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Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Watson to Face Capra at Dow Corning; Sampras To Help USTA?; Two New Tennis Sites


Unlike most $25,000 Pro Circuit tournaments, which feature eight, there are only four qualifying places available for the $100,000 Dow Corning Tennis Classic. Seventeen-year-old Beatrice Capra earned one of them today, by defeating 18-year-old Chieh-Yu (Connie) Hsu, also of the United States, 6-4, 6-4. Capra's opponent in Wednesday's first round is wild card Heather Watson, also 17. Capra and Watson have played once, in the semifinals of the 2008 ITF US Junior International Hard Courts in New Jersey, and Watson won what looks to have been a fantastic match, 6-7(2), 7-6(5), 7-5.

In this feature about Watson in the Midland Daily News, she and her mother Michelle reflect on the tour travel, the US Open junior championships and the Michigan snow (we've gotten a fresh six inches today). Mike Woody, the Executive Director of the tournament, also explains the process of selecting wild cards, and points out some of the very impressive past recipients.

For the results from the Pro Circuit, see usta.com.

Pete Sampras played Spain's Fernando Verdasco in an exhibition last night at the ATP SAP Open, and Matt Cronin of Tennisreporters.net relayed some intriguing comments from the 14-time grand slam champion on his twitter feed.

Sampras: 'These young guys are still green & I see so many things in their attitudes and games that need changing. I'm available 4 services'

Pete Sampras says he still available to coach in LA: 'I have time on my hands. If USTA wants to step up I'll make a champion.'


Cronin goes on to comment when asked by Tennis Channel's James LaRosa for reasons why it hasn't yet happened: "...both Pete and Martina(Navratilova) are very pricey and very specific under what conditions they would work."

Can Sampras "make a champion?" Mark me as skeptical, but I'm more than willing to see him try, if the USTA can make it happen.

Just a quick note on a couple of new tennis sites I've been made aware of recently. The Tennis Mom is a new site, run by Nicole, who is, you guessed it, a tennis mom. She had some very nice things to say about zootennis in her most recent post entitled, Great Tennis Site for Tennis Parents. I appreciate that, and hope she continues to build her site. Junior tennis needs all the resources it can muster.

And in that vein, there is another site, ustennistalk, that is developing a peer-to-peer network. I'm told the idea is "to build an interconnection and shared knowledge repository between all of the top people in tennis."

27 comments:

Texastennismom said...

Colette,

How about Sampras (who also said he has time on his hands - which I've noticed he says repeatedly...) start out by volunteering to work with the juniors (to see if he's even any good at it and because he's made a fortune at tennis?) before he starts using phrases like the USYA should "step up" and pay him the vast amount of money he apparently requires....?

Being Selfish said...

Texastennismom

That is one of the best blogs ever written on this site. You are completely correct saying that Sampras should volunteer to work with juniors. The term is "giving back"

Does he have the "magic dust" that other coaches do not have to produce champions? Does Sampras want to be on the court 6 hours a day and talk with trainers, parents, etc on a consistent basis? Sampras probably wants a large sum of money and work part-time?

I am anxious to hear what Sampras has to offer: What his coaching philosophy is. Sure he is one of the best ever tennis players but coaching is a different ballgame.

Sampras should finally come out of his shell, completely win the public's appeal by saying, "I am ready to give back to the game that afforded me an incredible lifestyle."

However, some things just do not change.

getreal said...

Pete Sampras says he still available to coach in LA: 'I have time on my hands. If USTA wants to step up I'll make a champion"...this must have been very tongue and cheek as Sampras has never coached a player in his life ... perhaps he should ask andre agassi how to spend free time in a mneaningful way ... there is a lot he could contribute to

Tennis Fan said...

Totally agree Texastennismom.

Sampras needs to prove that he is able to develop juniors. What coaching education has Sampras taken? What players has he developed or began to develop since retiring from the tour? Being a former player doesn mean that you can develop players. Nothing against Sampras, who until Roger Federer was the greatest, just the facts.

However, the USTA being the USTA will probably go for the bait - a former pro with no experience in player development - pay the big bucks and see no results from it. This has a familiar ring to it - Patrick McEnroe, Jose Higueras, Tim Mayotte etc...

