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A New Day

by John R. Embree, USPTA Chief Executive Officer

At the USPTA General Membership Meeting during the TTC in New York, President Gary Trost had an opportunity to update those in attendance to the latest developments on the accreditation process and where things stand. Not only were his remarks timely, they were relevant to our plans that relate to certification standards and continuing education.

Thus, I thought it would be appropriate to shine a light on the key elements of his speech. It is vital that our entire membership understand what is happening with this new partnership being forged with the USTA. This is an incredible opportunity to change the industry going forward.

The new USTA accreditation program is the most important topic facing our Association and the industry. You may be asking: how will this impact our Association?

Anytime a program of this magnitude is launched, there is a lot of concern for the unknown. But here is what we do know today:

USPTA & USTA seek to attract new tennis professionals.
We want to support existing professionals to help grow their business and ultimately grow tennis in the US. The primary purpose of USTA accreditation and USPTA certification is to create the best on court experience possible for all types of players. In addition, we want to provide career pathways for USPTA members by giving them the competencies necessary to have a competitive advantage to advance their career.

USPTA wants to raise the standards for certification.
So, when the USTA came to us two years ago with the concept of improving the consumer experience on court and making our pros better, we wholeheartedly agreed. The only way we can grow our game is to enhance the competencies of tennis professionals through certification and continuing education requirements. We have more great teaching pros in the United States than anywhere in the world. However, we need higher standards for all tennis professionals. This accreditation and certification program gives us the best chance to accomplish this.

The USPTA received provisional accreditation in March.
PTR also applied for provisional accreditation and as of this writing, they have not been accredited.

Certification requirements begin in 2020.
We have a lot of work to do to finalize the details with USTA. All Certified USPTA members as of December 31, 2019 will be exempt from the new certification standards. Starting in 2020 all new applicants will need to meet the new requirements.

I am pleased to announce that the USPTA and USTA are going to be partners in raising the standards for how tennis is delivered in the US. At our national board and Executive Committee meetings in New York, we had a very frank and engaging dialogue with USTA leadership about how we can collaborate on a whole host of matters. We left those meetings encouraged and positive about the direction we are headed.

The USTA realizes that these new higher standards need to mean something in the job market. This means promoting these higher standards to those that hire and seek out teaching pros. Higher standards ultimately should lead to better jobs and more business. That will take time, but we will develop a communication plan with USTA to educate those that hire tennis professionals and our consumers. USTA will be providing resources and leveraging their assets for this. Ex: PSA’s on televised events, marketing to club managers and owners, etc.

The USTA also recognizes that education for US tennis-teaching professionals should be delivered by the certifying organization (USPTA). Therefore, we will work collaboratively with the USTA to develop unparalleled educational resources called USPTA-U (USPTA University).
There will be other exclusive benefits for USPTA pros like: Grounds passes and/or tickets to sessions at the US Open, US Open Series events, etc. as well as benefits for USPTA pros when visiting the USTA National Campus and the BJKNTC.

USPTA Pros will also receive special recognition with NET GENERATION.
Finally, the USTA will assure us in writing that they have no intention of getting into the certification business or the tennis professional association business. REPEAT: the USTA has no desire to be in the certification business. And no, the USTA is not taking over the USPTA!

We along with the USTA, are committed to significantly raising the standards of how tennis is delivered and to make experiential learning a major part of pre-certification education. Not only that, the USTA needs the USPTA to help deliver programs at the grassroots to truly grow our sport. We cannot do it separately.

We will provide regular updates on these initiatives in the weeks and months ahead. So, be patient as we forge ahead down this path. It is a new day for the tennis industry and for the USPTA. I am very enthusiastic about the potential that this partnership has for us and the sport in general. *

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