Where did talent go? U.S. tennis "Lost Generation"

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by santoro, Jul 13, 2012.

  1. santoro

    santoro Banned

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    an article about last years' tennis pro's
    http://www.usatoday.com/sports/tennis/story/2012-01-24/us-mens-tennis-lost-generation/52779350/1

    "First of all, it's just the basic 'you-can't-have-it-all-all-the-time' rule that applies. Many countries have gone through some years of real successful top-of-their-game champions, and then we see it kind of shift." Agassi

    "When it comes to surfaces, I think those growing up on the slower clay—not only do their games translate better across other surfaces, but I think you learn the layers of the game more uniquely."
    "if you don't grow up on the dirt, you're at a disadvantage. Guys who are out there grinding out those long points have a degree of strength in the game that is just a bigger asset.". Agassi
    Is it a matter on what kind of surface you grow up?

    http://www.gq.com/sports/profiles/201109/bad-american-tennis-players-us-open
     
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  2. santoro

    santoro Banned

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    An argument for it would be the fact that all of the top 4 were raised on clay- yet even nowaday's top 10 was all raised on clay.
     
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  3. mattennis

    mattennis Hall of Fame

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    Under today's conditions, yes.

    In former decades, no.

    In the past, with smaller, lighter and faster balls, a hard-flat down the line baseline shot was almost sure a winner (unreturnable or at worst you had then an easy volley) on every surface bar clay.

    The clay game (long rallies, super-top-spin shots, many crosscourt shots, very angled shots to open the court) did not translate very well to other surfaces (under former conditions).

    Under today's slow conditions and slow balls, the clay game translates very well to hard courts and even to grass.

    So Agassi's words make sense today (but not so much in former eras).
     
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  4. BigServer1

    BigServer1 Legend

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    McEnroe's words make me sad: "It's more of a track meet than a tennis match". All too true, especially with slower surfaces and modern technology.
     
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  5. santoro

    santoro Banned

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    Indeed, Nadal with his muscels, athleticism and "crazy" topspin is a beast on the track (almost like maurice green..:)
     
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  6. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    Nice title of the second article :" Why does America suck at tennis"
    Wouldn't expect in Europe to have that kind of title for an article- so probably there might be some despair (when talking about this topic)
    That's somehow interesting how it works, cause in America they probably spent the most $$ in this sport and the outcome is quite poor lately. (except the Williams sisters if you're interested in WTA)
    Yet some people seem to have found another heroe instead (esp. on this forum- FED, but hey be aware he ISN'T American)
    Seems to me that in this debate some even have forgotten how great Pete Sampras was and really is up there with the great Federer.
     
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  7. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Many of the top/most gifted athletes in the US go into other sports where it is much easier to make a hefty salary. Think about it. The #300 guy in MLB, the NFL or the NBA is probably a millionaire. The #1000 guy is probably making a decent living as well. Many of his travel expenses might be paid by his team. The #300 guy in tennis will have a difficult time making ends meets, esp given travel/lodging expenses. The tennis player at #1000 probably has another job for his primary income.
     
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  8. TimothyO

    TimothyO Hall of Fame

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    I don't understand this nostalgia for super fast balls and super fast courts which were themselves a result of technology change.

    As far as I can tell when the racquets moved from wood to other materials the ball and courts were still in the wood era. Thus you had a period during which the sport devolved into serving contests of just a couple of shots per serve. THAT wasn't tennis compared to the wood frame era. It was boring serve contests with the winner being the guy with a uni-dimensional game. Just serve bigger and better.

    Today the ball and courts are getting back in sync with the frame technology resulting in more balance. Big servers still have opportunities to serve their way out of trouble or win sets/matches in tie breakers. But they can't JUST rely on serves to win consistently. They need to build points and exploit opportunities instead of just smashing aces down the T.

    Longer/more complex points, more diverse skills, greater demands for physical and mental endurance/conditioning...that's far more interesting than tie break serve contests.
     
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  9. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    That is true in every country. Serbian, Swiss, Spanish, and Scott have more chance to access to a descent revenue in soccer than in tennis. Beside, their is more american than any national european, and there is more money for the sport than in any european country. The surfaces is a better explanation. US player are rised on hard court, they learn to serve bigger enough to bring them high in the ranking, but their game is not suited to the actual conditions.
     
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  10. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    great response !
     
