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Friday, May 2, 2008

ITF Junior Team Qualifying Begins; A Look at Newcombe's Tennis Academy, News from the Charlottesville Women's Pro Circuit Tournament

The qualifying for this summer's ITF World Junior Championships and the Junior Davis and Fed Cups is underway in Montreal, and it was a very good day for the U.S. All four teams won their matches 3-0, with the girls 14s--Madison Keys, Grace Min and Kyle McPhillips--winning every GAME they played with Guatemala. Saturday's matches pit three of the U.S. teams against the Canadians, with the Junior Davis Cup match between the two countries being webcast. For complete results and times, see the Tennis Canada website.

The San Antonio Express-News ran a feature story today on life at the John Newcombe Tennis Academy in New Braunfels, Texas. Although I don't agree with Ryan Harrison, who is quoted as saying "It's next to impossible to become a great tennis player if you don't go to an academy," I understand that he hasn't been around long enough to gain some perspective on other methods. And if you consider Pete Sampras as a product of an academy--this story puts him in the Bollettieri camp--Harrison may be right, but Grand Slam champions like Sampras, Davenport, Nadal and Federer really aren't products of academies. And of those more contemporary in age with Harrison, neither are Ryan Thacher, Bradley Klahn and Bernard Tomic. With that said, I don't want to come off as denigrating academies in any way. I think they are often the best option for a player seriously committed to improving their tennis and getting the most out of the sport.


The Charlotteville Daily Progress always provides excellent coverage of the $50,000 Boyd Tinsley Pro Circuit event, and this week is no exception. Kim Couts, who lost today to Bethanie Mattek in the quarterfinals, talked about her win Thursday over Brenda Schultz-McCarthy and her choice of professional tennis in this story. And I admit I wasn't all that familiar with Alexandra Podkolzina, who won the girls USTA 18s national title back in 2002, before I began to follow junior tennis as I'm doing now. She went Cal-Berkley the following year, quit the team after her freshman year, and is now about to graduate, while winning enough matches to be ranked inside the WTA Top 500. This story details her background, and it might not have gotten written if she hadn't beaten top seed Stephanie Dubois in the first round.

35 comments:

florida said...

To young Ryan If there was a formula everyone would follow it. The one US player to pop though into the top 25 is Sam Querry and he was never on Team USA, nor did he attend an academy. Also, Ryan's experience is different at Nukes. DOenst he live with his family and doesnt his father supervise every aspect of his training, a very different schenerio for most who attend an academy.

justthefacts said...

Florida, once again, you hit the nail on the head. I wonder if Christian and Ryan study with the rest of the kids? I wonder if they engage in the various academy social activities? I wonder if they participate in the same fitness drills and sessions as the rest of the kids? I wonder if their father teaches other students the same way as them? Are they talented? Yes. Are they dedicated? Yes. Are they hard workers? Yes. Are they, as Ryan put it, "lucky"? Of course not.

But lets not kid ourselves here. The only thing Newks has provided for them is courts across the street, and a job for their dad. They would have been great players in any setting.

A fact is a fact, and it is very impressive how they have such a good track record of College placement for the kids there. What better promotional tool than the Harrisons, but just do not be mislead that their situation is like the average academy student.

Jonathan said...

Collette, While Federer,Nadal and Tomic didn't grow up in an Academy per say they have all been well taken care of for free by Federations with the highest level of coaches and free training that could be provided. It is well documented that Federer lived and trained away from home and was taken care of by the Swiss Federation. Nadal has had coaches and the same support system around for ever. Tomic has been taken care of as we all know in australia since they moved there years ago with free coaching and training as well and we all know that he will train only with the best and practice only with the best and that is with out a doubt an even better situation than an Academy. To say they aren't the product of an Academy is misleading because it is the same thing but probably better because they only get the best players and coaches from a federation where as academy students very often practice with far inferior practice partners. Federations have only the top coaches while academies such as Bollettieri's and Van Der Meers and Newk's have a couple of top pros and then a lot of very average pros. a lot of the people you mentioned actually have a far better situation than an Academy period. The purpose of an Academy is to provide better coaching and better competition than they were getting at home. These people clearly moved away from home for that very purpose. As for all of the junior players mentioned they are just that. Good junior players. Not 1 is even close to proving themselves yet on the Pro tour and all have a very long way to go.

