Written by: Tim Mayotte
*** Tim Mayotte was a top ATP player who made it to the Wimbledon quarter finals on six different occasions. In recent years, he worked for the USTA.***
After almost two years inside the USTA Player Development, I strongly agree with Wayne’s outrage over the misuse of funds and the arrogance of that organization. When Jose Higueras [compensation package $470,000], Jay Berger [$250,000] and Patrick McEnroe $1,040,000], USTA coaches and former ATP players, were around (which was very rarely), I tried to put them on court with some of our 8, 9, and 10 year olds. Jose flatly said no.
Clearly out of discomfort, Jay shared a court with me and was unable to see even the most basic technical changes needed. Patrick would bark words parroted from Jose’s thinking, like “receive the ball.” That had no relevance in the context of what we were working on with the kids. None of the three asked what we were doing or how we were trying to do it.
I understand Wayne’s outrage that this group mandates and forces others to do what they know nothing about. It is my understanding that none of them have ever been to a 10 and under tournament. When I was hired to start and run the USTA at the Open site, I was told to develop “a pipeline of top young 8-12 year olds.” It became clear they did not know how to teach and train, and at that point, neither did I. My associate Lee Hurst was great, and as I learned from him, we veered from Jose’s “philosophy.”
When Jose visited, we were told to change to mirror Boca [another USTA site]. After months of arguing my need for a different approach, I found no option but to leave. The predictable has happened; they terminated that group and now only work with players 14 or over, who commit to home school. So, hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of dollars and thousands of hours served to only drop players, leaving them and parents in the lurch, alienate local pros and deepen the cycle. It was outrageous then to see Patrick on TV broadcasting when he could have been on court learning about junior development (isn’t a million a year enough?), or Jose ensconced in Palm Springs with the USTA paying to send players to his fancy ranch. It’s all such a waste.
I do think a comprehensive, in-depth, coaches training program should be developed so we can create more great coaches, like you guys. Coaching is one of the most complicated endeavours I have been a part of, requiring knowledge of technique, motivational skills, psychology, parent management, etc. We need more and more systematic training.