WTA Whackiness: Is It Fix-able?

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
On another thread a while ago, laurie posted...
laurie said:
Has anyone here read "Ladies of the Court, Grace and disgrace of the WTA tour" by Michael Mewshaw? Its an absolutely incredible read and a real eye opener into womens tennis. ... <snip> ... He uncovered abuse, eating disorders, burn out, unethical sexual behaviour by middle aged coaches. Lesbianism. He interviewed loads of players and WTA officials etc. There was even a strange guy called James Levee who was super rich and just gave players money becaused he liked them. He [Levee] attached himself to all the players.

There were some positive changes on the back of this book. For instance there will be no more Capriatis playing in slam semis at the age of 14. WTA have brought in rules on under age players. Although I still feel there are too many really young girls playing. A lot of them never look too happy. They are under so much pressure from parents, agents etc. But the WTA can still do more in my opinion. ... <snip>
Curious, I just finished the book. It certainly reinforced some of *my* preconceptions (like)...

1 - Chris Evert's "outside the court activity" was "white washed" by the Press.

2 - Capriatti is really ... vacuous.

3 - Seles might actually be from another planet. She's just plain *weird*.

4 - Mary Pierce's father (real name Bobby Glenn Pearce) really did spend time as a "guest" of two different mental institutions. (Figures....)

5 - It's shocking to read how many Coaches of WTA players admit that middle-aged Coaches sleep with their (employer) teenage charges.

6 - Pam Shriver was a major whiner ... and I don't think she and I would be friendly today.

7 - MaryJo Fernandez and Pam Shriver cannot be expected to help fix the WTA in their current Commentator Seats. They were "part of the problem" when they played....

8 - Much as I cannot stand Martina Navratilova, personally, she certainly "calls it like she sees it." Her candor is quite disarming.

9 - The WTA leadership of the early '90s seemed quite ... corrupt.

10 - (Finally) this book was written over 15 years ago. Too little appears to have changed.

Can it be fixed? What can be done?

- KK
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
Unfortunately there are so many inaccurate and misleading information in that book, too many to list here.

You have to put things in context. If you just put someone did this without including proper context, many people in this world would be considered as whaco.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
The tennis guy said:
Unfortunately there are so many inaccurate and misleading information in that book, too many to list here.
I admitted to having "preconceptions" which jived with Mewshaw's writing. If there are some key inaccuracies you can point to, please do....

- KK
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
I read it so long ago, can't remember the details now. However, I do remember lots in that book had been refuted when the book first came out. The book should be called gossip.


Just two examples:
1. The description of Seles is ridiculous in the book.
2. Certain unethical sexual behavior by coach. The books used lots of heresay even though people involved denied those charges.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
The tennis guy said:
... I do remember lots in that book had been refuted when the book first came out.
"Of course" the WTA's official spokespeople will say so. But I've observed a lot of Practice Court behavior at the US Open over the years. Behavior (between parents and girls ... and between Coaches and girls) which seemed mighty "fishy" to me. Mewshaw's book certainly reinforced these suspicions.
The book should be called gossip.
Yeah. That's what the WTA wants everyone to say....

Just two examples:
1. The description of Seles is ridiculous in the book.
From my (limited) direct observation, I agree with Mewshaw more than you.

2. Certain unethical sexual behavior by coach. The books used lots of heresay even though people involved denied those charges.
Duh!!! Of course "the people involved" are going to deny it. But no less an interviewee for the book than Dennis VanDer Meer states at least 30% of Coaches are sleeping with their teenaged employers. That source alone should have prompted some kind of investigation....

I'm a HS Coach. I told my AD "No way!" will I be the only male on the courts ... in the bus ... on the road ... with our HS Girls Tennis Team. (And I say this simply to avoid any possible suspicion....)

- KK
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
That's the problem with the book, and with your own observation as well. Suspicion doesn't equal to fact.

No, it was not refuted by WTA, it was refuted by players mentioned in the book. WTA even wouldn't comment on the book. Unfortunately we probably can't find players' reactions to the book including Navratilova's reaction since you think she says what she thinks. She blasted the book as outragous.

