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Monday, December 23, 2019

Riffice and Forbes win USTA Collegiate Winter Wild Card Playoffs; Volynets Turns Pro

University of Florida sophomore Sam Riffice and UCLA freshman Abigail Forbes won the USTA's second annual Collegiate Winter Wild Card Playoffs, held this past weekend at the USTA National Campus in Lake Nona.  (All results are from Bobby Knight @college10s2day).

Riffice took first place in the eight-player men's competition, when William Blumberg was unable to compete in the final with a back injury. Riffice had defeated Ohio State freshman Cannon Kingsley 7-6(5), 6-1 in the semifinals, while Blumberg got by UCLA sophomore Govind Nanda 7-6(3), 7-6(5). Nanda defeated Kingsley 3-6, 6-3, 6-1 for third place.

Forbes advanced to the final with a 6-4, 6-2 win over University of Virginia freshman Natasha Subhash, while North Carolina senior Alexa Graham made the final when teammate Sara Daavettila was unable to play the semifinal due to an injury.  In the women's final, Forbes defeated Graham 6-2, 6-4, an impressive end to an outstanding fall season for the 18-year-old from North Carolina. Subhash finished third, with Daavettila, who had gone undefeated in round robin play, not able to play that match either.

For the names of all the participants and the wild cards they won, see this preview from the USTA. Round robin results are available at this link.

USTA National 18s champion Katie Volynets has decided to forgo college and is turning pro, she confirmed to me today. Volynets, who turns 18 next week, is currently 395 in the WTA rankings, having reached the final and the semifinals of two $25K events last month. As a junior, Volynets won the Eddie Herr 16s and the Orange Bowl 16s back-to-back in 2016, an accomplishment duplicated this year by Ashlyn Krueger.


To the Rear of the Line Please said...

The Line for Receiving a Wild Card Just Got Longer

Karen Kingsley said...

Like we have discussed before, anyone with a racquet can turn pro. Volynets, like any other person who has ever set foot on a tennis court, will be a professional when she makes a profit from playing tennis. That will be when she reaches the top 120 and stays there for 5-7 years. Thats when her career will truly turn a profit.

For integrity of the sport, we must uphold players to same standards as other pro sports. Just because mommy and daddy and grandpa are willing to pay the bills for these players, does not mean they are true pro players yet.

Sound Advice and Wisdom said...

Very Sound Advice and Wisdom, Karen. Congrats to Your Success on the Pro Tour.

Brent said...

Karen, which players call themselves 'pros' or not literally has nothing to do with the 'integrity of the sport'. I am not sure why you are choosing to die on this hill. You obviously have a personal axe to grind but you aren't making any sense. Whether Volynets or anyone else calls herself a pro or not has no bearing on the popularity of the game, has no bearing on the level of competition, has no bearing anything. Your point is correct that to earn a living playing this game, the standard is much higher than just 'turning pro', playing one pro tournament, or having an ATP/WTA ranking. But again, why do you care?

Reality said...

No You are Wrong KK. You can have a racquet and dreams, but you have to have a great support group, Talent, Passion, and WIN on the Tour to Be A Pro.The Key to that Equation is to WIN...no Participation ribbons...no treats after the match...no push by a Gov Federation or Academy...YOU HAVE TO WIN...it sounds like you or your child could not....College is a Great Option...Keep it in Play

Go Tigers said...

KK...I would suggest getting s Great Education at a University...Say, LSU

Karen Kingsley said...

The correct phase would be 'Katie Volynets is attempting to go pro'....nothing wrong with that, but that is factual. She has not succeeded yet, neither has anyone else outside the top 120, the estimated profit point.

Sorry, the integrity of the game matters. A professional athlete by definition is one who makes a profit after expenses from their sport. Tennis is the only sport where parents can pay the bills for a decade or more, happens all the time.

Junior tennis is full of entitlement, many bought rankings instead of earned. No way will I support more of the same in pro ranks. A professional player is ONLY those who make a profit from tennis.

Thus saying 'going pro' in tennis is a joke, where 'going pro' in basketball is not a joke. Every player who goes pro in basketball either makes it within a very short time, or gets another job. Again, lets stop making tennis a joke by saying people who never make a profit year after year after decade are pro athletes, they are not.

