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Saturday, November 21, 2009

Sock in Final; Patrick McEnroe Book in the Works; O'Neill to Georgia Tech; Tiley Responds

Jack Sock has reached the finals of the Amelia Island Futures tournament after defeating Michael Venus today 7-6(5), 6-4. The 17-year-old from Nebraska will face No. 2 seed Artem Sitak, a 23-year-old Russian, in Sunday afternoon's final. For a trip down memory lane, check out this post of mine from 2005, when Sock had swept the USTA 12s Nationals.

At the Illinois Challenger, the unseeded Battistone brothers collected their first title at that level today, defeating No. 2 seeds Harsh Mankad and Treat Huey 7-5, 7-6(5). Two former Kalamazoo 16s champions Taylor Dent (96) and Michael Russell (94) met for the singles title, with Russell winning 7-5, 6-4. Here's how Taylor Dent, who is new to Twitter, but getting the hang of it quickly, just described it.

Well "@&$!! Went down today to Russel. He played as well as Murray did against me at the open. I'm excited!! Just a matter of time I believe

A full account of the two finals can be found at fightingillini.com.

Peter Bodo announced today on his TennisWorld blog that he and USTA Davis Cup Captain and Player Development head Patrick McEnroe will be collaborating on a book. Bodo writes:

"It won't be an autobiography, a la A Champion's Mind (the book I wrote a few years ago with Pete Sampras). Rather, it will consist of war stories, opinions, and hard-core tennis analysis. It will draw on Pat's experiences on the pro tour, as an ESPN and CBS commentator, head of the USTA player development and - of course! - his Davis Cup captaincy."

Yesterday I wrote about D-II champion Sona Novakova going to Baylor, today I discovered that Jillian O'Neill, the two-time junior college champion from Hillsborough (Fla.) Community College, has signed a National Letter of Intent to join Georgia Tech. For more on the 20-year-old from Nova Scotia, see the Georgia Tech website.

Craig Tiley of Tennis Australia may have asked for equal time from the Perth newspaper's Sunday Times, which last week headlined their article on Player Development there "changes needed." There are two stories featuring Tiley: one about the not employing The Big Five (not the five you would come up with, I'm pretty sure), and the second about why the move to more clay courts has taken so long. Short answer: ongoing maintenance costs.


Suffla said...

I sure hope the McEnroe book is better than the Sampras one. That was a complete waste of money. Surprised the McEnroe would need Bodo at all but very disappointed that's who he chose. Peter B lost his touch a good decade or so back and now he's just good for the odd fine line or some catty gossip. I think one of the problems tennis has is that guys like Bodo have been allowed to dominate its reportage for way too long. Nothing against him, its just that if the game still excites him it sure doesn't turn up in his writing.

We talk so much about reinvigorating tennis as a sport but you've got to do the same with the people who write about it. Maybe it's not just that today's personalities aren't as exciting as they were 30 years ago but that the journalists have lost the ability to get excited about them.

Amtex said...

This is why I hate the USTA. Patrick McEnroe was hired to overhaul the junior tennis system...when he is not commentating for 2 networks, captain of Davis Cup, and now writing a book.

Not to mention he had zero track record of ever discovering nor developing a junior player in his entire life.

Suffla said...


I kind of agree with you here. We all know Pat McEnroe's CV and it looks impressive but when you examine it closely it becomes obvious that he's just a decent guy with a very moderate level of talent who was gifted his position in the Davis Cup and on the networks based on his last name. Take away that last name and he'd be the anonymous coach of a Div 1 college team.

And I agree, McEnroe has never developed any player's talent and never discovered any talent. For all we know he's got absolutely no idea how to do either of those things. More to the point, because I think it's the job of the USTA to create a situation where champions can emerge but it isn't their job to develop them personally, what has Pat McEnroe ever done to develop the game of tennis in America? When has he ever shown that he's got the slightest idea how to do that?

The USTA needs a booster, not a nice but thoroughly dull non-entity like Pat Mc.