AndrewD said...

jonathan,

Your reading of Tomic's situation is completely inaccurate and quite misleading. Firstly, you insinuated that he has been receiving assistance since arriving in Australia which is untrue. Bernard came to Australia at age 3 well before picking up a tennis racquet (think he was 6 or 7). He began to receive assistance only when his results were good enough to warrant it, as with any other player. He practises with other players within his state, however, that doesn't mean they are the best in the country, just the best available. He is part of the Queensland Institute of Sport but that is light years away from an academy setting.

florida said...

To Jonathan... Once again we gear how other federations support thier players. Once again another example of how the USTA is not backing its top junior players when it counts. While the USTA is sending a coach to the French and Wimbledon for two or three players who make the main draw for the jr. slams (oh, I believe they are not inviting Ty to be in their select group), the USTA is not sending a team for their younger players who would be would be in the qualies. Again, while other federations will be sending teams to the qualies who get in the name of player
development, the richest federation of the all won’t spend the $$$$. The goal of the USTA should be to have as many of their top juniors represented at these events but in the USTA eyes they only a handful and the rest of their top kids they could care less about. My bet is the US players who could play the qualies won't make the trip because of the expense. We will probably have the same poor showing that we did at the Australian Open Juniors. I am sure the USTA will have one of thier lame justifications if you ask them.....

florida said...

Read the article and Ryan Harrison's quote is rather sad....
“I study whenever my mom is forcing me to,” he said. “But I definitely sometimes think ‘What's the point, I've made my commitment to tennis.'”
The point is even with his early success there is no guarantee that he will make it into the top 50. So that point is if that does not happen he will not have the intellectual ability of a sophomore drop-out. If he does make it he wont have the intellectual ability of a sophomore drop out. Getting an adequate high school education is not rocket science here, its sort a necessrity to survive today in a very complex world.

Tom C said...

Ryan said, “It's next to impossible to become a great tennis player if you don't go to an academy,” he didn't say it was impossible and this is a 15 year old speaking and it's really the only life he and his brother know... Do you guys feel that more juniors are going the academy route and is that our future?

tennisfan said...

FYI - almost all tennis programs out there call themselves Academies whether they board students or not. Practicing with your federation (Queensland Institute of Sports, Swiss Federation) is the same thing as a Tennis Academy. Doesn't Tomic homeschool?

Pat Harrison said...

Florida, Its sad that you comment on things that you know absolutely nothing about. My father was a high school principal and head football coach. My mother was a teachers aid and office worker in an elementary school for 25 years. My wife(Ryans mother) was a high school business teacher for 2 years before we married and does all 3 of our childrens home schooling. The reason we first started homeschooling Ryan was because he was in all honors classes and making straight A's in the Magnet program and not being challenged enough academically. Take five minutes the next time you see any of my children and introduce yourself and talk to them. I think you'll find out that they aren't intellectually or academically challenged in any way. How many kids at that age want to study? If you have had kids I will guarantee you that you have had to make them study for school. If you say that you haven't you will lose all credibility with anyone who has ever had a child. For him to say he "sometimes wonders whats the point because he's already dedicated himself to tennis" is something most kids would say to try and get out of doing schoolwork instead of something else. Even if he never makes the top 200 in the world he will be just fine both intellectually and education wise. Just because he chooses a path that is different from what you consider the norm doesn't make it wrong and you right. Nobody said at any point that he wasn't going to get a high school education and when he is done with tennis he will have more than enough money of his on to get whatever college degree he wants if he so chooses even if he never makes a dime in pro tennis. Lighten up because my kids will be just fine whether they ever hit another tennis ball or not. Thanx Pat Harrison

Tom Clear said...