Wondering said...

Colette’s sentence states first that Volynets has decided to “forgo college.” Karen, you should refocus on this lead which is technically correct. Volynets is giving up her eligibility. Presumably she will earn compensation from her chosen profession. There are many words in English language that are now used in a different meaning than their original usage. Also, do college graduates (or any 20+), who didn’t play a sport, need to wait until their earnings exceed their expenses before they can call themselves a professional in their chosen profession?

Just saying said...

Congrats to Brandon Nakashima who is “attempting to go pro” for beating Taylor Fritz in the Hawaiian Open, a Pro Tennis tournament. Wait, can I actually call it a pro event? Hopefully one day, non professional, no longer college eligible, currently ranked outside the top 120, Nakashima will improve his ranking enough to be able to compete in professional tennis tournaments as a legitimate professional.

Aloha! Hawaiitennisopen.com

The Hawaii Open presented by Ward Village and Hawaii Tourism is a three-day professional tennis tournament held December 26-28, 2019, at the Stan Sheriff Center in beautiful Honolulu, Hawaii.

Max Ho said...

All other sports have minor league systems: Many US basketball players have long careers playing overseas in lower level professional leagues (breaking even or needing to have another job at lower levels), US baseball players play independent leagues (they are housed with families and usually have a local job), golf has minor league mini tours where players languish for years...

I think the point of Volynets turning pro is that she can keep all here prize money not just expenses and she won't go to college. She would also have the ability to take money for endorsements once her ranking climbs.

5.0 Player said...

@Karen Kingsley, in addition to the numerous other reasons posted on this blog that your comments are inaccurate and make no sense, you are crazy if you think that Nakashima was not guaranteed at least $1 Million in cash regardless of future performance as part of his contract with the sports agency. That is serious money, so quit dreaming by claiming that these announcements are all worth zero financially.

Karen Kingsley said...

Of course many are very sensitive to anyone that exposes the problems with tennis. Its expected but does not change the truth even one bit. Its the only sport where parents can fly junior kids around the world to play in weak draws and gain ranking points. And that continues somewhat in the pros. The only sport a parent can keep a player on tour for 10 years when they do not earn any money.

A player like Co Co Gauff and a very few others do get money outside of purses. They are a very, very few. They can make money for their sponsors before turning a profit in tennis. But that is not Volynets or 99.99% of the rest who 'attempt to go pro'.

Minor leagues in baseball is irrelevant. General managers make business decisions on which players have a chance to make money someday. Players are cut and added with little notice. Tennis is the only sport where a rich parent can keep a player on tour and pretending to be a pro.

Put the Lime in the Coconut said...

KK. Sounds like you could use a visit Dr Phil :)

Karen Kingsley said...

Notice not one of my comments is a personal attack, simply stating of facts and in some cases opinion. Many of the responses resort to personal attacks. But I appreciate that this blog allows all sides to be represented.

The fact is tennis is the ONLY sport on earth where wealthy parents can fly juniors around the world in search of easy draws and get rewarded with rankings. Tennis is the ONLY sport on earth where parents can pay to keep a player on the tour as a professional for years and decades without turning a profit. Those are facts.

But these responses are not surprising. Tennis is an entitlement sport for the most part. If poor, lower middle class, and middle class kids played tennis with equal opportunity, instead of playing less expensive and easy access sports like soccer, basketball or football, chances are few of the current wealthy players would compete with them. And that brutal truth bothers most in the tennis community.

Winners win, it's as simple as that said...

Those who think people fly around the world for easy draws have obviously never been exposed to the highest levels of tennis, because their player is likely not good enough. Frankly, we thought this could be the case before we were actually in that world and at that level. There are not vastly easier draws at thei higher levels of juniors or pros - the bottom line is, a player has to win. Many times, ITF and Pro tournaments in other countries have higher ranked players than a US tournament run at the same time, and vice versa - that's part of the game. But to act like there is a formula (having money) for finding easier draws is nonsense. When a player wins in their section AND if they have true talent, they will be seen and will get help. Our junior was given grant after grant throughout his time in juniors to compete, because he won. Then on the pro circuit, the same thing. They have to win and be the best to get the assistance. And they have to keep winning to keep the money coming in. For true tennis professionals, is it easy to see who will rise to the top at a young age - but parents are blind to the facts and their player's shortcomings. Those that aren't getting the help financially aren't good enough to receive it, it is simple as that. (Or they can afford to play without financial help, but they have to win to stay in the draws.) Yes, it is an expensive sport, but saying draws are easier for juniors or pros in certain locations is said by people that have never competed at the level required to be considered an elite athlete/tennis player. Those parents are naive, uniformed and simply jealous.