As of investigation, yes, there were investigations. I don't want to bring the player's name out, who is still playing now. They got nothing after the investigation because of complain from parents.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
You are pretty good at all that "ducking and dodging." Your posts strike me as gossip too ... they're just "reverse gossip."

I never posted that my "mind was made up." If you have some exonerating information ... please share it, and stop posting like a WTA attorney would.

I'm trying to learn what people know ... or believe they know. You (effectively) posting, "I know, but I'm not telling" isn't productive.

Was Van der Meer lying? Or mis-quoted? Do you really know anything about this discussion? Or are you simply "playing defense?"

Geez!!!

- KK
 

tykrum

Rookie
KK it seems like you are using a guilty til proven innocent stance on the book. The book certainly does sound interesting, and since the guy writing it is a professoinal, I'm sure it is written in persuasive manner. But also, I'm always skeptical of sensationalist claims without hard evidence behind them. They are the most entertaining to read, but most of the time it just seems they aren't true or are a lot less prevalent than they are made to seem.

This definitely applies to coaching. I think that for the most part, people exaggerate the prevalence of sexual misconduct amongst coaches. Certainly I'm not saying it doesn't happen or that it isn't a trajedy and worth the coverage it gets when it does happen. But I think that the cases where it happens get repeated and stick in people's minds so that they believe misconduct happens more frequently than it actually does.

I'm also a HS girls coach, and as the sole JV coach, I have to be only person in charge of 19 girls most of the time. I also am nervous people will see me as a potential "predator", but I know that thats not who I am and I go to lengths to make sure that others realize that as well. Thankfully, the head coach realized that too and hired me without any previous coaching experience.
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
Well, I took this part out of my last posting because I don't want to sound like I represent official WTA position. I travelled on WTA for two years 15 years ago, that period of time was covered in that book. It was just not accurate (that's generous term) depiction of WTA tour. This book was discredited long time ago when it came out, I thought. I am just surprised this was brought up right now.

I am not going to get into those gossips again. I remember the book came out during Wimbldeon. WTA players at that time, old and young, present and past, came out strongly against it.
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
tykrum said:
KK it seems like you are using a guilty til proven innocent stance on the book. The book certainly does sound interesting, and since the guy writing it is a professoinal, I'm sure it is written in persuasive manner. But also, I'm always skeptical of sensationalist claims without hard evidence behind them. They are the most entertaining to read, but most of the time it just seems they aren't true or are a lot less prevalent than they are made to seem.

This definitely applies to coaching. I think that for the most part, people exaggerate the prevalence of sexual misconduct amongst coaches. Certainly I'm not saying it doesn't happen or that it isn't a trajedy and worth the coverage it gets when it does happen. But I think that the cases where it happens get repeated and stick in people's minds so that they believe misconduct happens more frequently than it actually does.
I agree completely. Just look at Van Der Meer claim itself, just think to yourself, where did the 30% come from? Did he investigate? Did he know all the coaches who coached young girls all over the world? If he came out saying 30% of coaches in his academy, then that makes sense. However, 30% of all as he claimed is ridiculous because there is no way for him to know to say something like that.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
tykrum said:
KK it seems like you are using a guilty til proven innocent stance on the book.
Oh, not at all. Mewshaw spent a year doing personal interviews, etc. Though I do see how one might see his book as "sensationalizing," I don't judge it that way, personally. (But remember, he bolstered many of the conclusions I'd come to before even reading it....)

I think that for the most part, people exaggerate the prevalence of sexual misconduct amongst coaches. Certainly I'm not saying it doesn't happen or that it isn't a trajedy and worth the coverage it gets when it does happen. But I think that the cases where it happens get repeated and stick in people's minds so that they believe misconduct happens more frequently than it actually does.
You and I are both HS Coaches ... with differing views. I think more of it gets "winked at" or "swept under the rug" than we know....

I'm also a HS girls coach, and as the sole JV coach, I have to be only person in charge of 19 girls most of the time. I also am nervous people will see me as a potential "predator", but I know that thats not who I am and I go to lengths to make sure that others realize that as well.
Major kudos to you, tykrum!!! I mean this sincerely. Two years ago my AD told me he could not make arrangements for a female Ass't Coach. I immediately resigned as Girls Coach. Too much "downside risk" in my book.

