Dear Mr. Hannity,
On the behalf of junior tennis players and coaches everywhere, I cannot thank you enough for your efforts in trying to ignite debate with your comments and correspondence. Unfortunately, rouge elements of the USTA led by the current President; successfully mounted a campaign of misrepresentation and intimidation to force their agenda on its competitive junior players. These individuals may be well intentioned, but are also dangerously inexperienced and flat out wrong. This coup d'etat was mounted from inside the board rooms and was withheld from the players, coaches and tournament directors until it was completed. I can think of no other organization where individuals with such little expertise could ascend to leadership positions. Their flawed decision making is poised to dissolve and destroy the hopes and dreams of countless young tennis players as well as the USTA junior system. Their assertion that all of this was well vetted is perhaps the grosses lie ever told in American tennis. There were no studies, no focus groups and absolutely no significant national discussion what so ever.
You are attempting to open a can of worms that they do not want exposed. The leadership involved in this has misrepresented facts, intimidated sections and boards, and used political clout to have key regional personnel fired. National Committee votes were taken at specific times to eliminate dissension. This was done to claim to the sectional boards unanimous support.Their audacity has no bounds as even now they attempt to use names such as Wayne Bryan's and even mine in an open letter to you to support their philosophies. Nothing could be further from the truth!!! Despite efforts... no press has picked up on any of this. Since tennis magazines are controlled by the USTA little non-approved information has gotten out. The "padders" real objective is provide misdirection away from the lack of top American players. But the reality is these changes have the potential to destroy junior tennis in the United States. None of the architects of this plan has significant success in to motivating or training numbers of youth in pursuing tennis as a sport for a lifetime.
How did all this get started? Where did these proposal's they come from? The polices and ideas were formed years ago. The current USTA President Jon Vegosen
(out of the Midwest) had a preexisting relationship with Dr. Tim Russell. The two had penned a position paper together (which can still be found online). When Vegosen became USTA President he appointed Russel to the head of the National Junior Competition Committee. The charge given to him was to make the junior system more efficient and cheaper. The committee was stocked full of those that would vote for their predetermined course of action. Potential roadblocks were removed from service on the JCC. Many of the committee members appointed were out of the Midwest and are beholding to Vegosen. This committee passed the proposals on for sectional vote. During this time period Dr. Russel operated in a cloud of secrecy. The idea was to avoid any possible opposition before a sectional vote. Part of the tactic employed was to make everything seem so complex that the ordinary sectional board member would be bamboozled and rely upon the National Junior Competition Committee recommendations.
Dr. Russel (minister of propaganda) must go. These proposals are in most cases his. His assertion that there was a landslide is preposterous. The vast majority of sectional competition committees voted heavily against these changes. *These are the true experts! These groups are renowned sectional leaders and experts. Still at the national meeting, sectional boards went against their own committees under heavy pressure. Both in the East and the Midwest the head of junior competition was fired immediately after the sections voted. Why? Both individuals had outstanding reputations and both were simply acknowledging the wishes of their constituents. In the Midwest, over 100 emails were sent against these proposals. They poured in from from players, past pro players, top ten college coaches, and known national coaches. Our own board members and president were intimidated into not following the will of those they represent.
How to fix the situation: The current Junior Competition Committee must be dissolved. All participants must go! Even the well intentioned members lacked the courage and intestinal fortitude to stand up and fight what was occurring. Their fear to speak out allowed this situation to occur. This committee could reverse the present proposals before implementation in 2013. To do so...these positions must be filled with junior development coaches from around the country. All must have coached actively or represent top tournaments, colleges, top international players, past professional players, or top sectional players. Each section of the country must be represented. Meanwhile, the current administration is hard at work to try to continue their hold on this committee. Political payoffs are being attempted. These can be broken up by the nominating committees by vote at the US Open. Most importantly, the new incoming President must be made to see the necessity of appointing a completely new competition committee. He will have complete authority to do this. Our goal is to force this issue NOW!!! This is not an easy task as our friend...Dr. Russel has no intention of relinquishing any control.
The folly of the whole situation would be comical if not so tragic. None of the proposals will improve tennis, they will destroy it. Who in there right mind would what to shrink and limit opportunities to reach the national level. No one understands the motivating factors better than local coaches and yet they have not been listened to. The reductions amount to a hand picking of players by those in charge. This is not a open or healthy system.
In observance of brevity I will stop. However, there is much you should be apprised of. We share some mutual friends in Chicago and they can attest to my sincerity and knowledge in theses matters. I can only hope that you will continue to help in preventing the destruction of USA junior tennis. The rabbit hole goes very deep and there is so very much information that I would love to arm you with. Your abilities in communication are exactly what hundreds of coaches are hoping for. We need someone to shine a bright light on what has occurred. These decisions are not being made by the experts... they are being made by "want to be" novices. Please help to send them packing and back to picking fantasy sports teams. They would be far less dangerous to future generations.
I'll leave you with the following thoughts that most top junior coaches agree on.
If the intent was to make tournaments more affordable why were the following ideas not pursued instead of reducing events and spots?
1. More matches per day utilizing 8 game pro sets (doubles) and match tiebreakers to shorten feed-in events and allow for more players.
2. Airline sponsorship deals to help save players change fees
3. National hotel and rental car deals to help reduce costs.
4. Design regions that are geographically drivable.
5. Select National Opens upon geography and flight affordability
If the intent is to Improve players why?
1. Reduce number of National Championships
2. Shrink the number of youngest athletes competing.
3. Eliminate earned National acceptance through national ranking.
4 .Use limited funds to pay for players to switch citizenship's.
5. Funding players that are not evaluated by impartial means or board.
6. Have no professional mentoring program for juniors and professionals given money.
7. No coaching at provided to US juniors at all grand slam events.
The USTA has no business manipulating selections and hand picking large numbers of players for events. This is bad process and selecting to validate their jobs. Tournament scheduling and events should not be vested within junior development wing. (outside committee should do this) Money should go to promoting and supporting players making the jump from juniors to professional. This was the failure of our past. Unfortunately, we have not learned the proper lessons from our mistakes. Today's top players were juniors just 8 years ago. There was nothing wrong with our system, as our players out performed Tsonga, Murray, Monfeis and the rest. Our failure was the lack of time money and structure that was absent to further their futures.The junior system should be left alone. My fellow professionals continue to turn out talent. Let's not limit events or opportunities. To fix professional tennis requires a vision and plan that begins after juniors.
Director of Tennis