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View Full Version : What's wrong with American tennis by Jose Higueras


JWilster
07-10-2007, 11:18 AM
I came across an recent article by Jose Higueras (former pro). His view is that American players are not as dominating as in the past because they were not developed using clay courts when they were juniors.

Some excerpts:

"certain core attributes are best developed on clay and then augmented through experience on faster surfaces."

"It seems, though, that one American after another brings his of hers almost robotic version of flatter, harder, and faster without any fallback plan and without footwork, balance, and dexterity of clay court players. This type of play places Americans at significant disadvantage to the 70% of the world that learns to play on clay."

Her concludes, "Junior development + clay courts = success"

I should point out that he is a spokesman for Har-tru.

What do you think of this view?
Is he just trying to sell Har-tru courts?

Sampras and Agassi did well. Did they grow up playing significant amounts of time on clay?

Do we need to send the USTA a copy of Higueras' article? They are suppossedly starting to train kids in "boot camps".

mileslong
07-10-2007, 11:44 AM
there is no doubt that he is trying to sell his product here. i would like to see amercian youth trained on clay as well as hardcourts, i do think it makes you a better all round player but it is not a necessity to learn on clay in order to be a great player. as mentioned, sampras, agassi, conners, mcenroe, courier, ash etc didnt grow up on clay and even a couple of them won french opens.

i think it hurts you to only grow up learning to play on just one surface. why do you think there are all these clay court specialists? because they only grew up playing on clay and they suck on any surface faster than that. nadal is an exception rather than the rule.

if i had to pick just one surface it would be hard courts because most of the important tournaments are played on them. also, clay might help footwork and stamina but it also lends itself to long, high spinning strokes which doesnt translate well to fast courts. as an example, guys like guga and gaudio who have wonderful backhands need extra time to prepare and make that long loopy swing, their backhands were nearly as effective on the faster surfaces. it even effects nadal when he plays on fast surfaces.

now as far as amercian tennis, i think the same thing that has hurt baseball has hurt tennis in this country. all the best athletes in the US play basketball or football, its glamerous and the money is huge. tennis is not popular in the inner cities, its just not considered cool. i was winning championships in dallas, texas when i was a youth then just gave it all up to pursue football and baseball like an idiot. i played some college baseball and rugby but never made it past there. why? because tennis wasnt as cool or as fun as those other team sports.

that thought process has to change in order to get the best athletes in the US playing tennis and sticking with it. the same holds true in soccer. none of the great athletes in the US play soccer because its not cool and its not that popular in the US. its too slow for the american mentality. its a shame that a small country like serbia has better players on the tour than a country like the united states.

im not sure what can be done about it. if federer was an american it would definately help some of these young people decide to go into tennis rather the other popular sports. tiger woods helped get a lot of minorities interested in golf where there was no interest before. it takes a real champion to get that kind of interest, since sampras and agassi the US hasnt had anyone like that, roddick doesnt count.

superstition
07-10-2007, 12:01 PM
Get rid of hard courts and replace them with grass and clay. Having a longer clay season and practically no grass season is not my idea of good reform.

dora_75
07-10-2007, 12:14 PM
now as far as amercian tennis, i think the same thing that has hurt baseball has hurt tennis in this country. all the best athletes in the US play basketball or football, its glamerous and the money is huge. tennis is not popular in the inner cities, its just not considered cool. i was winning championships in dallas, texas when i was a youth then just gave it all up to pursue football and baseball like an idiot. i played some college baseball and rugby but never made it past there. why? because tennis wasnt as cool or as fun as those other team sports.

that thought process has to change in order to get the best athletes in the US playing tennis and sticking with it. the same holds true in soccer. none of the great athletes in the US play soccer because its not cool and its not that popular in the US. its too slow for the american mentality. its a shame that a small country like serbia has better players on the tour than a country like the united states.

