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Thursday, May 13, 2010

My Interview with Wilson's Adam Schaechterle; Ohio St, Princeton Features; ITA Regional Awards Announced; Clay Courts at USTABJK Tennis Center

My article this week for Tennis Recruiting Network takes a look at the career of Adam Schaechterle of Wilson Racquet Sports. I met him several years ago and have always enjoyed talking with him on the junior and college circuit, yet it wasn't until recently that it occurred to me that I didn't really know what his job entailed. At last month's Easter Bowl, we sat down to talk about his job, his background in tennis and his thoughts about the state of U.S. tennis. Any junior interested in knowing the criteria for sponsorships, any college player contemplating a career in the tennis industry or any tennis fan eager to identify the next great player can learn from what he has to say.

After yesterday's feature on the Tennessee men's team, it's appropriate that another NCAA contender would merit similar treatment. Although this Columbus Dispatch story is more about Ty Tucker's role in building the program than about the individual players, it provides a glimpse into the personality of one of college tennis's best coaches and most colorful characters. To the surprise of no one who knows Tucker, the sweatpants figure prominently in the article.

The new women's coach at Princeton, Megan Bradley, is the subject of this story in the weekly newspaper Town Topics. Bradley, an outstanding collegiate player at Miami just a few years ago, took over the head coaching job when Kathy Sell left last year. Despite her lack of experience, Bradley hasn't missed a beat, leading the Tigers to a second straight conference title. They play host Virginia in the first round of the NCAAs tomorrow in Charlottesville.

The ITA has announced the regional winners of the major national awards, which will be presented during the NCAA tournament. It's too bad there wasn't a place for Florida freshman Allie Will, who is 23-0 in dual matches this year. If there's a wild card in the nominations for the national award, I would have her at the top of the list.

I not in the habit of linking to Bloomberg stories, but this one is about the installation of four clay courts at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in New York. Carson and Boca already have clay courts, but the third National Training Center did not. I've seen this statistic before but it never ceases to amaze me:

Statistics show that a foundation on clay can help the top pros. Of the 103 men who have reached the top 10 since the ATP rankings were created, 91 of them grew up on clay, according to playtheclay.com.

Not the clay part, but the fact that there are only 103 men who have been in the top 10 since the creation of ATP rankings. That's an exclusive club.

I will not be providing as much information on the NCAA regionals as I would like over the weekend because I am attending a family member's graduation out of town. I will try to do a recap each evening. Please check out the Tennis Recruiting Network site first thing Friday morning for Part II of the NCAA roundtable, where I make my picks for the team finalists.


getreal said...

Thought Adam hit the target with this comment: "Where I see our players neck and neck in the Top 20in the ITF with other players, suddenly in two years the other players are Top 200 WTA or ATP, and our players are still toiling in the 600-700 range. I really couldn't give you all the reasons for that happening, whether it's desire or method, but I see that as an area that needs improvement in the US."

While I agree w/ Adam's analysis, anyone have any ideas what would help US players transition to the pros, (Adam seems somewhat at a loss about what the USTA could do, and so am I) . Seems that unless a US player is lucky enough to be signed with an agency willing to invest a lot of $ into developing their game and to provide a strong support system, its gets to tough. My sense is (and I may be wrong and anyone please correct me if that is so) that more foreign players get more support from their federations in transiting while the USTA just focuses on a few rising stars because of the limited number of coaches on their staff.

Unknown said...

I have been yelling about clay for years now. It helps the kids develop their games. If the USTA would stop the high performance nonsense and just build and maintain clay courts, and make it affordable for kids to use them, they would lead to more Americans at the top. This garbage of paying McEnroe and Higueras huge money to try and handpick a future champion is silly. The champs will rise form many kids playing on clay for years, not from a few high performance centers serving a few kids.

Austin said...

Dont blame the USTA about clay courts, blame city, state and national park systems for only having hard courts in their parks.

The Dude said...

Let's see, almost every town in South Florid has had 50- some municipal Har Tru courts in the last 40 yers or so - Hollyood, Miami, Ft. Ludaerdale. How many pros have come out of FL during that time? Evert and Spadea? It's not the clay courts, it's the cost of development that keeps the sport so narrow.

dustin said...

its not the cost.it's the lack of real development even on clay

Tennis Guru said...

It´s the lack of work ethic of our players. They are soft and do NOT work as hard as the other players in the World.

You think Ryan Sweeting, Donald Young, Alex Kuznetsov, Phillip Simmonds, Tim Symczek etc work as hard as other players in the World? No chance.

It´s not the lack of clay courts, The Dude is correct. You can have all the clay courts you want, but you NEED hard working players to play on them.

You need passion and killing yourself every day to make it.

