USTA Update on the Competitive Pathway
The past 12 months have been tough for all of us. But, tough people shine in tough times, and one thing we’ve proven is that by working together, tennis has not only survived, but has thrived. This sport and this industry have come together like never before, and, according to the most recent Physical Activity Council study, four million more people are playing our sport.
Even before this remarkable rise in participation, though, USTA staff and volunteers recognized that aspects of the tennis structure and tennis delivery system needed to change in order to better attract and retain players. In January of this year, the USTA officially rolled out a new competitive pathway to address this need. The new pathway created a unified, national tournament structure to ensure equal opportunity and fairness for all players, across all 17 Sections. The resulting competitive pathway has simplified and nationalized the tournament structure, creating seven levels of competition, as opposed to what had previously been 120 distinct and disparate nomenclatures and tournament levels across the nation.
Alongside this rollout, a new digital platform was introduced to support the new pathway. This new platform replaced TennisLink, which was not capable of supporting the new structure.
However, as we introduced the new platform, the resulting functionality was not ready. We were not fully prepared for the challenges with the historical data housed in TennisLink, and that has led to complexities in the transfer and migration of information and data from the various events, formats, and regions into one centralized system. A number of issues resulted, and we recognize that this has adversely affected players, tournament directors and providers throughout the country.
Over the past two months, we have worked diligently to fix and address issues with the goal to deliver correct information surrounding National Standings Lists. We have put into place, and continue to work through, an extensive audit of the rankings information, and have requested feedback from users to help us identify bugs and areas of concern, so as to increase accuracy. In addition, we have had extensive dialogue with Tournament Directors and have undergone intensive revisions on the back-end of the system to better enable the running of tournaments and events.
This week, we made a significant shift in strategy that will enable us to continue to deliver tennis via the new competitive pathway, while utilizing specific platforms to increase functionality, as we address issues within the platform.
By making this move:
- Tournament Directors will have access to multiple platforms to run events
- National Standings Lists for Juniors will be published weekly beginning March 10, while we continue to refine the system during this process
- Functionality surrounding Net Generation PlayTracker has been accelerated, with suggested ball color event designation inclusion, enabling a more engaging platform for 10 and under tennis to be accessible by early March; and a more robust Player Profile available in April
The implementation of this strategy has already begun. Once these areas have been addressed, we will next prioritize work surrounding the release of National Standings Lists for Adult and Wheelchair play, as well as complete Player Profiles for Junior, Adult and Wheelchair.
In addition to the technological fixes that we will deploy over the coming weeks and months, we continue to work with the Junior Competition Committee and Section Player Development Managers to find solutions for Junior players that have been affected by the ongoing audit of the National Standings Lists.
Although there may be issues along the way, we are confident that the final result will be a digital platform that will support and service the tennis community for years to come. Our end goal is to grow and provide tennis at the grassroots level, in the best possible way. The new competitive pathway and tournament structure, together with the new digital platform in its final form, will accomplish exactly that, helping to deliver this sport better than ever before.
Once again, we appreciate your patience as we continue to move forward.