Tyler said...

Funny, the debate on Sampras when Patrick is collecting 600k a year and rarely on the court unless its as an announcer.

By now people should realize that players are typically being made by coaches few are aware of, did you know about Melanie's coach two years ago? Bollateri is now a figurehead so who's making the players? At the larger academies its the members of the staff that are making the players or who are involved and traveling. The person the academy was named after is for the publicity. I think Pete wants a little of what Jose Higueras and Tim Mayotte received from Patrick, not the R. Harmon treatment.

The reason Bollateri and IMG are so successful is because that's where all the players are, there's forty courts and its survival of the fittest.

I sadly give you a different version of the same email every time. The USTA is interested in exactly what they're doing now, making money and being in control, somewhere down the line the USTA is interested in American Players, but making american players is clearly not a top priority. The NCAA is also at fault for there role as are college presidents, etc. International players are training and developing in the United States for other countries at a rate of probably 100 international players developing in the United States for every 1 or 2 American Players developing abroad.

Being Selfish said...

TennisFan

Do not put Jose Higueras in that mix. His track record of player development is remarkable. However, I agree with the two names.

If the usta hasn't taken the bait yet with Pete, I doubt they will. The usta has a new administration and not going to fall for stuff like that.

Plus, I read they already have Lendl helping out with some juniors. And I'm sure Lendl did not ask for money.

Pete is still showing why he wasn't liked that much.

USTA bashing said...

Tyler--

If the usta is not interested in developing players, then why did they get out of supplemental coaching, change their coaching philosophy in player development and build dormitories and become primary coaching? The USTA is also bulding regional centers to help players from different parts of the country get help from around their area. So clearly one of othe usta biggest goals is developing players and their actions prove that.

There are many reasons to critize the usta but there hasnt been too many that make any sense.

Austin said...

Pete could make a champion, but the player would have to be exactly like him: 100%focused on becoming a chamion, nothing else. Their life would have to be tennis all the time. I dont know of an American outside of Roddick right now that could make the committment Sampras would require. Hopefully there is a junior out there who has the mental makeup of Sampras.

Tennis Fan said...

Being Selfish...

Please name me one high level player that Jose Higueras has developed from the start, not when they were already at that level. That does not count. He is very good with established players, but before they reach that level he lacks the skills. Again, just the facts.

Not so sure about the USTA new administration. They too seem to be mezmorized by big names. It's been almost 2 years since they hired Patrick and those that he (Patrick) has put in place - Jose, Tim etc. - don't have the skill set needed to get the job done. They like drawing those nice big salaries, but when it comes to doing the hard work, where are they? We know that Patrick is on ESPN, coaching Davis Cup and now penning a book. Jose still has his own program in the California - $5000 for the month, $1500 for the week, $500 for the day. The USTA gig is not their passion, they like the salary.

It's sad for US tennis.

The Dude said...

Man, you all are all so critical. Here you have a mutual admiration society USTA that has never developed a champion paying each other at least 500k for everyone on that board! They are already paying huge sums to everyone on the HP staff who have never produced a champion. So Sampras has an opinion and thinks he can help. He probably sees a plethora of grinders in the USTA system and wants to create attacking players with weapons. So Pete has to "prove" himself to all of you and to the USTA whereas no one on the USTA HP has ever proved himself? Just because he is rich, he has to work pro bono? If you don't pay the man, you won't appreciate what he has to offer. Lansdorp is on the HP committee but the USTA has nothing for him to do! Do they pay him to be in HP just so he doesn't criticize the HP program. Okay, to make all of you cynics happy let's not hire champions who been there and overachieved on the tour but just keep the same journeymen HP guys in there and keep the status quo.

Being Selfish said...

Tennis Fan

How many coaches can you name that have coached a player from "the start" all the way to a top pro player? FYI--Usually a top pro player has had many coaches along the way.

Jose has a coaching philosophy that has proven to work. He has worked with mostly pros, but those pros have gotten better under Jose. He has coached players into the top 100 and into the top 10, so he KNOWS what it takes.

The usta will get critized for everything they do, no matter what decision or actions they make. They are an extremely easy target. Just waiting for an argument we haven't heard before or written about.