Anyone who says that only rich kids compete and middle class kids would beat them is fooling themsleves and trying to bury the inadequacy of their own player. There are plenty of opportunities and resources for those who are deserving of such - meaning they possess drive and talent to be the best. It's a sport of skill and athleticism. The masses don't have that, regardless of their income level. Those that have it rise to the top because they win, over and over again. They players don't make excuses for their losses. Their parents don't find excuses for their losses. If one can't compete, save your money, make it a hobby and move on. Go play soccer. There are plenty of great tennis players at all income levels that can and do succeed in any draw. They are the winners.

Unknown said...

For Karen Kingsley - When you train and play tennis day in and day out seven days a week, 365 days a year, after you turn 18, and don't have another job, what exactly could you call yourself, if not a professional in the sport of tennis? There are plumbers, there are electricians at the beginning of their careers who do that 24x7x365 a year, and they probably barely make money to survive, exactly as those entering the professional tennis world at the age 18. Should we call them professionals in their trade of choice, or should we wait until they actually start making good money and profits in a few year? Same with every single person at the their beginning of their careers, regardless of the field. Just because they barely survive after coming out of college, or a trade craft school, shouldn't we call them professionals? If not, what should we call them then?

As for the other disparaging comments about young players who are travelling the world on money from parents, or getting flown to weak draws to get points, that may be applying to some players, but please don't generalize it to all.

Same goes for the comments about social classes that have access to tennis. While yes, tennis is expensive and may be more accessible to people with larger bank accounts, there were and are plenty of examples of people that come from lower income or middle income classes who compete in the professional tennis world. All these parents make sacrifices to help their daughter or son reach their dreams. And, the players themselves make lots and lots of sacrifices themselves, when compared with many of the average teenagers who don't have nothing to show for during their younger or high school years.

Katie Volynets has won more tennis matches in her junior career than you can possibly think about, has reached the #1 USTA national rankings for G12,14,16,18s, has won a few national championship tournaments, including the USTA Hardcourt G18 last year. There is a lot more to say about her, but none of your disparaging comments apply to her. She is one of the hardest young working person that I have known in my life, and has made sacrifices that you might not even be able to imagine. Her parents are far from rich, regular middle class people who have helped their daughter go as high as possible while she was not able to earn any money. Again, you might have no imagination about the sacrifices that one can make to help their child/children if you talk like you wrote above. Now it is Katie's turn to earn a living, yes, from professional tennis.

And same goes for all the young tennis professionals that chose to forgo college, and fully dedicate to tennis. Many of them are making sacrifices that you can't fanthom, because you have not been there. If you were, you probably wouldn't think like that.

These kids play tennis because they love the sport so much, and to get where they get, either turning pro, or going to college, they have put in well above the 10000 hours limit that is considered for those who show high achievements in life.

It is wrong to minimize their efforts just because they are able to do something that you are not going to do in your life.

Nailed it said...

Bravo to Winners Win and Unknown. Obviously parents that get it, have been there and support those who give all they can to be a pro and don't make excuses. If you are a top junior, or get some pro points, and if certaily if you win any pro/ITF event - you are a pro, miles beyond others. They are living the dream and a pro, regardless of how they get there. They are Pros and winners. Period. Excellent points made from both.

Karen Kingsley said...

Sorry but these comments are simply not based in reality. Its obvious most do not want to accept that tennis is not a fair system. The reason so many kids from wealthy families make it is the tennis system is rigged. Juniors is rigged towards more affluent kids. The only sport a player can stay on the pro tour without paying their bills through earnings.

