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Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 06:36 PM   #1
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Another theory of mine

Still trying to explain why are we so good in Junior Circuit and so useless in winning WTA title.

First, I think that it DOES NOT necessarily require a huge talent to become a Top 100 player, of course it helps, but hard work can compensate for some lack of talent. HOWEVER while hard work is necessary it HAS to be complemented by an outstanding talent for an elite, Top 10 player. ( Feel free to argue with this point, as well as with others..)

Second, while being quite nationalistic, I do NOT think that averagely Russians are more talented in tennis or generally in sports than other nations.

Third, mathematically the abilty to find great talents is mostly statistical - if your selection covered 1,000,000 of players, your Top one player selection is almost certain to be better than if your selection was only 1 out of 10,000 players, more than that, if you select 10 best out of 1000000 it is guaranteed to be a averagely much better than Top 10 out of 10000.

Next point, lets compare USA and Russia. USA selection covers
millions of Juniors, they don't always make great Juniors, but they more often make great Pros. Russia's selection is about 10000 and even this, I suppose, is an overestimation. Statistically we should have no chance at all.

Then why are we so successful in Juniors, and they are not, and they are successfull in Pros and we are not. My explanation is that
averagely Russian juniors work much harder than their US counterparts. I talked to some coaches ( not only in tennis ) who worked here and there and they all agree on that. They say that US youngster can fool around instead of practicing, of if (s)he wants to leave early, (s)he'll do that, and (s)he certainly will not work untill (s)he falls and certainly won't sacrifice her teenager's fun for hard training. In Russia, if a good coach is working with you, normally it is like an army, you don't discuss, you do what they say, you do it as long as they say, if needed they won't hesitate to yell at you, they know how to get the best out of you, and they will do that. And, I suppose, In Juniors it pays, hard work of Russian tennis youngsters beats the relative laziness of their more talented Western opponents.

But once a western player moves closer to PRO level, and start
working their hardest, their averagely greater talent beats the combination of preceding harder work and less talent of their Russian opponents.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 07:19 PM   #2
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Excellent thoughts ys! But I think things will change with the next group of Russian junior girls, led by Maria Sharapova, Dinara Safina and Vera Douchevina. They are young, and they seem to be very talented. And they don't carry the burden to win that is haunting Anna Kournikova and Elena Dementieva.

ys, please post your thoughts on my Maria Sharapova thread in general messages. I'd be interested to read what you have to say.
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Old Mar 23rd, 2002, 10:07 PM   #3
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That's a good point, ys. I have read that, too, about US Juniors not working hard. That is why the college teams try to recruit from overseas, to the chagrin of many parents of US teenagers.

I agree with cat that things will turn around for the Russians, and I am not giving up hope on the current 19-and-under crop, either. Nadya, Lina, Elena Bovina, or Anastasia might yet turn the tide.
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Old Mar 24th, 2002, 02:44 AM   #4
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I agree with ys.
I mean, would you rather spend your teenage years with your mates, having fun. Or spend them with your tennis coach who thinks he's still in the army.
My last post on the Lina K. thread (where we talked about why so many young players get injured), could also some light on this subject. If the Russian girls train very hard during their young years, not only will they be more tired than their western counterparts on the pro tour, but they will also be more suseptible to injuries. As I said on Lina K. thread, from the age of about 10, the girls will do tennis training and play small matches. As their bodies grow and start to develop, they are still training, but also they start to do not only tennis training, but running and weights. I read an interview with Elena D. and she said that is what she started doing when she was 16/17. That is to young to do weights (in England it is illegal to do weights before your 18!). So her still growing body was put under to much strain. I think this is definately the case with Lina and her back.
There bodies can only take so much. When they are young teenagers, they can take even less.
They simply start to much training, too soon.

OK. I'm English. I've NEVER been to Russia or USA. All of what I just said is what I've deduced from various interviews and articles.
If I'm wrong...................well, I hope I am. But I rather think I'm right on this one.
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Old Mar 24th, 2002, 10:06 AM   #5
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Re: Another theory of mine

Quote:
Originally posted by ys
[b]First, I think that it DOES NOT necessarily require a huge talent to become a Top 100 player, of course it helps, but hard work can compensate for some lack of talent.
Totally disagree on that point. Top100 is just a hundred of players, while in the world there are millions and millions men and women who started playing tennis but never become even quality players. It`s quite a lottery - you give all to the tennis and never know if you achieve anything.

Quote:
Second, while being quite nationalistic, I do NOT think that averagely Russians are more talented in tennis or generally in sports than other nations.
Agree

Quote:
Third, mathematically the abilty to find great talents is mostly statistical - if your selection covered 1,000,000 of players, your Top one player selection is almost certain to be better than if your selection was only 1 out of 10,000 players, more than that, if you select 10 best out of 1000000 it is guaranteed to be a averagely much better than Top 10 out of 10000.
Not agree as a whole. Yes, statistic is on your side, but we cannot rely only on statistics, otherwise you won`t explain how in such tiny country as say Belgium there are two top10 players. And why there are not great players in China and India (with the exception of Vidjai), the world biggest countries. There are many other factors that matter. Is it the country`s favourite sport is the main I think. The interest in tennis in Russia dramatically increased over the past 10 years. Increased interest means that the most gifted guys go to play tennis, not to other SC as it was before.