Pat, It's good to hear from you and I see Christian had a nice win against Edward Nguyen. Do you think it's necessary, now, for a child to be homeschooled and to do "2 a-day's" to make it professionally?

Man in the Moon said...

Pat Harrison

your statement of " If you have had kids I will guarantee you that you have had to make them study for school. If you say that you haven't you will lose all credibility with anyone who has ever had a child."

I truly find that comment offensive- and I am sorry if you will lose all credibility with my following comments.

My son who played competetive junior tennis (top 20) and collegiate tennis attended an Ivy League school and received a MBA from another Ivy League school and his younger brother who also attended ivy league schools for undergraduate and graduate degrees never had to be told to study - ever and never had to be told to practise either. The are both in their 30's and are extremely successful in two totally different fields.

After watching "Unstrung" the kid with both feet on the ground was Greg Hirshman from Ca.

Because if a pro career is ended because the player gets injured, falls in love, or is just not good enough what about plan B.

justthefacts said...

Mr Harrison: How would you interpret Ryans comments on school, if you were a parent thinking of sending your kid to the Newcombe Academy? Keep in mind, a kid who does not have the parent/coach who has driven him since 2, but your typical academy kid, hey, lets even say, top 10 in the nation, but with little chance to go pro. I think you know that this is the majority of kids at academies. When your kids (Ryan) tout the Newcombe Academy structure as their vehicle to success (though we both know they are on a totally different regime compared to the typical kid there), perhaps people reading that article do not know this, and they see views about education from the top player there?
How is that "sad" to make a comment on that?

Pat Harrison said...

Tom, I don't know that its necessary but if you are looking to play professionally it helps increase the odds in your favor a lot more. Its the right situation for our family. Its a definite myth that kids who homeschool miss out on things socially. My kids as well as all the other homeschool kids here at Newk's attend the high school football games on Friday nites and do all the other social activities that the kids in school do as well. They get to float the river, go to movies constantly, go to the mall, go paintballing, once in a while go to the beach and do all the social things that we take the Newk's boarding students to do. They also play golf with me when i get a spare moment ever now and then. To answer questions from JUSTTHEFACTS: No they don't study with the Newk's kids during their study times because my wife takes care of that at home. Yes they do all the academy social activities. They do most of the fitness with the academy but not all and they do all of their weight training with the academy. I do try to make their situation as much like the rest of the academy as possible. Obviously the main differences are that we live across the street and that their dad is one of the Directors of the Academy. Jimmy Brown one of the other Directors also lives across the street in the same subdivision and he has four kids that my kids run around with alot as well. We moved to Newk's because of the family atmosphere and environment which i feel are very important. Courts across the street and a job are things I already had and could get just about anywhere and make far more money but the family atmosphere with good competition isn't something you find in too many places. Thanx Pat Harrison

Man in the Moon said...

Pat Harrison

I find it quite interesting, Pat that you respond in great detail to almost every blog, almost instantly - yet no response to the education comments or a Plan B.

No response is an answer, in and of itself.

And frankly, no respone is required or anticipated in this particular case.

I wish your children nothing but the best, as I wish each and every other player on this blog.

get real said...

I think your sons comments wrap it up. He wants to turn Pro. good for him. I think you as parent need to step in and look at reality. He might make it and might not. I have seen alot of struggling Pros at the age of 23 and up. They are struggling to make the top 200. The only reason they are not giving up on their dream is because they have nothing else. As a parent you can not put all your eggs in one basket. Stressing an education is not giving up your plan A. Having a balanced child is important. The tennis world is very small. Not everyone is interested it probably ranks 5 in the world of sports. Make your son find other talents he may also have and in his down time work on that also. The last thing the world needs is another teaching pro

woman on earth said...