Tennis is a movement sport. Why does every single other movement sport have almost all kids from less affluent backgrounds? Why is basketball almost all players from poor or middle class backgrounds? Playing both sports, our family knows that basketball and tennis require many of the same movements. We have seen great basketball players pick up a racquet and within a few weeks they are playing darn good tennis.

The fact is if the kids who play basketball instead played tennis, they would be better at tennis than the current players. Over time the ones with superior athletic ability, and learned court sense, would dominate the sport.

If the USTA put most of its junior development resources into finding the best athletes, training them, allowing the ones who could also develop the mental aspects to rise to the top, forget about it, 95% of the players currently ranked in juniors would be gone.

And that is the brutal reality. tennis is pretty insulated and a safe space for kids from more affluent backgrounds. If that was not the case, the sport would look completely different.

Brent said...

Karen, again, if you are trying to raise some important points about broadening the access to tennis training in the interest of promoting and expanding the sport, that would be a worthwhile discussion. But, your points are so overwhelmed in hyperbole, personal scars/vendettas, attempts to minimize accomplishments of existing players in the system, and bizarre focus on random/meaningless definitions of who calls themselves a 'pro', that you aren't making any progress.

Dr Phil said...

I have an Opening at 1 pm today if you need an appointment. I look forward to your visit, it certainly sounds like you could use the Help.

Max Ho said...

A couple of comments:
- A player has to start tennis by a certain age to become a pro, you need thousands of hours of fundamentals before athletic ability is even a factor.
- Basketball and soccer are movement (fast twitch)sports and if kids who are great athletically started early in tennis instead of soccer/basketball, I am sure they could be very good
- Kids who are great athletes (fast twitch) could also be great Lacrosse, Bob sled, ultimate Frisbee....
- Fed, Djokavic and Nadal are amazing athletes
- Being good at any sport is has many factors, you need athletic ability, good coaching, right attitude and mental state, hard work, support system, and right time and place.
- Being in the right geographic area or having the ability and resources to move to that area is also key (look at how many non US juniors train in Florida for weather and coaching).
- No one picks up a racket and is darn good at tennis, it takes at least two years of player regularly to be bad at tennis.

Barb from Coral Springs said...

Are people seriously trying to argue that tennis would not be very different if poor and lower social class kids played it? Lets be real.

I come from a huge sporting family so we have experience in lots of sports. Baseball, wealthy kids play as kids all the time. They have the best equipment, fields, coaching, and all dream to be professionals. But are replaced when older by poorer kids from Latin American and other countries.

Basketball, the wealthy kids around us love it. Play from age 6, worship the Heat, want to be professionals some day, get best coaching and clinics. Have nice gyms and uniforms. But by the early teens they are run off the court by the kids from the poorer parts of the area who had less coaching and poor gyms to practice in.

We go to tennis tournaments and every kid is the child of a doctor, lawyer, business person. One girl had a father who drove a limo and she was by far the poorest kid there. And that stays the same through high level juniors. Thus, the pool of potential pros comes from that junior pool.

If the poorer kids, the entire pool of athletes, played tennis, the sport would be very different. The wealthier kids would be replaced along the way by the time they were teens, just like they are in baseball and basketball.

someone had to say it said...

This is starting to get a little weird

Martin Lewis said...

If we want to be blunt and truthful on this topic, the reason US Men's tennis has not had many majors champions in the past 20 years is our best male athletes play other sports. The reason we have had more success on the women's side over the past 20 years is Serena, Venus, Sloane Stephens, all some of our best female athletes, and now our best hope going forward is Co Co Gauff, also a world class athlete.

Make tennis training affordable to children from all backgrounds, instead of it being mostly a rich kids sport, and you increase the overall talent level in juniors, and eventually have more US men and women challenging for Grand Slams.

Horse Hockey said...

Serena, Venus, and Sloane are exceptional Tennis players. There is No Way to Judge if they would be Exceptional Athletes in Every Sport. They have all had Great Careers in the Tennis Arena but it is nuts to say they would be at that level in other sports.

Just Saying said...

How about a new phrase, “Joining the Tour.” The ITF agrees with Karen Kingsley, changing the ITF “Pro Circuit” to the ITF “World Tennis Tour.” Now someone can “Join the Tour” without turning/becoming a pro since basically no one nets any money in ITF events.

Paul Fernadez said...