"Sue" thinks she should be #2 Singles because she only barely lost to Kate ... and that day Sue didn't feel well. I play Kate at #2. Vindictive Sue figures she can "suggest" that I made improper advances toward her ... and I'm guilty and publicly smeared before any Admistrative Investigation even begins. No thanks. (And "Yes". I have seen teenage girls whose manipulative, sneaky, self-serving minds work this way. It's not "worth it" to me....)

[I'm reminded of Billy Graham -- who will wait for the next elevator car if a single lady is in the one he could board. His example of avoiding even the "appearance" of impropriety is a good model for me.]

The tennis guy said:
I travelled on WTA for two years 15 years ago, that period of time was covered in that book. It was just not accurate (that's generous term) depiction of WTA tour.
Thank you! This data increases the credibility of your assertions.

This book was discredited long time ago when it came out, I thought. I am just surprised this was brought up right now. ... I remember the book came out during Wimbldeon. WTA players at that time, old and young, present and past, came out strongly against it.
The specific period covered by the book happens to be "the period" when I only superficially followed Pro Tennis. My problem is -- other than your assertion that the book has been "discredited" -- I don't remember any flak about it at all. I did some Googling ... and found nothing much to speak of either way.

Just look at Van Der Meer claim itself, just think to yourself, where did the 30% come from? Did he investigate?
Hello??? It was (reportedly) Dennis Van der Meer, who has been a solid, participant and contributor to amateur and pro tennis. It was (allegedly) Dennis' estimate based on his years of participation in all levels of tennis. (Don't you see how this can carry some ... weight of credibility?)
Did he know all the coaches who coached young girls all over the world?
No. And he did not claim he did. Why would he have to make an exhaustive claim? If Dennis' word isn't somewhat credible, whose is???
... there is no way for him to know to say something like that.
See above. I think he has plenty of "position" to make such a claim.

You have not "convinced me," The tennis guy, but you have given me food for thought....

- KK
 

35ft6

Legend
The tennis guy said:
I agree completely. Just look at Van Der Meer claim itself, just think to yourself, where did the 30% come from? Did he investigate? Did he know all the coaches who coached young girls all over the world? If he came out saying 30% of coaches in his academy, then that makes sense. However, 30% of all as he claimed is ridiculous because there is no way for him to know to say something like that.
Are you littleleyton?
 

tykrum

Rookie
Kaptain Karl said:
Major kudos to you, tykrum!!! I mean this sincerely. Two years ago my AD told me he could not make arrangements for a female Ass't Coach. I immediately resigned as Girls Coach. Too much "downside risk" in my book.

"Sue" thinks she should be #2 Singles because she only barely lost to Kate ... and that day Sue didn't feel well. I play Kate at #2. Vindictive Sue figures she can "suggest" that I made improper advances toward her ... and I'm guilty and publicly smeared before any Admistrative Investigation even begins. No thanks. (And "Yes". I have seen teenage girls whose manipulative, sneaky, self-serving minds work this way. It's not "worth it" to me....)

[I'm reminded of Billy Graham -- who will wait for the next elevator car if a single lady is in the one he could board. His example of avoiding even the "appearance" of impropriety is a good model for me.]- KK
Thanks, I appreciate it.

Its too bad that you have had this type of an experience. The girls that I have coached and worked with as an instructor do sometimes have gripes about positions etc, but for the most part they have been very mature about it. Also, the head and asst head coach are women, but their practices are at a different site, and we travel seperately.

Also, my situation is skewed even further because of my age. Being 20 and a college junior probably doesn't do wonders for my credibility in this situation. I sometimes find it hard myself, because on one hand, I'd like to be considered not only a coach that gives great advice and leadership, but also someone that can be a 'friend' to the players. Not to mention, its just more fun to be able to get along with everyone. At the same time, I fear that it might appear that I am too close to the players. Hopefully I never find myself in the situation that KK described
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
KK,

The more you are close to WTA, the less likely you believe his claim. There are many respected figure on tennis scene would mouth off without much basis.

