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Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Carless Named Head Coach at Cal Poly; Interview with USTA's Tom Gullikson; The Decline of Tennis Prodigies

Tomorrow is another travel day for me, as I head to Tulsa for my annual 12-day stint covering first the ITA Men's All-American Championships and the ITF B1 Pan American Closed, both held at the Michael D. Case Tennis Center at the University of Tulsa. I hope to have the list of wild cards for the Pan American Closed soon, and by tomorrow evening's post the qualifiers should be in place and the draws out for both the men's and women's All-Americans.

I don't seem to hear about the hiring of coaches in a timely manner, which I just chalk up to there being no central place to go for that news. Instead, I just stumble upon something on the internet or via twitter that leads me to news that I wish I had seen earlier. When Pepperdine tweeted today about its hiring of Jason Cook as an assistant coach for the men's team, I knew Nick Carless, the assistant there for the previous four years, probably had gotten another position. He had, taking the men's head coaching job at Cal Poly, where he had spent two years as a player, last month.

I ran across this question and answer session with USTA Lead National Coach for Women's Tennis Tom Gullikson, who was in the news recently when CoCo Vandeweghe announced she was no longer working with Gullikson and had hired Jan-Michael Gambill. Melanie Oudin, who is no longer with her longtime coach Brian DeVilliers, is working with Gullikson on a trial basis. Toby Smith, who conducted the interview for the USTA Southwest section's website during the recent women's challenger event in Albuquerque provides a lot of background and a variety of interesting questions. Although Patrick McEnroe shies away from naming names when asked about up-and-coming players, Gullikson does not. He doesn't mention US Open girls champion Grace Min, but I'm sure that was just an oversight.

Steve Tignor, the Tennis magazine editor who blogs for espn.com on tennis, wrote this piece today on the decline of the prodigy in tennis. He doesn't view this trend as positively as I do, and I'm not even certain there won't be another teenage phenom in the next several years. But I do agree that new breakout stars, especially those like Milos Raonic, who seem to come out of nowhere, are exciting for the game.

And speaking of prodigies, 18-year-old Bernard Tomic, who beat No. 5 seed Viktor Troicki of Serbia today in Tokyo, is in the running to win the Australian Open before he turns 21, according to 12-time grand slam winner Roy Emerson. Emerson spoke about Tomic's prospects with skynews.com.au


American Tennis said...

Oustanding interview with Tom Gullikson. The interview now that would be fun to read is one from Brian DeVilliers to hear his thoughts which I am quite certain you may have to sensor. Tom is an incredible coach so hopefully that situation with Melaine will continue.

I also enjoyed the decline of tennis prodigies artlice. Personally I think the word Prodigy is a term agents use to market their players / clients and reporters use to hype an athlete. To me the term prodigy is so negative to the player. All prodigy means is that a player has not reached any expectations that other people have for him or her but may have the ability to achieve it. I would rather have work ethic and heart - than a label of prodigy. That word has hurt alot more "prodigies" than helped.

I see you posted Tomic's first round win because of the prodigy story but did not mention anything about Donald Young reaching the Top 50 and reaching the finals of an ATP tournament in Asia last week. A little article on Tomis is fine, but Donald is an American and thought at least merit something.

I love how tennis in college is stronger than 4-5 years ago. I believe Steve Johnson should not go back to school but admire his decision and loyality to his school.

coach said...

Grace Min not being mentioned is likely not an oversight.

He seems to measure tennis players with a measuring tape. Her short stature, fire, heart, good movement, work ethic etc dpes not show up on that type of simplistic radar.

Does not understand the game is not about height but the game now and especially in the future is about movement.


If I was 5'6" those comments would worry me.,


Measuring Stick said...

The game in the future in women's tennis is about movement, athleticsm and the serve. Lauren Davis and Grace Min are going to struggle because of their serve, their height and they are not very athletic.

Look at most of the Grand Slam winners still playing - Serena, Stosur, Venus, Sharapova, Kvitova. They all have great serves in the women's game.

Height does play a vidal roll in the game - you would be ignorant to think it is not.

Bottom Line - Grace does not measure up in the list of upcoming American players. What top professional results or wins does she have to prove that?

Blatant said...

American Tennis,

If you have followed on this thread for very long you would know that Collette has always been partial to Tomic compared to anyone else. Croatian, Australian or whatever, it does seem a bit odd for Collette to be so partial to a non-american. Its her website though.

coach said...

height is irrelevant.

Point is the serve is the issue. 5'7' Stosur has a much much better serve than 6'1' sharapova or 6'1" venus etc. A coach should evaluate players based on what matters, not height. that is a superficial way to discuss "up and coming players" and another example of why USTA is usually so far off base. Gullickson never mentioned the words movement or serve.

If average height men are top ten in world then average height women can be as long as they are extradordinary athletes and have developed a top serve


Not ignorant but knowledgeable said...