They have men's and women's opens every other weekend around us, anyone with the entry fee can enter and play "professional" tennis. So in tennis if you have $60 for the entry fee you are a professional I suppose. I have to agree with the sentiment that the only true professional athletes are the ones who make money in their sports. Before the ITF revamped the system, players could pretty much enter tournaments all around the world and never win a match and keep entering forever. I think the ITF said there were over 3000 men and 3000 women playing those events and almost none of them ever made any money. It is a bit absurd to consider someone a professional athlete if the only barrier of entry is the check in fee and a pulse.

Confused said...

Paul, Sorry, I must have been sleeping under a rock, when did "Open / Money " Tournaments start giving ATP Points if you Win a round?

Paul Fernadez said...

ATP points are no longer given in Futures, only Challengers. And so many guys had 1 or a couple ATP points under the old system. Like hundreds and hundreds with a few ATP points.

So if a guy plays a men's open for a few hundred dollars or gets one ATP point, what really is the difference? They both play professional tennis in that they played for money. Neither will make a living from it, ATP point of not.

Colette Lewis said...

The ITF restored ATP points at Futures beginning in August of last year.

For Your Educational Entertainment said...

For all you folks who were sleeping under a rock and missed the article explaining the "
ITF, WTA AND ATP DELIVER OPTIMISED PROFESSIONAL TENNIS STRUCTURE" published May 23,2019...here it is......http://cms.itftennis.com/media/305822/305822.pdf

Max Ho said...

Getting one ATP is a huge accomplishment, anyone who does not know that has never played at a decent level. I think many of critics should actually attend the qualies of a Futures or challenger event and see how great these players are, and how hard tour life and high the level of play is week to week for very little money. It is also very difficult to win more than a match or two in mens open tournaments in California.

Nice to see Bellis win with after lay off due to injuries, I am sure she has insurance to cover her rehab.

BETCHA said...

Speaking of USTA Wild Cards...The Weston $25,000 is next week. Here are my bets on the WC's to be awarded: Kypson, Svajda, and Nava. Seems like they are the "Go To" WC's for the USTA.

CONGRATS! said...

Tommy Paul, USA upsets Grigor Dimitrov, in the 2nd round down under at the Aussie Open in a tough 5 setter: 4, 6, -3,-6. 6(10-3). Congrats to T Paul!

Jon King said...

Under the old system, 2000 men and 2000 women were entering tournaments around the world. The new system is trying to cut it down to 750 men and 750 women. It is irrelevant how 'hard' it is to get an ATP point. It is also hard to be a pro basketball player with so much global competition. Great players in every sport will not always make it as professionals.

The USTA has always tried to decide who will make it in professional tennis. But that never has worked. Bellis is solid but does not have the potential to be a #1 player, so to put so much time and effort and money and wildcards into one player never made sense. Of course with all those wildcards and bypassing grueling qualifying she will once again get into the top 200 or even up to 50 or 60 or 70. So what? The WTA field is deeper than 3 years ago so she won't reach #35 ever again, and even that is not worth all the effort and favors done for her.

If they get that many main draw wildcards, many talented players from all over the world will get on a run and win 2 or 3 matches at some point. It makes no sense to try and choose players to give so much support.

USTA high performance is a waste of money. The dad coaches and private coaches will develop all the players. The USTA should just run lots of fair and organized tournaments, thats it. And no player should get 3 wildcards in a row like Bellis did. And no player ranked 838 at the time should get a main draw wildcard into a Grand Slam. Defending such a system is ridiculous.

Colette Lewis said...

Jon King:
Again, I repeat, Bellis did not receive any wild cards in 2020. She is using a protected ranking for entry.

Tennis for Life. said...

Jon. The old system is back. The ITF tried to reduce the number of ranked players to 750 and briefly succeed. After a world wide outcry they folded and as of last week there are 1927 ATP ranked players. The economic structure of the tour is designed to make it impossible to make a living on the futures. Players that are going to be successful will be in the futures world for 6 months and then progress to challengers and beyond where it’s possible to at least break even. Seems a pretty good approach to me. Open the lower levels to as many players as practical and let the cream rise to the top. WC’s are a nice perk but they won’t drive success. In terms of this thread I’m lost as to why it matters if the player ranked 1925 calls himself a professional and who might possible care. There are good players, who love to play and have the personal support to carry on, sometimes for years but what’s the harm. As long as the bottom of the funnel is wide enough to accommodate all aspiring players there not much downside.

