Reflections on the 2017 Grand Slam

GRAND SLAM

The US Open tennis tournament in New York concludes the 2017 grand slams.   Might just be me but it seems there was the most ever tennis on television when it comes to great matches to view.

What were the highlights of the year?

  1. Has anyone ever played a better “surface season “ than Nadal did on clay this year?  Or with more laser-like focus than  yesterday’s   USOPEN final with Kevin Anderson?
  2. Could God have given us a better role model than Federer?
  3. Will the critics of American tennis be hushed by the women’s semifinalists in NYC’’s Open?
  4. Has there ever been a slam that featured more great early round matches (Halep vs Sharapova, Federer vs Tiafoe, etc.)?
  5. What is tennis going to do about injuries?   (Causes: Parity? Rackets, strings, balls, equipment,?   Three out of five sets for men? Intense movement?
  6. Thank you, Venus. And don’t let them forget what sister has done.
  7. Rock stars emerge, ie Denis Shapavolov,Coco, Sloane and Madison, etc.
  8. How did Sam Querry get so much better so fast?
  9. Kevin Anderson, the next bright international who honed tennis skills with 3 years of American college tennis experience?
  10. Will we look back in wonder as to how we survived without the roof. Or how many close call arguments technology saves ?
  11. Shouldn’t officials penalize racket crushers?
  12. Has the center of the court shifted to 2/3 on the forehand?
  13. Will the notable efforts of the USTA ( The roof and renovations, the Orlando program, the net/generation program, etc) do the trick?
  14. The Bryans have made better doubles world wide.

PS I continue to believe our best player development program is American college tennis, and we need to reserve scholarships for our kids first.

And that few of our best players get there without playing on their high school tennis team.   Some, but not many.

Tennis is a “travel sport”. Storm clouds are gathering.

If the USTA bought the rights to Pickleball they could have 10 million annual memberships next year, only then to grow annually. Watch what is going on.

Could the USTA develop its own college tennis division that would provide scholarship motivation worthy of the effort and expense required to earn a grant?

 

Little Green Book of Tennis now available for free download for high school tennis players in NC via NCTA

The North Carolina Tennis Association (NCTA) has updated its website to include a new Resource Center assembling valuable ways to help our boys and girls varsity players, coaches and teams.

In the spring of 2015 the Little Green Book of Tennis was given to each active varsity coach of girls or boys tennis in North Carolina (711 coaches).  Now, the book is freely available to all 4000 plus players in our state.  The entire book can be downloaded to individual e-book devices.

How to download a PDF of the book: 

  1. Contact Andrew Waldrop, the NCTA liaison to NC high school tennis (andrew@nctennis) for a download code.
  2. Download the book here: http://nctennis.com/sites/nctennis.com/files/pdffiles/LGBOT-FULL.pdf

 

THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD, RECIPES, AND ALGORITHMS (199)

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?

IS THE FOLLOWING AN ALGORITHM?

  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?

COLLEGE TENNIS IN THE ATLANTIC COAST CONFERENCE-2017 (198)

Quite a year in the Atlantic Coast Conference tennis arena.

UVA wins third straight team title (D 1 men).

UVA, Wake Forest, and UNC –Chapel Hill all finish in top five of D1 mens.

UNC women win NCAA D1 women’s indoor title.

UNC men are runners-up in D1 for the first time in a storied history.

Sam Paul (UNC) is justly named NCAA D1 men’s coach of the year.

Coach Paul was aided by Tripp Phillips, who was recently named top assistant coach in men’s D1. The men and women combined were the best in D1.

Coach Kalbas has been at the top of D1 women’s tennis along with Roland Thornqvist of the University of Florida’s women. The Gators won their 4th women’s D1 title under Coach Thornqvist last week. Roland, a UNC graduate continues along the path of a legendary player and coach.

A response to NCAA President, Mark A. Emmert

Below is a letter to me that states the position of NCAA President Mark A. Emmert on international athletes in American college athletics. And I agree with the content. However, I believe there is another tenable side to this issue. Therefore, in addition to President Emmert letter, I have shared what I believe is another salient side to the issue.