I know Chris Evert has her own academy but why would she be such a bad choice to run the junior system? Sure, there might be some conflicts of interest that you'd have to deal with (and come to an agreement about) but surely she's far better placed to do the job than McEnroe??? Infinitely greater player, infinitely more high profile, infinitely stronger coaching resume (especially when you add her father's history). Might cost a lot more, but so what?

anthony said...

chris evert does run an academy. It is her brother's. sound likea familiar theme?

anthony said...

correction she does not run an academy

sam said...

Youre kidding, Chris Evert has a coaching resume and would do a better job running HP. Please send me some of that stuff youre smoking.

McLovin said...

I would think that BJ King or Michael Chang would do a better job. Chang overachieved so he would know how to bring the best out of developing juniors. BJK knows how to attack and be aggressive. Navratilova knows more than Pat about developing as she did a great job herself. The thing is Pat really never got anywhere of stature in the pro game. When I listen to him commentate, I don't think he knows much more than the casual observer. Yes, I agree that his last name and his agreeable nature has help him post playing career otherwise he would be feeding balls in a Long Island club. His cup runneth over, for sure. He will continue the mediocrity in US junior development.

Stunned said...

Wow, I just read your twitter link about compensation. In 2009, the the USTA paid 10 people over $694,000 in compensation. That's a hugh amout for a non-profit organiztion that answers to no one, not it's members.

Tennis Fan said...

Suffla & Amtex...

You are both spot on regarding Patrick McEnroe. His plate is too full with outside interests ($$$), so he has nothing left to devote to the full-time job in HP for which it is reported he is only working a limited number of days per month. Oh yeah, and he has never developed a soul. If it wasn't for his last name....

Truly a poor choice by the the USTA Board and ultimately US Tennis.

wi tennis said...

Pat McEnroe is the guy for now. It seems that most people on this site want U.S. tennis to succeed. Wouldn't it be best to do your best to support him until he proves that he can't do the job? Two years is not enough to prove anything either way. I'm not saying I'm for or against him or that he's doing everything perfect, but I think he deserves a chance. No matter who you put in that job, they will make mistakes. Even me.........

PS "hating the USTA" won't help anyone.

Chris Tucker said...

I have to agree with most of these comments.
Patrick McEnroe has not developed any players, neither any idea how to begin developing one.

And it is not "hating" on the USTA, when people make comments on something so obvious in hiring him for this job, when he has no clue where to start. There still is no plan for a reason...

This has become very clear when there should have been some players developed out of the teams of players winning both 14's and 16's international championships (boys and girls) in 2008!
(This feat had never been done before by any country)
Just sheer probability should have produced some players from these groups!
It seems they were even capable of destroying, what should have been a "shoe in" for new talent to develop in the next year, after they started....

You have to do something disastrously wrong to have no one come forward out of those groups!
That can only happen when you completely take those players out of their routines or make to many rigorous changes at this key period of their development.
The inexperience shines through with sacrificing these players to wild ideas and changes not based on former experiences in coaching.

Just being a former player is not enough as a requisite in developing players.
Just like in any profession, there are good and bad coaches or coaches with and without experience!
The USTA is to blame for not hiring professional coaches but ex-players with "a name".
The future will tell how that name and reputation will hold up......
But lets hope we don't have to wait too long!

Chris Tucker

Saul Hammerstein said...

Chris Tucker,

Just what kind of astronomical results are you expecting from players who were 16 and 14 in 2008?

Of the players who were on the Junior Fed Cup team, for instance, Sloane Stephens won the Italian Open and reached the girls' semis in Roland Garros, Christina McHale played in the main draw of two Grand Slams and won a match at the US Open, and Kristie Ahn won a 25K in March.

Evan King and Raymond Sarmiento are going to college, and Denis Kudla just reached the semis of a Futures in Florida

For the 14s, Kyle McPhillips, all of 15 years old, just won back-to-back ITF events and reached the final of a 10K in Cleveland. And Alexios Halebian took 3rd at the Clay Courts in July.

