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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

More on USTA Complex to be Built in Orlando; New National High School Tennis Event This Summer; Athletic Talent Bestowed, Not Created?

The Orlando Sentinel has confirmed the USTA's intention to purchase land in the Orlando area for a "state-of-the-art" tennis campus, although it has not yet signed a deal, according to this article.  The article doesn't mention the number of courts, which has been reported as 102, but it does contain the first public comments from the USTA.

"It would be a comprehensive facility that would provide court access, coaching, and player development for virtually every level of the game," said Chris Widmaier, managing director for the association, which is based in White Plains, N.Y.

The goal for a new USTA facility, Widmaier said, is to fulfill the association's mission of promoting and developing the sport.

Widmaier could not provide details on a construction timetable, the number of courts or overall cost. Also uncertain is whether any government incentives would be provided.

With the USTA already announcing these plans to those at its annual meeting earlier this month, there seems little doubt the deal will go through, and I'll post the USTA's release when I receive it.

Another announcement I was expecting from the USTA, about a new high school tennis-centered tournament, came from New Balance, who developed the event to reach out to the teenage sports market. The first edition of the tournament, which features a 64-compass draw, will be held at Harvard University, July 21-25, 2014. I believe this is the week after the National Clay Courts.

Anyone who played varsity high school tennis in the 2013-14 season is welcome to enter, but according to the TennisLink site, the Universal Tennis Rating, geographic distribution and USTA results will be taken into account by the tournament committee.  

Dormitory housing with supervision will be available to participants, and meals for the players in the tournament will be provided. 

The boys and girls champions will be given a wild card into an unnamed ITF event prior to the US Open, which I presume will be the Grade 1 International Hardcourts in College Park, Md. 

For more on the tournament, see this article from Tennis Panorama News. 

Is practice enough?

Jon Wertheim of Sports Illustrated linked to this article in his weekly mailbag, and I'm passing it along as a counterpoint to the popular notion that 10,000 hours devoted to obtaining a skill will lead to mastery of said skill.  I've never doubted the role that discipline and determination can play in any success, but I think we all know people who can pick up any sport in just a few hours, and while they wouldn't challenge a highly trained professional in that sport, there's no doubt they have athletic gifts others can only envy.  This article makes an excellent point, I think, about the changes in tennis the past several decades, and how the sport now requires both the hard work and the talent, when one or the other might have sufficed in the the early years of the Open era. Here's an excerpt:

During the amateur era and the early decades of professionalism, tennis players came in all shapes, sizes and training regimes. So it was possible to gain a significant edge through sheer hard work. But when a sport becomes fully professional and global, and nurture equilibrates, nature once again has the upper hand.

I also think the last paragraph, with its insight into the role siblings can play in the selection of a sport, should launch serious academic study into just that topic.   


russ said...

How Politburo of the USTA in its public comments: say nothing with absolute authority.