I agree that US Player development is an Epic waste of money. $300mm over the last 10 years has produced nothing. It’s a works program for USTA staff.

Jon King said...

Okay, I was wrong about the 2020 wildcards. Protected ranking, so be it. Excuse my error as we have seen the USTA high performance disaster for many years so I assume the worst at this point.

So even with protected ranking, the overall story remains the same. Bellis did not need to be trained in the summers in Boca Raton at USTA expense. She did not need a ridiculous campus in Orlando, nor does US tennis. Private coaches or parents could have done the heavy lifting just like with Serena, Venus, Gauff, Kenin, Madison Keys, and on and on. Private and parent coaches have developed almost all the great players.

The USTA has tried for over 30 years to handpick a few players for success. To the tune of countless millions spent. Meanwhile we see kids with promise quit tennis every day because the local tournaments are poorly run, bullies run wild, little supervision, poor awards, etc. How many athletic kids likely as good or better than Bellis have quit tennis due to poorly funded tournaments while USTA spent tons of money on a few players??

USTA should stop trying to pick winners and get credit for it. Just run the tournaments better. A private or parent coach will develop the players. The USTA can have a board that reviews requests for funding from parents and private coaches. Funds can be distributed based on a transparent criteria. There is no need for separate USTA coaches or USTA facilities.

Jon King said...

Tennis for life...thanks for the information. I had been following the websites challenging the ITF. So they caved and went back to the old system? Wow.

In the old system, resorts could host a tournament, charge an entry fee, require players to stay there, etc. Almost none of the players have a prayer of ever making money.

One example of the old system. A 31 year old female player who was front and center complaining about the change in ITF rules. She enters the tournaments around the world at these resorts and clubs. She literally loses every match 6-0,6-0 or 6-0, 6-1 and has done so for 10 years. Obviously a parent or someone is paying for her to live.

But if thats what we want to call a professional tennis player, go for it.

Tennis mom of 3 said...

As a dues paying USTA member, it would be nice to have some accountability from the USTA player development people. How is it decided who leads the department? Patrick McEnroe used to lead it, what were his qualifications for the job? Martin Blackman has replaced him, we knew Martin as a local tennis coach in Florida. What were his qualifications as far as developing players? What is the goal? The budget? When we visited Orlando we were told parts of the campus were off limits except to player development players. Who decides which players are selected? What is the criteria? What defines success? As another comment said, all or almost all of the highly ranked American players in history were developed outside the player development system. So why have it?

FYI said...

It was not the ITF that wanted to shrink the number of pro players and it wasn’t the ITF that changed it back. Try the ATP.

Max Ho said...

Most juniors start out local and end up a Florida Academy. All of the players mentioned above did time at Evert, Macci, or IMG Academies. You go there to get great coaching, but most importantly to train with great players at great facilities. The Lake Nona campus is still new, so no one can say if its working or not yet. The Carson facility is great for west coast based players to have work out with other players and have training blocks. Most parent coaches take their kids a very short way, then bring player to academy and try to take all the credit, but they have no ability to coach at highest level. I don't know of any federations that identify very young kids and "make" players out of them. Kids play tennis and if they show promise, they are identified.

I don't know why people care if someone travels the world playing tournaments and losing in the first round and calling themselves a pro, I am sure it is a very small club. It is not easy to get into ITF tournaments with out a ranking, and you don't get ranked unless you win matches.

It is ridiculous to say that Bellis doesn't have the right to train at Lake Nona while she is rehabbing an injury. Are the only players allowed to train at the national training center athletically gifted specimens who have the potential to be #1 in the world? If someone is a grinder who tops out at 35 in the world at 18 she's not welcome?

Jon King said...

Max Ho....the USTA high performance has spent hundreds of millions over 30 years and produced very little. All the American top players were developed by parents or private coaches. Not academies, not USTA high performance....but by private coaches and parents.