So again, exactly what kind of results are you expecting? Are there a rash of 16-year-olds out there that are winning professional titles that I'm not aware of?

The Dude said...

I've spoken to 4 players that have been through the HP regiment, 3 that lived at HP Evert. All of them said that the focus was on unforced errors, making your opponent hit yet another ball and working off court for physical endurance. One kid told me that HP didn't work for him as his game is very aggressive in nature, hugging the baseline and hitting the ball early a la Agassi. He said that HP wanted him to drop back 5-7 feet and get into a rythym hitting deep and running your opponent from side to side to exhaust him into errors. This grinding mentality just didn't work for him. One kid said that you couldn't hit pick up with another kid unless a HP coach was there to "oversee" the practice. The 4th kid liked it although he said it was kind of boring.

Eric Amend said...

Wow, waaaaaaay too many uneducated, uninformed, and/or ridiculous comments for me to counter each and everyone of them so I'll say this about Patrick McEnroe:

Patrick and I are the same age and I've known him since we started playing 12 &under National Tournaments at the same time back in 1977-78 and, even though we were closer friends in our youth, we are not as close anymore so this is a subjective critique, with as much objectivity as possible, for those of you who think he's a nobody that got where he is today based solely on his last name. Granted, I'll agree that his name has helped further his post-professional career more so than just his playing career alone would have done without the McEnroe name but absolutely, unequivocally, and without a doubt he WOULD NOT be some "teaching pro at a club" or "anonymous D1 coach" that some of you seem to think he’d be if he didn't have McEnroe as his last name.

Patrick is one of the most competitive AND patriotic people I've ever known. He kept a lot of his competitive fire hidden from view because he didn’t want to be a clone of his brother.

I saw him develop from a middle to lower ranked junior in the National 12 & under, where I was always ranked far ahead of him. He wasn't very fast, and some even considered him slow, yet he developed better foot speed as he grew into a seasoned junior that reached the semi-finals of Kalamazoo 16's which, was a surprising result at the time if you had seen where Patrick had come from when he was 12. Patrick became a top 5 ranked junior in the US by the 16 and 18’s, which help enable him to get into a dominant collegiate program and became an elite college player, who helped Stanford to multiple NCAA team titles before he started his professional career.

TRANSLATION FOR THOSE WHO NEED IT: He developed himself from an average junior player to a successful professional that went on to reach the semi-finals in the singles of the Australian Open (a Grand Slam tournament for the ignorant) AND win the French Open in doubles, THAT’S WHO HE’S DEVELOPED!! All the while being saddled with unfair/unrealistic expectations that came along with being John McEnroe’s little brother, which made him a HUGE target both in the media AND on the tennis court. And no matter how much you want to discount both his amateur and professional playing resumes with your ignorant ideal of a successful tennis professional, his life long experiences enables him the ability to look at a junior player and, in his estimation, decide if he thinks they have what it takes to make it on the pro tour!!!

Remember, the best Pro Baseball Managers, Pro Football, Pro Basketball, College Basketball, and College Football Coaches WERE NOT NECESSARILLY the elite Professional players before their successful coaching career was established!!

Eric Amend said...

Mc Lovin's post is a perfect example of how uneducated you all are about how significant Patrick's playing resume truly is, which is far more significant than everyone here has been willing to give him credit for, which also reflects on how much that most of the dissenters here truly know about the game of tennis, which isn't very much at all!!!

McLovin: "I would think that BJK would do a better job. BJK knows how to attack and be aggressive."
EA: BJK is waaaaaay more of a figurehead, and out of touch with the present pro game, then what you're painting Patrick to be, AND he won the French Open in doubles, which necessitates an aggressive serve and volley style that you mentioned.

McLovin: " The thing is Patrick never really got anywhere in the stature of the pro game.”
EA: Reaching the Semi-Finals of the Australian Open in singles as well as winning the French Open Doubles title is significant, no matter what you think you know about measuring the success of a professional tennis player!

