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View Full Version : Why does the USA system NOT produce top female players?


Volcana
Apr 13th, 2011, 09:27 PM
Understand what I mean by the 'system'. THe USTA, the tennis academies, and the agents. Players like the Williams sisters and Jennifer Capriati, are products of a personal regimen tailored to those players. The 'System' had relatively little to do with their development. Now go back to the beginning of the Open Era, and look at the slam winning American players.

BJK, Evert, Navrtilova, Seles, Davenport, Capriati, Venus, Serena

The only one of those players who's truly a product of USTA development is Davenport. Maybe you could argue BJK, but that's it. The next teir of Americans, Fernandez, Rubin, Shaughnessy ... well, Shaughnessy fell out with the USTA as well, but that wasn't their fault.

We have the resources, but we aren't producing the players. We still rack up a lot of Gold medals, so clearly we have female athletes. Which means the problem is the training. Seems to me that the whole 'academy' system is a cash cow that gives little milk.

Bismarck.
Apr 13th, 2011, 09:39 PM
I would say that college has become too attractive an option for young tennis players, as it's evidently more secure to keep studying and prepare yourself for any future career should your tennis fail and then have more options once you have finished college than to give up school at 14 and then prepare for a ten to fifteen year slog on the pro Tour in which there is a much higher rate of failure. I'd say the NCAA has become a far more popular prospect to most young American players in the last ten years or so and is draining away a large percentage of teens from going onto the Tour.

Kairi
Apr 13th, 2011, 09:55 PM
and they dont have Richard Williams :shrug:

azinna
Apr 13th, 2011, 09:57 PM
This is likely multi-factorial, but included in there should be a selection issue. Both who the USTA selects to develop and who self-selects to be developed through the USTA. When I compare the two lists of players you have above, I can't help but simply say there is a serious talent difference. Davenport's exceptional hands and ball-striking ability seems like an exception that may prove some kinda rule.

.....

goldenlox
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:01 PM
I think its random. How did a small country like Belgium have 2 great players at the same time?
A great player can come from anywhere, and more countries have parents taking their kids to tennis.

There's so much money now, a girl needs a special mentality to risk their health for more titles when they have million$$

erschloy214
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:03 PM
I wish I knew the answer to this question, b/c I would like to see more top girls coming through. It's very disappointing. I also think that women's tennis isn't as popular a sport in the US as it once was...soccer, basketball, and other team sports appear to be more appealing here.

erschloy214
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:05 PM
I would say that college has become too attractive an option for young tennis players, as it's evidently more secure to keep studying and prepare yourself for any future career should your tennis fail and then have more options once you have finished college than to give up school at 14 and then prepare for a ten to fifteen year slog on the pro Tour in which there is a much higher rate of failure. I'd say the NCAA has become a far more popular prospect to most young American players in the last ten years or so and is draining away a large percentage of teens from going onto the Tour.

I agree with this as well! College probably doesn't seem as nearly a difficult path as a tennis career...and many US girls don't seem to have a lot of mental toughness to become a pro.

VeeJJ
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:07 PM
I would say that college has become too attractive an option for young tennis players, as it's evidently more secure to keep studying and prepare yourself for any future career should your tennis fail and then have more options once you have finished college than to give up school at 14 and then prepare for a ten to fifteen year slog on the pro Tour in which there is a much higher rate of failure. I'd say the NCAA has become a far more popular prospect to most young American players in the last ten years or so and is draining away a large percentage of teens from going onto the Tour.

This. To the tee. Thread Closed.

Gdsimmons
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:12 PM
I would say that college has become too attractive an option for young tennis players, as it's evidently more secure to keep studying and prepare yourself for any future career should your tennis fail and then have more options once you have finished college than to give up school at 14 and then prepare for a ten to fifteen year slog on the pro Tour in which there is a much higher rate of failure. I'd say the NCAA has become a far more popular prospect to most young American players in the last ten years or so and is draining away a large percentage of teens from going onto the Tour.

Yep. All of this right here

Sammo
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:33 PM
and they dont have Richard Williams :shrug:

That idiot would only agree to train black players :rolleyes:

njnetswill
Apr 13th, 2011, 10:52 PM
Players like Sharapova and Jankovic are products of the American tennis academy system. They just aren't American citizens.

