The IntercollegiateTennis Association is the NCAA affiliate that manages college tennis in large part. Periodically they rank the teams, and singles and doubles

They rank men and women in NCAA Divisions 1,11, and 111, the NAIA, and Junior colleges. Having just read these 2018 fall rankings (google ITA TENNIS) and anyone can see the listing of the top players) my observations of these current lists reflect the long time history of college tennis:

  1. I once asked a player of mine who had just won, who he played next? Another “strom” he said. Lots of Ovas in women’s tennis now.   Lots of oriental names in women’s LPGA?   Don’t see as many Reggie Williams or Sol Epsteins. It is not the Smiths and Jones who are on the lists. And taking the scholarships.
  2. Sure, Americans are great mixture of people and names, but believe me, I have studied the lists a lot, and the rosters that reflect their nationality . Pick a school, google men’s tennis . Tag the roster and see for yourself. Just recently I researched the total rosters of Division 11’s top six mens teams. Of 63 players on the combined rosters, 62 were international. Six schools, one American. When I saw the USTA figure of some 25% of college tennis players being internationals, I cringed.   TRY 80% of top players.
  3. No scholarships for American kids, no elite players. Our great players, past and current, come from parents, high school and college tennis. Not Academies or the USTA.
  4. Is diversity our goal, or winning, or our children? Scholarships are the answer. Should our kids get the lion’s share.?
  5. Is this spreading? Like kudzu !!! And the most cruel sport is basketball, given the need of the players.

In 1998 I wrote the BLACK BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (BCA) acknowledging this change. A copy is enclosed. Twenty years! Who will be playing on our collegiate teams twenty years from now.

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Now retired from coaching tennis, I marvel at the changes in the game. The US OPEN men’s singles match between Nadal and Theim may have been the longest match ever played at that level of play. In 2012 it was apparent the next tactical gold mine was the drop shot. Now they have perfected how to defend this nightmare. What is next?
1. Temperature control. Eight players retired with heat the victor in early play.
2. Two of the all time best (and toughest) men–Federer and Nadal were victims, one to heat, one to injury. The parity of the players, and the number of them, has combined with technology to the point that even the fittest succumb. Somewhat like pro football, who is left at the end, wins. Most obvious first rule change: Only 2 of 3 sets.
3. There were no referees in small college team tennis matches when I began coaching. Players made all calls. The home coach was in charge of decisions. Some “goat rodeos” in those days. The point penalty system gave our new found referees a way to control misbehavior. Took a while. Illie Nastase shouted at the “cyclops” prototype “…you made in Russia!” The new machines can make a call as narrow as a blade of grass. Little arguments with modern line calls.


  • I apologize to our women.   USOPEN SEMIFINALISTS!
  • Few good Americans develop without high school tennis.
  • Girls high school teams and girls of limited ability are the most neglected learners and often the most receptive.
  • The maturing of our women’s league players, coaches, and administrators is a gold mine of help for high school girls teams.  Boys too.
  • There are a lot of different ways to help our high school teams and coaches.
  • The two  toughest teaching spots are  developing  a working one hand backhand grip for 1. the slice and 2. the advanced serve.


Mr. Wilton Powers taught us the scientific method in the 9th grade.  Seems very similar to the popular “algorithm” .  Or Mom would suggest –recipe.

The “domino effect” is another term anyone my age is well aware of.

Both apply to sports in American colleges today.   Watch what happens when a top tier basketball coach changes schools.  The next guys down the chain apply, one is picked and the chain moves down a rung.  And on and on to the last Division 111 coach doing it the right way.   A similar pattern is all too often repeated among D1 mens basketball players. Called”one and done”, it is more widely understood than algorithms.  One that makes many coaches jobs less appealing?


  1.  Collegiate athletes graduate, quit or somehow vacate a scholarship.
  2. The coach recruits the player best enabling him to win, or keep his/her job.
  3. The best players take the best scholarships and accrue the best education available in the USA.
  4. They return to wherever, educated.
  5. Those down the chain get a lesser education.

In Division 11 Men’s College Tennis (2017) the top five combined team’s rosters housed 63 total players.  Sixty-two  are international.  How far down the chain must an American tennis player go to get what’s left?


What if Americans received more grants ????

