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Monday, February 6, 2012

January Aces; McHale Leads US in Fed Cup; Coaches Can't Contend with Parents; Smith on Player Development

My monthly Aces column for the Tennis Recruiting Network usually contains 12 or 13 photos and captions, but today's January edition contains 17, which I believe is a record. And it was difficult to cut it off there. Check out the outstanding performances of the month, from the USTA Winter National champions to the Australian Open winner to the Les Petits As winner, all of whom deserve recognition for their accomplishments.

I haven't devoted much space to the young American pros lately, but Christina McHale had a fantastic weekend at the Fed Cup in Worcester, Mass, winning both her singles matches in straight sets. In order to be eligible for the Olympics this summer, the Williams sisters had to play this tie against Belarus, which looked to be a very competitive one until Victoria Azarenka pulled out at the last minute with a back injury. The US went on to win 5-0, and will compete for promotion back to the World Group in April against an opponent to be determined in a draw held February 14th. In his blog for ESPN, Peter Bodo gives full credit to McHale for her performance this past weekend.

Ryan Harrison, who like McHale is also 19, was named to the US Davis Cup team last month, which plays in Switzerland this weekend. Although he is not likely to play, with Mardy Fish and John Isner on the team, his presence will certainly help his preparation for the future. Harrison was also on the team for the September 2010 tie with Colombia, but he did not play after the dead rubber was abandoned when Mardy Fish clinched.

I also wanted to pass along this article (I have no idea what the headline is about) on Julia Boserup's win over Lauren Davis in Rancho Santa Fe. I wasn't aware that Boserup was working with former USTA PD head Eliot Teltscher now, and he had several interesting things to say about his pupil, who has had an excellent start to 2012, winning two rounds of qualifying at the Australian Open and now a $25,000 tournament title.

Another interesting article, not specifically about tennis, but about sports parents driving coaches out of their positions, was brought to my attention by Lisa at her Parentingaces.com blog. The theory about the impact of ESPN is an interesting one, but it's hard to say whether that's really behind the lack of civility in sporting events.

Lisa also posted a perceptive personal story from Dr. Allen Fox, a well-known sports psychologist, about his emotions when he watched his two children compete in junior tennis tournaments. I especially liked his line in the sand: THIS IS THE TURNING POINT WHERE THE GOOD TENNIS PARENT MAY BECOME THE BAD TENNIS PARENT and his advice on how to avoid crossing it, tempting though it may be.

Steve Smith, a longtime coach with a great deal of experience in player development at his Tennissmith Academy in Tampa, wrote me regarding the Wayne Bryan letter to the USTA that I linked to last Wednesday. I am posting it in the comments section of my original post, in two parts. I loved his baseball analogy about first and third base coaches. Please take the time to read it.

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