Cp6uja
Apr 13th, 2011, 11:15 PM
It's not that easy answer like it seems. First of all no way that American girls are less motivated to be WTA TOP players than in past. Serena Williams played just half season in 2010, but together with hers lucrative sponsors contracts its enough to reach over 20 millions dollars in one single season, and great Chris Evert during whole career reach under 10 millions from tournaments money prizes and in that times sponsors contracts in tennis (and other sports) not even close follow big stars success like these days. Williams Sisters (29 and 30 old) are last American WTA Real-Deals, but on other hand some younger players such as Jankovic, Sharapova and Azarenka is actually products of USA tennis school and system (not Serbian, Russian or Belorussian for sure). Also, don't forget that in past there is even more pathetic era's in USA WTA history. Since 1998 only twice (2004 and 2006) Americans not won any WTA GS (thanks to Sisters, Davenport and Capriati), but between 1988 and 1995 they one just one single slam in 8 consecutive years! So there is many reasons for this post-Williams disaster, but two of them can't be ignored in any case:
1) lack of supertalents born after 1981 (or after 1982 if we count ATP case).
2) USTA sucks (if lack of supertalents is answer why there is no new #1 players from USA, lack of 1983+ born USA TOP10 ATP/WTA players simple can't be just coincidence).

Vicky88
Apr 14th, 2011, 12:19 AM
There is no need to strive to be the best. There is plenty of money to be made by just being a good solid player week in week out. The real bucks in any sports are made based on looks so no matter how good a player is, without the looks to match they will be SOL in the sponsorship stakes.

Sp!ffy
Apr 14th, 2011, 12:33 AM
We have to let other countries get a chance at being good at things too, you know.

VeeJJ
Apr 14th, 2011, 12:52 AM
We have to let other countries get a chance at being good at things too, you know.

Hahahahaha :happy:

Nice.

BlueTrees
Apr 14th, 2011, 01:42 AM
Christina McHale is one of the best up and coming players at the moment. She's definitely sometime to look out for.

backhandsmash
Apr 14th, 2011, 02:24 AM
Christina McHale is one of the best up and coming players at the moment. She's definitely sometime to look out for.

That.


I think she really is the future for US women's tennis.

thegreendestiny
Apr 14th, 2011, 02:43 AM
Two words: Melanie Oudin :worship:

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 02:47 AM
Two words: Melanie Oudin :worship:

Melanie Oudin wasn't a USTA girl actually.

McHale, Stephens, and Vandeweghe all train at USTA centers. They could the beginning of a new wave of players that find success on the tour. Only time will tell, but there are a few 14-15 year olds who are training with the USTA who have promise. Samantha Crawford is one of them... a 15 year old who just won the G1 USTA Spring Championships and the Eddie Herr 16s at the end of 2010.

shoparound
Apr 14th, 2011, 03:51 AM
I think it's also because the USTA for the past decade has been all about money...
After going around the US Open last year and talking to some high officials, they seem to be greedy, stuck up, money hungry people. None seem to know or care about the actual tennis, as long as they get the money from those parents...
I think it's getting better now though (they probably hired new staff).

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 04:10 AM
I think it's also because the USTA for the past decade has been all about money...
After going around the US Open last year and talking to some high officials, they seem to be greedy, stuck up, money hungry people. None seem to know or care about the actual tennis, as long as they get the money from those parents...
I think it's getting better now though (they probably hired new staff).

I think it's getting better too... a lot of former players are getting involved in Player Development or receiving high up positions in the USTA. Kathy Rinaldi, Chanda Rubin, Patrick McEnroe, Jeff Tarango, Lori McNeil, and others have all gotten very involved in the USTA recently. I think former successful tour players working with these young players is going to help the American juniors in the long run.

Le Tenisse
Apr 14th, 2011, 04:42 AM
Us girls rely too much on local hardcourt challengers, and then, when they have to play against europeans, they mostly fail. Except for some girls like Oudin and King, but although briefly, US girls donīt travel that much to Europe or some other International events. Even 3/4 weeks in ITFs outside US. And certainly the frozen prize money doesnīt help to those that donīt have the same advantages than others.

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 05:00 AM
Us girls rely too much on local hardcourt challengers, and then, when they have to play against europeans, they mostly fail. Except for some girls like Oudin and King, but although briefly, US girls donīt travel that much to Europe or some other International events. Even 3/4 weeks in ITFs outside US. And certainly the frozen prize money doesnīt help to those that donīt have the same advantages than others.

I agree with this. I think a lot of our girls would certainly benefit from playing some 25ks and 50ks in Europe. The USTA pro circuit generally has pretty strong entrylists, but experience playing in another country, against some talented players who don't travel as much to USA maybe, and on a surface like red clay could help. The USTA started, a couple years ago, sending groups of American juniors to play on clay in Europe. I don't remember who went last year, but two years ago it was McHale, Muhammed, and another player... maybe Stephens? But if you look at our best prospects now, they are girls who spent some time traveling overseas. McHale and Stephens have played a decent amount on European red clay in the past couple of years and I think it's really benefited them.

shoparound
Apr 14th, 2011, 05:10 AM
Is Muhammed still doing good? I have not heard about any of her results in a while. And what about Glatch?