 Would these things happen—
1. Would families come back to tennis?
2. Would these grants lighten the spiraling cost of college to our families?
3. With grants available would we halt the downward spiral of quality players?
4. Couldn’t Internationals still play if they paid the bill?
5. Wouldn’t our college programs develop our top kids (they do that now for internationals, and we pay the way). And they did so before grants were lost.
6. Wouldn’t our top kids have a shot at top notch education at our better institutions?
7. How about USTA membership? High school tennis, Coaching quality and opportunity?
8. Players would gather the life lessons of a great sport. The game is the best teacher.
9. Our kids would win more, and especially benefit from being on a team that has a chance to win.
10. All-Americans that are American?



“You’re gonna need a bigger boat” (JAWS)

To change an organization you need someone powerful within the organization to champion your cause.
My “cause” is American children and college tennis.
The problem is the decline of high quality players in America.
I am not alone. It is commonly discussed, but “… the wind is blowing but the trees ain’t moving.”
I was advised long ago, by the CEO of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF INTERCOLLEGIATE ATHLETICS, having lost my argument, “,,,you are right, don’t quit!”
My guess is the missing link to convincing the “Gorilla Bureaucrat” is data.
To survey the issue of change someone has to collect the data (it is certainly there) which would take passion and funding.
Here is what I speculate and how I would begin to collect the data:
PREMISE :  American tennis players would improve drastically if college tennis scholarships were not given predominantly to internationals.

1. Collect data (where, what, how?)
2. Where? The major divisions in college athletics are NCAA, 1,11,111, and NAIA (smaller colleges), men and women. Coaches, Athletic Administrators, Sports Information Departments, Conferences and National offices, local media, the USTA, The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA), tennis publications, the players themselves.
***Rosters from the past. Top eight teams, top eight players’ homes. How many scholarships were awarded and to whom. Percentage of allotment awarded to internationals? State or private institutions.? How much to in-state players.
****Conference and National records: Who won the team titles and how many starters were American. Singles winners? Doubles winners. How many all conference selections went to Americans? How many All -Americans were American, year by year. Rankings year by year by the ITA (Their homes towns), Seeded players in National tournaments (homes).
4. How? The rub lies herein. Someone has to do the work. Someone is going to have to pay the bills. Who should? The NCAA and the USTA for sure. Private money from those who love tennis and our kids.

1. The first question is, is it legal to reserve a % of scholarships “off the top” for our kids? This will likely have to be litigated. Care enough about your children, to risk court action and expense, tennis?
2. You would eliminate some great international people and players. Them or us?
3. The quality college of tennis players would go down for a period of time. However my belief is the quality of American college players, juniors, and pros would eventually improve. And I am almost positive attendance at college matches would grow rapidly.


The NAIA had a 1 foreign player limit in 1970. Once the door was opened wide it spread to all levels, men and women. And with other sports joining in, men and women.
Between 1970 and 2016 there have two stark developments. Scholarships for Americans have plummeted and American player quality has done the same. My chart on the issue would look somewhat like this. Facts would confirm nearly on the button (MY GUESS).

*****CHART (reflects two variables for the years from 1970 to 2016: (1) Scholarships to Americans at top tennis schools and (2) the quality of America’s top pros.

The tennis “boom” began in 1968 (“Open” tennis”). There were several nations that produced many great players in the next 30 years. The Australians, the Swedes, Spain, and certainly America. I have two blog articles posted on, , that roughly lists Americans who were in some way influenced by American college tennis (blog 114), and year by year listings of the top ten pros (blog 113 ).

The other dramatic chart would be to compare top ten ranked American pros annually from 1970 until now. Name the top ten women today?
In the 70’s and 80’s the men’s number 6, 7,8 etc. featured names like Connors, McEnroe, Ashe, Tanner, Ralston, Riessen. Our top eight would have a shot at every major. For the last 5 years no American man has made it to round 3 in any slam. ***(Sam Querry just made Round 4 at Wimbledon).

