Saturday, May 31, 2008

The truth about American tennis

I'm speaking to myself, too, tennis fans, when I say that it's time to move on.
The heyday is over. American tennis has gone as far as it's going to go without a little extra (tennis) elbow grease. We're getting by on fumes.
But it's gone far. For years, American stars dominated the scene -- Johnny Mac, Connors, Evert, Seles, Sampras, Agassi, Capriati. Great rivalries and long-lasting careers.
But what was the USTA doing during this period? Not what Russia's doing, apparently, which is creating a powerhouse. Go through the top 100, especially on the women's side, and there are more "ovas" (17) on that list than Americans (7). The other problem is that of those six women, exactly none of them are young up-and-comers. Unless you count Ashley Harkleroad, and you're talking about ascending the ranks of adult magazines.
Where's the young talent? Answer: Sitting on the bench at Fed Cup matches. Really, how long before someone realizes that one day, Venus and Serena Williams (who aren't even really USTA products) are going to retire? Andy Roddick's elastic arm's not going to last forever, either.
Belgium tennis somehow managed to produce 2 great stars. Belgium's population is 10.5 million. For some context, the population of New York City and Houston combined is just over 10 million. I'm not making that up, although Wikipedia might be. So Belgium has filled its quota.
Riske, Brengle, even Mattek -- where's the support? How bad does it look when France -- France, for crying out loud, has 18-year-old Alize Cornet making some noise. (and not because of that nose, either. Honestly, can she smell anything?)
There is American talent. There's Donald Young and Scoville Jenkins, too. The USTA needs to develop their talent. If it weren't for Britain, we'd be at the bottom of the barrel. The expectations should be higher for the USTA, though. With the legacy American tennis already has, why is it resting on its laurels while Americans strike out at every Grand Slam (ahem -- including the one in our country -- ahem)?


van said...

Naf, you're 100 percent on point with this. On the men's side, I think you really only have two potential future Slam winners: Roddick (he has to be able to pick up a Wimbledon at some point, huh?) and Donald Young, provided he keeps improving. I feel, though, that he's already backsliding from the progress he was starting to make.

I don't see any potential top 20 players on the women's side, which is really sad.

Naf said...

I really think Young's parents really effed him up, much like Michelle Wie's dad did, by throwing him in with the big boys too fast. I hope he can recover. He does have talent.