Junior Tennis Competitive Path
Randolph Tennis Center - Tucson, Arizona
By Sun Tennis Magazine

January 2005

All too often, parents envision their son or daughter to be the next Andy Roddick or Lindsey Davenport and unfairly accelerate their child's positioning on the competitive tennis landscape. While some kids may view the challenge with unbridled passion, most junior players simply feel overwhelmed and quickly lose interest in the sport.

Junior Tennis Competitive Path counter display at Randolph Tennis Center, Tucson, AZ

Junior Tennis Competitive Path counter display
at Randolph Tennis Center, Tucson, AZ

Randolph Tennis Center in Tucson under the tutelage of Jim Reffkin, has developed and implemented new programming designed to customize a competitive curriculum for the junior tennis player. Called "Junior Tennis Competitive Path," the highly-acclaimed system clearly illustrates the competitive skill level of its players and events. The path outlines a step-by-step natural progression for the junior player to follow as their ability moves them up the competitive ladder. From beginner to the collegiate player, parents and players can easily understand and follow the program which also instills a greater desire to perform well. "Parents and players are having a difficult time determining what a child?s competitive level is and which tournaments they should be playing," said Reffkin. "Ultimately, the junior player loses interest and decides not to play the sport."

As the competitive ability of the junior player increases, the length of each match and overall event will increase as well. "Tennis is the only sport that does not have a clearly-defined program that outlines a competitive path relative to a player's age and ability. Our program at Randolph Tennis Center handles all that," added Reffkin.

One of the most important elements of the Junior Tennis Competitive Path program is the one-day, non-elimination event. This includes the Arizona Junior Shootout using match tiebreak scoring and the Super Set Series using a six-game set per match. The Super Set Series event provides quality, USTA sanctioned match play and can be played in a half-day (3-4 hours). Since the program was established in 2003, junior participation has increased by 140%. Even the pros are singing the praises of the Super Set format. "Super Set Tennis is an innovative and exciting event that helps bring tennis into the 21st century. This event has attitude," said 8-time major champion Andre Agassi.

Creators of the Junior Tennis Competitive Path Jeff Brack (Left) and Jim Reffkin (Right)

Creators of the Junior Tennis Competitive Path
Jeff Brack (Left) and Jim Reffkin (Right)

For the beginner tennis player ages 12 and under, Junior Tennis Competitive Path features the Star Ball Tennis Tournament with 3-4 matches in 2-3 hours, an innovative "slower" Penn Star Ball which increases success in hitting and boosts self-esteem and confidence and promotes rally play without serving. "It's the perfect introduction to match play and transition to the next level of competition in our program," said Reffkin, former Chairman of the National USTA Tennis Innovations Committee.

From there, the junior tennis player moves along a "competitive path" playing in Junior Satellite tournaments, Super Set Series and Arizona Junior Shootout events, and additional USTA sanctioned events held throughout the year.

The innovative program has been enthusiastically adopted by the Southwest Section and some of the other USTA sections throughout the country, namely Hawaii and South Carolina. Additionally, Reffkin has already visited Texas, North Carolina and Virginia and hopefully will have them on board with the competitive path programming some time in 2005. "I also feel confident that the Midwest, Northern and the Missouri Valley sections will soon be utilizing our concept at their tennis facilities. Our goal next year is to have at least one facility in each of the 17 USTA sections that will host innovative programming and the branding we are offering," said Reffkin.

Randolph Tennis Center is working closely with the Southwest section in promoting the path to interested sections willing to accept the "branding" of the program.

For more information on their Junior Tennis Competitive Path program, visit their web site at www.reffkintenniscenter.com.

"This takes all the guesswork out of how and where to place your child as he or she begins and develops their life-long passion for the sport of tennis. We are thrilled with our program's progress so far and we look forward to attracting more youngsters to this great sport," said Reffkin.