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Monday, October 3, 2005

Barcelona's clay stymies U.S. teams

Barcelona's clay stymies U.S. teams~~~

The news from Barcelona isn't what you'd describe as triumphant, as the U.S. finished sixth in the Jr. Davis Cup and eighth in Jr. Fed Cup. With 16 countries competing in each draw, both teams were top half, but neither lived up to their seeds (boys 4, girls 7). Speaking of seeds, both number one seeds won titles, with Poland and France proving that the ITF can get it right without using a strict individual ranking formula.

It's easy to shrug and point to the surface as the problem, but clay isn't going away; shouldn't we be teaching juniors how to play on it? One measly national tournament in midsummer doesn't exactly constitute a season, and with the more prestigious hard courts less than two weeks later, the logic of elite juniors going from grass to clay to hard in the space of six weeks can only be described as tortured. It's true that most of the clay courts in the U.S. are located in private clubs and resorts, not the public parks and universities where the bulk of junior tournaments are played. But, unlike grass, there are clay courts available in nearly all states, so no huge investment in infrastructure is necessary, just some creative negotiation by those responsible for administering and promoting junior tennis in the U.S.

But one U.S. team did have notable success on clay as the American girls handily defeated those from Great Britain in the Maureen Connolly Challenge in Bermuda. The Royal Gazette has the story, juniortennis.com has the complete results.


Anonymous said...

look at Roche's comments two stories below this one on your blog re: junior tennis development in Australia - and the need to build more clay courts!