To man on the moon: Wow you must really be from another planet. I bet your kids changed their own diapers and made their own bottles too. It sounds like you did not homeschool your kids so therefore I don't think that you can comment on teaching your children. It sounds as though they were probably private school kids as well although you probably won't admit to that. It is alot different than sending them to school and having someone else make them do their assignments. I can speak from experience because I homeschooled one of my children for two years. During those years I was the one that would tell her to get her work done and sometimes I would have to make her. After she started back to school, I never had to make her do her work because that was what her teachers were doing at school. One more thing, it sounds as if you are probably in your late 50's to early 60's and I can always remember when my parents would come over to my house and comment about their grandchildren when they were acting up. They would say that I never acted that way or that I never fought with my brothers. I would just laugh because I could remember lots of fights with my siblings and getting into lots of trouble. What I'm saying here is that sometimes the older you get, you forget. To say that you never had to make your kids study or practice is off the charts. Who then taught them to study when they were kids or did they just attend school at 5 years old and decide to start studying by themselves. Who introduced them to tennis and got them interested in it? Did they just start playing all of a sudden and come home and say dad I'm going to tennis or did you lead them in the right direction and explain to them the work it takes to make good grades and to be good at tennis. You have come on here many times telling everyone about your sons going to Ivy League schools. You act like a trial lawyer who no matter what anyone says on here you just like to argue another side. I don't remember reading on here where somebody said they had to make their child practice. Like most normal kids Mr. Harrison said they have to make Ryan study. Maybe in 20 years, I too, might forget and say I never had to make my children study.

florida said...

To pat harrison,

Agree that Ryan's comments/views about school are typical for many kids who play tennis at the higher level. I don’t think anyone would disagree that academics is not a focus and that many (not all) tennis players do the miniium, if that. My only comment about it’s sad is that these kids in general don't understand the benefit of a solid academic education in their overall growth/development and having other choices if tennis does not pan out. I do agree with Man in the Moon that kids who achieve academically study because they enjoy learning and are inspired to grow intellectually. I don’t know any top students who achieve at that level because their parents are forcing them to study.

steven s said...

There is absolutely nothing wrong with the path these boys have taken with regards to their commitment to training.

To criticize these boys for focusing so much of their time on tennis is unfair. Many other tennis players, as well as individuals in other sports have also taken this path.

But lets not get confused on being well-spoken and polite, with being educated.

Pierrick said...

Hello,
I’d like to react to some comments on Ryan Harrison that I found excessive and gratuitously offensive. The fact that Ryan Harrison spends more time playing tennis than studying doesn’t mean whatsoever that he doesn’t have ‘the intellectual ability of a sophomore drop-out.’ On the contrary, the level that he has reached in tennis allows him to travel a lot, discover different countries, meet various people, and more broadly, to have a unique and very interesting experience. I totally agree that education is very important and that you learn a lot of things at school, but I’m convinced that you can learn just as much by being homeschooled, as Ryan is, and having the life that he has. The knowledge and the abilities that Ryan will have developed will be different from those of a regular student, but not inferior. Why should all the teenagers have exactly the same experience, learn exactly the same things, study exactly the same subjects? Diversity is such a good thing! Now, when Ryan said ‘I study whenever my mom is forcing me to’ I think that was just a hint of humour (aren’t all the kids reluctant to do their homework? I am, although I’m a graduate). As for the rest of the quote, ‘But I definitely sometimes think ‘What's the point, I've made my commitment to tennis', that was just a way of expressing how motivated and ambitious Ryan is in tennis, and that his biggest goal is to become a tennis champion, not an academic scholar.
To Pat Harrison, is Ryan going to play for the French Open?
Thank you Colette for keeping up this great blog. A+

Pierrick

Tom C said...

Just a question... how many of the following pro's have a HS degree?

