ITF Decision; A Message from Kathy Langer, Chair of Adult/Senior Competition

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USTA

ITF Decision a message from Kathy Langer, Chair of Adult/Senior Competition

Friday, December 18, 2009 3:52 PM

 

The
Adult/Senior Competition Committee (A/SCC) voted to remain affiliated
with the International Tennis Federation (ITF) Senior Circuit for
2010
for the following reasons: a) the willingness of the ITF to listen to
the concerns of the USTA A/SCC and the players it represents b) to
insure that the USTA as the largest tennis organization in the world
will continue to be a force in formulating senior tennis rules world
wide. Each year the A/SCC will reevaluate its decision to remain
affiliated with the ITF.

Background:

The ITF Seniors Committee adopted several new rules for 2009 which conflict with USTA rules. Players and tournament directors have protested these regulations.

The
USTA prepared a survey asking opinions and a majority of the players
who responded indicated they cared more about their USTA ranking than
their ITF ranking. In addition, they didn’t want to have to wear
matching outfits for doubles, didn’t want to seed by ITF rankings and
didn’t want to pay an additional IPIN fee in order to play in our
national championships. Because of the limited number of White Badge
Officials, which the ITF requires for its Grade
1 and Grade 2
tournaments, tournament directors were also concerned about the impact
of the regulations. There was also a significant number of players who
felt a world ranking was important.

The USTA A/SCC, whose job it is to evaluate and monitor all Category I National Championships (all age events from 3580 which are Grade 1
ITF sanctioned tournaments) and Category II USTA Tournaments (several
of which are also ITF sanctioned), chose to let the ITF know we would
continue to seed our tournaments using the All Factors method, rather
than strictly by ITF ranking for
2009 as we began discussions with the ITF about these rules.

Two past USTA presidents, Franklin
Johnson and Alan Schwartz, met with ITF Board members in June to voice
our concerns. Franklin met again with the Chair of the ITF Seniors
Committee in July, letting them know that there was a chance the USTA
would drop out of the Senior Circuit. He reported that the ITF was
listening and came back with concessions on the seeding issue, which
was the biggest concern of the A/SCC, and the players.

The USTA A/SCC prepared a list of
the rules and regulations we decided were the most in conflict with
USTA rules, and Carolyn Nichols, the USTA representative on the ITF
Seniors Committee and Theresa Bowen, USTA staff Senior Coordinator-A/S
Competition, met with the senior ITF staff member in Spain stressing
how strongly our players felt. Carolyn, USTA President Lucy Garvin,
Franklin and Kathy Langer, Chair of the A/SCC, met with the new Chair
of the ITF Seniors Committee in New York in September and he agreed to
read the survey results and letters from USTA players and to consider
all of our concerns. Carolyn continued discussions in Perth, where
several people from other countries voiced dismay at how the present
rules affected the draws in the World Championships. Those protests
helped add strength to our arguments.

Carolyn drafted our requested changes and presented them to the ITF Seniors. Committee on November 27.

Eleven of the 12
items on the list were fully or partially changed to coincide with our
requests, including a significant change in the seeding process and
elimination of the clothing issue for doubles.

At the A/S Committee conference call on Dec. 7 and after much discussion of the following four options, the committee voted to retain Grade 1 status of our Category I National Championships through 2010:

  • Keeping the status quo, i.e. leaving our Category I National Championships as Grade 1 ITF tournaments, abiding by the ITF Senior Rules and Regulations.
  • Changing our Nationals to Grade 3 ITF Tournaments, and having them appear as “closed” on the ITF Calendar
  • If we dropped our Nationals to Grade 3, designating other tournaments to be Grade 1 and Grade 2 status for those who wish to have the opportunity to earn more ITF ranking points.
  • Withdrawing from the ITF Senior Circuit

Some reasons that convinced the committee to stay with the ITF:

  • Through
    our efforts of gathering information from players, suggesting changes,
    and being patient and persistent, we have made a big impact on ITF
    rules for
    2010:
    bye placement, replacement of a seed; ability to close doubles entries
    before a tournament begins; clothing rules; use of the Coman tiebreak
    exclusively on the ITF circuit; number of seeds; coaching during
    10
    minute breaks; consolation; clothing and logo restrictions removed;
    allowing seeding wild cards to be ranked and unranked. (For complete
    rules see
    www.itftennis.com/seniors),
  • A study conducted by the committee,
    showed there would not be great discrepancies between USTA-preferred
    All Factors method of seeding and using the ITF rankings coupled with
    the use of wildcards.
  • The committee felt downgrading Category I events to ITF Grade 3
    would not offer our players a level playing field on the world stage
    due to the significant difference in ranking points between Grade
    1 and Grade 3 tournaments. If we were to request a downgrade to Grade 3, it would be very difficult to be upgraded back to Grade 1. Several USTA Category II tournaments would become more important to the ITF than our National Championships.
  • The committee felt we should use the
    ITF affiliation to promote our Category I events better. Many players
    are unaware they are earning an ITF ranking as well as a USTA ranking
    by winning rounds in our Cat I’s.
  • It is important that we have playing
    opportunities for all of our tournament players from the local, to the
    sectional, national and international levels. Giving our top players
    opportunities to gain ranking points is important to insure they are
    treated fairly at international events, including the world
    championships.
  • Top players contribute very much to
    growing the game. Withdrawing from the ITF would have affected the
    players who play the most.
  • Offering ITF ranking points for our
    Nationals is a terrific competitive opportunity for all players, and
    there is prestige involved for potential sponsors and tournament sites,
    thereby affecting the quality of the tournaments.
  • There is a larger group than just Cup players who are affected. Many players, perhaps up to 20
    + in some divisions, aspire to play on a Cup team. This is the same
    group that aspires to winning gold, silver and bronze balls. We haven’t
    eliminated those awards just because only a few players ever win them.
  • Remaining part of the ITF circuit
    benefits most the players who do not travel internationally, other than
    for Cup teams, as otherwise they would have no chance to earn a world
    ranking. Players who are able to travel internationally aren’t as
    affected since they can earn ranking points by playing in other
    countries.
  • Being part of the world circuit is
    something important to offer our players. We are very lucky to be
    involved in a sport where we can play and meet international players
    and see places worldwide. It’s an opportunity few senior players have
    in other sports and if we withdraw it will adversely affect the circuit.
  • The IPIN is not an issue for 2010. It won’t be mandatory until 2012, at the same time doubles will be ranked, and we will address that issue at the end of 2011.
  • White Badge referees, those with higher certification to officiate tournaments, are required for all Grade 1 and 2
    ITF tournaments, but because the ITF knows we still do not have enough
    qualified officials, they are giving us time to comply. The USTA is
    offering workshops twice a year to train more officials.

The
A/SCC has spent the whole year gathering information, giving direction
to our representatives, discussing the pros and cons and other options.
Although there will be people who will not agree with this decision we
feel this decision is the best one for this coming year. We will
continue to evaluate and if at the end of
2010 we determine it would not be in the best interest to remain with the ITF, we will reconsider.

Kathy Langer

Chair, USTA Adult Senior Competition Committee

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