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  11. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    Basically what Agassi is also saying is that people brought up on clay seem to have better ball construction abilities and can better adop to the layers, nowadays.
    When you take for example Nick Bolietteri:
    He's been criticized for training robotic players who hit hard but didn't have much ability to construct points or strategize.
    And when you look for example at Roddick: he is great at hittng balls hard, however doesn't have a great all court game, strategy..
    Additionally U.S. players don't adapt to other surfaces as other players do.

    In other countries athletes could also get into other sports (soccer, skiing or whatever) They would earn there more than in tennis at the beginning/ weak pro level. However you see e.g Spaniards/ Argentines are overwhole more successfull wiht bringing up great tennis players in the last years.
     
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  12. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Sure they have other sports in these countries. But isn't futbol/soccer the only real viable alternative for big money for most players in many countries?

    Also, when I was talking about #300 in MLB, NFL and NBA, I was taking about #300 in the US (population = 0.3 billion). When I talked about #300 in tennis, that was #300 in the world (population = 7 billion). This does not sound like very good odds for someone looking to possibly make a hefty salary in sports.
     
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  13. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    You're right - he's wrong. The Australian sports scene is like ours in the US and they are seeing the same thing - the top athletes are going to the other sports - they have Aussie Rules Footy and cricket vs our NFL and MLB, respectively. And basketball. And look at the Olympics - we're cleaning up - again - in the medals. It's soccer or nothing in most of the rest of the world - and I'm sure the ranks are thinned pretty early.

    I think Agassi made some good points - but that's not nearly the whole story. If it were then how did he, Courier and Chang adapt and win on clay? They should have been doomed.

    Everyone should take a statistics class - this is a blip - the US is a country that excels in individual sports by nature - and somewhere out there a family is nurturing our next star. The USTA could even get lucky and spit one or two out - although I'm not counting on any group that talks about growing the game and producing champions that pays their head $9 mil a year.
     
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  14. TenS_Ace

    TenS_Ace Rookie

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    x 100...............
     
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  15. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    Americans don't like tennis anymore. Playing numbers, racquet and tennis ball sales dropped dramatically in the 90's.
     
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  16. JustBob

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    This is a constant so I don't see how it's relevant in terms of discussing why the US is currently unable to develop elite tennis players.
     
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  17. courtking

    courtking Semi-Pro

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    There are so many lame coaches in the local park that ruin the kids.. .. USTA should look again at the coach certification.. I have seen many guys with BIG certificate can't even hold the racket correctly..
     
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  18. SystemicAnomaly

    SystemicAnomaly G.O.A.T.

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    Is anything really constant? Perhaps the perception has changed. Many athletes in the past may have perceived tennis as a means to big money. Perhaps the economics has changed. More money (larger salaries) available more than in the past in other sports. Just throwing out some ideas here.
     
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  19. Flash O'Groove

    Flash O'Groove Hall of Fame

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    Soccer is the most played sport in Europe and the sport which yield the more money, but each country have other sport than can be profitable. Ice hockey in Switzerland, Rugby in England/France, Basketball in spain, and so one. Beside, what really matter is not the absolute money you can make in a sport, but the relative money you can do regarding other activities. Volleyball may be not very lucrative in serbia, but it probably remain better than taxi driver. Thus, volleyball could be an interesting sport in many countries where it impossible to make as many money than in any american area.


    Plus, you assume that their is such thing as "talended people" who could be successfull in anything they would do, which is a very strong assumption. Most people choose a sport because they are interested in it, and begin to to consider it as a possible carrer later when they notice that they are good at it in comparison to other young player. At the moment they are too old to change and become successfull in another sport.
     
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  20. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Yep

    It completely matters what surface you grow up on.that is why britain has struggled to produce good players even though millionsare spent on development there. (note murray had his key developmentteensge years in spain). The british dont Understand how important surface is.
     
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  21. Zarfot Z

    Zarfot Z Semi-Pro

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    Too true. IMO tennis players are incredibly under paid as compared to other sports. You've got to be consistently in the top 100 to make a comfortable living from pro tennis. A depressing prospect.
     
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  22. nadal2012uso2013ao

    nadal2012uso2013ao Banned

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    Blame Steve Jobs for ruining the health of Americans with the i-machines. American tennis will only get worse as the couch potato culture dominates. I know other countries use i-machines, but Americans are a bit more gullible, easily sucked into trends such as facebook and twitter.
     