Measuring Stick, Height is the most overrated thing consistenly mentioned in the game. Male or Female. Movement on the serve and hitting spots is far more important. Especially in the womens game. Give me a player who moves well and hits their spots on the serve to set points up and they will beat the 130 mile per hour server 75 % of the time. The tall big server will have a big day once in a while but not near as consistent as the server with control and placement that moves well. It is obvious if you look at the results. It also is ignorant to believe otherwise.

doc said...

Great article with Coach Gullikson. He is a true legend in the game and knows tennis better than just about anyone on the planet. It is humorous to read these posts of people who are critical of someone based on a few quotes. Until you spend time with these great coaches and understand the true depth to their knowledge, I would caution people from being so critical. Size is important, movement is important and the serve is important. Having two out of the three is a must - having three is optimum. The future is bright...

Jerry said...

To all,

Sure the height is not the determining factor, but there is a 'minimum' below which it is super-hard to climb to the top. We are mentioning 5-7 Stosur, but she's still 5-7...if you are 5-2 it is a different story. There aren't too many Cibulkova;s in the top 100.

news to me said...


real said...

height does play a factor, but its not crucial. athe problem with US tennis is, it is still a wealthy sport. A lot of great American tennis players are out htere, the cost is a hugh problem. You can buy a ranking to get to 130, then the problem begins. I am sure the coaches are experienced in tennis, but not in picking a talented player. Look around at the parks, schools ect. In order to be noticed, you have to spend money to be seen, alot cannot do this. To many ignorant tennis coaches, especially with USTA, quit spending money on the the kids they always lean to and do look at other kids they normally wouldnt want. The US will not dominate tennis, until they change their stupid ideas

The Dude said...

At first, the prohibitive determinating factor is not height, movement or atleticism but money. Without money, you can't even get a seat at the table, you can't get good enough to be noticed by the USTA.

Tennis Coach said...

American Tennis- Your complaint that Colette wrote more about Bernard Tomic than Donald Young is misplaced. This site is primarily about junior tennis and/or the juniors who have just started making the transition to senior tennis.

Therefore, a discussion about Tomic playing in the pros at 18 years old is a lot more relevant than Donald Young who is 22. And speaking of Young, he was very lucky to get that win over Monfils who totally imploded after being up 4-1 in the third. Monfils was having health and brain problems and started serving and volleying on first and second serves and double faulting like crazy, including double faulting at match point with a flat serve that landed about 10 feet long. I will be stunned if Young is in the top 50 on October 7 of 2012 because he's never going to defend all those points he got this year including his one win over Andy Murray who tanked the match at Indian Wells. Murray has cleaned Young's clock every other time he played him since including the 6-2, 6-0 thrashing in the last tournament.

And, let's stop this myth about Colette being partial to Tomic because it's just not true and she has linked all of the negative stories about him that have cropped up over the last couple of years.

American Tennis said...

Tennis Coach

Wow - where did that come from?

All I was commenting on was a little mention for Donald - your comments should be directed at Blatant.

Collette does an incredible job with her interviews, blog, stories, columns, people skills, and most importantly, her passion for the game.

Since we are on the subject and hopefully you are not still in attack mode - Donald's win over Andy at Indian Wells was only about 61 points out of his 943 that he has, so I serious doubt he is worred about that. Donald's points are getting spread out - Semi's Washington DC, Rd of 16 at US Open, Finals of Bangkok. A good stretch of points and results. And now that he is confident - will be very interesting how high he can climb.

Also - its very tough to be "so lucky" to beat a Top 10 Player. And he has beaten two of them this year - lucky or not - he still did.

No one knows where anyone will be by next October - and certainly not going to take your comments or predictions seriously after some of the stuff you wrote - just lost tons of credibility

Tennis Coach said...

American Tennis - Your hypocrisy is pitiful and transparent to everyone. First you write that you hope that I am no longer in attack mode and then you go on to attack me.

Next you go on to attack my credibility when you are the person who has no credibility after whining that a 22 year old isn't getting more attention on a junior tennis website.

You also start your post by implying that you aren't really a cheerleader for Donald Young because "all I was commenting on was a little mention for Donald" but then you go on to praise and defend him with such specificity and intensity that even his own relatives would blush. (Perhaps you are a relative).

With regard to his points I was only using the fluke wins over Murray and Monfils as 2 examples. His US Open run was also lucky because he happened to play Wawrinka when Wawrinka was in the worst slump of his career and actually tanked the ending of the match. I can't go through every result he has had this year and no one can be certain of the future and that's why I made sure to point out that this was just my prediction.

Looking forward to revisiting my prediction on October 7, 2012.

coach said...

to the dude said

to be "noticed" by the usta you need money. you are right

but what does that have to do with anything at all. who cares.

to be a successful pro you simply have to win matches. the usta, fortunately, has no say in that.

they are too busy evaluating player's height.