I'm even now wondering out loud if because we have a developed college tennis system that it functions as our (minor league) $10k and $25k events, so there is less pressure for USTA and ITF to have $10k and $25k events here?
That's a really interesting idea and one that I had not really thought about before. Also it seems like the economy has killed more of these tournaments in the US and Mexico than it has in Europe, where they are still flourishing. Let's say you're right, and so then this
(rather than awarding scholarships to foreign players) is the huge flaw in the US development system. Let's face it, if you go play college tennis at age 18, you are not going to be a top-100 pro. History shows us that.
The argument is, "should we or should we not be awarding scholarships to international players," and inevitably it's a matter of opinion. My main point is that the "we're hurting US tennis development by not giving American girls a shot" argument is not valid. No girls, American or otherwise, are being developed into top pros in college.
The counter argument is that if American girls had the dangling carrot of college tennis as a backup, then they would somehow be more motivated to pursue tennis seriously at a young age. Most girls in Europe and South America have no idea about college tennis, yet hundreds still pursue tennis (sadly?) way past the point at which it is obvious that pro tennis will not be a viable option. More $10 and $25ks help keep them going, but bouncing around the continent making 250 bucks a tournament isn't covering the costs. These girls and their families are really rolling the dice.
Yes you're right - I have definitely discounted social norms as the huge factor that they are. I would agree that the social pressure for American kids to "be real" about their unrealistic chances at pro tennis career is what keeps them from chasing the dream into their 20s like their international counterparts do. I don't think that's what is keeping the US from developing great pros
though - I just think it's what is keeping America from developing great college players
(who are the 300-600 WTA burnouts, or those that would have likely burned out at that level if they had kept going). But we can't change that - we can't change social norms. We can't make it socially acceptable for an American girl to waste her parents money traveling around the world playing $10ks (wasting their money at college is a different story!), and we can't make it "weird" for European girls to not
go to college to piddle around on the tour. That's why, in the near future at least, there are always going to be more good international players in college tennis than Americans.
Last thing: There is more of an interest abroad for tennis to be successful. The USTA and the ITF are the governing bodies, but it is tennis clubs, businesses, and individuals that put together the money required to host a tournament. I used to know how much money it took to host a $10k or an ITF G3. I can't quote the exact figure, but it is substantial and the return on that investment is very minimal. It takes sponsors, it takes community interest, and it takes deep pockets. There could be a $10k in the US every other weekend if there were enough people/groups interested in sponsoring them. Sadly, there are not, and the USTA can only do so much.
What I would like:
1. For American pro tennis to make a comeback. I don't think changing the rules on internationals in college has much to do with that. I think it's about junior development. If America develops great players, more of them will have success on the tour, and more of them will be offered scholarships at high levels in college.
2. For college tennis to be the highest level it possibly can be played at. I think that the doors should be closed to true pros, but I do think that they should be open to the best players from around the world.