Made in the USA (12)

The Bryan Brothers

I was a small college tennis coach most of my career.   In the 1970s, international players took over college tennis and the scholarships awarded for tennis.   It started with the small college men, spread to small college women, and then on to NCAA Division 1 men and women.

There was much discussion about this issue.  Those favoring the argument for limiting foreign scholarships lost, myself included. Forty years hence, observing a progressive downward spiral of American’s professional tennis rankings, I wonder if there is a connection between the two.

Did American families, parents, and players, realizing the drastic change in supply of college tennis scholarships, redirect would be top players? The financial commitment from a family that’s needed to produce a world class player is staggering. Those who commit have only two possible financial paybacks: the rare professional success, or a college scholarship. Eliminate scholarship likelihood, and the bet is questionable at best.   Shouldn’t American tennis organizations support parents in their commitment? College tennis scholarships (or the lack thereof) send a powerful message in America.

If it is in the best interest of American organizations, a reservation of college scholarships for Americans seems to be a start. Note that I am not unaware, or unappreciative, of the many fine internationals who have helped colleges, universities, and their tennis programs. How about a goal of 50% of tennis scholarships reserved for Americans?

4 thoughts on “Made in the USA (12)

  1. Clark Coleman

    If the problem is that tennis is so expensive in the USA, perhaps we should address that problem directly. Many who are familiar with the European athletic clubs say that a junior tennis career is much less expensive in Europe. Discussing why that is true, and what the USA could do differently, would go a lot farther towards USA professional success than a scholarship quota.

  2. clark, some of both. there or only two pay backs for tennis efforts: pro career (rare) or scholarships…with very limited scholarships, my guess is some potential pros opt out of tennis’ limited grants…tp

  3. Lane Evans

    Tennis is not expensive to play. A kid can start playing in the U.S. for pennies on the dollar. Used equipment, public courts and a decent pair of shoes can easily be obtained. My problem with the game of today is not the expense, but what the kids are learning from watching the game on TV. I learned by watching great technicians of the game such as Ken Rosewall, John Newcombe, Stan Smith and Rod Laver. Later on Pete Sampras and now Roger Federer brought a renewed hope by me that kids will learn by watching these players because of their solid mechanics. The open stanced full western forehand cannot be taught effectively. I am convinced. As coach Parham and I have discussed, the kids who learn this technique and can master it are rare. Perhaps a compromise of sorts may be in the works. Let the kid use the forehand but make them adhere to the rest, i.e. good footwork, good turns and solid shot preparation. I recently ventured out to watch several high school teams play and was very dissappointed in the ability levels. The kids are trying to use these awkward grips while refusing to set-up properly and move in between shots. I was so appalled by it that I set up a scholarship program for the four area high school teams and offered to have their coaches pick players for me to work with at no charge. It has helped a little. I am taking on this issue one player at a time in a effort to teach them at least the very basic principles of the game. Wins and scholarships are earned by years of hard work. I just don’t see the work ethic that I saw 30 years ago. Entitlement does not work here. Tennis is a special game played by special people. Not everyone can do it. Every kid does not get a trophy. They have to learn to do the work. Tennis is one of those games that you will truly get out of it what you put in. le

    1. Romaine Hudson

      It so nice to hear that someone still values work ethic. Kids today want things quick and fast and tennis takes time… time to learn the fundamentals and skills necessary to become the player of yesteryear. I have two boys who love the game and have watched very little tennis on TV. Instead, we are on the courts 3 to 4 days a week learning the basics and entering a tournmanet here and there to get a taste of competition. Junior Team Tennis in NC has been a great experience for my boys and hopefully they will find the true love of the game and what it takes to play it.

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