After a search lasting more than six months, the USTA has announced its replacement for Patrick McEnroe as General Manager of Player Development: Martin Blackman.
The Wall Street Journal's Tom Perotta has the details of Blackman's appointment here.
The USTA has scheduled a conference call with media for tomorrow, which I will participate in, that includes USTA COO and Executive Director Gordon Smith, Katrina Adams, USTA Chairman of the Board and President and a "special guest," which I presume is Blackman. I do not know if he will be in Indian Wells for the Team USA Coaches Reception on Monday.
I haven't seen much of Blackman since he left the USTA in 2011, obviously on amicable terms, to start his own academy in the Boca Raton area, but when he started with the USTA in 2009, I spoke with him for a brief piece I did for SMASH magazine, which I'm including below.
Martin Blackman joined USTA Player Development as Senior Director for Talent Identification and Development in January. A two-time finalist at Kalamazoo as a junior, a member of two NCAA championship teams while at Stanford University and an ATP professional who reached 158 in the rankings, the 38-year-old Blackman coached American University's men's tennis team from 1999-2004, and prior to joining the USTA served as director of the Junior Tennis Champions Center in College Park, Md.
In his newly created position, Blackman will focus on getting and keeping young players in the sport via the USTA's QuickStart initiative and will be identifying additional USTA Regional Training Centers to add to the two most recently announced—the Junior Tennis Champions Center, and the Racquet Club of the South in Atlanta, Georgia. The USTA's 17 sections will serve as regional networks to identify and encourage outstanding coaches and junior players, "We recognize that there is no one magic way to produce champions," Blackman says. "We can give American juniors the best of three worlds: train near home at a certified USTA Regional Training Center, train at a private academy, or train at the National Training Center in Boca, with National Team coaches."
Blackman and USTA Manager of Coaching Education Anne Pankhurst offer the following list of attributes coaches should look for when assessing 6 to 10-year-olds:
1) Love of the game: if the love is there, the child will enjoy practice
2) Teachability: is the child able to follow instructions given either visually or verbally?
3) Fundamental movement and physical skills: balance, agility and simple and complex coordination, running, and jumping.
4) Basic sports skills: throwing, catching and basic strokes
5) Commitment: the desire to improve