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USTA Florida Votes to Adopt 10 and Under Tennis Rule Change for All 10-U Tournaments

March 24, 2011 02:11 PM
mediawall-10-U-tennis-logo-On Wednesday night the USTA Florida Junior Competitive Council voted unanimously to adopt the USTA and ITF 10 and Under Tennis rule change for all sanctioned 10-and-under age tournaments in Florida beginning January 2012. 

The tournaments will include all six variables of the QuickStart Tennis play format, including the 60-foot court and the orange low-bounce ball for competition. USTA Florida currently uses the QuickStart play format in Rookie 10 and under tournaments, but will now expand the format to all 10-and-under tournaments in 2012.

The ruling follows that of USTA National and the International Tennis Federation, which in August of last year mandated modified courts and the use of slower balls for all 10-and-under competition beginning January 2012.

"For tennis to grow in this age demographic, we have to make a radical change, a paradigm shift if you will, in how we approach offering competitive tennis to children under the age of 10," said USTA Florida Associate Executive Director Andy McFarland. "Adopting the 10 and Under Tennis rule change for all 10-and-under sanctioned tournaments is the right thing to do in helping us grow and develop the game for younger children. I applaud the visionary decision the Junior Competitive Council had to make."

USTA Florida had approximately 2,000 children age 10-and-under participating in at least one sanctioned tournament in 2010, but draw sizes averaged only seven boys and four girls.

"We have a tremendous opportunity to grow the participation numbers in our 10 and under tournament draws that are currently not meeting our expectations," McFarland said. "We have nothing to lose in trying something fundamentally different."

USTA Florida Junior Competitive Council Chairwoman Cindy Harkins said the decision will affect all level of development for all 10-and-under players.

"Studies show that players develop quicker and develop better technique by using the age-appropriate equipment and court size," Harkins said. "High performance studies show players who learn and compete on the age-appropriate size courts with the proper equipment develop quicker with better techniques and match strategy. As an example, a 9-year-old who develops into a good basketball player isn't moved to a pro size court with a 10-foot basket to compete."

McFarland added that one challenge will be integrating 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format into the current system of tournaments, public and private facilities and schools.

"We will have growing pains the next couple of years transitioning the 10 and Under Tennis rule change in our tournament structure," McFarland said. "In thinking big picture, we have to look at the 5-8 year olds that are currently being introduced to tennis in PE class, out-of-school programs and in USTA Jr. Team Tennis that are using the age appropriate equipment and play format. The transition for them will be easier when they enter their first 10 and under tournament as opposed to children that are currently 9 and 10 that are caught in the transition phase."

The 2011 USTA Florida Junior Competitive Council, comprised of volunteers, is chaired by Harkins, and includes council members Maria Cercone, Bill Clark, Harry Gilbert, Robert Gomez, Jason Pardon, J. Webb Horton, Rick Workman, staff liaisons Ann Brown and Andy Gladstone, and staff consultant Bobby Curtis.

USTA 10 and Under Tennis featuring the QuickStart play format is designed for children featuring smaller court sizes, racquet sizes, foam and low-compression balls, a simple scoring system, and net heights adjusted to ease kids into the sport. Similar mini-tennis formats have long been popular in Europe, where current stars such as Roger Federer and Kim Clijsters first learned the game with age-adjusted racquets, balls and court sizes.

To see a video of 10 and Under Tennis in action or for more information, go to: http://10andundertennis.usta.com.






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