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post #881 of (permalink) Old Jun 20th, 2013, 08:22 AM
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Re: The Danes are coming - Danish juniors thread

I don't think an elite player in Denmark is affected very much. She (or he) can play just as many international tournaments they want to. No restricions (except pro tournaments, which I'll come back to in a minute). But any coach or parent can of course use whatever training approach he or she finds suitable for their player. ATK is not a law of nature; it's an approch you can choose to use or not. It's based on well-documened studies but any other approach could in theory give just as good results - or even better. It's just a matter of belief.

But ATK seems sensible to me. WTA, for instance, have changed their age eligibility rules several times over the years and made these increasingly restrictive. A decade or two ago, the WTA was dominated by teenagers, but these teenagers didn't last long. Now there has been change with several women peaking well into their 20's or even late 20's (like Schiavone or Li Na). This is not an incidental occurrence; it is the result of a well planned and deliberate policy of WTA and ITF to lenghten the careers of the tennis players! Remember, also Wozniacki was affected by the age eligibility rules when she started playing as a pro (rules that were much differnet than when Hingis, for instance, was starting out as a pro).

Let's have a look at the Danish situation. 2 weeks ago there were the Sealand Championships (Sjællandske mesterskaber) in DK. The U12 tournament had 71 girls on the entry list; U14 had 89 girls; U16 had 45 girls while U18 had only 8 girls! This means that the U18 draw was less than 10% the size of the U14 draw!

Often the U18 tournaments in Denmark have to be cancelled because of lack of players. The girls quit tennis before they're 18! There are many obvious reasons for this besides playing too much: they move away from home; find a boyfriend, start studying or work, or simply realize that they're not getting anywhere with their tennis career. Or, quite simply, they're disappointed that they're not producing the same results as when they were 12 or 14. But we must do everything we can to keep as many of these girls as possible within tennis. Extend their active career. It is believed that ATK helps in this respect. The tennis clubs and the Danish tennis league won't work if all the talented girls quit tennis at 16. And there's also a Fed Cup Team that needs to be nurtured with new talents.

Will ATK have any immediate impact on, say, Emilie Francati's career? Probably not (most likely not!). Will it have any positive effect on the number of good female +18 tennis players in Denmark in, say, 6 or 8 years from now? Hopefully, but we can't know for sure! It's worth a try. The results from other sports which have used ATK for some years looks promising.
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