McLovin: “When I listen to him commentate, I don't think he knows much more than the casual observer.”
EA: That’s because he’s dumbing it down for the casual observer, like you. Trust me, he knows more than the casual observer!!

McLovin: “I agree that his last name and his agreeable nature has help him post playing career otherwise he would be feeding balls in a Long Island club.”
EA: This goes to show how ignorant you really are because he’d be feeding balls in Florida, not Long Island!!!
HaHaHa, that was a joke, except for the part about you ignorance, that was truth!

On a final note, thank-you to Saul Hammerstein for exposing how ignorant (my theme and favorite word in this post) Chris Tucker truly is with his argument because Saul saved me from doing it AND he did it way better than I ever could!!

P.S. to the Dude, not that I’m saying what you heard is incorrect BUT why is it that these junior players know what’s best for their games to get them to the Top 10 in the professional rankings?? Meaning: Sometimes you have to hear things that you don’t want to hear from a coach or do things that you don’t like to do that seem incorrect at the time YET will make perfect sense later on and make you a better player down the road!!

Isn’t that how life goes?? We think we already know everything we need to know as a kid yet find out later on in life that our parent’s, coach’s, or teacher’s advice might have been correct all along!!! It's called life experience!!!

Eric Amend said...

Which players did Billie Jean King ever develop????

sam said...

Hey Eric, long time no see, glad to see you have time to respond to the idiotic comments. This site is going downhill real fast, but it does provide a good laugh when there is nothing on tv

fred said...

just remember the list of Austrailian Open champs, finalists and semifinalists was quite thin until it was moved to January. In the days when it was held in December it was not really even a "Major." Even brother John Mcenroe felt that way which is why he rarely competed.

Please, to fully understand the game you must understand the history.

Chris Tucker said...

To Saul Hammerstein:

If the goal is to develop mediocrity, I suppose you are right.
But I think that even Patrick and Jose Higueras are getting nervous about now, because they know that even though the girls have had some sporadic success, they know they should be further along and show more consistency in their results to make a breakthrough to top tennis.(top 50 for girls)
These girls are only a year to a year and a halve younger than some of the very promising international players you see in quarters, semi's and finals in grand slams.

But they are much more nervous about the results of the boys. As you said, most of the boys are going to college and there are no young top stars on the horizon, boys or girls!
In comparison, Federer and Nadal, and in the past, Sampras and Courier and others, had won many future events and been very successful in higher level events.

I don't want to diminish the results of some of these players, but most of them have had disastrous career changes from the direction they seemed to go or should have gone!
A major contributor has been the change in development in trying to make everyone into a clay court player. this has had a major influence on many boys in their development.
(Mainly since men's tennis has become such a power game.)
They tried sending them for an extended period to Spain, but this had an adverse affect on the results and more so on the boys side, caused many young players to be discouraged and frustrated...

The US has been slipping in its dominance of international tennis for quite a while now.
It takes no genius to look up the amount of players in the top 100 over the past 30 years to recognize this.
Although we have decent juniors, the US is seriously lacking in the development of top players!
This past attempt to hire ex-players with no developmental experience, will not steer this ship in the right direction.

I would say, this experiment has failed!

Chris Tucker

Chris Tucker said...

To Eric Amend,

We all "get it" that you are friends with Patrick, but that does not have to make you blind or ignorant yourself.
There have been a lot of comments on this page that cannot not be denied with your favorite word of ignorance.
To many facts that do not make sense, no matter how good of friends you were.

If you grew up with him, you must be old enough to have witnessed the different level of players in the past and the diversity of styles they brought to the playing field.
You also were witness to many great players around you and how they trained and played.
You also would know how many players we used to have in the top hundred.....
All you need to do is remember!

Chris Tucker

McLovin said...