WTA is a lot more complicated than ATP, no question. But that is expected because there are a lot more girls on WTA while most are men on ATP. Because of this, there are a lot more parents travelling on tour that creates lots of friction for everyone to see. For example, on ATP, if a player's parents don't get along with his coach, it is non-story because the parents don't travel with the player all the time - for example, Roddick, no story at all. However, if it happens on WTA, that conflict is there all the time. There are many times the player disagree with the parents by sticking with the coach, then it is a huge problem. The parents might want to force the kid to leave the coach by suggesting improper behavior from the coach. The rumor spreads all over. Indeed there are parents who would accuse the coach of improper sexual contacts. If the player is a minor, this will be reported to police. There were police investigation on several coaches, but nothing came out of it, some of these are even of public knowledge.

Of course there are women on tour who are dating their coaches. They are in minority. Of course there are improper behavior by coaches, they are minority as well. 30% is just ridiculous regardless of source. Then there's rumor of this widespread lesbianism - Stevenson's mother made similar accusation. Players just laugh it off because they know what's going on on tour. There are lesbians on tour, but no more than the general population. Someone who have never seen a lesbian in real life might be shocked to see 5 out of top 100 pros are lesbians up close. But it doesn't make it any different from real population.

This just says that it is important to put individual stories in context. If you have put some weird stories from WTA throughout the years, some of them are just runors without solid basis, some of them are completely false even, together, yes, you get ugly picture because personal and professional life are linked together. If you do this to any organization by compiling weird stories from both personal and professional life, including runors and speculation, you'll be able to paint ugly picture as well.
 

AAAA

Hall of Fame
Kaptain Karl said:
[I'm reminded of Billy Graham -- who will wait for the next elevator car if a single lady is in the one he could board. His example of avoiding even the "appearance" of impropriety is a good model for me.]
Do the right thing and be seen to do the right thing. It's all too easy for people to be found guilty by association in the world we live in.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
The tennis guy - The more you post, the more balanced your position seems. You're doing a very good job explaining yourself. Thanks for sticking with me on this.

Let's "table" the sexual misconduct stuff, though. I really wasn't trying to flush TW discussions right into the sewer.

Were *any* of Mewshaw's conclusions accurate? How about my own preconceptions? Here are my "non-sex" thoughts again....

2 - Capriati is really ... vacuous.

3 - Seles might actually be from another planet. She's just plain *weird*. [Mewshaw quotes her as saying she doesn't "think" in her matches. She just sort of "zones out" and blasts away until the smoke clears.) Many of my friends, here on TW, have praised Seles' play. I always thought her game was more "mindless" than many gave her credit for.]

4 - Mary Pierce's father (real name Bobby Glenn Pearce) really did spend time as a "guest" of two different mental institutions. (Figures....)

6 - Pam Shriver was a major whiner.... [I always thought she was more of an ... opportunist ... than a quality player.]

7 - MaryJo Fernandez and Pam Shriver cannot be expected to help fix the WTA in their current Commentator Seats. They were "part of the problem" when they played. [Of course, this presumes Mewshaw was a "straight shooter." You are beginning to make me wonder....]

8 - Much as I cannot stand Martina Navratilova, personally, she certainly "calls it like she sees it." Her candor is quite disarming.

9 - The WTA leadership of the early '90s seemed quite ... corrupt. [I'm beginning to think Mewshaw might have had some "special bone to pick" with the WTA....]

10 - (Finally) this book was written over 15 years ago. Too little appears to have changed.

I've read many WTA observers talk about how much more "depth" there is on the Women's Tour today. I'm one who doesn't equate "quantity" with "quality". I don't see very much "depth"....

- KK
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
I was up close to see Seles' rise. At that time, some might say her game was mindless, but to me, she was playing purely on her natural instinct. She could create those sharp angles that other players would only dream. Those could only be created by instinct, not by trying. That's tennis played at the highest level, purely on instinct.

After she came back in 95, I thought she had everything else she had pre-stabbing, but she lost some of her instinct. She started to hesitate a touch - think, started to try to create those angles she used to be able to do with ease, but was never able to recover those instincts.
 

Kevin Patrick

Hall of Fame
Kaptain,
you keep saying Seles was "weird." Any examples? That book was written in the early 90s, she was only 17/18 at the time. I certainly wouldn't like to be judged by my actions when I was a teenager.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
Kevin Patrick said:
Kaptain,
you keep saying Seles was "weird." Any examples?
Have you read Mewshaw's book? He offers many.