The ITF rankings do not tell how good a player is going to be. Our American juniors go to Morocco and Asia to get points. The true test is getting their points at the jr. grand slams, then with hard work you may have a chance on the pro circuit.

The best players win, the best players work extremely hard, it´s not because of money or clay courts, it´s all about working HARD!!

Enough is Enough said...

Everyone blames development; Lack of money; Lack of USTA help; Lack of Clay Courts. That´s the problem. Excuses, Excuses, Excuses.

Players have been successful training on hard courts, clay courts, indoors and outdoors, going to college and not going to college, playing ITF tournaments and playing sectionaly/nationally. Players are successful living at home and living somewhere else.

The players hear their parents complain; hear the other players complain; hear coaches complain. The United States is suppose to be a strong country.

Shut up and start training!!

Unknown said...

Har Tru is not real clay, not at all. I live in Florida and most of the municipal Har Tru courts are in lousy condition. There is almost no true red clay in the US.

Anyone who does not know that true European red clay plays and develops kids 100% differently than Har Tru should not be posting on this subject.

Unknown said...

By the way, since all American kids are not "hard working" and thats why we fail at tennis, how come we produce the best basketball players? Its because the playgrounds are an incubator where kids play all the time and the best rise and are scooped up by AAU teams and developed.

Thats what the USTA should do. Grow the game, make it affordable for kids to play on real red clay, and let the best rise up. The big name coaches and academies will then develop them.

NancyAtlanta said...

Ha, the USTA defenders are comical. Spain and France are 1/7th our size and have more top 200 players. And their tennis associations put 5 times the percentage of revenues back into junior development than the USTA does.

Gee, must be a coincidence.

The Dude said...

Look, it's catch-22. You need the money to train and travel to win points and get a ranking so the USTA can sponsor you and pay for your training and travel. Hoever, if you have the money, you are already too soft and won't work hard enough to rise to the ATP level. The eastern europeans are hungry enough to see their meal ticket through hitting the yellow ball as well as the ghetto kid sees his meal ticket through the hoop. If you don't think you need money, then you are not living in the USA.

work-hard-tennis said...

Dude, that is exactly what I have experienced. It takes a ton of money to travel and get good enough to compete well in tennis. Thus you have the kids who don't "HAVE" to work hard. As one middle school teacher commented, "They are entitled."

So how hard are they really going to work? I am not saying they are terrible lazy kids, but what is their incentive to play, play, and play some more for 5-6 hours a day in the boiling hot sun?

Every kids says they want to be a pro, but few kids really want to do the work that is required.

Unknown said...

The last two comments make no sense. The inner city kids will play 6 hours of basketball a day in the "boiling sun". Some would play tennis also if the USTA had great affordable programs and red clay courts. If the USTA made tournaments local and inexpensive instead of paying the old CEO $9 mil, or spending millions on high performance they could run these programs.

The argument about laziness is silly when we have basketball and football and volleyball players at the very highest levels in the world and they all work hard as kids.

Eric Amend said...

Work-hard-tennis hit the nail on the head!!!

They're not "terribly lazy kids" but they are too entitled to push themselves through the point of exhaustion on a daily basis. It takes a special individual to be an entitled junior player that is going to be able to sacrifice for the years that it will take to break into the Top 100.

work-hard-tennis said...


I don't mean to be disrespectful, but you missed the point; you actually said the same thing I did.

However, the point is that most tennis kids right now ARE NOT inner city kids who want to work super hard. Again, I mean no disrespect to our kids, but it is the truth. They say they want to be really good, but often I sure am not seeing them practicing hours on Saturday and Sunday. Why should they? They live in a nice house with a swimming pool in the suburbs, with Mom to write the check for the private lesson. They'll go to college, maybe play college tennis, and get their white collar job. Just like the rest of us.

Absolutely get it to the inner city kids. Absolutely make the tournaments more affordable--get tennis to the masses. They will have incentive.

A. Meek said...

Unlike basketball and football (and soccer), tennis isn't a "pick up" sport. It takes a period of hands on instruction to get to the point of actually playing tennis.

It's not going to happen on its own. To me that is where the USTA can make a difference. You have to get tennis on the radar of the "hungry" kids in this country. They're here but they are not playing tennis.

Unknown said...

Now I get your point work-hard-tennis. I agree 100% The more we get our hungry and best athletes playing tennis the better chance we have of competing.

The girls have done this well, most likely inspired by the Williams sisters. Madison Keys, Sachia Vickery, Victoria Duval and other African-American girls are coming along nicely.

Perhaps if we had one inner city male who made it big we would spawn a bunch of great athletes to play tennis.

dustin said...

there seems to be racist implications that cannot be adequately supported by reality. e.g. Federer and clijsters etc. are tremendous athletes. As good as any in the world.

conrad said...

the key to the williams sisters is not the color of their skin. it was their parents..