Reasons for European domination?

pico

Semi-Pro
I was discussing with my wife as to why tennis is so European dominated today. Alternatively, it can be asked why the US or even Australia has not produced great players since the 90s.
We discussed culture being a possible reason, better accessibility to coaches and clubs in Europe perhaps? Would love to hear your thoughts.
 

Devilito

Hall of Fame
The US focuses on team sports all throughout grade school at almost no cost to the student and if good enough you can get a sponsorship for college. If you're good, you can pretty much make the NFL and NBA at zero cost to you or your family. Tennis basically requires you to be born into at least an upper-middle-class family and be in a dense urban area with a lot of other good players. Europe has the advantage of density of not only good players but tournaments. You will never be good unless you're surrounded by other good players and are constantly playing tournaments, which is a huge challenge for many living in the US.
 
The US focuses on team sports all throughout grade school at almost no cost to the student and if good enough you can get a sponsorship for college. If you're good, you can pretty much make the NFL and NBA at zero cost to you or your family. Tennis basically requires you to be born into at least an upper-middle-class family and be in a dense urban area with a lot of other good players. Europe has the advantage of density of not only good players but tournaments. You will never be good unless you're surrounded by other good players and are constantly playing tournaments, which is a huge challenge for many living in the US.
I agree that tennis is more elitist now.

However, team sports in the States were always huge and the most popular. Yet this didn't prevent Connors, Mac, Sampy, Agassi, Courier, Chang, Roddick... emerging.
 
Coaching.

Coaches in Europe are interested in seeing kids get better.

Coaches in the US are interested in money.
How idealistic...

You have a very romantic view of Europe, perhaps too many Europe-based Disney movies?

Yeah, Europeans hate money, we're all a bunch of hippies over here...
 
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TheGhostOfAgassi

Talk Tennis Guru
The US focuses on team sports all throughout grade school at almost no cost to the student and if good enough you can get a sponsorship for college. If you're good, you can pretty much make the NFL and NBA at zero cost to you or your family. Tennis basically requires you to be born into at least an upper-middle-class family and be in a dense urban area with a lot of other good players. Europe has the advantage of density of not only good players but tournaments. You will never be good unless you're surrounded by other good players and are constantly playing tournaments, which is a huge challenge for many living in the US.
Team sports more popular in Europe as well. Ever heard of football? Everyone plays that and that’s the biggest idols and sport on the planet. Team sport thing is not an excuse.
 

RiverRat

Semi-Pro
I think there are more ways to make a living at tennis in Europe with clubs and more coaching facilities for players to train.
 
Alternatively, it can be asked why the US or even Australia has not produced great players since the 90s.
If you think about it though, there's actually a difference between having no great American players and having no players produced by America.

For example, top-tier players like Nishikori, Sharapova and Osaka are actually products of US coaching despite them representing other countries.
 
If you think about it though, there's actually a difference between having no great American players and having no players produced by America.

For example, top-tier players like Nishikori, Sharapova and Osaka are actually products of US coaching despite them representing other countries.
Not sure about Nishikori though... I believe he left Japan a little too late to be considered an American product.
 
That's my guess too. Do you mean for maintenance or for other reasons like importing the materials? Do you know if they're harder to create or maintain than Har-tru?

I did play on one red clay court in the US, but it looked a lot different than the ones in Europe. It was a dark red, not bright red like the European ones.
 

TTMR

Hall of Fame
They slowed down the courts at the pro level, favouring clay courters.

A sort of 21st century colonialism.
 
Because europe is about 30 countries and the USA and australia is two countries. Granted the USA is a very big country but with 9 top 100 guys they are still probably not underrepresented, that is almost 10% of the top100.

I believe a country can create top100 players but any more is pure luck.

I mean just look at switzerland. Are they good at tennis? Sure they have two multi slam winners but the third guy is not top150.

Or is serbia good at tennis? I would probably say yes because apart from novak they have 4 other top 100 which is great for country size,same applies for croatia.

Germany hasn't produced a male slam winner in two decades too.

And spain has lots of top100 but no under 25 good guys even though with alcatraz finally one is coming up after a decade with no young top prospect coming up.

Or take france,no male slam champ in 30 years but a ton of quantity.

There are some countries who produce quantity but no country consistently produces slam champs, it only looks that way because europe is 30+ countries and eventually one of them is likely to win.

But if you look at individual europe countries they are not better set than the US at all.

The reason the USA and australia dominated was because tennis was a non international country club sport that was mostly played by those two nations.

To me the balkan countries are good at tennis because they are tiny countries producing a lot but other than that europe is not all that good in tennis. Some like switzerland lucked into slam champions even though unable to produce more top100 guys, others like france and Germany are quantity over quality like the US. Spain is really like that too except for nadal.and there are some eastern europe guys but again eastern europe is like 15 countries so some good players have to come from there
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
This is the most common reason that I hear, and I think it has validity. I've always wondered why they can't make red clay courts in the US.
In a lot of parts of America, clay in general is not an ideal surface because the temperatures get too hot. If you don't pour a lot of water into them, they dry out and crack. The cost of maintenance also mean a lot of cities opt for hard courts.