Very very true assesment of the state of tennis in USA and in general in the world. Money and exposure go hand in hand. I have seen once a statistic about how many profesional training hours you need to become pro and tennis is ranked second after golf and you can't even compare the revenues generated by golf to tennis. Bball and football (USA style) are easy to learn and the money is just HUGE. Why would anyone play tennis anyway? Most of the time the starting point for tennis is family. I play tennis so my daughter will learn it as well she has no choice because my wife playes too. So the crop of tennis players limited by the athletic afinities of their parents. You can't play tennis on your back yard or on the driveway.

Just to get back to the original post, I think tennis in USA is where the entire nation is fast gains (now maybe I am generalising but this is just my opinion looking at the privat sector plus in schools the agresive-react-fast behavior is rewarded handsomelly). Think about Europe, there are junior national centers Tony Parker was in one Federer was in one etc so there is not so much preasure from young age to perform well to secure sponsorships. In USA parents pay for it most of the time and there is little help from the government (please correct me if I am wrong). Another thing in USA is the preasure on the kids to win from parents, friends etc. So they play to winn and don't develop enough. What you need is money backed up by state/gov to setup centers of some sort to develop players. I don't think it has to do with clay vs hard, as other mentioned above there are a lot of USA players that won RG.

BounceHitBounceHit
07-10-2007, 12:40 PM
Do we need to send the USTA a copy of Higueras' article? They are suppossedly starting to train kids in "boot camps".

Higueras is a very highly respected teacher and former(present too?) USTA National Coach. I am sure the USTA knows of his theories. :D

CC

Eviscerator
07-10-2007, 02:04 PM
I came across an recent article by Jose Higueras (former pro). His view is that American players are not as dominating as in the past because they were not developed using clay courts when they were juniors.

Some excerpts:

"certain core attributes are best developed on clay and then augmented through experience on faster surfaces."

"It seems, though, that one American after another brings his of hers almost robotic version of flatter, harder, and faster without any fallback plan and without footwork, balance, and dexterity of clay court players. This type of play places Americans at significant disadvantage to the 70% of the world that learns to play on clay."

Her concludes, "Junior development + clay courts = success"

I should point out that he is a spokesman for Har-tru.

What do you think of this view?
Is he just trying to sell Har-tru courts?

Sampras and Agassi did well. Did they grow up playing significant amounts of time on clay?

Do we need to send the USTA a copy of Higueras' article? They are suppossedly starting to train kids in "boot camps".

I don't buy it just from history alone. We have produced great champions that never grew up with clay. Tilden, Budge, Kramer, Smith, Connors, McEnroe, Agassi, Courier, Sampras and others. Most of them never won the French yet had distinguished careers.

35ft6
07-10-2007, 02:52 PM
What do you think of this view?I more or less agree. It seems like clay courters have less problems and more success adjusting to faster surfaces but that hard courters are having a bigger problem adjusting to clay.

Of course, a few years ago, Courier, Agassi, and Chang would have been proof of the opposite, so maybe it's a cyclical thing, but overall, it does seem most of the modern greats came from clay backgrounds. Becker, Borg, Lendl, Edberg, and Federer.

You figure, over the course of their development, they must hit so many more ground strokes than their hard court counterparts. So many more chances to groove their strokes, and clay courts makes you develop point construction... you can't just serve and forehand somebody off the court. I'm speaking in generalities.

I really think Japan should develop its players on clay.

Eviscerator
07-10-2007, 05:49 PM
It seems like clay courters have less problems and more success adjusting to faster surfaces but that hard courters are having a bigger problem adjusting to clay.



I don't agree, though you did go on to preface your comment with the cyclical analogy. My reason for not agreeing is that they have slowed the faster surfaces in the last 6 years, therefore clay courters have benefited. Conversely, they have not sped up the slower surfaces, so grass/hard court players have not benefited in the same way. You speed up clay or slow hard courts and watch the difference in how well attacking players do.

Terre Battu
07-10-2007, 06:00 PM
Hard Courts.

davey
07-10-2007, 07:18 PM
now as far as amercian tennis, i think the same thing that has hurt baseball has hurt tennis in this country. all the best athletes in the US play basketball or football, its glamerous and the money is huge. tennis is not popular in the inner cities, its just not considered cool. i was winning championships in dallas, texas when i was a youth then just gave it all up to pursue football and baseball like an idiot. i played some college baseball and rugby but never made it past there. why? because tennis wasnt as cool or as fun as those other team sports.