Where are these guys? Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, Jay Berger, Harold Solomon, David Wheaton, Patrick McEnroe, Todd Martin, John Sadri, Bob Mckinley, Brad Gilbert, Michael Pernfors, Peter Fleming, Clark Graebner, Brian Gottfreid, Dick Stockton, Charles Pasarell, Jack Kramer, Chuck McKinley, Bob Lutz, Rafael Osuna, Tony Trabert, Barry McKay, Frank Froehling, Vic Seixias . Cliff Richey, Brian Teacher, Jimmy Arias, Aaron Krickstein, Paul Annacone, Elliot Telscher, Tim Wilkison, Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, Malavai Washington, Vince Spadea, plus many others.
***These people have had close ties to American college tennis. Some went on to coach in America and at American colleges. Many of these were internationals who came to American college tennis and honed their skills to the professional level. Most would not have done so without scholarships and the collegiate experience. Our Davis Cup team just lost to Croatia! There were fifty men who played on this year’s international Davis Cup zonal teams who were, or currently are, on American Collegiate rosters. No doubt with grants we subsidized. More clearly: We are paying them and training them to beat us. Reminds me of POGO (…we have seen the enemy and it is us!)

***My career began before Title IX and women’s intercollegiate tennis. As late as 1970 there were some women on men’s teams. The women followed suit as far as recruiting internationals. My knowledge of their players is limited, thus the article above comes from the men’s teams.

Conclusion: Is there a “Big Gorilla” who shares these concerns?
1. THE USTA? They have the money to go to court. Their mission is heavily oriented to our young people. It is the “United States” Tennis Association.
2. THE NCAA? They have money too, but their real efforts are toward big money sports. Would they risk a lawsuit? Are they “actors of the state?” The “National” Collegiate Athletic Association?
3. THE ITA? Would most of their members vote for American inclusion? They did one time!
4. MONEY? What if major private money wanted more Americans, Ameican quality players? Example? Oracle is now sponsoring college tennis. What if the CEO (Larry Ellison) felt strongly his funding should include significantly more American support?
5. TAXPAYERS? Nationally, state, local? Just another form of foreign aid, not trade?
6. INSTITUTIONS? Why is my donor money paying for them and not my kids. Isn’t this an unnecessary add-on to runaway tuition?
7. PARENTS? You wouldn’t offer my kid any help, yet your roster is totally international. And you often lose.
8. SMALLER SCHOOLS? When will Presidents, Athletics Directors, Trustees realize “we are just giving our product away”. The “arms race” in minor sports yields little, costs tons.
9. STUDENTS: My athletic fees are supporting those people? Are they helping with my student loan?
10. TEACHING PROS AND HIGH SCHOOL COACHES: No more kids taking lessons, buying products. No more kids going out for my team. Better kids electing other sports.

I also hope The National Federation of High School Athletics would weigh in with their concerns and data for not only tennis but all sports.



“International players ruled the draft

There were 14 international players selected in the first round of the 2016 Draft, from Dragan Bender at No. 4 overall to the surprising Georgios Papagiannis pick by the Sacramento Kings near at the end of the lottery. That’s an NBA record for the first round for international players, although six of those 14 were attending colleges in the United States last season rather than playing overseas.

The NBA brags about being a global game as frequently as it can, but if a record-setting international haul doesn’t prove them right, then what will? Basketball is becoming more globally accessible and more young athletes are attempting to make the move into the NBA, which can only be a good thing.”



Is this possible?  From the organizations listed below:


Schools and Conferences and National administrators research and compile data from 1980 until this year.  Identify institutions as state or private.

1. Rosters.  Ratio of internationals to American citizens.

2.  International’s position in the lineup.

3.  Scholarship allotment.  % of total to internationals.

4. League and National winners (team, singles, doubles , mvp,  freshman of year, academic awards by internationals.)

5.  National tournaments:  Seeds.  Post tournament final 16 singles, final 8 doubles. By nationality.

6.  Number of Conference and National team members in top six from state the school is located in.

Also comments on:

A.  What American pros have come strictly from the “Academy Process”?

B.  How many international  pros in the last thirty years have gained experience from American Collegiate tennis?

C.  Compare American pros who have had some college experience to those who go “strictly professional”?

D.  How many “players” in the Intercollegiate Tennis Hall of Fame had professional tennis experience?

E.  Compare alumni contributions from Americans to Internationals.

F.  There have been and are being some super college tennis facilities.   Historically and currently, where do major gifts come from?

G.  College tennis constantly deals with limited spectator interest.   Many cite the format.  Would attendance grow or alter if the teams were half American?   Given a lesser ability of many American players, would attendance fall off further?  Stay the same?  Increase?