In parts of America where clay is common, it tends to be green/maroon because it's cheaper. Building a red clay court involves importing brick dust from Europe. Why that is, I have no idea - one would think bricks are bricks either side of the pond - but even a huge company like Har-Tru imports the materials for their red clay courts from Italy.

Once it's down, red clay requires more water than green clay and needs more frequent maintenance/resurfacing.
 
In a lot of parts of America, clay in general is not an ideal surface because the temperatures get too hot. If you don't pour a lot of water into them, they dry out and crack. The cost of maintenance also mean a lot of cities opt for hard courts.

In parts of America where clay is common, it tends to be green/maroon because it's cheaper. Building a red clay court involves importing brick dust from Europe. Why that is, I have no idea - one would think bricks are bricks either side of the pond - but even a huge company like Har-Tru imports the materials for their red clay courts from Italy.

Once it's down, red clay requires more water than green clay and needs more frequent maintenance/resurfacing.
Thanks for explaining.;)
 

pico

Semi-Pro
They slowed down the courts at the pro level, favouring clay courters.
This here strikes me as the most possible reason in conjunction with the fact that Europeans grow up on clay. But it is the fact that pro courts have gotten slower, is something i nvr thought of before.
 

clout

Hall of Fame
Americans usually look towards the big 4 (NFL, NBA, NHL, MLB) when athletes decide on their careers. Also, European players typically are more versatile as they have steadier all-around games which can translate well on both slow and fast surfaces.
 
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Bartelby

Bionic Poster
The only thing that really counts is 'organisational failure' as it involves a fix.

Countries that are to hold Olympics put money and talent into doing well, and they mostly do very well.

Clay and point construction aren't exactly rocket science, but it does require court building and coach education over the long term.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
The US women have been winning Slams - Kenin, Stephens, Williams sisters and you can include even Osaka who has lived here her whole life. The WTA has flatter shots with less defense where power prevails and good movement and baseline point construction is not a differentiator for the champions as much as it is on the ATP tour.

For the men, growing up on clay courts seems to have helped players in Europe develop an all-around game with a premium on good movement and this has become a differentiator for ATP champions since the slowing down of surfaces and adoption of poly strings. I also think that European players in many countries have top juniors getting into national coaching academies at a young age where they get ‘standardized coaching‘ from top national coaches not just on technique, but also in footwork, strategy, fitness workouts etc and exposes them to high-level elite competition daily. This worked well in the US also in the Eighties/Nineties when the Bollettieri academy developed many champions. It seems like now the top juniors in the US have their own coaches spread out around the country and we see more variance in technique and fitness amongst top US players (Tiafoe/Sock FH, Johnson BH, movement of top US players) as opposed to the prevalence of ‘textbook technique and footwork’ amongst European juniors. Many American players amongst both men and women also don’t look as fit or at a light weight like their European counterparts as they seem to win with power and not with endurance and patience.

Other reasons like team sport popularity in the US, tennis not attracting top athletes etc. don’t seem as valid as those were true when the US had many champions in the late 20th century.
 

tennis_pro

Bionic Poster
The fact that this isn't the 15 century anymore and more than 3 countries in the world matter today would be the reason I think.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
In Australia the belief is certainly that success in modern tennis requires good clay court fundamentals.

Once upon a time, Australia had a fairly strong clay court scene. Southern states had a rough red clay surface called en tout cas, and northern states had courts made out of crushed ant-bed that was not exactly clay, but had a lot of similar attributes. Guys like Rod Laver and Ken Rosewall had plenty of experience on them before they ever saw a European clay court.

These days Australians grow up mostly on hard court and carpet, which are fast and encourage flat hitting. This was fine in the '90s, when you could make a very respectable career as a fast surface player, but that is no longer really the case. The Australian player who has arguably done the most to maximise his talent in recent years is Alex De Minaur. He spent most of his developmental years on red clay, mostly in Spain but also at his home club in Australia.

In the last few years, Tennis Australia has spent a huge amount of money on building imported Italian clay courts all around the country in an effort to improve the slow court credentials of our juniors. The National Clay Court Championships are now arguably the most prestigious junior event in the country (surpassing the Grass and Hard events). In the next 10 years or so, we will see if it pays dividends.

Overall though, we will never go back to 20-40 years ago when countries like the US and Australia produced a large percentage of the top players. The game is a lot more global these days, and domestic sports in our countries have become a lot more lucrative options for aspiring athletes. Heck, Australia's last number one (Hewitt) only stuck with tennis because he was told he was too short to play Australian football.
 

Bartelby

Bionic Poster
They certainly built two clay courts at the Queensland Tennis Centre, but I'm not sure how much further they got.
 
All the above are good reasons but the main reason is: good American athletes don't go into tennis.

Walk into any American highschool, all the good athletes are playing basketball/football; baseball/soccer to a lesser extent. The tennis team could be mistaken for the chess club.

Yes, I think European cultures take tennis more seriously than cultures in America, Canada, and Australia.