To Eric Amend, you are telling me that winning the French doubles and being a semifinalist at the Aussie constitutes a stellar career? While you discount BJK's 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles and say she's out of touch? Are you kidding me? You sound more ignorant of the facts and a casual observer. I must say, BLK helped develop Martina Navratilova and helped develop the many players who played Fed Cup under her. She is held in high regard as a coach. At least she know the attacking game, grinding is not the primary focus as it seems to be with every male player in HP.

McLovin said...

To Eric Amend, I don't think Pat is dumbing down for the casual tennis observer. John Mac doesn't dumb down. When Agassi was in the booth, he doesn't dumb down. I just think he doesn't display superior insight when he's on the air. I'm sure he knows more than the casual observer but he is not effective in displaying it.

Not Fred said...

Yes Fred, to fully understand the game you must understand history. So I'm sure you knew that P Mac went to the Australian SF 4 years after it switched to January. Field that year included Becker, Lendl, Edberg...

Tennis Fan said...

To Eric Amend,

you are definitely letting your association with Patrick McEnroe cloud your judgement/thinking. How long has it been since you were employed by the USTA? From the "ignorant" (to use your word) comments you are making, one would think that you are politicing to get a job with the USTA, again.

Eric Amend said...


I never once used the "stellar" in my post about Patrick's accomplishments. I'm just saying that they are much more significant (that's the word I used, not stellar) than you people can appreciate and I'm saying he's worthy of his position within the USTA because of his accomplishments.

BJK NEVER EVER developed Martina. Martina was developed in Czechoslovakia, now the Czech Republic, until she was in her early 20's and BLK polished her game after that. BJK never developed anyone from the ground up from the time that they were 11, 12, 13, 14 years old, yet you criticize Patrick for not having developed any juniors at that age. You have to use the same criteria for judging Patrick versus BJK.

She knows the attacking game???? You're sounding like a broken record!! The game has changed tremendously since she played it as a professional, my friend!!!


I'm not commenting about Patrick's accomplishments as a friend but as a fellow accomplished tennis player who can better understand and appreciate what he has done, as well as where he come from to do those things.


You might want to check your facts before you speak because the Australian Open moved their date from mid December to mid January in 1987, a full four years before Patrick got to the semi-finals in 1991 when Boris Becker won it all. And the "thin list" of champions you speak of in 1987-90 were Lendl twice, Edberg, and Wilander; NOT thin at all!!

alex said...

basically other than oracene and richard williams and landsdorp and macci nobody in this country can claim much success, why doesn't the usta speak to them.

likely jealousy and bitterness

utahjazzwillwinitsomeday said...

"Alex", you forgot Mike Agassi. Andre would be a former college player at best without him. Not saying his "methods" were ideal, but the end result would not have been achievable with the USTA's guidance and doctrine of grinding low unforced error's /win lots of Gold Balls at young ages, then turn PRO at 16 and grind away. Harrisons DO NOT count. Coached by their Father, and have attacking games.

alex said...


you are right they should talk to agassis father as well.

My point is that the parents play a larger role and these particular parents understand the game, the future of the game (at their respective times) and their own children more thatn so-called coaches who are mostly untrained, ego-manicac, frustrated, college dropouts


The reality said...


If you are going to bring up the the stats of top 100 usa men over the past 30 years; did you also study how many countries made up the Top 100?

In 1989 (20 yrs ago)...there were players from 20 different countries in the ATP 100.

In 2009 (now)...there are players from 33 countries.

The main reason why the USA is not as dominate is because the game is more GLOBAL. The game grew worldwide and more countries are playing.

teenagers said...


Have you looked at the Top 100 recently?

How many teenagers do you see in the top 100?

My guess is there is maybe 1, but probably 0.

Apparently you do not know much about development or the state of today's game, if you think usa juniors are behind, because that means every junior in the world is behind as well.

Markus said...

