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March 2010 Article

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Mad Max Takes on the USTA - 2010 US Open National Playoffs
By David Maxwell
Tennis Pro, Santa Monica, CA

Dear USTA,
Regarding your new "opportunity for all" US Open National Playoff tournaments for a spot into the U.S. Open qualifying: Wow. What a great idea.
Disgusting! You've taken a great idea and made it an ugly, self-serving money-maker for the USTA. Really? The athletic kid in Compton on the public court has a $125 to blow on a one in a million chance to make it into the US Open? Really? I have a feeling his mother might x-nay that idea in lieu of paying the rent or the grocery bill. And you're going to take $125 out of her pocket? That doesn't sound like giving back to the sport (which is your job), it sounds like robbing from the poor. And doing it in the name of INclusivity? Wow.
I see you're quoting Billie Jean King that she thinks it's a great idea and that it now gives all public park kids a shot at the big time. I'm wondering what her reaction will be when you spring it on her that you're charging $125 per shot. She better publicly repeal that statement and demand you take it off your website along with support from Venus Williams, Nick Bollettieri and Bode Miller. I give them the benefit of the doubt that you didn't inform them of your outrageous entry fee before you got their quotes. I'm sure Venus Williams, in particular, actually from the public parks of Compton, will be appalled.
How many millions did your CEO and officers make last year? Boy, the banks and wall street have nothing on you. What?, You thought, "Hey, everyone else is making money off the poor and hopeful; why aren't we getting our slice?" Is that your business plan now?
Let's see, that's $125 x 256 players x 16 tournaments = $512,000. A HALF A MILLION DOLLARS! What happened to the money I give you for my USTA membership every year? What happened to the $2 you charge me (and everyone else in the US) every time I sign up for an Open or NTRP tournament online through your website? What happened to all the money I hear you're making off us as the attendance at the US Open keeps going up every year?
It's your JOB to promote tennis in the U.S. and create the opportunities for our young U.S. players to improve and cultivate our next pro's. That's what you're supposed to be using that money for. YOU'RE NOT SUPPOSED TO BE CHARGING OUR ASPIRING PRO'S $125 FOR OPPORTUNITIES THAT YOU'RE ALREADY SUPPOSED TO BE PROVIDING! And you wonder why there's a sparsity of U.S. players in the top 100? I think this program says volumes about what your attitude has always been and, unfortunately, continues to be.
I love that the player who risks his/her $125, makes it through the impossible odds and when he/she wins the wild card, "The one (1) male and one (1) female player who accepts the wild card entry into the US Open Qualifying Tournament will be responsible for all costs and expenses associated with their participation (e.g., travel, accommodations, meals, etc.)". Thanks for the help, USTA. You couldn't even find it in your heart to take a smidgeon of that $512,000 for that one person's travel expenses to New York? Wow.
I'm disappointed. I thought you were finally on the right track with you're USTA High Performance centers, a FIRST step towards a national grooming program like most other countries have had had for years. And you started hiring coaches like Patrick McEnroe, Robert Lansdorp and Nick Bollettieri from the private sector who have proven track records for producing world class tennis players. Then you do something like this.
I'm in a moral quandary because I hate the disgusting things that you sometimes do and your generally EXclusive way that you have always run things, but I have no choice but to be associated with you because you're the gate keeper to all the things in this sport that I love and have built my whole life around as a player and 13 year teaching coach.
David Maxwell (Max The Tennis Pro)
Santa Monica, CA

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