Kids who train at Florida academies are paid for by their parents. A very high level administrator at an academy told us the academy has 2-3 kids who they believe in that are on full scholarship and the rest of the kids are paying for them. Very few top pros ever came from academies.

There should be no USTA high performance program. Lake Nona serves no purpose. It is now mostly college tournaments and a few junior events, all which can be held elsewhere like in the past. The closed off high performance area is just like it was 20 years ago in Key Biscayne and 10 years ago at Boca Raton, just bigger. You can not hand pick who will be worth developing.

It has nothing to do whether Bellis 'deserves' to train at Lake Nona for free or spend summers in Boca Raton for free. That is not the point. The point is that there should not be a high performance program in the first place.

Bellis had parents who were smart. They had her train with private coaches when young. She hit with college players in Norcal when young. She would have developed just as well without any USTA high performance.....just like Kenin, Anisimova, Serena, Venus, Capriati, Davenport, Stephens and all the rest.

Stop trying to hand pick players, it does not work. Use the USTA money to spread tennis far and wide, have very organized tournaments with less cheating so kids do not quit. Parents and coaches can apply for financial help to a USTA board with very specific criteria, so all US players who win tournaments can get funding.

Instead of trying to pick out 8 boys and 8 girl to get lots of funding, use the money to help 1000 boys and 1000 girls stay in tennis. The ones with true promise will be scooped up and trained for free by private coaches who use a talented kid who wins tournaments to attract lots of other kids and parents. The free private market will develop the players just fine, like it always has.

Max Ho said...

I don't believe usta high performance has been around for 30 years.

All those players you listed spent time at academies except Davenport

Jon King said...

USTA high performance started out in Key Biscayne about 30 years ago. It later moved to Evert's campus in Boca Raton for years under Pat McEnroe, then to Lake Nona. It has produced nothing of note for the money.

None of those players were developed by academies. Parents who direct the player's development will take them to a variety of coaches along the journey. At times these coaches may be working for a resort or for an academy or in private practice, because coaches changed locations all the time.

The parent will use whatever facilities are convenient for training. Could be park court. Other times they negotiate for using an academy or resort's courts.

But neither academies or USTA high performance has ever been the primary developer of a top pro.

Alex Ho said...

I am not sure how you can possibly say no academy has been the primary developer of a top pro?
Obviously the top group of Americans from the 90's (Aggassi/Courier credit Bolletieri, Sampras started with Lansdorp and went to Fisher). The academy provides daily competitive environment as well as coaching which is well documented by Aggassi and Courier.

It is very rare a parent can take a player past early teen years, I am not sure why you want to give the parent so much credit other than choosing the coaching? Not only can the parent player dynamic be challenging, but the higher the level the more technical the coaching must be. The player often needs a major technical change in stroke in the mid late teen years.
Davenport - Landsdorp
Kennin - Macci/Bollettieri
Stephens - Evert/Saviano
Venus/Serena - Macci
Anismova - Saviano

I agree that USTA development does not get the credit, but the coaches and players do in my opinion.

Junior Development said...

@alex ho. I think it's worth clarifying that Landsdorp and Fisher are private coaches, they don't run academies. Also, Aggassi was primarily developed by his father (a tennis coach) and went to Bollettieri's only to get competition because he couldn't find any in Las Vegas once he turned about 14. As Mike Aggassi has said many times, he knew that Bollettieri didn't "know #*@& about tennis" but he knew his son would get the competition there that he needed to keep developing.

Alex Ho said...

Lansdorp was a private coach, but developed many pros and thousands of great so cal players, and he did call his program an academy (trying to cash in when Bolletieri took off), but you are right. My point is that parents can only take their kids so far, Aggassi's father knew he had taken Andre as far as he could. My thought is that a huge part of the appeal of academies is that competition not only at the academy, but having so many high level junior and futures tournaments in Florida. John King said academies don't develop pros which is untrue, there are many American and foreign born players (Nishikori, Seles, Sharopova...) who were at Florida academies early. It is true that Bolletieri himself was not a good coach, but he had lots of good coaches on staff.

All good discussion

Jon King said...

