennis-Prose.com
To top