The bottom line is: The usta is trying to get American players better!! Players will continue to get better without any usta help and players will continue to get better that do get help from the usta.

John Kline said...

HA, no need for USTA bashing? Hmmm, the fact that they paid off their former CEO with $9.3 million? How about the salaries of the top 10 old boy network guys that average $800,000 each? Or the fact that the USTA puts a tiny fraction back into junior development compared to the French and Spanish...hmmm, who has more top 100 players? The USTA is a cesspool of mediocrity.

Pat Mac is a joke, yeah, lets hire a guy with 10 jobs to head the most important part of the USTA. The USTA has no plan. You don't spend millions on 30 select kids. You spend millions on making junior tournaments very low price and growing the game by making it affordable to masses of kids.

Wow, finally a few regional training centers and a couple clay courts. How about 20 training centers and 500 clay courts....you know, with the money they waste paying their buddies high salaries?

usta bashing said...

Tennis Fan

"They like drawing those nice big salaries, but when it comes to doing the hard work, where are they?"
"The USTA gig is not their passion, they like the salary."

You think Jose was getting a bad salary from Federer? My guess was that he was making more money with Federer and traveling more weeks with Federer. So apparently it wasn't about the salary.

Patrick's job is to put the staff in place, not to be a coach. He is an administrator. Plus, you don't know the work he accomplishes throughout the day. He wears many hats, but that does not mean he cannot do them well. He actually sees the pro tour a bunch. He knows what is going on.

In fact, answer me this: How do you know exactly what they do on a day-to-day basis to be able to critize them?

What are you doing to help build American Champions? It seems like you only complain and bitch about others.

It's frustrating to read these blogs from people who continue to critize especially when they do NOT know exactly what is going on. They are only assuming.

USTA bashing said...

AKA John Kline

Any company would pay their CEO 9.3million dollars if that guy creates 80-100 additonal million to the company.

The plan is to have more than 20 regional centers and alot more clay courts, but the usta just started this--under patrick mcenroe. It takes time John.

Also, Patrick with 10 jobs? Yeah--ok. Exaggerate a little more.
The usta helps WAY MORE than 30 players. Exaggerating, once again.

The only thing I agree with is France puts more money into player development than the usta. Spain does not.

Keep the usta bashing coming! Who else wants to take a free shot at them?

USTA bashing said...

AKA John Kline

Any company would pay their CEO 9.3million dollars if that guy creates 80-100 additonal million to the company.

The plan is to have more than 20 regional centers and alot more clay courts, but the usta just started this--under patrick mcenroe. It takes time John.

Also, Patrick with 10 jobs? Yeah--ok. Exaggerate a little more.
The usta helps WAY MORE than 30 players. Exaggerating, once again.

The only thing I agree with is France puts more money into player development than the usta. Spain does not.

Keep the usta bashing coming! Who else wants to take a free shot at them?

steven s said...

If nothing else, perhaps Sampras could convince a young talented junior (and the childs parents) that it is not about winning every match in the juniors. Maybe he can get some kids to the net for goodness sakes!

Tyler said...

