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How the Coronavirus Is Impacting Junior Tennis
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Like the rest of the sports world, tennis for American juniors has largely been put on pause due to the heightened concerns surrounding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak.

Here are some of the changes and announcements to know:

  • UPDATED (March 23) The USTA has prolonged the suspension of all USTA sanctioned products and events, including junior tournaments, Junior Team Tennis, USTA Schools programs, Tennis on Campus and wheelchair events through May 3, with future determinations being made on that date after assessing conditions of the pandemic. The USTA’s goal is to reschedule events where possible following the suspension period.
  • The Easter Bowl, scheduled for March 28-April 5 at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in California has been canceled. “We are very disappointed that the tournament will not take place, but the health and safety of everyone involved with the Easter Bowl is of the highest importance,” said Tournament Director Lorne Khule. “We are exploring options to hold the event at another time.”
  • The ITF Grade 1 event, scheduled for March 21-29 in Carson, California, has been canceled. “A make-up date will be considered pending the ongoing health climate.” The official tournament hotel, the Doubletree by Hilton Carson, will cancel all room reservations made in connection with the tournament without any financial penalty. For further inquiries related to the event, contact Tournament Director, Scott Lipsky, at [email protected] or [email protected]. For information regarding the potential rescheduling of the tournament, refer to the tournament website, www.iosocal.com
  • The International Tennis Federation released a statement last week saying all events under its control, which includes junior events, would be immediately suspended and nothing would be held before April 20.
  • This afternoon, The Ojai announced it was cancelling the 120th edition of the tournament. The tradition-rich event was scheduled for April 22-26 in Ojai, California. The Ojai Valley Tennis Club board members voted on Sunday night to cancel the event two days after the Pac-12 Conference’s decision to cancel all spring sports championships. The Ojai serves as the men’s and women’s dual-match Pac-12 Championship as well as other collegiate events, the California Community College Athletic Association State Championships, Boys’ CIF-Southern Section divisions, men’s and women’s open prize money events and USTA junior divisions.
  • UPDATED (March 18th) At the professional level, the ATP and WTA tours suspended all competition through at least June 7 because and froze their rankings “until further notice.” In a rare joint statement, the men’s and women’s tours announced that the entire clay-court circuit “will not be held as scheduled. The French Open was postponed from May to September. The ITF has put a halt to its lower-tier events through June 7th as well.

In terms of recruiting, the NCAA is suspending on-campus and off-campus recruiting for all Division I sports through April 15, 2020. College coaches will be limited to communicating by phone or email. (This might be a good time for players to update their profile on TRN to ensure all email addresses and phone numbers are correct). On Sunday, the Collegiate Commissioner’s Association announced it has suspended all National Letter of Intent (NLI) signings through at least April 15 for Division I and II.

The NCAA took the unprecedented step last Thursday of cancelling all the spring sports championships, which includes men’s and women’s tennis. The NCAA also granted a waiver to allow all spring sport athletes the chance to gain another year of eligibility given their seasons were cut short. Many details must still be worked out, including if scholarship and roster restrictions will be eased and how the extra scholarships will be funded.

On Sunday night, the CDC released guidelines recommending that for the next 8 weeks events in the U.S. with 50 or more people should be canceled or postponed.

The situation remains very fluid and new information could be released at any time.

How does this impact TRN rankings and ratings?

TRN will closely monitor the situation, but it helps to first understand our normal processes and procedures.

  • Rankings: Each week, TRN comes out with rankings based on the past 12 months of play. We choose 12 months because of the annual nature of tournaments. Players can "defend" their win-loss record by competing in the same events year after year - the same way professional players can replace their ATP or WTA points. With no play over the next five-to-six weeks, the only changes to player records will be results from March and April 2019 falling off of player records. Should we make changes? There is certainly an argument for doing so - freezing the current rankings while junior tournament play is suspended. However, there are arguments against it as well - there would be a significant "jolt" to the rankings when things started back up and results from many weeks fell off player records all at once. There are hybrid approaches as well, but they would be complicated to explain and risky to implement. For these reasons, TRN will continue to rank as usual each week, so the only changes will be that old results will fall off player records.
  • Star Ratings: Twice a year, TRN puts out Star Ratings (i.e., Blue Chips, 5 Stars, 4 Stars, etc.) for all ranked junior players. These Star Ratings are based on players' highest rankings over an eight-week period. Our Fall 2020 rating period typically starts in July and runs through early September - taking into account competition during Labor Day weekend. At the moment, there is no reason to expect that the summer tennis season will be lost, so we will continue to watch how things develop and the Fall Star Ratings will be calculated/posted as normal barring unforeseen changes.
 
 

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About Rhiannon Potkey

Rhiannon Potkey is a veteran sportswriter with more than two decades of experience in journalism. Potkey has covered many sports at many levels and has a passion for finding great stories. Potkey has covered the U.S. Open, junior sectional and national events, college conference championships and Davis Cup matches. Potkey is currently Content Strategist for Tennis Recruiting. You can reach Rhiannon by email at [email protected].
 
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Page updated on Thursday, April 02, 2020
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