H.  Which would be the most likely outcome given half  American starters:

—attendance would decrease due to lesser  quality of play.  More losses.

—fellow students, families, friends,fans would accept the lesser play for the familiar faces?

—over a period of time would American juniors react to more opportunities and scholarships  in their choice of sports?   Would the generations of Americans improve more through college opportunities and experience enough to encourage more attendance?

—Compare the American top ten men and women players in the 70’s, 80’s, 90’s  to today’s best.  How many “old-timers” played college tennis?   Why are our few top players those with college backgrounds (Isner, the Bryans, Steve Johnson)?



1. I admit myopia on this topic.
2. I always admit my use of international tennis players to my great advantage.
3. These people and many opponents are stellar players and people.
4. Blog # “XENOPHOBIA” lists blogs written over the years on this subject.
5. The comments below are repeated, new, and a challenge to those with similar feelings
to explore the issue further. I have several questions that I don’t have the resources
or time to verify.
First- some good local news. Going into the 2016 NCAA Championships three Atlantic Coast Conference men’s tennis teams were seeded in the top six, including #1 Virginia who won the championship. UNC-Chapel Hill won the ITA national indoor title. Wake Forest beat UVA for the Deacons first ever ACC men’s tennis title. The women had some very similar accomplishments.
However, the 2016 French Open results were much the same for American pros. North Carolina’s John Isner making the second round. No other men’s singles in sight for the fourth year in a row. Again our best shows came from John and the Bryan Brothers (both college products), and Serena and Venus (who avoided USTA influences early on).  And, of course  Shelby Rogers made the quarters, no small accomplishment.  Shelby, interestingly, was home schooled.
Here are some questions and “food for thought” for anyone concerned about the future of American tennis:
1. Does the USTA realize they are spending $500,000,000 plus for a roof and that when it is done perhaps no Americans will qualify for the USOPEN?
2. Did we actually spend 17 million dollars on USTA Player Development with this kind of results?
3. What are the plans on the horizon to correct this problem? Are we willing to listen to new or valid suggestions?
4. If so, has this been thoroughly thought out: There is a direct correlation starting from 1970 until 2016 between the number of scholarships given to American college tennis players to the current dearth of highly ranked American pros. Further, an examination of the top ten Americans during the 70’s and 80’s reveals the quality of those players compared to the top ten men and women today. My belief is the best elite training system world wide is the American College/University athletic programs.  Ask Isner 1. were you selected for USTA elite programs? 2. Did your participation at GEORGIA prepare you for your best shot at pro tennis? 3. Did you have a scholarship? 4. Would you have selected GEORGIA had they not provided that grant?
5. An e-mail I received from a “tennis person” suggested there was 860 million dollars spent on college tennis programs. Is that true?
6. Want the best rationale for scholarships, from the #1 sport world wide–soccer?  Fact: Our men have never won the World Cup. With the advent of Title IX in 1970 our USA women have won three times! The 23 woman roster this time featured all women with college play and college scholarships. I was asked where the Olympic training camp for women was by a colleague from Elon University. Reply: Thirty five miles east. (Six of the twenty three had played for Anson Dorrance’s UNC Tar Heels.)
7. Change comes fast. In 2015 Duke’s women’s golf team finished 2nd in the NCAA. It was on NATIONAL TV. The BLUE DEVILS roster housed no American women. Coaches depend on winning to keep their jobs. I’ll guarantee young women golf coaches made note of Duke’s roster. (And how many good young Asian players are coming along). While this may be new to some it is not to many, myself included. In 1970 the NAIA voted down a “one only international can play in the NAIA Nationals” rule. A grizzled old coach stood and predicted, “…if you allow this, in about two years a Texas team will bring in an all Mexican team and it’s all over!” He was wrong. The next spring Mercyhurst College (PA.) produced the team winner consisting of six “freshmen” from Finland. Our coaches made note of that. I know I did. And you can’t blame the coaches. Our high schools feature African American men’s basketball players almost exclusively.  Soon the Colleges followed suit. High school girls, then college women. Perhaps no sport changed ethnicities faster than women’s college basketball from mostly white to mostly black.