It is easy to bash the USTA! They're doing such a poor job on so many fronts. You can go to a junior tourament with a 64 player draw on both the girls and boys side, playing 64 matches on a Saturday, and the USTA has 3 officials there or allows the tournament director to have 3 officials there. The players get out of control as do the parents. The USTA should enfore strict guidelines to improve the quality of the experience for juniors. The USTA does not, and bad tournament directors run wild (ex. a wild card for a national tournament). Go to a junior soccer event and there's two officials for every game. In Florida you have more players some weekends on the alternate lists then you have competitors in the tournaments. The high school no cut policy has led to...when the tennis team is asked to stand up, the entire auditorium stands up. The grass roots level, where children who are athletic may be deciding between tennis, and possibly soccer or football or basketball is where the USTA misses the boat the most. A child who wants to get good in tennis can enter a 10 and under or 12 and under tournament and actually play a 5 or 6 year old who calls all lines out and yells "c'mon," while their coach gives signals through the fence. The USTA has allowed the return of the haves and have nots, but its not only financial, it's those who break the rules and those who don't. As fantastic a story as the Williams sisters are, it would be incredibly hard to duplicate that story today. Players are not developing. Academies are encouraging players to play up one and two divisions, when they wouldn't have even won the tournament in their own age group or the age group below their own. You don't see ladders anymoe at clubs, you don't see players going out and simply enjoying the game. Parents are chasing the pro dream that will never come and settling for the college chase dominated now by international players. Late developers??? forget about it, you don't have a chance, and, the last two successful play up clones were Sharapova and Sampras. There should be more quality opportunities to play qualiy competition but the USTA's points' scale leaves many players behind, thus the emphasis is on winning over developing. There's huge favortism at the training centers, and an IMG player is not necessarily an American Player. The USTA's biggest contribution would be to solve the age group garbage for USTA tournaments, while creating another opportunity for those who think they're going pro, call it junior open boys and junior open girls. The USTA tournaments are the first level of events, 7th graders shouldn't be playing 18s!! The national draws should not have alternate lists, ever! There should be a tournament a month earlier for the alternates with a chance to get into the main draw (keep 8 spots open) - simply stated players should be playing and competition should be encouraged. I really don't think people are being negative towards the USTA, if you happen to be in a section that runs very poorly, you simply point out the opportunities, try to provide feedback through channels and when that leaves you empty with nothing, you blog here.

Austin said...

How on earch are the Mens Indoors going to happen? Are they even letting flights in anywhere close to DC?

5.0 Player said...

Sampras is exactly the type of player who would NOT make a good developmental coach.

He is clearly a "freak athlete" that owes most of his sucess to great genetics. Sure he also worked hard but it was his freak athletic ability that got him anywere close to what he accomplished.

A perfect example of how Sampras owes "God given" athleticism and not ingenuity to his success is his discussion of how he "developed" or should I say "discovered" his great serve which is the center piece of his game. In his book he describes his run to his first US Open championships; during that run he notices that his serve "all of a sudden" got to be a huge weapon. And then he quickly adds "...don't ask me how!"

In a similar vein, everyone discusses what an ingenious move it was for him to switch to a one handed backhand. Trust me, he would have been just as good and probably better if he had kept the two-hander. Only a guy like Sampras can get away with changes like that. If Davydenko tried that at the same age he would be playing college tennis now instead of being ranked in the top 10 of the ATP.

Sampras probably knows a lot about strategy for freak athletes like himself who play a similar game style because he's been there. Otherwise, I don't see his value as a coach and that goes for many other players like him.

Tennis Fan said...

Being Selfish...

Coaches from the start to a pro - John Wilkerson (Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil); Nick Bollettieri (Carling Bassett, too many others to name from the age of 11 on); Robert Landsdorp - his name says it all; William Washington (Mal Washington); Brian Barker (James Blake); Jerry Baskin (Robbie Ginepri, Brian Vahaly, to name a few of the top players from the Atlanta area); Roland Jaeger (Andrea Jaeger). Shall I keep going? Thank you for proving my point regarding Jose being good with touring pros. His Philosophy is the spanish system.

After watching the Austrailian Open, it seems that most players are looking to be more aggresive, playing closer to the baseline and looking to gain control of the points. The Spainish system is playing 5 to 7 feet behind the baseline and grinding down the opponent. How's Rafa's knee?

Usta Bashing...

What administrative job did Patrick have prior to his current administrative position with the USTA?

Let me ask you this... How does Patrick know what's going with HP when he is wearing "many hats"? The US is competing with countries that have heads of their programs who have extensive administrative and developmental experience and only wear one hat - building better players for their country. No wonder France, Argentina, Spain and a host of other countries are leaving the US in the dust.

John Kline said...

USTA bashing....The ex CEO and the USTA keep touting those numbers. Who figured them? They did! If you think 1 in 10 Americans play tennis like they say, you are being silly, I see empty courts all over the US. And the US Open attendance the last few years was because of Federer, Nadal, Williams sisters, Henin, and Oudin's run this year. The success was the players, not the CEO doing anything great. They had a few booths set up outside, wow, brilliant.

The increased revenue figures? Did you know that they count tickets GIVEN AWAY as revenue? Yup, an old trick from sports venues. They give away tickets to corporations then count them as sold at the top dollar price.

