By Rita Maloof, Junior Leagues Vice President
During the junior leagues roster registration period each season, I receive a couple of inquiries from tennis coaches or team managers working on putting a team together. Those inquiries usually go something like this:
“Hi! I’m working on my roster, and I’m short a couple of players for my boys 10U team. I have two girls that practice with them. Can I add them to my boys 10U roster? You know these days, boys and girls play together on most sports teams. Has ALTA changed the policy about boys and girls playing together?”
The challenge most frequently arises in reference to our 10U or entry-level age group. The introduction of the low compression “orange” and “green” balls in 2012 changed the way kids learned to play tennis. Youth tennis skills can improve faster, and the progression from orange ball play (10U) to green ball play (12U) can happen at earlier ages, shrinking the pool of traditional 10U players.
No, ALTA has not changed its policy of having separate boys and girls leagues, but the repeated questions make one wonder, should we? So, we asked.
In June, we sent a survey to team managers and tennis professionals who have fielded teams in our 10U/12U age groups the past several seasons. Participants from 41 facilities responded. In some instances, we received responses from multiple individuals who have multiple roles within a facility. The survey answers were then categorized by parents (45) and by tennis professionals (31). I think you’ll find the answers interesting. We did.
Will the ALTA junior leagues change from a girls and boys league to a mixed gender league? Based on the results of this survey, the answer is still unclear. If you’d like addition details or a full copy of the 10U survey, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.