Tuesday, 10 January, 2012 2:58 pm
Developing American tennis
Recently I read an article in NY Times newspaper written by Patrick McEnroe where he said that the solution to American tennis is “dirt” (which means clay courts). I believe that this is very far from the solution that we need in American tennis.
The best country in the world, in terms of junior players, is not Spain as McEnroe suggested. The best country today, without a doubt, is France. It is important to realize that only 20% of the courts in France are clay and 80% are hard courts. If that was the case, the USA would never have a prayer since less than 10% of the courts in this country are clay courts. The solution is very clear, it is not the surface that is going to make the difference it is the training. If you look at countries like Spain, France and Argentina, despite their smaller populations, they each have a very well defined program, philosophy and a unified teaching concept. You can go from one end of these countries to the other and you will see that everybody teaches the same- same terminology, strokes, philosophy and similar styles of play. What the USTA doesn’t have, is the courage to mandate that all high performance coaches, intermediate coaches and tennis teachers have uniform guidelines for instruction.
The USTA hires very good coaches for the upper level, pre-professional and professional player but they have yet to hire anybody who knows how to develop a player from the ground up.
For example, the 10 and under juniors, in most of the previously mentioned countries, use the play and stay ball. My team and I have hosted 3 Little Mo tournaments at Club Med Academies. Little Mo tournaments are USTA events which include players from around the globe. Unfortunately, the USTA is still running those tournaments with regular balls. Many players, coaches and parents find this very confusing and frustrating. I will be talking more about this topic in my next blog because I feel it is a very important to the future of tennis in this country.