My friend, lane Evans, a USTA professional,and I had a long discussion about tennis in the USA. Maybe this will summarize some suggestions, observations, and interrelationships that are linked. And maybe helpful.
My personal efforts are being directed toward helping high school varsity tennis coaches, players and teams. We just lost a North Carolina ” tennis angel”, Mr. Jim Toney. Jim spearheaded a successful effort in our County (Alamance) in North Carolina, to build or refurbish all high school facilities. Quite a task, quite impressive success. We then pledged each other to help the coaches. Very often these people were in need of help.
I hope my book, “The Little Green Book of Tennis”, will aid the 700 coaches in North Carolina we are providing the book to.
1. Teaching Pros can be helpful to these high school coaches, players and teams. Very often the pros are much more knowledgeable and specialized in tennis.
High schoolers and younger are a great source for the pro’s business. A nurturing of this relationship is mutually beneficial.
2. High school sports are more and more selective. Basketball and football are sports not all are fitted for. Youngsters will look more and more for alternatives.
Some will be stellar athletes who might consider tennis.
3. Many won’t.
4. Why? Since the early 70’s more and more tennis scholarships have gone to internationals. We are in the third generation of this reality. The skyrocketing of college costs has paralleled the number of internationals. And the number of grants for Americans have declined in a similar staggering proportion. Families invest tremendous amounts of money into their children’s tennis. It can be rewarded only two ways: 1.The extremely rare route of becoming a professional player and 2. College scholarships. And the scholarships grow more and more important annually.
5. One significant reason people are opting for sports other than tennis is that this third generation of parents and players have seen the scholarships shipped overseas.
6. This also manifests itself in the dearth of top pro players in America today. The obvious graph-like decline in quality of players in America coupled with the elimination of Americans selected for college scholarships should be grounds for new ideas.
7. Here is one. Is it not time to seriously study how to restore these opportunities and scholarships to our own?
8. Wouldn’t this benefit the hopeful high school or junior player in terms of motivation.
9. Much has been written about internationals in American college. My more detailed thoughts can be found in the articles listed in XENOPHOBIC (146) from my blog, http://www.tomparham.wordpress.com.
10. One last suggestion to high school coaches and tennis pros: Coach–talented players are protective of their games and practices. Work with the players and pros to allow meaningful practices, and still maintain team sacrifices. Meet and set up a plan; the kid misses high school practice for pro lessons or a match with a high level opponent and yet gives back to the team by helping less talented teammates. Both interact in the long run. PROS- encourage why team play may teach more than individual success. I wondered if a “prima donna “wouldn’t play for his/her high school , would they sacrifice as needed to be a good college teammate?