Monday, May 30, 2011

Tennis Decline is of America's Own Making

Released, , TOTT, America’s Tennis Decline, As I See it.

For some time now, sportswriters have noticed an absence of an American players in the finals of the U.S. Open, the French Open, the Australian Open, and Wimbledon, and it's not just because of an injury.

Some attribute the decline to the lack of Clay Courts in the United States, and offers that up as the reason for Spanish Players dominance. However, I see it a little differently.

As I see it, it’s a lot more basic than that. Surprisingly, and with the surge of popularity in the USTA’s Quick Start Program, at local county, and city recreational facilities, you would expect a plethora of talented new players. Not so, and I’d like to elaborate on several problems that come to mind. Many take lessons, but few learn to be "Tennis Players."

One of the reasons I do not participate in USTA Tennis events is because of its "tennis marketing" rather than marketing of "better playing of tennis." Many of the tennis magazines are written by tennis instructors certified by the USTA, but who have limited experience in teaching tennis, but may have been talented players.

The magazine will often highlight, and promote the playing style, ball spin, and service speed, rather than the players' form, the early shot preparation, players’ ability to anticipate, tennis acumen of the player, player’s shot selection, and how player’s employ better footwork, and stroking, and service technique to prevent tennis injuries.

Let’s start with the USTA Rating System. As I see it. The purpose is to provide a basis for tennis instructors that are certified by USTA, to make more money giving lessons, supposedly in order to move players from one rating to another with their self evaluation criteria for tournament play.

However, As I see it there need be only a 1. Novice; 2. a beginner, 3. a person who plays tennis, and 4. a Tennis Player. as being a necessary ranking method.

Tennis teachers'--as I see it--their instructional, capability to disect the stroke, and present it in increments so that the student can grasp how the stroke is produce is sorely lacking. I pride myself in being able to teach any stroke in less than and hour, and have a unique, systematic method, and realistic expection for student to use my technique to develop their own style of play; though many have disparaged the systematic, graduated length method of stroke production.

If a teacher, who is of tournament skill level, uses a one hand backhand when playing or teaching, and acknowledges that using a two-hand backhand, or two-hand forehand requires the student to run more, and requires quicker foot speed to get to the ball, which would be a handicap to the Senior player--down the road a few years-- why would the instructor permit the student to use two-hands, when learning to play, a sport of a lifetime?

Finally, the work ethic for learning, and practicing around most courts I visit, as I see it, appears to be only playing, and few spend more than 15 minutes on the Wall. 

There is a sense of entitlement around the Challenge Courts, but little understanding that competition, requires daily attention to your playing ability--not just exercising--that drives the accomplished, and winning tennis players.

And yes, I do sometimes lose to players I think I should beat, but even aging champions are nurtured, and "born in the labor of defeat."

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