Playing the Numbers
A No-Cut Program at your local high school will increase your business in every way possible.
While the climate was destined to be different, one thing never changed for Kyle Jewett when he made a move from Anchorage, Alaska, to Boise, Idaho, in 1999-the chance to grow as a tennis player on a no-cut high school team.
Both of Jewett’s schools, Diamond High School in Anchorage and Centennial High School in Boise, operated under a policy of not cutting players interested in representing their schools on the tennis courts. In fact, since its launch last year, about 1,400 high school tennis coaches across the country-including Jewett’s at Centennial-have signed on as part of the USTA’s No-Cut Program. No-Cut tennis teams can include dozens of players-sometimes more than 100-and the initiative has afforded more than 40,000 students who could have been cut from their teams a chance to play for their school.
“The astounding, rapid growth of this program is a testament to these incredible coaches who see the bigger picture,” says Kirk Anderson, USTA director of Recreational Coaches and Programs. “They understand you can still have a winning, and even championship, program, while including players at all skill levels.”
Jewett is now the assistant tennis professional at Hillcrest Country Club in Boise. He has seen how the no-cut concept can benefit the business of tennis, bringing in and retaining many new players and consumers.
“Right before high school season starts, we see a huge increase in the amount of kids that join our junior programs and people who want private lessons in order to make varsity,” says Jewett. “These same kids also want the newest equipment and more court time to practice, so it helps our business all around.”
Court space is always at a premium for Jeff Holman’s squads at Haddonfield Memorial High School in Haddonfield, N.J. With 59 boys and 32 girls on his current teams, Holman’s program rents court space at a local swim club to supplement those they use at the town’s public facility. “As our program expanded, and more and more students became interested in joining the tennis teams, the coaching staff felt that we could offer more and better opportunities if we had more courts than the five at our primary site,” says Holman, who in 2006 was presented with the National No-Cut Starfish Award at the USTA Tennis Teachers Conference in New York City.
The USTA realizes that organizing practices for large groups and scheduling large numbers of players into matches can be a challenge, says Anderson, so it has advice and resources available for running a large No-Cut Program. There’s also an advisory team, made up of longtime, successful No-Cut coaches, which is available to any coach running or interested in running a No-Cut Program at his or her school.
Anderson encourages teaching pros to attend local high school tennis matches and trumpet the benefits of a no-cut policy, for both the sake of the tennis business and those who play the game. In fact, he has personally seen the negative effect that being cut from a high school team can have on a young person. After playing at the junior level, his son was cut from his high school team as a freshman. “It was the end of the road for him,” says Anderson. “He didn’t pick up a racquet for four or five years.”
“In tennis, we don’t want that to happen,” says Marian DeWane, Jewett’s former coach at Centennial, also a Starfish Award winner. “We want the number of kids who love tennis and play to keep increasing.”
See all articles by Kristen Daley
About the Author
Kristen Daley is a contributing editor for RSI magazine.