Our trips to Mobile have always turned out well, but they rarely start that way, what with missing luggage two years ago and seven hours on the Memphis tarmac last year. This year was the exception, with everything going perfectly, although the weather forecast is adamantly stating that rain is coming tomorrow and will likely continue into Sunday morning. I'll try to twitter tomorrow with updates on registration and any other information of interest. For more tournament information, see the TennisLink site.
Today I read the April issue of Tennis magazine cover-to-cover (plane trips are where I do the bulk of my print reading these days) and was interested to find a piece by Peter Bodo on Patrick McEnroe's role as head of Elite Player Development at the USTA (sorry, there's no link available). There isn't much new or controversial in the article, just an introduction of sorts to the changes that McEnroe has made since taking the job last April. There's an upbeat quote from former USTA Development director Eliot Teltscher about the revival taking place in Carson and, of course, several quotes from McEnroe. This one stood out:
People think I identify future champions, but the truth is I don't identify anybody. Everybody knows who the gifted kids are (emphasis mine). My job is to make sure those kids get the best kind of help and support from the USTA.
Does everybody know who the gifted kids are?
I'm more inclined to agree with Steve Tignor, who wrote an entry recently in his Concrete Elbow blog at tennis.com entitled Nobody Knows Anything, a reference to the screenwriter William Goldman's comment about the uncertainty of predicting the Hollywood blockbuster in advance. I've never heard Joel Drucker venture more than a "who knows" when asked about a young player's potential. In my own personal experience, the more gifted players I see, the more confused I am. Take, for example 2004, my first year covering the US Open Juniors. On a "gift" scale, I would have placed Phillip Simmonds above Andy Murray. Simmonds is now ranked 411 and Murray is 4.
Maybe McEnroe is right; maybe everybody does know who the gifted kids are. But the future champions? To quote another famous Hollywood personality, Samuel Goldwyn, “Gentlemen, include me out.”