Federer, Roger (SUI)
Nadal, Rafael (ESP)
Djokovic, Novak (SRB)
Davydenko, Nikolay (RUS)
Ferrer, David (ESP)
Roddick, Andy (USA)
Nalbandian, David (ARG)
Blake, James (USA)
Gasquet, Richard (FRA)
Berdych, Tomas (CZE)
Youzhny, Mikhail (RUS)
Baghdatis, Marcos (CYP)
Tsonga, Jo-Wilfried (FRA)
Moya, Carlos (ESP)
Gonzalez, Fernando (CHI)
Monaco, Juan (ARG)
Robredo, Tommy (ESP)
Mathieu, Paul-Henri (FRA)
Murray, Andy (GBR)
Hewitt, Lleyton (AUS)

How many went to conventional school? Many on the list are non-americans and maybe, I don't know, they didn't have as many options, college scholarship and the rest of the benefits that goes to living in the US? All seem well versed in social graces, ect...

proud american said...

Have enjoyed the view different view points between man on the moon and pat harrison. Man on the moon congrats to raising such educational gifted Boys who had the opportunity to attend the most prestigious Universities in the World. I have friends that were accepted to Harvard, M.I.T.,Brown University and were unable to attend because of the financial burden it would have placed on their families and younger siblings, but went on to local Universites and are now very accomplished Professionals. I grew up and had what most would call a successful DIV.I collegiate tennis career playing number 1 for a top SEC school and have to say this is the strongest group of young Americans that have come up in some time. I believe there is tremendous depth in the Boys field. I have been fortunate enough to see Ryan and his Brother play in tournaments down here in Florida and hope to continue to watch them and others gorw physically and mentally on the court into World Class players for our country. It is a sacrifice and committment these kids and parents make. Just like those kids attending Ivy League schools with their academics. These kids gain a tremendous education by experiences so many different cultures and people that one can only gain through traveling. I wish I would have had been gifted enough to travel the world while playing the game I love.Good Luck to the Harrison Boys and all the up and coming promising American juniors.

get real said...

I have a child who is home schooled and I never have to be on her about doing school. It is called priorities. As parents, that are educated and athletic we can guide our child as needed. My husband was a professional athlete and so are some of our friends. They also, incourage education as a main priority and then every thing else comes next. Kids who are homeschooled need to be disciplined on their own with encouragement. It is a little alarming to listen to some of these comments about education. I hope some of you have a crystal ball. Talk to former athletes that skipped the system of education and ask them if the regret it or not, especially if their career ended before they could support themselves. I wish the best for all. Maybe the parents need the education and let their children dream their own dreams

Man in the Moon said...

woman on earth,
to answer some of your questons / comments.
(1) never made a reference to home school, private or public school. It doesn't matter. Private or public school teachers do not force (or make) a child study or complete their work - as you suggest-they only give them assignments and if they don't do their assigments there are consequences that occur via grades.
(2) yes, 1 of my 2 children went to a private school for 3 years of high school, and why wouldn't I admit it. It doesn't matter. You can't force a junior player to be a top 10 player, just like you can't force a child to be a top student. They have to want it.
(3) never mentioned anything about the boys not fighting - which they did on occasions.
(4) as far as the crack about being in my late 50's or early 60's you are correct. As far as becoming senile or losing my memory - you are painfully way off base.
(5) concerning the ivy league - this entire blog is very direct about results - top 20 in the nation, top 10 in the world,.
etc. -- the ivies are a ranking also except in academics.
(6) the trial lawyer bit- I only bring up school, college education, etc. when parents bet the ranch on becoming their kid becoming a pro and forgeong college. Yes, it works for some players (VERY VERY FEW-less than .001 percent of junior players - Roddick, Fish, Ginepri,Querry,to name a few in the last 10 years --but for the majority of players who do not go to college -- they wind up teaching tennis -(not that there is anything wrong with that) or learning the phrase -"DO YOU WANT FRIES WITH THAT ORDER".