Quote:
Then why are we so successful in Juniors, and they are not, and they are successfull in Pros and we are not. My explanation is that
averagely Russian juniors work much harder than their US counterparts. I talked to some coaches ( not only in tennis ) who worked here and there and they all agree on that. They say that US youngster can fool around instead of practicing, of if (s)he wants to leave early, (s)he'll do that, and (s)he certainly will not work untill (s)he falls and certainly won't sacrifice her teenager's fun for hard training. In Russia, if a good coach is working with you, normally it is like an army, you don't discuss, you do what they say, you do it as long as they say, if needed they won't hesitate to yell at you, they know how to get the best out of you, and they will do that. And, I suppose, In Juniors it pays, hard work of Russian tennis youngsters beats the relative laziness of their more talented Western opponents.
Maybe. But I do not think that a boy or a girl who didn`t give everyting to the sport ever become a great champion doesn`t matter in what country he lives even if he has a huge talent. These guys - Edberg, Becker, Sampras - were hard-working players since the childhood.
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Old Mar 24th, 2002, 04:47 PM   #6
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Totally disagree on that point. Top100 is just a hundred of players, while in the world there are millions and millions men and women who started playing tennis but never become even quality players
Then how do you explain that so many brothers and sisters make it to Top 100?. Like Blacks. There are three of them, not physically impressive, nothin extraordinary gamewise, but all three Top 100 players. It is just the right environment - good coach, atmosphere of commitment to reach success, and up to the point it works.
I had no chance in tennis, I didn't hold a racket before I was 20.
I did have a chance in chess. There were several of us - youngsters - in the club. And we all were nothing really extraordinary and started from zero. But we were quite eager first and worked quite hard, for some while, while excitement lasted, working at that was all we were doing. And we were improving. And when we were 11-12 yo, we were said by coaches that those of us who would completely dedicate their lives to this "sport", are practically guaranteed to become grossmeisters by the age of 20-25. Of course, that included that the ability of such a commitment is quite a talent as well. I knew I would not have wanted that, I quit soon after.


Quote:
Not agree as a whole. Yes, statistic is on your side, but we cannot rely only on statistics, otherwise you won`t explain how in such tiny country as say Belgium there are two top10 players. And why there are not great players in China and India (with the exception of Vidjai), the world biggest countries
First, I do think that the number of serious players in Russia and Belgium might be comparable. Maybe we have three times more, maybe two, maybe even less. As I said, 1 or 2 stars is less likely but not impossible, 5 or 10 big players from a country like Belgium is practically impossible. Who is next behind Henin and Clijsters?

India plays cricket, not tennis. And China plays nothing. Of course Czechoslovakia and Sweden were phehomenon in that sense. But I am pretty sure that they did have more players than USSR had. Other that happens is that at some point some country possesses some revolutionary technique in playing or coaching, and that gives them a huge advantage for a short while. In football at some point of time little countries like Austria, Hungary, Holland had incredibly good teams, possibly best in the world at the time, but averagely , over the time big nations like Italy, Germany, France, England are more successful.

Quote:
These guys - Edberg, Becker, Sampras - were hard-working players since the childhood.
Right, but can you imagine what Venus Williams would have achieved if she weren't , as she admits, lazy? It is clear that in terms of overall talent she is head and shoulders above everyone else, if she'd really wanted it, she would likely have become as dominant as Navratilova or Graf. What would Davenport have achieved if she'd decided to put herself in better shape at age of 18 instead of doing it only at age of 22? What would Capriati have achieved if she'd completely dedicate her teenage years to tennis and wouldn't have had that 5 year lapse? In some sense these players are also underachievers. In Tennis Magazine you often read about former US Juniors who could be better than Sampras, Agassi and Courier at some point, but somehow didn't achieve much. US tennis is operating with a tremendous number of players to select from, and that number will even grow when the children of Post-Soviet Russian immigrants and hi-tec immigrants from India and China grow, where I live - we occupy all public courts.
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Old Mar 24th, 2002, 05:36 PM   #7
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Cassius, I agree with you that young Russian athletes are severly overworked. That's what Sventlan Kuznetsova said in her interview with junior tennis. She intimated that alot of young Russian tennis players are ruined by training too hard.
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Old Mar 25th, 2002, 07:28 AM   #8
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ys, I used to practice track and field when I was a boy and I was said to have a talent and I worked very hard. I reached the 1st degree standards in long jump and triple jump at the age of 14. But at one point I thought, what will happen if I do not become a real professional. I had many examples before my eyes. Guys who devoted themselves only to the sport hoping for success and they didn`t get it. And they did not know what to do next. They had no education, nothing. So I decided to quit sport. And Andrey Olkhovsky with whom I spoke much later agreed that of the guys he played as a boy nobody made it to the top100, i.e. nobody had any profits from playing tennis. It`s a risk. The Blacks, which was your example, did not have that problems. They come from a very rich family and they did not care much about future. Why not playing tennis then? They had no fears of what-will-I-do-if-I-fail.

Quote:
Who is next behind Henin and Clijsters?
Before them was Roost, also a top10 player. After them goes Elke Clijsters.

But it`s not the point. My point is that Dementieva, Myskina, Petrova came to tennis when it wasn`t #1 sport in Russia. The next generation - Safina, Sharapova - came when it already was. #1 here I mean the girl`s sport. Girls do not play football or ice-hockey. So tennis clubs from the early 90th began to attract the most talented girls which was not the same with Dementieva and others of her age. The generation of future Grand Slam winners in Russia are now playing in juniors .
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Old Mar 25th, 2002, 03:42 PM   #9
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ys, I used to practice track and field when I was a boy and I was said to have a talent and I worked very hard. I reached the 1st degree standards in long jump and triple jump at the age of 14. But at one point I thought, what will happen if I do not become a real professional.

Fresh, you can't really compare track and field and tennis. Track and Field is a very poor sport, all those Grand Prix T&F series, it doesn't generate any money, so basically your fears were understandable. Tennis operates with an excess of a billion of dollars, and it generates a lot of income. T&F gives a prosperous life to a very few superstars. In tennis about 100 men and 50 women have an income so that they can be classified as rich people. Another 100 of men and 50 or so women make enough money for decent living. Tennis is a major recreational sport in the United States and some other countries. Apart from the class of executives who play golf, most of middle class from where I live skis in winter and play tennis in summer. It means that a good professionally trained tennis player will almost always be able to earn some money on coaching amateurs. I know it is not much fun, but not all jobs are fun.

Quote:
And Andrey Olkhovsky with whom I spoke much later agreed that of the guys he played as a boy nobody made it to the top100, i.e. nobody had any profits from playing tennis. It`s a risk. The Blacks, which was your example, did not have that problems.
That's oranges and apples. But it contributes too. Olkhovsky is one of the last tennis players from Soviet tennis system. And we all know what it was. Courts for limited use. Two cans of balls per week. Goskomsport would take almost all money you'd earn, but would not help you playing on Junior, Satellite and Challenger circuit. Hard work is necessary. But it would have to be done in the right environment. If there is no conditions created for your development, then that's really a problem. Besides, the tennis market in Russia is ( and in USSR was even in more extent ) of very little size. How many paid coaches for amateurs can find enough job in Russia? 50? You can't compare your chances to make WTA or ATP Top 100 when you living in USSR and USA even considering equal talents. In my statement ( that no huge talent is necessary to reach Top 100 ) it was assumed that conditions are ideal , i.e. you can train as much as you want, you can have equipment that you like, you have someone to play with, you have a chance to play internationally. Even most of current generation ( Myskina, Dementieva, etc ) had the conditions that were pretty fair and incomparably better than in soviet tiems.

Quote:
Before them was Roost, also a top10 player. After them goes Elke Clijsters.
Would you try to even compare van Roost and Henin/Clijsters? Van Roost was just a decent player, solid Top 20, who maybe ( I don't remember ) cracked Top 10 once or twice. She did nothing to be really remembered for by not her fans. Henin/Clijsters are elite, who already made history by reaching GS finals. Elke Clijsters is in approximately same position as she is now for already quite a while. I think younger siblings of Clijsters and Hewitt are not even close in talent department to their olders siblings.

Quote:
But it`s not the point. My point is that Dementieva, Myskina, Petrova came to tennis when it wasn`t #1 sport in Russia. The next generation - Safina, Sharapova - came when it already was. #1 here I mean the girl`s sport. Girls do not play football or ice-hockey. So tennis clubs from the early 90th began to attract the most talented girls which was not the same with Dementieva and others of her age. The generation of future Grand Slam winners in Russia are now playing in juniors
This could be true. But then, I can't imagine someone much more talented then, say, Kournikova.. And remember, in times of Dementieva/Myskina junior years tennis was a government-preferred and supported sport in Russia. Not now. Hopefully our downhillers will start doing well soon, that will be a consolation.

Safina makes the same impression as Hantuchova - tall, skinny girl whose body is not likely to have been designed to withstand a workload of current WTA elite. Safina looks like an injury-prone too. Just like Hantuchova or Kournikova. I haven't seen much of Sharapova recently so I can't say. Afinogenova? Kleibanova? Maybe..
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Old Mar 25th, 2002, 05:14 PM   #10
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OK, the point is taken.
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