To reality -

that's not exactly right, 20 year ago there were less countries that are relevant: i.e. what in 1989 was Yugoslavia is now Serbia, Croatia, Montenegro, Bosnia, Slovenia.
Former Soviet Union is now Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, Kazakhstan, and more; Czechoslovakia is now Slovakia and Czech Republic.
This already adds 7 countries to your list that did not exist in 1989.
The game was quickly adopted by eastern europeans (due to change in politics) and in top 100 we now have 15 Russian women, 3 from Belarus, 3 from Ukraine, etc etc., in addition some of the expats from single country (first generation) play under other national flag (i.e. Wozniacki, Wozniak, Dokic).
Anyway, it is Eastern Europe, not globalization.

Chris Tucker said...

To teenagers:

Going by the name above, I have to assume you are young, so I can not fault you for your way of thinking, since you just look at this last year...
But I can point out to know your "not so distant tennis history"

And you are right about the Men side, they don't have any teenagers in the top 100 right now, allthough there were some not so long ago that did get there early.(Murray, Gasquet, Cilic)

You might remember guys like Andre Agassi, Michael Chang, Pete Sampras or Courier?
Some of these guys actually already had won a grand Slam as a teenager!
But even closer in time was Andy Roddick...remember him?
And then you have some names as Nadal and Federer, maybe you have heard of these guys?
You can look up yourself when they entered the top 100...
But I can already tell you they were teenagers
And there were others as well.

And then looking at the women's side..wow, I counted them, there are 12 girls 18 and 19 in the top 100. (Wozniacki untill recently being 18 is now top 5)
But let me take you back to some girls that won grand Slams at 16 and 17 or 18: Evert, Graf, Hingis, or even more recent Sharapova?

So yes, I'm sure it does change from year to year, but don't be short sighted and fool yourself in thinking all is well in US tennis.
We have some decent juniors, but no standouts any more...
We have some decent young pros, but a lot of them lost track and there are no up and coming top 10 players on the horizon...

Many times the reasons are:

Too many players lack the dedication and the pure love of the game to make it in top tennis at the moment.

Too many parents lack the experience to be personal coaches of their own kids and so many more parents try it anyway, for all kinds of reasons.

Too many players and parents get sucked into the trap of signing to early and can not handle the burden...

I hope "teenagers" you are not one of these...

Chris Tucker

abc said...

Chris Tucker,

I think Teenagers was referring to the fact that you should stop bashing our US teenage boys cause frankly, right now, we're in the same position as the other countries.

As for the whole "history" thing, have you not noticed that tennis is changing? Once upon a time, yes, there were young US men winning grand slams, but that's the past. You can't keep comparing the present to the now far past.

If we use Sam Querrey as an example, it is clear that he was not an early bloomer. But he's doing well. And I would like to think that with the proper training, he will continue to do well. Not every good tennis player has to be at his prime when he's 17 or 18.

Of course, you have some young men who show up in the top 100, and those men are in the top 10 right now. But in terms of the development of the juniors, we aren't far behind, if behind at all, compared to the other countries.

As of right now, our standout junior is Ryan Harrison. What other 17 year old kid or younger in this world is at his level right now? Tomic? Maybe a handful?

positive thinking said...

Chris Tucker,

The only 2 guys that are near Harrison for his age are Tomic and Krajinovic. They are both ahead of him a little bit in the rankings but he has beaten both of them recently. What does this mean? Yes we do have someone with a chance to crack the top 100 as a teenager. Yes, both Ryan and his brother Christian signed early as well so I guess it wasn't a trap for them and the burden hasn't been too big. Lighten up a little. We have some players coming.

Chris Tucker said...

This article was about the development program led by Patrick McEnroe and Higueras and the state of US Tennis, not about particular players.
We always had a bunch of talented players (both boys and girls) knocking on the door to become top pro players.
And that is how most countries have had success, by having them compete against each other...
Naming just one is exactly my point
to this case!

Bashing players was not the case here at all(no players were mentioned by me in a negative tone)
In my opinion, however, the development program is not going in the right direction.
If you want to call that bashing on the USTA, then yes you would be correct!
Whoever feels that is negative, instead of observations and opinion, might be taking it personal instead of objective.

Chris Tucker