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  23. DeShaun

    DeShaun Banned

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    I think even the number 60-ranked guy had better be laying his plans for income generation after tennis because there's no way even the most frugal pro not ranked top twenty could earn his nest egg by competing on the ATP for say seven years. 140k/year may look OK on paper until you realize 60-80k/year gets eaten up by living, travel, and training/coaching expenses. Take Dudi Sela who during his peak earning years cleared 100k yearly two or three times if I'm not mistaken, now how is he supposed to live for another forty or fifty years off of whatever he has been able to save or invest from those earnings, once he retires?
     
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  24. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    There are many sport disciplines around where people get way less paid than in tennis. They have also to travel pay for training and so on.
     
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  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Some sports.

    I do not see volleyball players, swimmers, rowers, lacrosse players raking in the money.
     
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  26. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    I think in Europe it happened as well. In Germany tennis was much more popular when Becker was playing. In GB I think other sports (Soccer/Rugby) also more popular. In Spain sports like soccer/basketball are more in.
     
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  27. pistolpower

    pistolpower New User

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    I agree. Besides tennis is individual sport so completely different approach then teamsports (NBA, NHl and so on)
     
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  28. smoledman

    smoledman Legend

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    You need money to raise good tennis players, America is a shabby 3rd world country right now.
     
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  29. rabidranger

    rabidranger Rookie

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    The U.S. has talent. Is it Grand Slam winning talent? Not at this time. That can be said for a lot of countries. The reality is, two or three guys have a stranglehold on the top tier events, and that probably won't change for a few years. What will be interesting to see is when Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal (and to a certain extent Murray) leave the scene.
     
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  30. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    The Bolietteri method of baseline-centric, tactically light, consciously anti-S&V, basher tennis killed the advances of American men in the sport--even as serve and volleying Sampras was leaps and bounds above every other American male player of his generation and making history along the way. However, the more media-accessible (packaged) Agassi--the posterchild for the Bolietteri method--became the biggest selling point to con the majority of another two generations into playing the same way, thus all the U.S. has to show for it in ONE major title among the aforementioned generations.

    Additionally, we have had baseline-lovers like Patrick McEnroe--the mouthpiece of American tennis--spew his open disdain for the all court form for more than a decade (yet seems to miss how Federer was successful) acting as the advocate of an aging Agassi, then the forceful selling of Roddick's form. Now that Roddick is just a shell of his 2003 self, you will notice Patrick has moved on to his idiotic, stated desire to train all U.S. juniors on clay....

    With an open, hostile rejection of anything other than the baseline/forehand game, the PTB in U.S. men's tennis should prepare themselves for another generation to come and go--possibly with less success than Roddick's major of one.
     
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  31. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    How many serve and volleyers are there in the top 10?
     
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  32. coloskier

    coloskier Legend

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    But it was one of the fastest growing sports in the USA in 2011. Australia used to be the best in the Rosewall/Laver/Emerson era, and look how long it has been since any Aussie has done well (except Stosur).
     
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  33. JustBob

    JustBob Hall of Fame

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    Should have expanded in my previous post but the point is that this is merely a side issue, and it doesn't address the real issues with player development programs in the US, which have fallen far behind those of countries such as France and Spain for example. The logical thing to do would be to look at what these countries do best and try to adapt their methods as much as possible within the US context. But this is not really the "American way".
     
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  34. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    In 2011? Great, just 15 years to wait until those players hit the tour.

    There is going to be another huge drop in the popularity of tennis when Federer and Nadal retire in 3-4 years time.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
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  35. rabidranger

    rabidranger Rookie

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    The French and Spanish might have the preferred development models, but I don't see their current/next crop that far ahead. Shoot, it could be argued that many of the French/Spanish players are mentally weak headcases.
     
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  36. JustBob

    JustBob Hall of Fame

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    Perhaps, but the goal should be to develop fundamentally sound tennis players and give them the tools to succeed. Whether they turn into great players, slam winners, is another story, because once they turn pro, they are no longer part of the "system".
     
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  37. federer_FREAK

    federer_FREAK New User

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    Yea that U.S. really struggled in the Olympic medal count.
     
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  38. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    And that too in all the categories.

    Some people just like to criticize the younger generation for any reason they can think of, longing for a glorious past that never was.
     
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  39. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    There is no "system". Tennis is popular and affordable in France and Spain, the public courts are packed. The weather is good and they can play every day of the year.

    Tennis players develope themselves. The coaching, academies etc all come after you establish yourself as one of the best players in the country. That's when the Patrick McEnroe's of the World swoop in and take all the credit for "developing" a champion.

    In the 70's and 80's it was the same in America and then everyone stopped watching and playing tennis.
     
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  40. JustBob

    JustBob Hall of Fame

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    While the bold parts might explain why the US is not very good at developing tennis players, there certainly IS a "system" in France and Spain.
     
