Player Pathway #2 - Junior Team Tennis
Let me talk to you about this league. Probably my favorite favorite style of tournament. The USTA put together a junior league where kids could join with a group of kids that then play against other teams. The kids get to play girls singles, boys singles, girls doubles, boys doubles and mixed doubles. The teams must have a minimum of 3-4 players depending on age groups. The coaching staff can change out players between points and coach when needed. Coaching will include things like making sure they make correct out calls, standing in correct area for doubles, serving from the correct sides, strategies and helping the other students on how to encourage the team. Probably one of the toughest part of the coaching is when to do substitutions in order to ensure fair amount of play time. Each match last 30 mins so if the team is down 3 points there is a possibility that if someone is not substituted the match could be over fast, but if the new person comes in and starts to win, they have the remaining time to play. Now this makes it look like there may have been more time given to another player. With that being said it is important to note that when a student is pulled out they cannot return into that match. Regardless, I find this one of the best experiences with the students because they get a chance to work with their team under a points structure that is easy to understand. Each match is played for one and half hour and each team can earn up to 36 points with each wining game counting as 1 point. Once complete with the first match there is a small break and they get to play another team. Most teams are fielded with between 6-8 players so that if there are sicknesses or vacations over the league play there are no disqualifications. Another note, if there are only 3 players this means that the first matches of boys double and girls doubles cannot be completed as planned. They run 1 singles match and 1 doubles match leaving no substitutes to come in for the players. Then once this is complete there will be a court empty while they wait for the other match to finish so that the coaches can then change the players out to play the next matches. Not to confuse you but to make sure that you understand that sometimes a match may not start if the player that is supposed to play the next match is still playing. Some other rules to know: 1. They do not play the let on serve. So if that serve hits the net and goes over it must be played. 2. There is no ad scoring - once the match is tied at 40 all the next point is the winning point. 3. In the 14 and over mixed doubles at 40 all, the boys cannot serve to a girl and vice versa. 4. On 40 all, the server must ask the returner what side they want to receive the serve. 5. In the championships - the team that is down can force overtime if they win the last match "mixed doubles". Play continues until the losing team catches up to win or the winning team wins 1 more point and then it is over.
The play against different teams introduces a new element not yet experienced where our kids play those that they do not personally know. It is the second step to testing their mental toughness and is a true discovery for coaches to improve each student back at practice. A quick reminder to all - we expect that the kids do the best they can with what they have been taught. When they get to the tournament if it is enough they will win, if it is not then they must get back to practice and work on the areas they struggled with. As the kids transition to a more competitive arena they will need to begin to journal their difficulties so they can be addressed during practice!
Check back in the next few days for my next step for students (#3 USTA ROGY (non ranking)). I do hope you enjoy my insight on the next steps and levels of tournament play. I am available for questions via phone, email, text or see me at the facility.
Love, Coach Wensey aka Awesomeness