Tom Perotta of the Wall Street Journal has been a thorn in the USTA's side since last year's Open, when he broke the story about Taylor Townsend's rift with the USTA over her fitness. Today, Perotta writes about the USTA's national training center in Boca Raton, revealing a change in the organization's developmental strategy.
"Next year, just three players will live in the academy's dormitory, down from a high of 18 in 2009," writes Perotta. "'Maybe they were too young, maybe they weren't ready for being away from home,' said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA's player-development program who lobbied for the full-immersion approach. 'We're starting to pull back in that direction a bit.'
The USTA says the budget will remain the same and the academy will offer full-time training to players who live nearby, but the USTA will devote more of its resources to players who visit periodically and then return home to their own coaches."
I've never supported the USTA's venture into the academy business, feeling the money devoted to the select few in this circumstance could be much more effective if spread out over a substantially larger number of players. I do think the USTA needs a place with temporary housing to optimize the time spent there by those in town for weekly camps, but running a full time academy always felt unnecessary to me. Some players have thrived under in USTA's academy setting, but a significant number have not, and I believe the move away from this centralization experiment is a good one. And while they're making changes, I'd love for the USTA to consider reviving the Junior Davis Cup (and Junior Fed Cup). See my Tennis Recruiting Network article from last summer on how that worked in past years.
With rain the major story at the US Open today, much of the tennis world was still focusing on Vicky Duval's huge upset of Samantha Stosur last night. Jeff Sackmann has a look at just how rare it is for a qualifying wild card to win a match at the Open, let alone beat a seed, in this post at Heavy Topspin.
Howard Bryant of ESPN looks at the consequences of fame and hype, with Donald Young and Duval front and center in the discussion. There's no question that the dramatic 2009 US Open run of Melanie Oudin figures in all of this, but it's important to remember that each person and each situation is different, and will not, can not, proceed in the same fashion. As usual, Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated has a nuanced and sensible exploration of the issue in the lead item of his mailbag today.
My mantra, since starting this blog eight years ago, is to celebrate accomplishment, not potential. I'll stick to that, I guess, in the absence of a better plan.
John Branch of the New York Times filed this story on Simon Thibodeau, the women's tennis coach at UC-Santa Barbara, who came out as gay recently. Thibodeau explains what led him to the decision to make his sexual orientation public, and Branch puts his announcement in context, not just in college sports, but in tennis as well.