The short answer is so we keep the well-being of the child in mind first and to allow children to have a positive and fun experience in our competitive tournament structure and to retain them as junior tennis players.
The longer answer is…There are two parts to this question. First the need to legislate where children participate in tournaments and the need to change our entry level tournament formats both for the same goal to retain more players in the game of tennis.
For many decades, USTA Florida has not completely governed or restricted where children could play in a USTA sanctioned tournament, particularly at the entry level. We now have research that shows how many children enter a sanctioned tournament for the first time and never play a 2nd tournament again. These numbers were eye opening enough to push USTA Florida into making a drastic change by creating a youth tennis pathway that allows children to enter at the appropriate age and level tournament and have a positive, fun experience so they stay in the game. This puts the well-being of the child first and doesn’t place immediate importance on results or ranking.
The main reason thousands of children were not participating in a 2nd or 3rd sanctioned tournament as a new tournament player was partly because of the tournament format. USTA Florida has not done a quality job of changing its entry level tournament product with the times. We felt the need to offer more consumer and player friendly events that showed value to the parent while allowing the child to have success and fun in a tournament atmosphere with children of comparable ages and skill levels similar to other youth sports.
This is why we are in the midst of a paradigm shift with changing our entry level tournaments into non-elimination, modified scoring and half-day to one-day events for our new tournament players at the entry level. One result we are looking for is retention of new players into our tournament system for years to come.
Posted in: Youth Progression Pathway