I knew you would bring up Agassi! Thank you for proving my point. Agassi was Nick's start, since then how many 10000 kids have gone through Nick's place? How many became pros? Dedicated parents use coaches and academy facilities as needed. You are confusing that for an academy kid. Agassi's dad drilled him with the home made ball machine for years and years before Andre ever got to Nick's. Andre's dad did use Nicks for competition as you said. We have spent time with Nick, he is not a good technical coach at all. He is a great marketer.

Most academy kids are dropped off by the parents and given over to the academy. They live there, train there, and none of them make it as top pros. That is 100% different than any of the examples you gave.

Macci was a tool for Kenin at 5-6 years old to learn fundamentals. Contrast to the kids we see at Macci's every day for years now who never make it. Those are academy kids, not Kenin.

Stephens used Evert's courts, we saw her there. Her mother also brought in numerous specialist coaches to teach her on those courts. Same with Savianos. Sloane was not in any way a typical academy kid. Her parent used the facilities and she was not enrolled in the day to day sessions with the other kids.

Davenport as others said used Lansdorp. Robert hates academies and even wrote on his blog about the academy ball vs the pro ball. He is a private coach.

Venus/Serena were coached for 2 years by Macci privately. At no time did they ever interact or train with any regular kids. Macci back then had only a hand full of students, the only one who ever hit with the sisters was Andy Roddick. Maccis was not anything like an academy back then. He was coaching a few kids privately.

Anisimova, we knew her dad in New Jersey. He took her to every coach he could find. Then moved to Florida and used lots of coaches. Saviano did some feeds for her, worked on some things, as did other coaches, at no time did she do the 1 or 2 a day sessions with the other kids.

Parents always run the show of the top players. They may spend time at an academy to use the courts or coaches. 100% different than the rest of the kids who do the sessions day after day with the rest of the kids.

Jon King said...

Sharapova, same thing as the other examples. Her dad worked 2 jobs and trained her the best he could. IMG turned them down to use the courts at age 7 because she was too little. Then at age 9 they tried again after 2 more years of dad training her and using private coach. IMG then said she could use the courts.

Sharapova's dad came by every day with a plan. She had to work with that coach on this part of her game and another coach on that. She had to hit with this hitter on this day. Dad used IMG for his purposes, ran the show, as opposed to the other kids simply left to the design of the typical IMG session.

In fact, Pova was teased a lot by the other girls due to her special program. She got tired of the teasing and dad took her from IMG to Lansdorp who coached her privately for several years.

You can not mix typical academy program kids with players whose parents ran the show but used academy facilities and coaches along the way. 2 different things.

And it still does not address the bigger point....USTA high performance has even less success than academies...and academies are private companies. USTA needs to stop wasting money on its own high performance program. The private market has it all covered.

Max Ho said...

- A tiny percentage of players from academies ever become top players
- A tiny percentage of players that parents "run the show" and move them from coach to coach become top players
- A tiny percentage of players ever become top players
- A tiny percentage of parents have any idea how to develop top tennis players
- The players who make it to the tour level have a rare combination of talent, health, receive good coaching, have a support system works for them, and have some good luck along the way.

Jon King said...

Max Ho...true, but again, that makes my point.

First of all, lets not get caught in the weeds of arguing about academies vs parents and miss the bigger point. That is USTA high performance is a losing proposition and the money should be used to help junior tennis overall instead of a few players.

In the end, academies are for profit businesses. They use tuition from 100 kids to support free training for a couple kids at any point in time that they believe have pro potential. I'm good with that.

But back to you point, true, a tiny percentage make it to a top pro. But of the top pros, almost all had a parent driving the development instead of a parent who just dropped the kid off to an academy and let the academy program do the developing.

In South Florida we see tons of academy kids. They attend 3-4 hour sessions either once or twice per day. Many are at the same academy for 4-5-6-7 years. Their parents are hands off, usually quite busy doctors or business people. The academy literally controls every aspect of development, tournaments, free reign to develop the complete player. In many years I can not think of any of these players who ever became money making pros no matter how talented they were.

All the top pros had a parent who was hands on. Sure some used academy coaches or facilities at some point, along with other coaches or facilities. And many times they also did some coaching.

That is the only point I am making....there is a huge difference between the typical academy kid with a hands off parent and a kid with a hands on parent. Almost every single top pro had a hands on parent rather than a drop them off and let the academy program run the show.