May 13th, 2015

Game Changer Blog: New Florida Junior Team Tennis Options

Game Changer Youth Tennis News


kids jumpingWe’re interested in your input on Junior Team Tennis. What changes would you make, keep, throw out, or if you could, start the program from scratch? We’re looking for honest input on getting more kids playing tennis on teams at tennis facilities and public parks across Florida.

USTA Florida is looking to re-imagine, re-brand and re-launch the USTA Junior Team Tennis local league program throughout Florida, by or before early 2016.

jtt_logo_300Imagine a Junior Team Tennis local program that might include these options:

More Teams: Gender neutral and single-gender options to allow for more teams to participate.
More Play: Shorter scoring formats with scheduling flexibility to offer multiple matches on JTT match days.
More Fun: Cooperative line-ups provided by captains for level-based play.

These kinds of local program options would allow captains and league organizers the flexibility to form teams (coed or single-gender) and age groups (merge ages and genders to fit needs) that work for their community. With modified scoring, guaranteed matches for players, and cooperative line-ups for a positive experience for kids, a re-imagined JTT program may be more enticing to players, parents and organizers alike.

“Allowing flexibility for providers to form single gender or gender neutral teams is what we’ve heard is needed from past providers,” says USTA Florida Recreational Tennis Director Andy McFarland. “Also the idea of scheduling multiple JTT matches on one day at a single large facility is something that has also been recommended. This is the kind of flexibility we have heard is needed by our consumers and our providers and we want to consider implementing them as part of the new-look JTT package.”

Additional resources for captains and league organizers in the new roll-out could or will include:

* Improved TennisLink allows you to register players, receive payments, manage rosters, schedule matches and record scores;
* More USTA section and national staff help to start and grow programs;
* Online training and educational materials provide guidelines and strategies for implementation through web sources, webinars and training modules.
* USTA membership options for those who want to offer membership value and benefits, but not necessarily be required to include it.

The Florida Section is also considering the concept for a small group or committee of JTT volunteers to organize and manage the JTT league, much like how other youth sports operate. And like other youth sports, allow players to sign up individually if they do not have a ready team.

“Finding a small group of kid-friendly volunteers that can manage and drive the local JTT league is part of the recipe for success in other youth sports programs,” McFarland says. “Also, one of our past challenges with JTT has been forming teams prior to registering for play which is usually very challenging. So why not encourage individual player registration and form teams later much like other youth sports do?”

Junior Team Tennis is where kids gain experience and keep improving while playing on a team alongside friends. Junior Team Tennis is invaluable in its ability to get kids playing on a team at an early age, introducing team work and camaraderie and sportsmanship attributes while preparing kids for middle school tennis, high school tennis, college tennis (NCAA or the Tennis on Campus club program), and hopefully a lifetime of USTA League participation.

Please give us your opinions on Junior Team Tennis below in the comments section. Thanks for your input!