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 05:16 AM
Is Muhammed still doing good? I have not heard about any of her results in a while. And what about Glatch?

Muhammed seems destined to be an ITF girl if nothing changes. Except for a US Open qualifying win in 2009, she hasn't really done much in the past couple of years. It's a shame... she has the talent to be top 200.

Glatch has just been marred by injuries ever since mid 2009. She started to show a brief resurgence early this year and reached the QFs of Memphis, and then was ill for a little while and didn't play in March. She lost in the first round of a 25k today. I really hope she can recover from all of her physical struggles... she's only 21 and has a beautiful game. I still have such fond memories of how she rose to the occasion and went 2-0 in her Fed Cup debut in 2009... absolutely great tennis. Thought she could be top 50 easily after that.

Unfulfilled potential is pretty much the common them for American girls in that 19-21 age group. Brodsky, Muhammed, Boserup, Glatch, Brengle, and Albanese. All could be top 150, and some top 100. Who knows if they will ever reach there though.

Slutiana
Apr 14th, 2011, 07:55 AM
Christina McHale is one of the best up and coming players at the moment. She's definitely sometime to look out for.

That.


I think she really is the future for US women's tennis.
:lol: She's a good playet but I really doubt she'll be a "top" player.

Anyway, this isn't just a US issue. Most top players made it to the top separately from their national tennis system.

Smitten
Apr 14th, 2011, 09:54 AM
Short: They need to go to clay-based training.

Any other extenuated argument comes from this sentence.

Londoner
Apr 14th, 2011, 11:09 AM
I also think there has been a shift in culture in the US and the UK too. It's all about instant success now (X Facotr, American Idol etc) and fast gain materialism rather than hard slog with no guarantees. People are famous for nothing and many just ride on their parents' name. It's affecting not just tennis but the arts and life in general. Schools now Molly coddle and promote non-competitiveness. This also affects business and many young people will find life tough in the real world. The drive required to succeed in some areas such as tennis is too much. The Russians were hungry for success, Kim came from a sporting family as did many others. Sure there are some random success stories, Henin was driven no matter where she came from. But they are few and far between and getting fewer. Unfortunately rot spreads and it's endemic in the UK, and it could well be other countries this applies to in a few years.

Hian
Apr 14th, 2011, 11:28 AM
We have to let other countries get a chance at being good at things too, you know.

That's why Oudick sucks and McTalentless has a good win in two months.

chuvack
Apr 14th, 2011, 12:29 PM
Historically most of the great US players, both men and women, came from outside the US tennis development system, from the tennis "private sector" of private sponsors and parental management, rather than the "public sector" run by USTA and its coaches. I guess it reflects the American mentality of private enterprise.

Chang, Agassi, Sampras, the Williams, Capriati were all developed outside of the USTA. I understand that Davenport and Roddick had some involvement with USTA but that their junior careers were also managed independently.

pov
Apr 14th, 2011, 02:27 PM
What country's tennis system does produce top players - either female or male? I can't think of any top player who didn't go the road of individual development. There may be some but clearly not many.

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 02:53 PM
I think this will be an interesting topic to revisit in the coming years... USTA girls vs. non. Not like it will be a big competition, but just to see which top prospects developed best and which didn't.

USTA: McHale, Stephens, Vandeweghe, Crawford, Min, Boserup, Van Nguyen, (all I can think of off the top of my head)

Non: Oudin, Keys, Davis, Duval, Austin, Andrews, Hardebeck, Makarova.

Melange
Apr 14th, 2011, 03:03 PM
Alexandra Stevenson is non-USTA

Protoss
Apr 14th, 2011, 04:14 PM
Who was the last American other than Serena or Venus to be in the top 20 in singles or win a Wta singles title?

DefyingGravity
Apr 14th, 2011, 04:41 PM
In the United States, in addition to college being the safe option...we just lose our top female athletes to a bunch of other sports. If you look at it, a lot of girls now can play basketball, softball, soccer, figure skating, tennis, gymnastics, swimming, skiing because the late 90's and 2000's saw these top athletic names:

Serena and Venus Williams
Michelle Kwan
Mia Hamm
Lisa Leslie
Sasha Cohen
Sarah Hughes
Dara Torres
Nastia Liukin
Shawn Johnson
Lindsay Davenport
Monica Seles
Picabo Street
Jennifer Capriati

There are a lot of sports with world class role models to choose from and little girls can get very much divided. Tennis just isn't attracting a lot of top athletes, and I know I'm missing a lot more top athletes that are role models in other female sports from the United States. With more distractions and no truly dominant female sport in the United States at the moment, a lot of the women are going to be divided up and there's not going to be a dominant force for the most part (the exception being maybe the US women's soccer team)

tanman
Apr 14th, 2011, 06:27 PM
I think this will be an interesting topic to revisit in the coming years... USTA girls vs. non. Not like it will be a big competition, but just to see which top prospects developed best and which didn't.