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  41. BeHappy

    BeHappy Hall of Fame

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    There is no "system" in any democratic country on earth.
     
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  42. JustBob

    JustBob Hall of Fame

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    Brilliant argument. You win!
     
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  43. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    +1. And a lot of them post here in the Tennis Tips/Instruction area.
     
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  44. THUNDERVOLLEY

    THUNDERVOLLEY G.O.A.T.

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    I think you're misunderstanding. At the time Nick poisoned the well with his baseline-centric crap, the field had numerous S&Vers along with baseliners occupying the field. Nick (and many in U.S. tennis) jumped on the anti-S&V bandwagon he launched via his own one-dimensional mind / Agassi's media identity. The rest is history into the Roddick era where his and the generation to follow (most playing variations of the same*) only to witness one of the most incredible drops from majors "grace" in generations. That influence corrupted American men's tennis, and there's no denying that such a form failed (miserably) to pay off with even a few majors--nevermind as many as Sampras.








    *With a couple of minor exceptions--for example, Dent and Fish.
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2012
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  45. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    You can say what you want, Nick has produced 10 world #1s. How many have serve and volley coaches produced?

    Serve and volleyers like Dent and Rampras have not achieved much. Today, even the Doctor with his serve and physical attributes cannot win with S&V. The top four players today are baseliners.

    If you just want to criticize someone for the sake of it, go ahead. But it is clear that only those who can construct points and grind it can win today, and for that clay training is very beneficial.

    If someone like Sampras shows up again, that is good. Otherwise, today's game requires stamina, mental strength and patience. The Donald or Vania King are not going to be great players whether they serve and volley or not. That is not the issue.
     
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  46. West Coast Ace

    West Coast Ace G.O.A.T.

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    You and I don't agree all that often, but I'm with you on this one big time. Don't get me wrong, I'm a Capitalist and respect what Nick has built (and he's not the only guy running an academy using this approach) - but so many of his students showed up with very incomplete games - many didn't even have decent serves - just put the ball in play. Agassi is the biggest example of this. Yeah, his approach gets (some) to the tour - but doesn't put them in a good position to excel.
     
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  47. JustBob

    JustBob Hall of Fame

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    Yup, athleticism, good movement and solid defense have become paramount in the development of modern tennis players. Add to that point construction, and training on clay has become an integral part of good player development programs. That's not to say that players should only train on clay of course. The better programs/national tennis centers/academies such as INSEP in France, the Sanchez Casals academy near Barcelona and now the national tennis center at Uniprix stadium in Montreal have both.

    Just a bit of trivia: When Tennis Canada hired Louis Borfiga, former director of coaching (tennis) at INSEP in France, as the director of elite player development, the first thing he said when he got here is "where are the clay courts?". There are now indoor clay courts (cleverly built) on the roof of the main building at Uniprix stadium.

    The other issue which others have pointed out is coaching. This relates to not only "good coaching/training methods" but also to standardization/uniformization of coaching. The French tennis federation for example, not only develops it's own coaches but also supports independent coaches who satisfy the criteria set by the national coaching standards. This insures high quality of coaching throughout a player's development.
     
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  48. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    The notion that Nick and Pat McEnroe did not "endorse" serve and volley and that is why it did not happen is ridiculous. When Nick started his academy, he was hand to mouth, and students sometimes slept in his apartment. Now, the best in the world train at his academy. Listening to this forum, they are all fools and should be losing to these posters here.

    John Isner must have thought: I am the second tallest guy on the tour and when I come to the net, my wingspan is like an albatross. But since Agassi was a baseliner and I did not get email from Pat McEnroe to serve and volley, I am going to NOT use my advantages. And his stupid coach who knows less than the knowledgable posters here went: Righto, why would you want to win when you can lose?
     
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  49. heftylefty

    heftylefty Hall of Fame

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    There is a lot of work in developing a tennis player; and the USTA is only interested in poaching players and taking credit for their "development. Also America's best athletes still do not play tennis.
     
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  50. Seany

    Seany Banned

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    Don't always blame the coaches, the way American culture is heading, there are less and less kids who are willing to put the hard work in and and have a champion mentality, instead they become increasingly distracted by the internet/girls etc...Add to this they are probably comfortable financially. Sometimes you have to partially sacrifice these things and dedicate your life to your chosen sport, it appears to me the number of kids with the correct mentality is decreasing rapidly, not such a problem in Europe. You can't teach attitude.
     
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