I certainly wouldn't like to be judged by my actions when I was a teenager.
But that's when Monica came into prominence. That's when she entered, competed against the other top girls, and won.

I would still be apologizing to everyone I met *today* if I was being judged by my late teen years. But I didn't grow up until ten years later....

- KK
 

larrhall

Semi-Pro
Kaptain Karl: whatever. Monica Seles has had a difficult enough life, for all the fame and so on. Let her be...few people have to deal with the personal and individual trauma, including humiliation of the non-application of German justice in this case. She lost a career, in many ways.

WTA is like any company, any store full of customers, any highway, any airplane roster. It's just a place full of people, no more, no less.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
larrhall said:
Kaptain Karl: whatever. Monica Seles has had a difficult enough life, for all the fame and so on. Let her be...
No.

I do have compassion for the unfairness which befell her. But that has nothing to do with my observations that she was quite a "wing nut."

Spare me the touchy-feely sentimentality, please.

- KK
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Kaptain KarlI'm a HS Coach. I told my AD "No way!" will I be the only male on the courts ... in the bus ... on the road ... with our HS Girls Tennis Team. (And I say this simply to [U said:
avoid any possible suspicion[/U]....)

- KK
Why don't you have your "girls" wear burqas-that way, you won't be "tempted" and no "suspicions" will be raised. That is the reason that Muslim woman wear those things, so they won't tempt the menfolk.

...if you know who you are and what you're capable-and not capable-of, this shouldn't be an issue. Stop acting like such a close minded Talib.
 

Kaptain Karl

Hall Of Fame
Phil said:
...if you know who you are and what you're capable-and not capable-of, this shouldn't be an issue.
Read the rest of the post you quoted, Phil. The behavioral risk wasn't *me*.

- KK
 

Phil

Hall of Fame
Kaptain Karl said:
Read the rest of the post you quoted, Phil. The behavioral risk wasn't *me*.

- KK
I'm not saying that it was, Karl. We live in an increasingly paranoid society, but if you are innocent-in deeds and intent-then there shouldn't be a problem with riding the bus with the team that you have been ENTRUSTED to coach.
 

Rabbit

G.O.A.T.
larrhall said:
Kaptain Karl: whatever. Monica Seles has had a difficult enough life, for all the fame and so on. Let her be...few people have to deal with the personal and individual trauma, including humiliation of the non-application of German justice in this case. She lost a career, in many ways.

WTA is like any company, any store full of customers, any highway, any airplane roster. It's just a place full of people, no more, no less.

Gee, larrhall, I had no idea that Monica was a personal friend of yours and that you're such an insider on the WTA tour. Isn't this type of alleged I'm in the know of their life posting the very thing you slam other posters about? Once again, you've proven that the rules you make apply to everyone but you.
 

kosmikgroove

New User
the problems with the WTA are still apparant today. with constant withdrawls from tournaments due to nagging injuries, a longer off-season for recovery seems in order. Instead larry scott sees it fit to enfore stronger regulations and higher fines for withdrawls. high fines may seems ok for the top women with multi-million dollar endorsements, but for the average top 50 player, this forces them into playing longer seasons with even more pressure to play while injured...

the WTA needs to be restructed to address the PLAYERS.
 

The tennis guy

Hall of Fame
kosmikgroove said:
the problems with the WTA are still apparant today. with constant withdrawls from tournaments due to nagging injuries, a longer off-season for recovery seems in order. Instead larry scott sees it fit to enfore stronger regulations and higher fines for withdrawls. high fines may seems ok for the top women with multi-million dollar endorsements, but for the average top 50 player, this forces them into playing longer seasons with even more pressure to play while injured...

the WTA needs to be restructed to address the PLAYERS.
ATP has longer season than WTA. Who are forcing players play longer season? Players are mainly responsibble for their own schedules. They don't have to play as many tournaments as they are playing now. Regulation is to prevent last minute withdrawal. ATP is doing the same thing - there are a lot of withdrawals and they have stronger regulation regarding last minute withdrawal, but you want to pick on WTA only.
 
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