My guess is that football and basketball will continue to feature more black players.  Not one thing wrong with that.  However it has social and sport implications.  First is the concussion issue that is on the front burner now.   My strong belief is that many black kids join the military because of unfair and limited options.  Is it not wrong to steer any group of young people to war’s dangers and horrors?   It doesn’t stretch the intellect too far to see similarities with the ever growing dangers of football.  Are we forcing some smaller kids into an arena where  they are dangerously over matched?

Back to tennis, and there is a connection.   As bigger and better athletes reject football and maybe even basketball, wouldn’t it be wise for tennis to make a bee-line to recruit them to the tennis court?   I can tell you right now those people are selecting other sports in the South.  Soccer and  now Lacrosse are draining these guys and girls their way.

Want one main reason?  Duh- college scholarships?

A popular and long held notion is that pro tennis youngsters should avoid college.  I believe now more than ever those are rare creatures.   Most of our elites have come out of a basic structure or path.  First the home and the parents:  Chris Evert,  Jim Connors,  McEnroe, the  Bryans,  the Williams sisters, and the most recent ones Isner, Steve Johnson,  and now Shelby Rogers. The best players in the world can be cited (Rafa and Uncle Tony.   The Joker is making a case for “best ever” and he came for a one court Serbian town with a woman pro).  Most Americans  had connections to college tennis, or at least it was in the back of their minds.  The next step was the local pros.  Try Pete Sampras and Dr. Fischer.   Clubs and their pros were a main cog in the wheel.

Another quantum change when so many academies took kids away from their homes too soon.  No  matter who or how much you pay some one , will they pay the same amount of attention as a loving parent.   Some academies were guilty  of throw away kids,  drugs, limited education, and limited help for those other than the ones who could make the academies shine.

Colleges do a much better job at a more mature age.  As academies purport to do, colleges house, feed, train student/athletes with a lot more worthwhile education thrown in.  Both are expensive.   The expense and the value of scholarships all the more reason to motivate tennis as a sport choice for the talented.

One personal guess is that Title IX  was unjustly blamed for some schools who dropped tennis.   I wonder how many Athletic Directors silently came to a conclusion similar to this?

  1.  All sports are counted in the standings for our ‘Conference Cup’?
  2. We are in a conference with four good tennis teams with all foreign teams and we give 8 girls and 41/2 boys grants to internationals.
  3. I can find a better place for that size of budget.

Families, free play, clubs and pros, junior tournaments, to college.  Injury doesn’t take away your education.   Maybe four years of college tennis is the answer.

There is one specific  place I believe American tennis should focus on getting better.  Many  high schools don’t have teams.  Many teams have limited budgets.  Many coaches receive little  or no compensation.   Many local pros could help train new or limited coaches and players.  Some talented players elect to not play high school tennis.  My strong belief is that playing for your team is important.  And I believe a pro and coach working together can be very productive.  The game is the best teacher.  To play an extra twenty matches for your high school can’t hurt.

My book, THE LITTLE GREEN BOOK of  TENNIS  is geared at helping junior and high school teachers, coaches, players and teams.  Private funding provided this guide for all 711 boys and girls high school coaches in North Carolina’s public schools.

I am still wondering about data that a group of “worker bees” or tennis organizations could find out.

  1.  I betcha 75% of scholarship aid in tennis goes to internationals.
  2. I wonder how many at all levels (NCAA I, II, and III, and NAIA, and Junior Colleges) have an all foreign team.  State schools?
  3.  What percentage of awards  go to  predominantly international teams?  All conference, all regional, all americans, outstanding player, outstanding freshman?
  4. How many second children  elected another sport after seeing a sibling lose a valuable grant to a first choice school.
  5. Isn’t it about time some of our organizations screw up their courage and use their time, money and efforts to make these facts available to American parents and players.  The USTA, NCAA, ITA, NFHSAA, athletic directors, administrators.
  6.  What legal statute keeps us from taking care of Americans first.  What does the legal term “state actor” mean to this issue.  What really came down when the ITA voted in an allotment of 50% aid for our kids, then acquiesced to the “big boys”?
  7.  Would  anyone foot the bill for a court decision?   How about running a bluff.  Try this:  1.  The NCAA has a ton of money  2. The USTA has a ton of money.  3. The NCAA really cares about the money sports, i.e.foorball and basketball.  Tennis, not so much.  If the USTA, whose first love is tennis , walked to the courthouse with a big of money, who would blink first?