Lawrence Roddick’s bold initiative is one of the most powerful offered to date to counter the USTA 10U mandate: Roddick is establishing in Texas a Standard 10U Circuit using standard balls and courts for 10U kids that we must all rush to support. It is a fact that by initiating this Standard 10U Circuit, a new tournament venue can emerge all over the US around which junior tennis can organize, and even more interesting, a new force in American Tennis can emerge. Such is the power of grass roots movements.
Lisa Stone has made the courageous move to support Roddick’s initiative by posting links to the Texas and Georgia Standard 10U nonsanctioned tournaments. We will do likewise.
The fact is that the Standard 10U Circuit will not be sanctioned by the USTA (it may even be attacked by the USTA); but, that is of ABSOLUTELY NO IMPORTANCE. There is no mystical value to the USTA “sanction”. This is particularly true because the USTA TAUT circuit blurs the distinction between excellence and mediocrity. The only value the TAUT concept has is that a true champion will see TAUT as a turnoff whereas a lesser minded player will find it attractive because it conceals their lack of skill. In short, winning a TAUT tournament has absolutely no significance because the decompressed ball levels the playing field between excellence and mediocrity and is thus of NO VALUE in measuring performance, skill or player development. But TAUT will allow recreational players who no chance or ability to win a standard tournament to take home a medal to show their grandparents.
By playing the Standard 10U Circuit, college and professionally minded young players will accrue an even greater rating benefit than they would in playing the TAUT circuit. There will be no loss of visibility or loss of opportunity because of the simple fact that it is performance is what counts, not whether a tournament is sanctioned. Further the Standard 10U Circuit will become the route to player development and will replace the USTA TAUT circuit completely.
Roddick’s leadership can inspire other groups in other states to follow suit and in a short while, a grass roots Standard 10U Circuit will emerge throughout the US to replace the USTA TAUT circuit. A point system can be included in the new venue and records kept with just as much authenticity as is available from the USTA with one exception: The Standard 10U Circuit will represent real skill and real performance development in contrast to the USTA TAUT circuit which only represents the interest of recreational players.
Because parents, coaches and players want a tournament venue that represents real achievement, this grass roots program will grow; and, it can even evolve into a new organization for junior tennis. If short: “if you build it, they will come”.
Roddick’s vision represents the best in American ingenuity and reflects the core values on which this country was built. My hat is off to Lawrence Roddick, a true American who exemplifies the character and courage that made this nation great.