You have the USTA providing the numbers of increased tennis and revenues....and their bonuses are figured from their own numbers!!!! How is that not corrupt??

I live in Boca Raton and have been to the Evert center many times. There is huge waste everywhere. The select kids there are given epic amounts of support, more than their abilities warrant. It makes no sense.

The USTA should grow the game by hiring spokespeople the kids like and advertising during American Idol. Hire Hannah Montana or whoever is hot. Get 1000000 more kids interested in playing tennis. From those, the odds of generating a champ increase.

The USTA has no business in high performance, its a waste. Grow the game, make the tournies affordable, provide affordable lessons, get clay courts all over. The kids will play, the cream will rise, the private academies will grab the best and develop them, that is their job.

The USTA is acting backwards trying to pick and develop champions. They are completely wrong in their approach to junior tennis.

Eric Amend said...

I think I should just cut and paste my same rebuttals to everyone of these arguments!!!!

John Klien,

Really???? "Hanna Montana or whoever else is hot at the moment????" That's your strategy???? That's the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, except when you posted it last year in the fall!!!!

Please read my posts from last week, I just don't have the time this week.

John Kline said...

Eric....yes, do something different, since what they are doing is failing miserably. Since the Americans in the top 200 drops every year. Since the Americans in the top D-1 programs drops every year. Maybe hire some spokespeople and advertise tennis and get more kids into it. The USTA is failing with kids although plenty of old people play tennis. You have to get to the kids on their terms.

I love how people defend a failed system.

And if you are referring to my Oudin comments last fall. She is now heading towards age 19....how many WTA tournies has she won? Zero. So how were my comments wrong? Answer, they were not, the hype did not match the results and still do not 6 months later.

been-there said...

Actually John is not that far off Eric. His point is to make tennis accessible to the masses; e.g. through someone like Hannah Montana. My 9 year old would totally relate to seeing Hannah Montana play tennis on TV. Does it sound ridiculous if you don't have kids? Yes, because you don't adore Hannah like they do. I believe that if Hannah became a devoted tennis player, a lot of young girls would want to follow. She is a mainstream young celebrity.

Another problem is that tennis is not in the schools. The other sports are in the schools. My daughter has zero friends that play tennis, except at her tennis club. Yet half her school class plays either soccer, volleyball, or basketball with her. Brochures come home for all the other sports, never tennis.

The USTA should be giving racquets to schools. They should be giving grants to P.E. teachers so that they quasi-know how to teach tennis. That is where the money should go. Lower the volleyball nets in the gyms and play away.

5.0 Player said...

Tennis fan said: "Coaches from the start to a pro - John Wilkerson (Zina Garrison, Lori McNeil); Nick Bollettieri (Carling Bassett, too many others to name from the age of 11 on)"

First of all, Nichk Bollettieri didn't personally develop anyone that became great. Just because they practiced at his academy doesn't mean he had a real hand in their tennis game development other than perhaps his patented pep talk and promotion.

I've worked with the guy. He's a motivator and a promoter but he does not know much about how to develop players and their strokes.I believe that he has always been about a 3.0 player himself.

Great talent even at a young age is attracted to the IMG academy because of the competition, climate, facilities and endorsement possibilities. Anyone who really knows tennis and who has seen him "work" knows that he's mostly a pep talker and figure head. Read both Mike Agassi's book and Andre Agassi's book if you have any doubts.

Many others that you have on your list are freak talents, freak athletes or both who would have been great so long as no coach screwed them up too much. I don't give those coaches too much credit for not screwing those players up too much.

just saying said...

You do know that Hannah Montana will cease to exist soon. Find another spokesperson.

been-there said...

Well, Hannah was just an example. Any of those hot Disney celebrities would make tennis "cool" to the kids.

But again, with or without celebrities, it has to get to the masses. The way to do that is through the schools. I took my daughter's first grade class to our tennis center for a lesson. I think their parents ( I didn't know most of them) probably thought I was crazy. I just can't stand seeing that many young kids not knowing anything about tennis.

We put paper down on the other side of the net and put candy and prizes on the papers. They'd try to hit the ball over the net and if the ball hit the paper/prize, they'd win it. We all had fun.

It just needs to be introduced to the normal school child. The cream will rise to the top, and we'll get some good players.