Al Parker

Discussion in 'General Pro Player Discussion' started by Z-Man, Feb 16, 2005.

  1. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

    Jan 21, 2005
    This is an amazing article I came across about Al Parker--hero of my junior tennis years. It offers some great insight into the making and unmaking of a tennis champion and a bit about succeeding in life as well...

    The Boy Who Fell To Earth, Tennis Magazine, April 2001

    Middleton Albert Parker the second is 32 years old and an investment banker at JPMorgan H&Q in Atlanta who absolutely loves golf and will not play tennis. But once upon a time he was pretty good at our game. In 1981, during his second year in the 12 and unders, he won the singles and doubles at all four national tournaments. A double grand slam. He is the only person in the history of American junior tennis to do that. People said he was the future of American tennis, the successor to McEnroe and Connors. As he grew older the talk grew louder. Despite competition from what may be the greatest generation of American juniors of all time, including kids named Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, Malivai Washington, David Wheaton, Todd Martin, Chris Garner, Stephen Enochs, Jonathan Stark, and Jeff Tarango, this kid from Claxton, Georgia was ranked number one in all four age divisions. He is the only person in the history of American junior tennis to do that. Of course he was going to be a great pro. In 1987, his last year in the 18s, he won his 25th national title and set the record for cumulative national titles that stands today. His bedroom at his parent’s home is filled with more than 100 pieces of championship hardware in every form tournament directors have ever conceived—plates, trophies, bowls, cups, medals, rings, watches, and the tiny balls the USTA awards at nationals. Among the 25 gold balls for winning there are 13 silver balls for finishing second. Al Parker, Jr. is unquestionably the greatest junior player of all time.

    The rest of the article is here:
  2. jeebeesus

    jeebeesus Guest

    For a guy who failed to realise his potential, and is still talked about to this day gives an indication as to how staggering his talent was. And the article also gave an insight into his humility and class. Al Parker, wherever you are and whatever you chose to do away from tennis ,we wish you well.
  3. Colpo

    Colpo Professional

    Feb 18, 2004
    I recall the article when first published and saved it, ditching the rest of the magazine. Rest assured, he's landed on his feet. He works in the financial sector, has a lovely homecoming-queen-type wife (brunette, if you're wondering) and, then at least, a single handsome baby boy.

    The article did a great job of pinpointing that Al's true talents were not his strokes - they were his mental maturity and natural competitiveness. As his competition got older with him, they began to catch up, but he was still carving out a fine amateur career as a collegian at UGA, and maybe that's all he ever wanted to get from the game.

    It's a well-written and insightful article, recommended especially to us 30-something farts who actually recall reading about young phenom Al dominating the 12's with his (Brian Purdie, help me here) nasty, super-basic adidas "ATP" outfit (royal blue on white colorway), ATP Outdoors (French-made, natch, and yes, royal-blue on white) and jet-black Wilson Ultra/PWS. The kid had style, or at least adidas did ...
  4. KerryJ

    KerryJ Semi-Pro

    Aug 11, 2007
    This article was just brought up again in a recent thread. Wow. Talk about a role model kid. And an amazing champion. I hope some day I can achieve one hundreth of what he did.
  5. jmsx521

    jmsx521 Hall of Fame

    Aug 29, 2006
    He chose golf over tennis: Well, that's at least one mistake he made.
  6. Eviscerator

    Eviscerator Banned

    Apr 15, 2006
    S. Florida
    Good article
  7. Mahboob Khan

    Mahboob Khan Hall of Fame

    Feb 20, 2004
    Junior Years are investment for professional tennis!

    Looks like he used his tennis to do well in education by earning athletic scholarship, and became an investment banker. Well, if he is happy in life, I am sure he is, then we are happy for him as well.

    I will just dwell on some technical issues involving the junior circuit and transition to the Pro circuit. Juniors years are for development through junior competition and training along the way. It is well known fact that as you hit puberty years you concentrate on what you have already, but as you pass puberty years and go into 14+ you learn new shots such as 1-handed slice BH, variations on serve such as slice serve, kick serve, and learn the transition game from baseline to the net to become an all-court player, etc. Al-Parker's companions at that time such as Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Agassi, Chang, David Wheaton, etc., were learning new shots, whereas Al Parker was concentrating on winning junior tournaments not realizing that junior ranking does not help in transition from junior to the Pro ranks. For example, Pete Sampras in his junior years had a double handed BH, but his private coach at the time, Pete Fitcher, told him, "If you want to become one of the greatest players of all time you ought to switch to 1-handed BH so that serve and volley becomes easier", this because Sampras idol, Rod Laver, was a serve and volleyer and had a single handed BH. If I recall correctly, around the age of 15-16, Pete Sampras worked hard to switch to 1-handed BH. That was a major change for a junior back then and, obviously, when you are going through such a drastic change your junior results suffer. This was to me one of the major reasons for Al Parker's downfall in professional tennis that in a rush to win junior titles, junior trophies, he somehow neglected to acquire new weapons in the form of technical, tactical, adjustments as his peers did during their junior years.

    Junior tennis is an investment for the Professional tennis if junior years are used judiciously to develop on all fronts.

    Mahboob Khan
    MKTA, Islamabad Club
  8. OTMPut

    OTMPut Hall of Fame

    Dec 29, 2008
    You are back!!
  9. Bud

    Bud Bionic Poster

    Jul 23, 2007
    San Diego, CA
    What caused him to hate tennis?
  10. FedExpress 333

    FedExpress 333 Professional

    Feb 27, 2011
    New York
    Wait, who was this guy?
  11. gplracer

    gplracer Hall of Fame

    Apr 5, 2004
    I remember being a junior in the 14s and watching Al play in the 12s at the GA Qualifying in Macon. He would have 50 people around his court watching. I also remember him practicing with the GA Southern team when he was a junior. I think that was a no no......

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