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For many of us, dreams of sports stardom die ignominiously the first time a coach directs us to a seat at the end of the bench in favor of a faster, stronger, or generally more gifted teammate.
Some students, alas, never even make it that far.
Many school sports teams, in activities ranging from cheerleading to football, cut players outright, because those squads lack the resources to accommodate every player who tries out, or because coaches believe it’s too much trouble to manage a winning team that way.
The United States Tennis Association, however, is expanding its efforts to encourage high school coaches to adopt “no cut” policies. The idea is that students of all talent levels benefit from participating, and that they will become lifelong players and fans—a plus for the USTA.
The 2,300 coaches who take part in the USTA’s no-cut program, originally launched in 2006, receive gifts, as well as professional recognition, such as a commendation letter to their school principals. Perhaps most important, they receive access to features such as a Web site, created this year, which allows them to share information through a coach-to-coach online forum on how to run a no-cut team effectively. The program site is www.usta.com/no-cut.
The USTA program is popular in warm-weather states like Texas, but also in such regions as the Midwest and Northeast, possibly because of the challenges that nastier climates pose for tennis coaches, said Jason Jamison, the national manager of school tennis for the USTA, based in White Plains, N.Y.
The pressure to cut tennis players often stems from limitations on court space and practice time, Mr. Jamison said. The no-cut program suggests coaches stagger practices, recruit volunteer assistant coaches, and make requests to local tennis clubs to donate court time for practices.
“We’d like tennis to become known as the catch-all sport,” Mr. Jamison said. The no-cut program “stays true to the idea that health and fitness is important. Cutting kids is contrary to that mission.”
A version of this article appeared in the July 16, 2008 edition of Education Week as USTA Encourages Coaches to Love ‘No Cut’ Policies