I am sure that homeschooling works for some players and they could go to fine academic instituions - however, for the most part they do homeschooling to achieve their goal in tennis.

Conderning parenting and how my wife and I brought up our 2 boys -which btw was as very independent kids from a very, very young age- seems to have worked for us -both boys ( in their tennis experience, academic experience, giving back to the community and achieving excellence in the real world)both financial and doing what they enjoy they seemed to hit it out of the park - without going into specifics they do very well.

and good luck to you and your children.

Man in the Moon said...

woman on earth,

Since you can't believe how my kids turned out the way they did--

I will now divuldge the secret to exposing your children to getting a good education, achieving in life, etc.. The one and only trick is the kids have to be SMART enough to ABSORB THE LESSON.

When each boy was about 7 or 8 ( I did this individually)- I woke them up at 5:00 A.M. on a Saturday and took them to the worst part of town. Garbage in the streets, no lawns, slums, buildings falling down, buildings boarded up, no trees, etc.

Each boy did not say a word for 20 minutes and couldn't understand why they grew up with tennis courts in the back yard, 1-2 acre lots, big houses, lawns, trees, swimming pools, etc.

I purposely did this at a time in the day when they wouldn't see any people - just the environment.

The each asked the same question - Why - my one word answer was EDUCATION - and I never had to say 1 more word about studying or achieving again.

BTW - if I lived in the area of slums, garbage, etc - I would have made the reverse trip to the suburbs and said the same word - EDUCATION.

And that is the short answer-

Pat Harrison said...

Man in the Moon, Sorry I haven't gotten back to you sooner as I am with kids at a tournament and I can't read the comments until the end of the day. To answer your question as far as a Plan B or C. My kids financially will have absolutely no problem going to whatever college they so choose whenever they choose to hang up their rackets even if it is tomorrow. So yes they have a Plan B. I have always taught my kids to do whatever it is they enjoy the most and to think about what lies ahead(i.e. their future) I have also taught them that doing what you enjoy and being happy isn't what always makes you the most money as I was taught myself as a kid. I believe that you don't judge a persons success or failure by the size of his wallet. Judging from your writings you clearly have a different view point on that and have taught your kids as much. There is nothing wrong with that approach its just not the approach I take with my children when discussing life lessons and what I belive to be most important. My father had two Masters degrees with +30. He grew up as you and your children have. That being financially stable. He chose to go into coaching after being an All American quarterback at La. Tech University. He served 4 years in the military and turned down the opportunity to try out for the Chicago Bears and 2 other N.F.L. teams. Back then they didn't have the N.F.L. draft. My brother keeps the letter from George Halas framed on his wall to this day. He was a head football coach for many years who also taught Algebra and History during that time. He then became a high school principal for two years. After retiring from public schools he was the Centenary College tennis coach for 18 years before retiring for good. Every day that I went to practice at Centenary College as a kid he had a saying on his desk that I live by to this day. It was called "Making so many men out of so many boys". I went into teaching tennis because of 2 things 1) its what I enjoy and 2) its where I thought I could have the biggest impact on young peoples lives. There are plenty of other fields I could have gone into that made a lot more money. You make references to teaching pros on a regular basis as if they are low lifes. Did you think that the very teachers that educated you and were making less than 30,000 a year were low lifes. Did the tennis pros that you paid to help teach your kids the game know how you felt about tennis pros or did you need them to help educate your children on how to play the game. Did it make you a better person than them after you graduated from college and made infinitely more money than them or does it even occur to you that they do what they do for the enjoyment and satisfaction of helping others and not the money. Coaching and teaching are the same thing. Helping kids grow into adults and teaching them life lessons. While I enjoy the many different view points you seem to go beyond this and have a very elitist attitude in your writings and if that offends you then so be it. You've offended many on here with your comments and narrow minded writings (myself included). I just don't care to ever look down on other people because of where they live and I hope my children never act that way either. Pat Harrison

walden pond said...

wow. that is one of the things that i hate about tennis- the elitism...

education does not equal financial success nor does financial success equal education.

the two can have a strong relationship in the majority of the circumstances but there is no absolute.

and we haven't even begun to talk about the most important thing of all--- being happy in life!!!!

whats better? rich and miserable? or less wealthy and happy? I say do what makes you happy and follow your dreams. the window to be an athlete is a very small one. education will always be there.

