Wertheim on Player Development and Patrick McEnroe; Stone's Lessons from US Open; USO Junior Champions; Harrison Profile
One of the highlights of every slam is the Fifty Parting Thoughts that Sports Illustrated's Jon Wertheim writes at its completion. Among the notable items from the US Open this year was this on USTA Player Development and General Manager Patrick McEnroe.
There are valid points on both sides. Yes, the numbers are grim for U.S. tennis, and the New York Post report surfaced the day after the American men completed their worst year at the four Grand Slam tournaments.
On the other hand, what's the benchmark? We all know that it's no longer fair to expect excellence of any one country. Yes, there have been a lot of complaints and dysfunction in the player development program. (See this damning piece from The Wall Street Journal's Tom Perrotta.) But, as any little league coach can attest, you're always going to have aggrieved parties when there are finite slots and subjective judgments. Yes, the men's side is dire. But America is the best-represented country in the WTA's top 100.
Without even addressing McEnroe's competence or incompetence, here's a fundamental question I struggle to get beyond: If the USTA were a public company and the board were answerable to shareholders and Wall Street, would it ever -- at a time of unprecedented crisis and public relations challenges -- install as a leader someone unwilling to commit to doing the job full time? Someone who would spend much of the Slams and other big pro tournaments (including the U.S. Open, the American tennis Super Bowl and annual trade show) working in the TV booth? When there are players to observe, coaches to be assessed, meetings to attend, complaining parents to be assuaged? The person tasked with turning around a struggling enterprise, at a significant salary, is moonlighting?
Again, this job is fraught with politics and infighting in the best of times. Why would you fight with an arm tied behind your back? What am I missing?"