USTA Colorado
3300 E. Bayaud Avenue
Suite 201
Denver, CO  80209


Q&A: Cindy MacMaster on Summer Team Tennis

November 5, 2015 03:31 PM

Cindy MacMaster is the director of player development for USTA Colorado and the area coordinator for Junior Team Tennis in Northern Colorado. She is also a community youth player development coordinator and an early development camp administrative lead. Prior to her current positions, she was the assistant coach of the Fossil Ridge High School boys' tennis team in Fort Collins, Colo.

Macmaster describes how she bundled her area's Junior Team Tennis program with additional practice sessions to give players a specialized summer program in preparation for the high school season. She explains how and why the program was established, the registration and enrollment process and the benefits to players, coaches and organizers. Can you give us an overview of your activities?

Cindy MacMaster: Junior Team Tennis can be structured in a way that either extends or leads into a high school player's season.  In 2013, as Northern Colorado JTT area coordinator and assistant coach of the Fossil Ridge High School boys' tennis team, I decided to bundle JTT match play with two practices a week to create a complete 10-week summer program for the boys' team prior to their fall season.

This program began the first week in June and drills were held Wednesday and practice matches were Friday mornings. We brought in pizza after every Friday practice. Monday matches started two weeks later. The JTT match play ran six or seven weeks, depending on team numbers in each flight. Week 10 was dedicated to preparing those teams that qualified for the Colorado state championship tournament held the second weekend in August. Teams consisted of four or five players. Colorado JTT allows just two players be present for a regular-season match and four players for the postseason championship tournament. How or why did you come up with this activity? Was there a specific need or problem you were trying to address?

MacMaster: In Colorado, no other USTA tournaments can be scheduled on Mondays during the summers due to JTT match play. Our area's tournament players needed competitive matches and our high school players needed any and all match play to prepare them for their season. JTT was not on the radar of either of these groups. How did you promote, market and publicize your activity to participants? Was there anything special that you discovered during this process or suggestions for further improvement?

MacMaster: The Fossil Ridge High School coaches put the word out to all area high school coaches (boy's teams only) and local players that we were going to build a very strong Northern Colorado JTT high school-age league, one in which all of the local boys could participate regardless of school affiliation. We encouraged all area high school and middle school coaches to send informative emails to all of their players' parents. Including all players and coaches from the entire area is important, and forming teams that provide for all players to participate is key. Mixing boys from different high schools in the area is great. Tell us about the participants' ability level and age, and how was their reaction to your activity?

MacMaster: Participants were high school-age boys in the Northern Colorado area, and all ability levels participated. Colorado JTT has four level options in its U14 and U18 flights: beginner, intermediate, advanced  intermediate and advanced. Both parent and player reaction was overwhelmingly positive. Parents love that it’s all inclusive and players love being with their friends. The program providers love the simplicity and the single, upfront payments. It’s a win-win. What fees did you charge and why was this amount chosen?

MacMaster: We charged $310 for the entire 10-week program. All expenses including pizza were wrapped up in this one fee. Local facilities, clubs and parks and recreation organizations also use JTT as part of their summer programming and we priced our program very close to theirs so as not to undercut them in any way. All fees were collected in advance of June start. How did you handle registration?

MacMaster: Registration was done via email in April and there were no drop-ins. The deadline was May 1, as teams needed to be formed and registered with Colorado JTT by May 25. Spots were confirmed upon receipt of payment. Colorado JTT does not require a USTA, or any other type, of membership. Our goal was to make this accessible to any and all area boys. We even had one player from Wyoming participate. Scholarship opportunities were provided. Please share an idea of the benefits that can be achieved for the participants and the organizer.

MacMaster: For participants, it's a tremendous way to get additional playing time well in advance of their season.
It provides an opportunity for boys to get to know each other and the coaches, and it allows the boys to get comfortable and ease nerves for freshmen or others entering this arena for the first time. It also provides a complete summer-long program that includes match play, drills and practice matches all in a fun-based, team environment at an affordable rate.

For organizers and coaches, this packaged JTT program provides a full 10-week program to build their summer tennis program around. If these boys also schedule additional private lessons, a coach or organizer has a very full and profitable summer's worth of on-court activity. Coaches are able to view and get to know players well ahead of any high school responsibilities, making the start of the actual season much easier. Tell us about the amount of time, commitment or involvement needed by the organizer or coach, player and player.

MacMaster: For an organizer or coach, this program is admin-heavy on the front end. April and May is used to recruit players, promote the program among coaches and players, register players, collect payments and create teams and register teams. It helps to recruit parents at this time to 'manage' teams throughout the summer. USTA Colorado creates the schedules for all teams.

In June and July, the match schedule is published and the program plays out from there. You need a coach at Monday matches to observe. Wednesday and Friday practices are run by coaches as they see fit. At the beginning of August, a three-day championship tournament is held for those that qualify. Parents accompany players but coaches often go as well. Is there anything else a fellow coach might want to know to develop a program like this?

MacMaster: The more players involved, the better the program. Depth creates more teams with similar ability levels. Securing the top few players from each area high school team brings legitimacy to the program and helps the recruiting process enormously. Start engaging those players early.

Also, work together with other coaches and providers to keep program fees relatively consistent so as not to create animosity between groups. Also, keep the atmosphere light, relaxed and fun. Do not focus on winning and on the competition, but on improving your players' games. Promote teamwork and respect for teammates and opponents because this program sets the tone for the high school season to follow.



Copyright © 2023 Colorado Tennis Association. All rights reserved.