Wednesday, November 27, 2019

My Article on Michigan State's Pro Tournament as Part of a Recent Trend on College Campuses; More NLI Signing Announcements

Last week I had the opportunity to visit Michigan State and see the first men's professional tournament in the state since 1988, with the Spartans hosting a $15,000 event at their indoor facility. Colleges across the country have been adding tournaments as a part of the USTA Pro Circuit/ITF World Tennis Tour to assist their players in sampling the professional tour, and I spoke to head coach Gene Orlando and assistant coach Harry Jadun to learn why they decided they needed to host a tournament and what was necessary to get it off the ground in this article for the Tennis Recruiting Network.

With NLI signing day now a full two weeks ago, and the Florida junior swing coming up, this will probably be my last update featuring links to the schools' announcements. Last week's update is here and the signing week update is here.

Auburn has signed Adeline Flach and Anne Knüttel of Germany. Knüttel will join the Tigers in January.

Iowa has signed Gina KondosSamantha Gillis, a transfer from Virginia Tech, will join the Hawkeyes in January.

Kentucky has signed Elizabeth Stevens and Salsa Aher of India.

Maryland has signed Adela Josefova of the Czech Republic, who will start in January.

Arizona has signed Gustaf Strom of Sweden.

Arkansas has signed Avery Zavala and Foster Rogers.

Baylor has signed Alejandro Garcia of Spain and Joseph Chen of Taiwan. They will start in January.

Cal has signed Noah Gampel.

Indiana has signed Jagger Saylor, Michael Andre and Ilya Tirapolsky of Canada. 

Michigan has signed Jacob Bickersteth.

Nebraska has signed Iskandar Karimov of Uzbekistan.


Karen Kingsley said...

Once again, its not really pro tennis. The USTA kicks in nothing and the people running the tournament have to come up with all the money, wealthy parents kick in some, get their friends to kick in some more money, perhaps convince a few local sponsors. But in the end its people paying to pretend their kids are pro players.

That is exactly what the ITF is trying to dissuade. In the past anyone could simply pay to have their kid fly around and play 'pro' tournaments and never have a chance of making money from tennis. The brutal reality is only the top 120 men and women actually make a profit from playing tennis. Everyone else is being subsidized by family or friends to play tennis.

The very definition of a professional athlete is someone who makes a profit from playing their sport. Putting college guys into a tournament when they do not have a chance of making money from tennis long term is just more pretending. If they are good enough they will be able to play real pro events, win early and often, and move up quickly into the money making top 120. Its so rare for a guy to make it after struggling at the lower level for years. The money makers are good early and often and quickly move up through the ranks.

Who Cares said...

K.K..you must be the only person on this blog who cares if a player calls themselves a "Pro" Tennis Player.

Alex Ho said...

The definition of professional is engaged in a specified activity as ones main paid occupation, rather than a pastime. A successful professional means you make a profit are in the top 200 in world. Every successful professional tennis player starts at the $15k and moves up, $15k's (as are $$ open tournaments) are great for college players and young pro's to play competitive matches outside of school.

In team sports you don't have to pay expenses so you don't need the parental support, but there are baseball players who languish in the minors for years, basketball players who bounce around Europe, lower division soccer in Europe... It's hard for people to give up the dream and get a real job.

A teaching pro is also technically a tennis pro.

Karen Kingsley said...

Alex Ho, you are correct in some aspects. But we are only talking players, not coaches or teachers. A study was done that shows only about the top 120 truly make a profit from tennis after expenses. The problem is the old system allowed players to play for years and never crack the top 500. One lady was 31 years old, lost every match 6-0, 6-0, and was calling herself a professional tennis player and one of the lead complainers about the change in ITF rules and the transitional tour. The system gets gunked up by posers. Rich parents should not be able to pay for their kids to be called pros, they can not do it in any other sport.

Any college player good enough to make money in the pros will be given plenty of wildcards and win early. Wolf from Ohio State is one such player. These little tournaments that the colleges are starting are not pro tennis at all. None of those players have a remote chance of ever making a profit in tennis.

are we really concerned about this? said...

I guess what it kind of comes down to is who cares if someone wants to call themself a pro or not? I mean, seriously, who cares? And Alex gave a few examples of team sports where players can take liberties with the term pro and likely need extra financial support for basic living expenses beyond their sport related expenses in order to muddle along in their sport for a few years in their 20s.

haters in the building said...

minor leaguers who play rookie ball or class A ball barely make any money. Most have to support themselves with family or a second job in offseason. They are pro baseball players. But really. Who cares about the nomenclature . Lots of negativity responding to this post and to the player signing with an agent. Frankly pretty patronizing as well. No reason for this. Unless something personal and/or some ax to grind.

Karen Kingsley said...

Anyone around junior tennis sees the entitlement. Wealthy parents fly kids first class around the world to chase points. They show up with 2 coaches, best equipment, an entourage. It is pretty bad the huge advantage they have, but its just juniors so whatever.

But when rich parents can keep it going in a pro sport, it gets ridiculous. Thats the issue and in my opinion is stinks on ice.

Pro tennis is for those hard working and talented enough to make it. Its not for kids to be propped up year after year after year when they do not and can not win enough to be profitable. Its the same mentality that lead to the college admission scandal. Same thing as the player who signed with the agent. Its not a level playing field and obviously parental connections and networking were at play because many higher ranked players did not get an agent.

