Sunday, May 8, 2005

2theadvocate.com: News - Dutch Family Files Lawsuit for Daughters to compete in USTA Juniors

2theadvocate.com: News - Visa status sidelines BR sisters 05/08/05--
Not the feel-good Mother's Day story I was hoping to come across, but certainly an interesting one. I don't think the family has any hope of winning this lawsuit, because there isn't a civil right to compete in a USTA tournament. The NBA wouldn't be contemplating instituting an age limit like the NFL's if they didn't feel the legal ground for establishing who can compete in their league was firmly tilted toward the organizing body.

All that said, I think American tennis would benefit from a change in this rule. The USTA argument, as presented here by Chris Widmaier, is like protectionists everywhere, and whether it's trade or tennis, I don't buy it. They say we need to protect our steel industry or our automobile industry, or whatever it is, from those "foreigners", because those countries have their own tariffs and quotas and blah, blah, blah. When the Big Three here in Michigan were afforded this protection, we got poorly designed and engineered gas guzzlers with little innovation or reliability. The competition from the Japanese automakers was unquestionably good for the consumer. In sports--the ultimate marketplace based on merit--more competition equals a better game. And, returning for a moment to the NBA, how do you think a ban or quota on foreign players in that league would go over now?

Tennis is more global than basketball, and yet, if you are not 18, your nationality matters in tennis. Yes, the two spots these Dutch girls earn will deprive two American girls who might otherwise not qualify. A draw is a very zero sum game. The same can be said of college athletic scholarships. What U.S. citizen is not going to Baylor this year, because the Bears have recruited three Germans for their tennis team? But the college game is better for having an international component, and junior tennis would ultimately benefit too.

Will this happen? No. And I have a reason for being so emphatic. A few selected foreign players were once invited to compete annually in the Nationals here in Kalamazoo, which is how Rod Laver (1956) and Raul Ramirez (1971) came to grace our list of champions. But when Ramesh Krishnan won the 16s title in 1977, a rule was passed limiting the competitors to U.S. citizens, and, to my mind, the tournament instantly lost the prestige that had put it on par with the Grand Slams and the Orange Bowl--tournaments that are open to anyone who qualifies, regardless of nationality.

The Dutch girls can play ITF events if they qualify (and are age 13),(and I doubt Chris Widmaier referred to the International Tennis Association; perhaps the reporter misheard the first two syllables of Federation), and high school tennis, at least in Louisiana. Hard to view them as victims, really. But the sport is the ultimate loser when nationality becomes criteria, and you need look no further than the wild cards awarded at Grand Slams to see that.


Anonymous said...

I think you badly missed the point. These girls want to be part of the USTA and play USTA events. But they are Dutch and have no interest in becoming US citizens. What other county in the world would allow foriegn players into their federation? Imagine an American wanting to be part of the French Tennis Federation. It would defeat the whole purpose of having a national federation and developing your own country's players. We might as well have every county remove its national borders and we could all be citizens of the world.

Colette Lewis said...

Welcoming those from other countries has always been one of the many American values I truly cherish.
I do understand it requires a generosity that is not necessary or prevalent in today's global tennis community.
And federations serve an important purpose. But I tend to look at what is best for the game, not just the nation when push comes to shove.
I'm not going to go on any crusade here for Dutch visitors. But it would be best if you didn't hire me to defend the status quo in this case.

Anonymous said...

This has nothing to do with not welcoming people from other countries. America has more then done its share in that. Have you looked into the Florida tennis academies? Most of the players in these academies are foreign. Have you looked at college tennis lately? Not many Americans to be found.

Again, you are off in left field somewhere as this is a totally different issue.

I will try to make this as simple as possible. Most countries in the world have a tennis federation. That federations main goal is to produce young players for their country. A British player, like Andrew Murray, is not ranked or financially supported by the USTA because he is not an American. You know that US in USTA does stand for something. Likewise, an American player, like Donald Young, is not ranked or financially supported by the Lawn Tennis Association because he is not British. Simple huh?

Now by your reasoning Donald Young could move to London on a visa, get supported by the LTA with wildcards and cash like a Brit, but still keep playing as an American. I am sure the British would go for that. Like with the Dutch girls, any lawsuit he would file would be laughed out of court.

So what is this status quo you don’t want to defend? That the USTA keeps developing America players? So you would argue that they must now develop the rest of the world’s too regardless of nationality? In all my years of tennis, that has to be the stupidest thing I have ever heard. And believe me, I have heard it all. Basically, you are advocating for the dissolution of the USTA and the end of the American tennis player. Gotcha. No wonder the sport is dying in this country.

This “best for the game” argument is pretty laughable too. What would be truly best for the game is if everyone could train in Spain and have the Spanish Federation foot the bill. You think they would do it? So please stop with the naive pollyanna stuff.

Now I am off to tell Becker to stop whining about the sorry state of German tennis. Nationality doesn't matter Boris! Maybe he can even get these two Dutch girls into the German tennis Federation so one day they can bring glory to um...Holland. Cause you know nationality in tennis doesn't matter.