Pat Harrison said...

To Pierrick, Yes, Ryan will be playing the French Open as well as a warm up tournament in Belgium the week before. On a side note congrats to Chase Buchanan on his win in Vero Beach. Pat Harrison

tennisplayerrr said...

WOW

I'm a junior player ranked very highly in the nation and in the world. My friends and I were just reading some of these blogs and laughing out loud, because well, quite frankly they're amusing. If you never have to get on your kid about doing school work then that is most likely what their life is centered upon- and that's extremely sad. I went to a private school for my entire life, until just recently due to my hectic schedule and I was forced to be online schooled. At my private school, I was top in my class for quite a while, when I got a project i did it that very same day, and when given the opportunity to do extra credit..i jumped on it. But you have to understand that once you get to a certain level, things change. This doesn't mean you can't do well in school, but it does mean that you will find it harder to fit school in. Between traveling to different countries, two a days, fitness, warmups and pretty much anything you can imagine you have to squeeze to fit school in. And i've come to find that once I'm done with my day I'm so exhausted...so why would I want to do school? I'd rather just sit in my bed and watch T.V. or take a nap. Ryan's actually a pretty good friend of mine and I know Mr. Pat would never let him get away with just simply quitting school. I'm sure there was some humor involved in Ryan's statement. This is simply just taking Ryan's words out of context and making it a bigger deal thaN what it actually is.

proud american said...

Just saw where Chase Buchanan won the Futures in Vero Beach. Impressive! Another Young American making his mark in professional tennis. Keep up the Good work Guys!

casual-observer said...

To Man in the Moon...
I have two kids who play sports, both at the top level, basketball and tennis and I will say the one who plays tennis has had a significantly tougher time keeping up the education part because of the year round tournament schedule both in the US and abroad, which you need to play to be competitive in this sport. The one who plays basketball did not miss that much school in high school, was able to take AP courses and now is at a top D1 school. The one who plays tennis has had to attend a so-called special type school since 8th grade that caters to athletes and actors etc. because of the amount of days missed. No regular school private or public would work with the schedule. This kid can not take AP classes because of the time on the road. Yes the tennis player is getting an education from the travel but it’s not the same as a challenging AP English lit course or AP US history in how those type of classes/teachers teach you to think outside the box and challenge you intellectually, not to mention how your classmates challenge you as well. That is real problem with this sport and I don’t see a real answer/solution.

Openminded said...

Man in the Moon... Education can come from many different places and does not have to come solely from the classroom. Your example of taking your sons to the bad parts of town and having them look around while talking about the tennis courts in the backyards and the nice lawns where you reside was a pretty arrogant example. It would seem to more or less let people know that you make good money and are well off. Also the comment about failing on the tour and then ending up at a McDonalds asking if you want fries with that order is way over the top with drama and exaggeration. Many of these individuals end up passing real estate exams and selling houses, they become independent business owners and a lot of them come from well to do families like your sons did and do not feel the pressure to have to make it so to speak because they have a family business to fall back on. You seem very proud of what your sons have accomplished as you should be but very shortsighted on the many different avenues people can and do take after their careers are over. Most of them we probably never hear of again, but just because they are now out of the limelight or did not make the top 100 in the world does not make them doomed to a life of failure and misery as many of you posters want to portray even if they did not get a college education. You need to take the blinders off and understand that there are a lot of people out there that did not get an Ivy League education that are incredibly successful. There are also a lot of people out there that are very successful without a college education that in your eyes were a failure on the tour.

