THERE IS NOTHING MORE POWERFUL THAN AN IDEA WHOSE TIME HAS COME….VICTOR HUGO
I recently wrote a letter to North Carolina and America’s tennis friend, Andy Andrews (see Blog article 112).
The intent of that letter was to suggest to the USTA a theory or perhaps one reason there has been such a drastic drop off among top ranked American players. My strong feelings are that the theory (summarized below) is quite close to the problem:
THE AWARDING OF A DISPROPORTIONATE AMOUNT OF AID TO INTERNATIONAL PLAYERS HAS INFLUENCED THE AMERICAN PUBLIC TO NOT CHOOSE TENNIS FOR UNTOLD TALENTED AMERICAN YOUNGSTERS.
Two items of support for this theory is an examination of past top ranked American (Men). Blog number 113 has a list of top Americans from 1960-2013. Compare the 2010-2013 numbers 5 through 10 today to any of 5-10 in the late 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s, or early 2000 rankings. Harrison vs Connors?
Blog 114 lists the members of the INTERCOLLEGIATE TENNIS HALL OF FAME. See any top pros who had college ties?
Computers make tennis history available. Just check out the number of International players who have had American college experience. Patrick McEnroe says the route for Americans is 99.9 the college route. Could Patrick have played pro without his college training? Would he have played college tennis without a scholarship?
While the USTA says about 20% of all college tennis players are international, they don’t reveal what % of scholarships go to internationals. Analyze the top five teams in DIVISIONS I AND 2 OF the NCAA the NAIA AND JR. Colleges the last twenty years for these facts: NOT their total rosters, but the lineup players in crucial matches. Where did the scholarship allotments go,percentage wise. Where were the “All-Americans” from? All awards winners? Did American kids not only get cut out of scholarships, but the chance to win or excel?
“Fool me twice, it’s my fault”. Americans have opted out of tennis. No sizable grant? My second kid will play soccer. Maybe #2 child was Connors! Think he would draw some fans to New York for the USOPEN?
That begs other questions. Doesn’t the USTA have most to gain by the restoration of college tennis grants for Americans? 550 MILLION for a roof and no Americans past round 2. We only had ISNER and Steve Johnson (both college players) to win a second round match in the last US OPEN, WIMBLEDON, and the Australian. At the rate we are going, no American will qualify by the time the roof,etc. are completed.
THE LAW? This the sticky wicket with them all. “Unconstitutional”? Can’t do it legally? Xenophobic? Check the latest USTA Comment (see blog 115 on “Frequently Asked Questions”). Alludes only to a question from the 70’s about a track issue. Milktoast?
Blog 116 is a copy of a letter that was issued by the lawyer/Father of one of my players. Illegal? The NCAA not a “state actor” therefore permitted to make that choice if it is in the best interest of the organization? Quite frankly the NCAA and it’s affiliate ,the ITA, aren’t the ones hurting. College tennis has a great product. Just our kids losing out. And the USTA?
The USTA has spent 17 million dollars on a system that has come no where near the historic nurturing of the COLLEGE AND FAMILY influences. Our only big winners today are “family” products (the Williams sisters and the Bryan twins) and college’s Isner and Johnson.
We got shot down with the 50/50 plan (50% of scholarship aid has to be reserved for Americans)??? Doesn’t say no internationals. Doesn’t say you can’t give them a scholarship. Doesn’t say internationals can’t play on the team. Wonder what % of top internationals paid there own way to American colleges? (Foreign trade vs Foreign aid?).
How important is a college scholarship when some total catalog cost is 70k a year at some schools? When college debt exceeds credit card debt in the USA? Where is the “carrot” to play tennis as a talented junior, if the grants aren’t possible. Harsh statement? I can promise your there are American colleges that recruit ONLY internationals.
I feel like Charlton Heston on this issue. But the time has come for others to help.
What about a USTA “think tank”. Don’t we have any lawyers? The last I heard a ton of money will find a good lawyer. The USTA got any poker players? I bet there is a legal way. At least run a good bluff at litigation. Bet the NCAA wouldn’t take the football/men’s basketball money to risk on an expensive trial?
I think it is right and legal. But somebody has got to “…screw up some courage”. Only those who love American tennis will do it.
PS. Blog 117 shows excerpts from the Bryan twins Father, Wayne.
MADE IN THE USA (BLOG 12) IS RELATED