By Kathy Langer, Chair, Adult/Senior Competition Committee
After considering a plethora of information regarding the impact of continuing to have our National Championships (NC) be governed by the Grade I rules of the International Tennis Federation (ITF), the Adult/Senior Competition Committee voted on December 7 to “close” our NCs to non-USTA members, beginning in 2011.
The tournaments will still be sanctioned by the ITF, but as a Grade 3, and USTA rules and regulations will be in effect. ITF ranking points will be fewer, (less than half) there will be no White Badge referees or trainers required, no dual computer data entries, and other ITF rules that have been controversial in the U.S. will not apply. As the NCs will now be "closed", foreign players will be allowed to enter if they purchase a USTA membership.
The committee considered the Player and Tournament Director Survey results in its decision, new ITF regulations and projected plans for the future. Seeding by ITF ranking, proved not to be as big a problem as predicted, but, as the year unfolded, we discovered how the digitalization of the ITF Senior Circuit was going to affect our tournaments beginning in 2012, and it became clear that our players and TDs were possibly (or likely) going to incur added costs and hassle just to enter our own events. Therefore, the Adult Senior Competition Committee decided it was in the best interests of our USTA players to make the move effective 2011.
This decision only affects our Category I NCs. Those Category II USTA Tournaments, some of which are sanctioned by the ITF, will remain on the ITF Senior Circuit, if they wish to, thereby allowing players who desire to accumulate ITF world ranking points, to do so in those events in addition to the Cat I NCs. Each ITF sanctioned Cat II tournament will decide if it wishes to remain sanctioned with the ITF. (Cat II tournaments are sanctioned by their Sections, not the USTA, even though USTA ranking points are given and the A/S Comp. Committee monitors and evaluates them.) These events will be posted on the 2011 CAT II schedule and each will show what grade it is. Some other section tournaments, that are not CAT IIs, may also decide to be sanctioned by the ITF.
Our ITF representative to the ITF Seniors Committee, Carolyn Nichols, was in constant communication during the year with the ITF staff and committee members, and kept them informed of the growing unrest in the USTA. They understand we are a unique nation, our tournaments are the biggest, very well run, and we have a strong volunteer base (our Circuit Chairs and Seeding Assistants) that other countries don’t have. However, we are one country and there are over 200 other countries in the ITF.
We respect that they must do what is best for the ITF and we must do what is best for our senior players and TDs.
Each year the A/S Committee will evaluate its decision to remain affiliated with the ITF. At this time, the members believe it is important to continue to stay at the table and attempt to influence senior tennis worldwide.