Think of players such as Raonic, Kenin, Tomic, Shapovalov, Andreescu. The players that come from Western nations are oftentimes still of Eastern European heritage and upbringing.
 

BackhandDTL

Hall of Fame
Because the United States is a joke of a country.

Find a way to move to Denmark, Sweden, Switzerland if you can. These guys know how to live, Americans don’t unfortunately
 

Zoid

Professional
The game has tilted towards baseline play for two reasons which give clay courters and juniors who grew up on clay a distinct advantage: every court got slower to the point serve and volley is unviable as an option, and polyester strings make passing shots once impossible now routine.

If you start playing on clay, you have to learn how to generate your own pace, how to defend, how to drop shot, how to construct a point, if you want to be successful.

Growing up on hard courts, you don't have to develop a drop shot or great defence to have success - you can power your way to a lot of victories.

It's not so much that the European model of PLAYER has become better, more that the european typical CONDITION is the norm now across the tour. Wimby and the US and AO used to play a lot faster than they do now. Clay courters used to skip wimbledon back in the early 90s sometimes!
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
They certainly built two clay courts at the Queensland Tennis Centre, but I'm not sure how much further they got.
It's been a slow process, but since 2011 they've added 4 clay courts at QTC, 2 at Sydney Olympic Park, and 8 at Melbourne Park. When they opened the new Canberra Tennis Centre a few years ago, 12 of the 24 courts were clay.

They've also built the 4-court Clay Research Centre at Macquarie University in Sydney, and established the 5-court Clay Centre of Excellence in Adelaide.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
In Australia the belief is certainly that success in modern tennis requires good clay court fundamentals.

In the last few years, Tennis Australia has spent a huge amount of money on building imported Italian clay courts all around the country in an effort to improve the slow court credentials of our juniors. The National Clay Court Championships are now arguably the most prestigious junior event in the country (surpassing the Grass and Hard events). In the next 10 years or so, we will see if it pays dividends.
I wish the USTA felt the need to develop clay-court based training centers for top juniors in various regions of the US. They have built Har-tru and red clay courts at the USTA National tennis center in Florida, but they need to have similar centers on the West Coast, Mid West, Texas and East Coast also. Not too many California kids (where I live) are going to leave their families to go train in Florida at a young age to hopefully make it in a sport where only about 100 players make a decent living.
 

Cashman

Hall of Fame
I wish the USTA felt the need to develop clay-court based training centers for top juniors in various regions of the US. They have built Har-tru and red clay courts at the USTA National tennis center in Florida, but they need to have similar centers on the West Coast, Mid West, Texas and East Coast also. Not too many California kids (where I live) are going to leave their families to go train in Florida at a young age to hopefully make it in a sport where only about 100 players make a decent living.
One of Tennis Australia's other strategies has been to offer financial incentives to clubs and academies to choose clay when building or replacing their own courts. It's cheaper than TA building a whole lot of courts themselves, and hopefully gets clay courts into communities where TA can't really justify building a whole tennis centre themselves.

Whether it proves to be successful or a massive waste of money I guess remains to be seen.
 

socallefty

Hall of Fame
One of Tennis Australia's other strategies has been to offer financial incentives to clubs and academies to choose clay when building or replacing their own courts. It's cheaper than TA building a whole lot of courts themselves, and hopefully gets clay courts into communities where TA can't really justify building a whole tennis centre themselves.

Whether it proves to be successful or a massive waste of money I guess remains to be seen.
Seems sensible. Too bad the top Aussie players from the last few years turned out to be tanking knuckleheads like Kyrgios and Tomic. Hopefully, they have better luck in the future or they need to subsidize the hiring of many sports psychologists or maybe even psychiatrists.
 

Karma Tennis

Hall of Fame
This topic has been oft discussed and the reasons are widely known.

European Players dominate tennis for two simple reasons ...

1/ The opportunity to play Tennis all year round due to large numbers of accessible indoor courts.
2/ Well organised Competition Structures with huge level of opportunities for players to develop their games from Club Level on wards.

Australia will NEVER dominate the Sport ever again. The Golden Era of Australian Tennis was primarily due to the fact that Australia wasn't bombed out of existence during the Second World War. Also the local climate was always conducive to year round Grass Court play. Grass Court tennis was predominant during the 1950s through to the 1970s.. Australians used to spend a lot of time outdoors and their general health was excellent compared to many other people's around the world.

European tennis was very strong prior to the Second World War. But it took decades for the sport to get back onto its feet there. However, by the mid 1970s it was starting to catch up. We started to see the dominance of players like Nastase, Borg, Lendl, Wilander, Becker and eventually Federer, Nadal and Djokovic.

I believe America and Australia have placed much greater emphasis on Team Sports over the past three decades. This has basically lead to a dilution of quality tennis players in comparison to European counterparts.

However, ultimately, the more matches you play, the better you get. Europeans appear to have much more opportunities to play matches than anyone else.
 

aman92

Hall of Fame
US is filled with servebots and ball bashers... Amazing to think Mardy Fish was the last American player to have some variety in his game
 
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