Let these kids be propped up in juniors, that is why the junior rankings are mostly nonsense with all the point chasing that goes on. But no way should a system be in place where parents can still prop up kids after juniors by making their own tournaments. A pro is a pro, make a profit, level playing field.

No One Cares said...

K.K. Sounds like you have a beef with the USTA for passing over yourself or your kids. Move on. Become an Accountant, a Nurse, Etc. Nobody Cares about your personal issues and opinions with the Pro Tennis System. Go Volunteer somewhere. Tennis is a life long sport, go join a league.

Confused and at a Career Crossroad said...

Dear Colette ( Aka..Ann Landers), I consider myself a "Professional Blogger" but after reading your Blog the last couple of days, I am really at a crossroads in my career. I am confused because I don't make any money as a "Professional Blogger" and I have to play Professional Tennis Tournaments to make my expense money. Colette, my question is..Am I still considered a "Professional Blogger"? Yours Blogging, Ruben

Max Ho said...

I don't think its a secret that being wealthy is a huge advantage for a Tennis player. I would say the biggest advantage is being able to pay for quality coaching at an early age is an advantage that cannot be overstated. Another huge advantage is being able to pay for physical trainers, home school, eventually move to an academy, travel (to chase points)... That being said you see many top players who don't come from a lot of money (Frances Tiafoe, Williams sisters, most Russian players...).

Again every player starts at the $15k level, so whether they move through quickly and progress to WTA/ATP tour or whether they languish, the low level tour has a place. I think that playing regional $15k/$25k tournaments makes a ton more sense than traveling the world for juniors to find good competition and spend less time on airplanes and more time training. Here in Northern California a young pro or top junior can play 6-8 $15k/$25k tournaments and another 6 no points but $10k and above tournaments (ie: Ojai, Stead Open, San Diego Open..., with very solid fields) with out driving further than 8 hours).

Karen Kingsley said...

Fact is if tennis was a remotely level playing field, the athletes that dominate basketball and other sports would dominate tennis. Almost none of the current ranked kids would win a match if all the inner city great athletes played tennis instead of other sports. But thats not the case so we live with the fact that junior tennis is populated by wealthy kids with huge advantages and USTA rankings are a total joke. Thats why it is comical to read how this seed and that seed are beaten by low ranked kids. Because once they get to the Herr they can no longer game the system.

But nope, should not continue in the pros. A professional athlete is one who makes a profit from the sport, end of story. Sorry rich parents, you can prop up your kids in juniors but no amount of gaming the system will work in the pros. No matter how many minor tournaments you create, your kids still make zero profit from tennis. You can buy junior rankings, but you can't buy into the top 120 in the pros though.

Earl Pitts said...

K.K. Let me try to understand your irrational thinking....A Professional Athlete in any Sport would also Excel In tennis leaving the current list of Pro tennis players... below the 120 ATP / WTA rankings ... No chance to compete On the Pro Circuit? That’s an unproven fact. Please list you sources. And by the way... Colette... if K.K’s train of thought is correct... a player isn’t a “Pro Tennis Player” if he or she doesn’t make a profit in the sport... Sorry, Colette... I read you take donations and support.... You are Not a ‘Pro” in Journalism according to K.K...”Wake Up America!” Pitts Off

5.0 Player said...

@Karen Kingsley, your most recent posting indicating that only “inner city” athletes are great athletes that can make it in professional sports -- including tennis -- is hogwash and also smacks of racism. Pete Sampras, Lindsay Davenport and Tracy Austin all grew up in the very wealthy town of Palos Verdes, California. Ceci Bellis grew up in exclusive Atherton, CA and Taylor Fritz’s mother is Kathy May who is the millionaire heiress to the Mays Department Store Chain which was one of the largest chains in the U.S. before it was acquired.

There are countless other examples of non-inner city kids who excelled in professional sports, including tennis. Almost all of these tennis players have more than excelled (some were the greatest professional tennis players of all time) in professional tennis and they were obviously not from the inner city. Obviously, many top ranked juniors are simply good tennis players that excelled for other reasons beyond the fact that their parents happen to be rich. Your jealousy, bitterness and excuse-making is palpable.

Moreover, your apparent belief that “inner city” athletes are superior to all others seems to rely on dangerous “reverse racism” stereotypes that only African Americans are superior athletes.

You really need to not only re-educate yourself on the facts, but you should also re-examine your racial biases.

Max Ho said...

I don't think this is a new argument that basketball/football players would take over tennis circuit if they started young. Look at John Isner, having a 6'10" athlete (played multiple sports growing up, late bloomer for tenns) who serves 140 is pretty hard to beat, imagine having Lebron James, Usain Bolt or Anthony Davis serving 140 and move better than Isner? The problem you get into is when you say inner city, it has at best a racist tone. Size, speed, and athletic ability is tough to beat, especially if combined with good coaching.

There are huge financial barriers to become a tennis player in the US, Francis Tiafoe is rare case, but he literally grew up at a world class tennis facility. There is a lot of debate with this same subject for the soccer in the US, the best athletes don't play soccer for various reason, but one of the reasons is cost and access to good coaching.