Early in 2019, the United States Tennis Association (USTA) announced that the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA) received full accreditation under the USTA’s new accreditation program for organizations and institutions that certify U.S. tennis-teaching professionals, making the USPTA the first and only accredited association.
“The quality of tennis delivery in our country is the single most important ingredient to growing tennis participation,” said Gordon Smith, USTA CEO and Executive Director. “In order to attract and retain new and diverse generations of tennis players, we must do everything possible to ensure their on-court experience is of the highest caliber. Raising the standards for teaching professionals in the United States will positively impact players of all ages and abilities.”
What does this mean for the USPTA? Below are some frequently asked questions.
The USTA Accreditation Program is focused on raising the standards for the way in which tennis is delivered in the U.S. Recognizing that certified teaching pros deliver the majority of tennis programs in the U.S., one of the goals of the accreditation program is to increase the quality and quantity of certified teaching professionals in this country. The program is administered by the USTA Accreditation Review Committee (ARC). This independent group was established for the primary purposes of: (1) supporting continuous improvement of the tennis professional certification programs offered by accredited organizations; (2) contributing to the uniformity of the U.S. tennis-teaching profession by increasing conformity to general minimum expectations for tennis professional coaching quality by certified professionals working in the United States; (3) improving certified tennis professional preparation and continuing education practices; and (4) elevating the status of certified U.S. tennis professionals in the U.S. workforce to better meet the needs of employers, tennis players, and the public.
How did the USPTA receive USTA Accreditation?
After almost a year of having provisional accreditation, the USPTA provided further documentation of its capabilities to the ARC, which included a comprehensive self-study. After reviewing the self-study and conducting a site visit, the ARC voted to approve the USPTA’s application and grant the Association full accreditation in January 2019.
The accreditation status exists for a period of 3 years, making USPTA the first and, to date, only fully-accredited tennis-teaching certification association in the United States.
What does the USPTA receiving USTA accreditation mean to USPTA pros and the facilities that hire USPTA tennis-teaching professionals?
Clubs and facilities that hire certified tennis-teaching professionals from the USPTA (as a fully accredited organization) will receive a host of benefits. The USPTA’s full accreditation provides, among other benefits, the following:
- USPTA-certified tennis professionals and the facilities they work at will receive priority listing on the USTA Net Generation Coaches Search website.
- Co-branded promotions to the public and employers that hire tennis-teaching professionals will highlight the new standards and detail how certified pros from an accredited organization will be Safe Play compliant and background checked. It will be provided at no cost to the individual clubs or pros.
- USPTA division conferences and the World Conferences will offer reduced fees for first-time attendees and new members.
- USPTA professionals will enjoy access to an array of online education via the new platform that will be hosted on Blackboard ULTRA.
- Consumers will enjoy improved customer experience on-court when taught by USPTA professionals.
- New professionals entering the market will be better prepared and more knowledgeable about the profession.
How does USTA Accreditation affect USPTA Professionals?
The USPTA’s mission is to elevate the standards of tennis-teaching professionals and coaches. Under the USTA Accreditation, USTA member organizations and tennis facilities will look to hire USPTA tennis-teaching professionals exclusively, thus having a significant impact on the job market. New applicants beginning in 2019 already are required to be Safe Play compliant. All members in good standing are exempt from the new certification standards. However, new certification candidates will have to meet the newly instituted standards starting in January 2021.
If I am already certified by the USPTA, will I have to get certified again?
Existing USPTA-certified tennis-teaching professionals do not need to certify again but must meet the continuing education requirements in the future. Currently, the requirement is 12 hours (or 6 credits) over 3 years, but the requirements will likely increase in 2020.
However, starting in 2021, all members in good standing will be required to be Safe Play compliant and get a background screen every 2 years. This cost will be covered by the USTA.
Can PTR-certified professionals take advantage of the benefits from the Accreditation program?
At present, the USPTA is the only fully-accredited teaching organization. The USPTA, at the recommendation of its board of directors, has initiated an equivalency pathway to membership for current and former “certified” Professional Tennis Registry members who may want to join the USPTA. The program, which will run through Dec. 31, 2019, would allow PTR-certified tennis professionals who have an interest in becoming USPTA-certified an expedited process that will consider their current and former certified membership status. In order to be considered for the PTR Equivalency Pathway, applicants must have been certified PTR members prior to Oct. 1, 2018.
For more information regarding the PTR to USPTA Equivalency Pathway, CLICK HERE
What will the continuing education requirements be for existing certified pros who are USPTA members in good standing?
Starting in 2020, a new 3-year education cycle will begin. While the exact number of hours and credits of continuing education has yet to be determined, there is a strong likelihood that there will be a modest increase over the current requirements of 12 hours or 6 credits. An announcement will be made at the end of 2019.
What are the requirements for the new certification pathway?
Starting sometime in 2021, professionals seeking certification will go through a comprehensive education and training program of approximately 1,500 hours, with 1,200 hours of on-the-job training and 300 hours of courses and workshops. This will typically last between 6 months and 1 year. The program will include online education courses, face-to-face workshops, conferences, teaching experience and mentorship while working in their current position.
What competencies will be achieved when a professional goes through the new certification program?
The primary purpose of the new certification program is to help professionals succeed in a career in tennis and give them a competitive advantage in the job market. Therefore, competencies achieved through the program need to include the following:
- Ability to plan, organize, and manage group and private lessons for beginner through intermediate-level players of all ages.
- Ability to plan, organize, and conduct competitive and social events for players of all ages and levels, including USTA tournaments, and in-house play.
- Demonstrate a basic understanding and foundation of the sports sciences with the ability to apply the principles of growth and development when working with youth.
- Ability to string and re-grip racquets and recommend equipment to customers.
- Understanding of tennis facility business operations and the importance of providing a safe environment for all customers
How will the mentorship aspect of the program work?
Each certification candidate must have a sponsor/mentor. Typically, this will be the person they work for or a person at their tennis facility. Pros who are unable to identify a sponsor/mentor will be assigned one. The mentor will be responsible for helping the certification candidate choose online courses that best fit the needs of the pro and their club, supporting the candidate going through the program by giving frequent feedback, and ultimately assessing and assisting the candidate through the certification pathway.