Baseball hasn't been hurt, they make the second most money with many players over $10 mil, basketball first and football last by far and the least glamourous. Sure the NFL has it's stars but they are mostly quarterbacks, wide receivers and runningbacks. Ask any lineman how glamourous it is.

mileslong
07-10-2007, 08:34 PM
Baseball hasn't been hurt, they make the second most money with many players over $10 mil, basketball first and football last by far and the least glamourous. Sure the NFL has it's stars but they are mostly quarterbacks, wide receivers and runningbacks. Ask any lineman how glamourous it is.
baseball was the number one sport in this country for generations and now it has slipped to number 3 or 4 in popularity depending on who you talk to. there are fewer and fewer black athletes playing baseball now and they are the best overall athletes. now when stacked up against japan, cuba, puerto rico etc the US is not dominant anymore by any stretch. those are the facts...

35ft6
07-11-2007, 02:27 AM
I don't agree, though you did go on to preface your comment with the cyclical analogy. My reason for not agreeing is that they have slowed the faster surfaces in the last 6 years, therefore clay courters have benefited. Conversely, they have not sped up the slower surfaces, so grass/hard court players have not benefited in the same way. You speed up clay or slow hard courts and watch the difference in how well attacking players do. Still, there were Lendl, Borg, Edberg, and Becker before the slowing down of the courts.

PBODY99
07-11-2007, 06:20 AM
Jose's track record in coaching speaks for itself. There is a need for more soft court training for the best young players, and the USTA at on omitting the National Clay courts as one of their selection criteria for junior sponsorship to their training center seems bizarre.
Yes,tennis as a way up the economic ladder isn't going to capture as many great athletes as in other countries. Get used to it. I'm going to work on my old mans serve. :)
Yes, I spend most of my outdoor season on red & green clay. My old bones can't take daily hard court sessions.

the green god
07-11-2007, 06:40 AM
mcenroe won all his junior titles on clay.

JWilster
07-11-2007, 09:37 AM
Higueras supports his proposal by citing his own experience growing up on clay courts in BArcelona:

"I played patient, low risk tennis"; "was willing to develop points and play defense"; "learned how to use spin and height and depth to neutralize opponents"

Only once on the tour did he spend more time on different surfaces and learned what adjustments are needed for hard courts and grass.

But, he insists that starting on clay is better and that the other way around, which is what American players do, does not work as well.

Rpp
07-11-2007, 10:01 AM
Still, there were Lendl, Borg, Edberg, and Becker before the slowing down of the courts.

Maybe the courts are the same but players are quicker.

Anyway on clay you need better technique to excel, and also get far more repetition.

Zverev
07-11-2007, 05:11 PM
I agree with OP.
Same thing is hurting Australian tennis, I beleive - dominance of fast courts, especially in the country.
When Hewitt is gone - there is nobody near 100.
Watched our best hopes Chris Guccione at Wimby - wonderful S/V game, but the guy doesn't have a clue how to hit groundstokes or hold a rally.
99% people in country clubs hit flat/sliced shots and doing just fine - the ball doesn't bounce, you can't get under the ball.
I see our teens are trying to spin more but 60 yo farters hold very well and youngsters get upset very often. Playing on such courts just doesn't develop your game well.

NamRanger
07-11-2007, 05:52 PM
I don't buy it just from history alone. We have produced great champions that never grew up with clay. Tilden, Budge, Kramer, Smith, Connors, McEnroe, Agassi, Courier, Sampras and others. Most of them never won the French yet had distinguished careers.




These men benefit from faster surfaces though. Agassi also never was great untill he learned to be patient and grind.

With the much slower surfaces today, American players will never be able to get to the top again unless they start changing the way juniors are taught.

Eviscerator
07-11-2007, 06:12 PM
there are fewer and fewer black athletes playing baseball now and they are the best overall athletes.



