Dave Fish, former Harvard Men’s Tennis Head Coach and UTR’s Head of Development gives a preview of one of his favorite tournaments of the year, the Tenacity Futures Plus (https://tenacityfutures.org/) at Harvard. Tell us about the upcoming Futures tournament - what can we look forward to? We’re excited that Tenacity will be hosting an exciting community-wide “summer tennis festival for all”, prior to the US Open, at the Harvard campus in Cambridge, MA. The festival begins August 9th and features a new experience for players of all ages and levels:
$25K USTA Futures Event: For elite players at the top of the pyramid, a $25K USTA Futures event, which will draw players ranked from #250-400 in the world for a world-class professional event.
$10K UTR Powered by Oracle Open Event: For aspiring players collegiate and junior players who lack enough ATP points to get into the Future qualifying draw, an event giving them the chance to qualify for Wild Card spots in the Futures Qualifying and Main draw. A second $10K UTR Powered by Oracle Open event will begin around the same as the Futures qualifier, and will be open in later rounds to the pros who lose in the Qualifying and early main draw rounds of the Future itself
Youth Entry Level Events: For young players in Boston’s at-risk programs and suburban programs, a city-wide entry-level event, run alongside the pro events.
Red Sox, Celtics, Patriots & Bruins Jamboree: For families and 500 kids from Tenacity and other urban and suburban programs, a community-wide multi-sport jamboree, offering engagement stations hosted by many of Boston’s professional sports teams like the Red Sox. All are welcome.
I like to think of it as a 10K road race, but for tennis, where everyone runs at their own pace, and joins the party at the end. Everyone can participate at their own level and have a great time!
All players of all levels, local, national and international are welcome. I like to think of it as a 10K road race, but for tennis, where everyone runs at their own pace, and joins the party at the end. Everyone can participate at their own level and have a great time! How did the Tenacity Futures Tournament get started? The tournament started because we wanted a chance to bring great tennis to our local community, featuring players of all levels, allowing young professional players to compete in front of an appreciative crowd. When I was a young player, there was nothing more motivating than seeing world class players, top college players, and great juniors competing let young kids just getting into tennis be inspired by players of all levels. We just bringing back the best from the past!Today, the goal of the Tenacity Futures Tournament is threefold: Energize entry-level professional events, which are often played before empty stands in out-of-the-way venues; provide more opportunities for aspiring young players to play for the chance to get a shot at pros at the next level; and mobilize tennis in Boston by bringing together tennis players from every stage in the life cycle of a tennis player, from the inner-city and suburbs alike, to watch and compete alongside world-class players.Tell us about Tenacity - What is its mission? Tenacity is Boston’s flagship Tennis and Education program for at-risk students that works to introduce newcomers to the competition and etiquette of tennis in a friendly, entry-level experience. Since 1999, Tenacity has helped over 30,000 students build a foundation for lifelong achievement through in-school, after-school and summer tennis programs that provide tools for excellence in school, career, and life. The organization has programs that take kids all the way from elementary school to post-secondary pursuits including college. How does the Tenacity Futures Tournament benefit professional players? For the last 40 years as a college tennis coach, I’ve watched college players trying to go to the next level in tennis. It’s an expensive journey and a lot of players that might have done pretty well on the tour but couldn’t afford it, or players that didn’t have the tolerance to travel around the world, never even tried due to the expense. Right now, our development pathway is fragmented - juniors compete in their own ecosystem, as do college players. It’s even worse for the young aspiring pro, who often has to grind it out with no one in the stands. No wonder so few players test the waters! And what are the benefits for young players and Tenacity players? We all know the challenges that most NJTL programs face in introducing their students to competition that doesn’t leave them feeling as if they don’t belong. Over the last 18 years, providing Boston youth who might otherwise have few athletic outlets, the chance to play and practice at Harvard has inspired many of these young people to achieve almost a 100% graduation rate, proving the impact of programs like Tenacity. It’s hard to overestimate how motivating it will be to rub shoulders with world-class athletes, while themselves learning to compete at one of the world’s finest educational institutions.
Exposure creates composure - our goal with this event is to help kids understand that they are allowed, invited and welcome to participate as full-fledged citizens of American tennis.
It’s so powerful for kids to see world-class players struggle with tennis the same way they do, and helping them them meet these players and then participate with other kids is a great and empowering experience. Exposure creates composure - our goal with this event is to help kids understand that they are allowed, invited and welcome to participate as full-fledged citizens of American tennis. How is UTR supporting the tournament? The big mission for UTR which has excited me is that UTR re-connects all the separated parts of our player development pathway. Young pros, especially former college players, benefit a) from more opportunities to compete - and win - matches that build confidence; and b) by having more chances to earn additional prize money to cover their expenses without having to travel; and c) get to play in a first class venue with spectators who appreciate their high level of play. These qualifying events also solve another problem. Aspiring U.S. college and junior players often lack ATP points, and so are unlikely to gain entry into Futures level events (soon to be called Transition Tour events). The use of UTR staggered entry draws will give these players the chance to earn their way forward to meet better players in later rounds. This change in access would invigorate our system nationwide, allowing more young pros to earn additional money to extend their runway. Many college and USTA Player Development folks are concerned that the new ITF Transition Tour, which will take effect in 2019, will limit opportunities for the players who most need them. This template would offer a cost-effective alternative. Instead of running one Transition Tour event (which will offer no ATP points), organizers could run 4-6 UTR Open $ Events for the same money. Imagine the collective impact of such a shift on future American players!
This model that can be replicated in communities all over the country, allowing them to bring world-class tennis to their community in an affordable and fun way, and for players at every other level to rub shoulders with them.
More importantly, local events like this will motivate our next generation of young players.This model that can be replicated in communities all over the country, allowing them to bring world-class tennis to their community in an affordable and fun way, and for players at every other level to rub shoulders with them. Where can I sign up to learn more? You can visit https://tenacity.org/futures/ and https://www.myutr.com/events/73 to learn more about the tournament and register to participate as a player or volunteer. Fans are of course welcome to stop by throughout the event at no charge to take in some great tennis in a community-wide tennis festival!