USTA: McHale, Stephens, Vandeweghe, Crawford, Min, Boserup, Van Nguyen, (all I can think of off the top of my head)

Non: Oudin, Keys, Davis, Duval, Austin, Andrews, Hardebeck, Makarova.

You can add Stephens,Boserup,and Van Nguyen to the non-USTA group now.

miffedmax
Apr 14th, 2011, 06:41 PM
College isn't even that safe an option as more and more schools are recruiting women from overseas to play.

The biggest problem the US in tennis is the same that it has in soccer--most of the places that provide good training to young athletes are for-profit entities that charge fees that exclude large numbers of kids from getting access to superior training and development.

Some poor/middle class kids do get scholarships and money invested from outside, but often it comes too late in the game and they're playing catch-up in such a technique-driven sport. It seems to me we start to invest those scholarships in kids around 14 or 15 while other countries are doing it at six or seven.

I do think the USTA has kind of woken up and realized they have to rethink things, (reconfiguring the U-10 game to make it playable and fun is a good first step, and they do seem to want to find talent younger) but it's going to be awhile before it bears fruit.

Stamp Paid
Apr 14th, 2011, 06:49 PM
The Russians were hungry, Eastern European players were hungry, looking for opportunities to advance the lives of themselves and their families. But in the US, tennis is such a privileged, middle class sport - its just a way for many American girls/boys to get college scholarships. Oudin/Glatch/Vandeweghe/Capra/whoever....Those girls arent hungry enough to make bridge the gap between their talent and truly being successful. Even the boys, players like Young/Jenkins/Simmonds...all middle class. Nothing wrong with being middle class, but I think a lot of the hunger and drive is not as strong as in people who have had to face more adversity.

USTA needs more outreach in minority and economically disadvantaged communities. Take the basketball/football out of their hands, make the resources available for the athletically gifted to train with elite coaches and fitness trainers, while staying close to their community and not shipping them away to academies central Florida. You may not get another Venus and Serena (truly elite players) necessarily, but definitely some hungry, solid players to populate the Top 50/Top 100 on both tours.

simonsaystennis
Apr 14th, 2011, 06:55 PM
You can add Stephens,Boserup,and Van Nguyen to the non-USTA group now.

I thought Boserup was still working with Gullickson?

And Stephens has been training out of USTA's Carson facility for some time now. Didn't know that changed.

Not surprised Van Nguyen was dropped... her results has been dismal lately.

Lighter
Apr 14th, 2011, 07:13 PM
There is more money in Tennis than in alpin ski. But USA currently get 4 stars in Alpin ski with Lindsey Vonn, Julia Mancuso, Ted Ligety and Bode Miller who mainly compete with European talents.
I guess that the best answer comes from Marion Bartoli who said the same thing for french hopes : "It's probably a question a lack of talent".
If you look next russian prospects, except Nasty Pavlyu, there is not yet sign of future top 10.
And on the other side, Pova, JJ and Vika have worked in USA for a very long time. They're "made in USA".

colt13
Apr 14th, 2011, 09:45 PM
Well, my opinion is that the system is backwards. Football is a little tougher to travel, but they have all star games. then college, then pro. Basketball players male and female have camps and travel. Baseball and softball travel. Yet our girls are taking wild cards into WTA events at 14 and 15 because their management wants them to. Kids should have their home club/academy, travel to the Orange Bowl and a couple other tournaments and work on building thier game. Management makes it a money grab, so when they see the first flash of potential they forget the big picture. And when the girl who is 5-8 at 13 and can outhit everyone, is still at 5-8 at 20, she still hasn't learned how to construct a point.

Le Tenisse
Apr 16th, 2011, 07:24 AM
You can add Stephens,Boserup,and Van Nguyen to the non-USTA group now.

Oh, i was under the impression that any world ranked US girl could practice at any of the USTA facilities :scratch:

Jakeev
Apr 16th, 2011, 07:50 AM
I don't think there is just one factor to why we haven't seen an "American prodigy" in a lot of years.

If you looked at a Grand Slam draw say in 1981, you would have seen Americans galore, but I couldn't tell you how many of them came out of the USTA system.

But this year, I have seen a glimmer of hope, albeit a small one, as in several tournaments many American players are getting past their first round matches of main draw events.