:roll:

Talk about a racist comment. If someone were to say that Whites were overall the best thinkers you would probably have a fit. Yet you post that Blacks are the best overall athletes. :confused: :roll:

crosscourt
07-12-2007, 03:17 AM
There is a kind of snobbism about clay court tennis on the part of clay court tennis lovers. (Just as grass court tennis lovers see shortcomings in clay court tennis.) Playing on clay is very instructive. But what it really does is make you a clay court player. Some clay court skills are transferable to other surfaces. Overall I probably prefer clay court tennis to hard court tennis. But if I was coaching a junior who wanted to go pro, I would try to develop an attacking all court style because that is what works best on hard courts. It is also transferable to clay and carpet (though in different degrees) and, if it's still there in 10 years, grass. But if I was Spanish I might take a different view.

Mileslong -- you should never regret having played rugby. It is the king of sports.

predrag
07-12-2007, 05:07 AM
:roll:

Talk about a racist comment. If someone were to say that Whites were overall the best thinkers you would probably have a fit. Yet you post that Blacks are the best overall athletes. :confused: :roll:


Well, they are.

Regards, Predrag

35ft6
07-12-2007, 05:45 AM
Well, they are.

Regards, Predrag I agree. For example, he notes that although Asians constitute 57 percent of the world's population, they make up a small fraction of professional runners, soccer players or basketball players.

In contrast, whereas persons of sub-Saharan African ancestry comprise 12 percent of the world's six billion people, they disproportionately represent the top athletes in those sports requiring running, jumping and endurance.

During the 1960s, the National Basketball Association's racial breakdown stood at roughly 80 percent white and 20 percent black; today that proportion has nearly reversed. In fact, a black male has a one-in-4,000 chance of playing in the NBA, compared with a white male's one-in-90,000 chance.

Meanwhile, among professional women's basketball players, 70 percent are African-American. In the National Football League, 65 percent of players are black. In college sports, 60 percent of male basketball players and nearly half of all football players are African-American.

In track and field, nearly every men's world record belongs to an athlete of African descent-including the top 15 world running records (ranging from 100 meters to the marathon). Such talent, Entine maintains, originates disproportionately in three African regions: the West African coast, North Africa and East Africa.

To contrast physiological differences between populations from (or originally from) these regions and European populations, he offers descriptive data from sports anthropologists, exercise physiologists and genetic epidemiologists.

Indeed, scientists have identified physical attributes that are more common to West Africans and East Africans than to Europeans, ones that might provide an edge in sprint and endurance exercises. These include a lower percentage of body fat, a higher proportion of fast-twitch muscle fibers, a greater capillary-to-muscle fiber ratio, and a superior resistance to fatigue during high-intensity endurance activities that is associated with a higher muscle oxidative capacity and with lower plasma lactate accumulation. Sports like hockey and tennis are cost prohibitive.

35ft6
07-12-2007, 05:46 AM
:roll:

Talk about a racist comment. If someone were to say that Whites were overall the best thinkers you would probably have a fit. Yet you post that Blacks are the best overall athletes. :confused: :roll: Are you the same guy who prided himself on not falling for PC thinking in a different thread? Maybe I have you mixed up with somebody else.

Marius_Hancu
07-12-2007, 06:03 AM
Bollettieri-style production line approach

Eviscerator
07-12-2007, 06:35 AM
Are you the same guy who prided himself on not falling for PC thinking in a different thread? Maybe I have you mixed up with somebody else.

Actually I am the same guy.

[I had just finished a detailed three paragraph response to you on this subject but the CPU winked out and it was lost. I don't have the time to retype it now but will later in the linked thread below if you care to hear my overall view on the subject. Just post your request there as I do not want to derail this one]

http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=81477

I will quickly say that my response was designed to see if the same person uttering the comment was hypocritical as many PC people are. They will make positive generalizations about PC protected groups, but not for their typical targets, such as Whites and/or males. I have no issue with people speaking their mind, but if they make sweeping generalizations about one group, they must also be willing to allow the opposing point of generalization. Otherwise they are hypocrites. However I think sweeping generalizations are inaccurate and unproductive (in general):mrgreen: