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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Alan Chandronnait's pertinent question about developing top U.S. players

From: Paul Fein <Lincjeff1_at_cs.com>
Date: Wed 17 Apr 2002 10:22:11 EDT

Hello Everyone,

     I'd like to take a crack at Alan Chandronnait's important question about
how best (or worst) to try to develop top American junior players with the
hope that some of them will then develop into world-class players and some
them of those players will become top 10 players or even champions. Here is
Alan's question to review:

 3. If the United States is interested in developing top junior players why
 are tournaments using match tie-breakers or super tie-breakers in
 tournaments? How are players going to get the experience of playing two out
 of three set matches? What does this say about having to be in top
 condition to play in high level events? What are the positive side effects
 of this besides that tournaments can get in more matches per day and make
 more money? I would like to hear your opinion about this. Thanks!
_____________________________________________________________

     Think of the general attitude toward off-court physical training,
on-court preparation,
and actual tournament play that can and has been variously practiced in the
past.

1. Guillermo Vilas often used to practice 8 hours a day. Many would call
that maniacal, but he was always match-tough and could last in grueling
matches as long as anyone.

2. Ivan Lendl used to take his 28-mile bike rides to start the day, then do
windsprints, and other forms of training and then practice 2 to 4 hours.

3. Ellsworth Vines's coach Mercer Beasley used to raise the net 6" before big
tournaments during practice sessions so flat-hitting Vines would raise the
trajectory of his shots to avoid hitting the top of the net.

4. Pete Sampras "played up" -- entering 16-and-under events while actually in
the 14s and 18-and-under events while actually in the 16s -- to get tougher
competition, even though that inevitably meant he'd win less often.

     What do all of these players have in common?

     It's a vision of future greatness that is based on how best to develop
his strokes, body and mind to (try to) attain that greatless. It entailed
doing MORE, not less, to be the best.

     Now, contrast that with misguided American policies that fall into the
general category of shortening matches, whether it's greatly shortened pro
sets for college doubles or replacing an entire deciding set with a (super)
tiebreaker.

     James Blake seems to have run out of stamina and conditioning in at
least two major matches in the past year. And I wonder whether the U.S. will
produce any more top doubles teams.

     Is America "already" reaping the damage of these misguided policies?

     I wrote a lengthy essay on the super tiebreaker in lieu of the deciding
set which is a serious blunder for ALL sanctioned tournaments in ALL five
events in ALL age groups. I am enclosing it. Of course, unsanctioned
tournaments may or may not be a different story, but that is not my concern
with this essay.

     I welcome your informed opinions.

Best wishes,

Paul Fein
member AIPS, NSSA, USTWA, SST, NSWTA, USPTA (Pro-1), USTA lifetime
 
Received on Thu Apr 18 2002 - 08:40:28 CDT


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