NCAA-Emmert-Letter.jpeg

Dr. Mark Emmert
President, NCAA
PO Box 6222
Indianapolis, Indiana  46206

Dear Dr. Emmert,

I am appreciative of your letter of March 15, 2017. Earlier this winter I had a long conversation with Timothy Russell , CEO of the Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA).   I have also pled my case to Paul Lubbers of USTA player development, the Southern district of USTA, (STA) and the North Carolina Tennis Association (NCTA).

And have done so with countless others since 1970. Your response insures that I have been heard at our highest levels and that is truly fair.

Approaching age 77 with fifty years of coaching, teaching and administering in two small (Barton College) to mid size Division 1 (Elon University), I have watched this issue closely, and while I fully agree with diversity and inclusion and equitable participation, there seems to be more to the issue.

My teams rosters included fifty plus internationals. From about a dozen different countries. Roland Thornqvist, women’s tennis coach at the University of Florida just won the women’s D1 National team tennis indoor title, owning a handful of national titles. I recruited Roland to the USA and he is probably best known of my recruits who are in the athletics arena and have stayed in the country. No less known in the world of orthopedic surgery in America is Dr. Pramote Malisitt, a native of Bangkok, who remains in our country. Dr. Peter Lindstrom, is one of twenty nine Swedes whom I recruited, and who is nationally known as a vital computer expert with our defense department. Neither our schools, nation, nor I would wish they weren’t here.

Never have I suggested we shouldn’t have delved into internationals then or now. But it seems to me to be a half full/half empty issue. Not once have I ever said an international should be prohibited from participation. Or equal admittance. The elephant in the room is scholarships. Never have I suggested internationals should be exempt from a reasonable amount of money. I do believe that the NCAA has a legal right to provide aid to our citizens first. One link to follow allows that about 200 million American dollars go into international men and women tennis players.

Many parents and taxpayers question all foreign rosters, all with grants and many from state schools. (See enclosed latest rankings from Division II) I wouldn’t object to an all international team in any sport if they paid the bill. But to scholarship an all African team, rather than an African American team is bothersome, to say the least. What we have now is foreign aid, not trade. Not once in the many times I asked any international , “Would your native country do what we do?” was the answer yes. And the money is coming from the coffers of the only reasonable financial return for all the expenses encountered: Scholarships. Scholarships can easily amount to a quarter million dollars per student ,over four years. Not to mention the subsequent benefits of quality education. I don’t even mention the rarity of professional player rewards, as we all know the status of American elite players. That is another issue, but giving American college tennis to internationals via disproportionate scholarship is directly related to this demise (again link to follow).

Basketball, golf, and other international sports are making forays into the American college arena. As a young coach I quickly realized if they have a nuclear weapon or two, I had better find some to help me keep my job. This is true today. Witness Duke University’s meteoric rise in Women’s golf. Surely young coaches watched an all international roster ascend to the top. Is this the intent of Title IX for our women? The American college system is the best system in the world to train elite athletes. The best example is surely Women’s Soccer.

Soccer, the most widely played sport in the world ,has never been won by American men. Yet, since the advent of Title IX our women have won three world cups in soccer. All twenty three women were participants in American College Soccer. And I’d bet they all had scholarships. Some one asked me where was the national training center for women on the world cup team? Chapel Hill, I replied. (Anson Dorance’s UNC teams had six of the twenty three players). And his teams influenced all the rest.

Upon accepting the job at Elon University, the then president admonished me, “… we don’t want an all foreign team!” After ten years that included a national team championship, I was concerned that a walk-on international was good enough to shift our team balance to more than 50% international for the first time. A decided shift in attitude was “ Coach we’ve decided that we don’t care where they are from if they are the quality of people you’ve been recruiting.”

And, while this validates your position, I believe a compromise is the answer.

My internationals returned home at about a 90% rate. That money may have brought in any number of our own citizens, equal in every way, except talent in tennis, as a true 18 year old freshman . (see DAY DREAM BELIEVER) on addendum to follow. Without scholarship aid for many American tennis youngsters, the “…pathway to opportunity” does not currently exist.

I have shared a few opinions, mine and others, on Addendum 1.

I intend to include a copy of your letter, and valid position to several interested parties. Knowing I have had my say, I remain sincerely grateful.

Tom Parham

*****NOTE:  The additional comments  heretofore referred to can be found by reading  HOW TO MAKE AMERICAN TENNIS GREAT AGAIN,   a blog on http://www.tomparham.wordpress.com