Colette Lewis said...

I'm going to have the last word on this which is part of my perogative as host/moderator.

The topic of the education of athletes is a very complex one, and in two of this country's most lucrative sports, basketball and football, athletes are more or less required to attend college for a year or two. Tennis, being an individual sport, doesn't have this requirement, so the short term goal of getting the grades to get into college and staying eligible is not part of the education equation for those who, like Donald Young and Ryan Harrison, have already relinquished their amateur status. It's actually rather refreshing that tennis doesn't require this often elaborate charade of college for those with no interest in higher education.

Everyone knows the odds are against teenaged athletes who want to make a living as professionals. But for those who commit to that, who see tennis as the best way to express their creativity, it's understandable that they would prefer to devote most of their time to perfecting that rather than studying algebra. It is up to their parents to decide the balance by using their own wisdom and knowledge of their particular child.

I've been accused by commenters of favoring Pat Harrison, and perhaps I should say to those who don't already know it, that I do consider Pat and his wife friends, as I do many tennis parents and coaches I've met over the past three or four years. I appreciate his willingness to share his perspective on this site and to be accountable for his comments, which is a trait out of fashion now with the anonymity of the internet.

I have tried to present a variety of perspectives on this issue from the rest of you, who I know only through a screen name, and I hope it has been a conversation worth having.

I strive to be as fair and objective as I can, but every choice I make on this site is informed by my own experiences, observations and yes, likes and dislikes. If I can use a somewhat outdated analogy, this blog is a combination of the sports page and editorial page of a newspaper. I try to collect the news about college and junior tennis, report from tournaments, and address issues and offer opinions on subjects I deem important to the sport at this level.

But part of this site also belongs to those of you who comment, who can offer perspectives and experiences and opinions that I have not considered. I appreciate those of you who have taken the time to do this, and have been able to explore the nuances of complicated topics such as these.

As I've said before, I struggle with this role as moderator and I don't like rejecting comments, but the call is mine and mine alone. If you wish to email me privately to discuss a rejected comment, I will respond. Please see the profile page for the link to email me.

florida said...

Hey Colette,

Thanks for your being candid about your friendship with the Harrisons. I do see a thread in your stories (the reason I say stories vs. reporting because reporting is always objective vs. opinionated) on a focus on a few players. But that is OK because this is a blog and it's your blog. With that caveot I think do a pretty good job considering this seems to be a labor of love rather than a for profit endeavor. And I must say there are some spirited debates.

justthefacts said...

Colette, I thank you as well for stating your friendship with the Harrisons. I also respect and admire your passion for the men's tennis game, and the time and work you put in on this tennis board.

It does concern me however, if you indeed reject comments that you do not agree with, or, that you feel may offend someone you like. I compare that with a child having a real cool toy, but not willing to share it with others. Of course, that is not against the law, but that does not make it right, or fair? I will not use the word "selfish" because you do not come across as such, but do feel that to make this blog the best out there, you should allow comments that you do not agree with, as long as they are not using foul language. I mean, jeez. Man on the Moon made some doosies, and you allowed those!

Of course, agree that this is all your decision, not ours!

Man in the Moon said...

justthefacts,
I happen to agree with every single word you said -even the words concerning "doosies" that I might and often write in my comments.

As long as there isn't foul language, name calling, harassment, etc. - I think everything should be fair game - and if someone gets offended (even frinds of Colette)-either don't read the blog or respond and let the debates begin and or continue.

Of course that is my opinion and for good or bad Colette has the last say.

I did respond to Pat Harrison's last remarks and my comments were not published and I wonder if the remarks that I made were to a diffent person - would the comments be published.

My point being if you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen. Whether FOC (friends of Colette) or not.