Darker Before The Dawn
May 10, 2011 2 Comments
For the first time since tennis rankings started being archived in computers, there are no Americans among the ten best men or women in the world. Is the American tennis declining? Has the US soil became unfertile when it comes to tennis players? Is it the end of the world?
I prefer the word “inter-harvest” (though I’m not sure this is an actual word. In case it is not, please replace with the title of this post). Just like Sweden’s – beyond the super-champions, like Edberg, Wilander and Borg, our blonde, Nordic friends had Enqvist, Norman, Johansson, all top-10s; now they are left with Soderling. And Christian Lindell, who’s only 19 and not even Swede – and Australia’s – Laver, Newcombe, Rosewall, Hewitt, Scud, Pat, Woodies and now… Tomic? Gooch? Ball? In other words, every nation goes through hard times.
In fact, the biggest problem is: the USA is used to win. They love to win (who doesn’t? D’oh), and they also don’t expect nothing less than it. They’re not wrong, totes the contrary. The United States have a very strong college tennis program (though I’m not a fan of it) and large sums of money to spend on prospects. And now you look at the panorama, and the best you have is a 29-year old Fish, an uninterested Roddick, Quisner and Serena/Venus, who, in one hand are the best (out of question), but on the other are perennially injured, barely playing since last July. Feels like the USA have been relegated from the main stages (and, in fact, they were, at the Fed Cup).
Frustrating. But shall we take a look ahead? Focusing WTA – where the best youngsters are, in my humble opinion – we see Christina McHale and Vandeweghe in the first page of the rankings, Sloane soon-to-be there too, all of them still teens. And, in McHale and Coco cases, have already started focusing on WTA events, instead of Challengers. Smart choice.
Bit more complicated when it comes to ATP. The NCAA program is making pros, true that. But older pros – most of them join the circuit for good when they are around 22, 23, even 24, one of the downsides of it. Too late, in my opinion. At this age, most of top-players are peaking. But aside from that, there is Donald Young – and about this one, we never know what to expect – and Ryan Sweeting – who’s only one year younger than Nadal, but is only making his way through ATPs now – plus some some others who haven’t even turned 20 yet: Jack Sock, Ryan Harrison, Dennis Kudla, Devin Britton.
Biggest question is: do they have what it takes to be top-20/10 material or will they be the next Querrey and Isner – that is, good players, but playing it fair, do anyone think they can contend at the US Open someday? I can’t tell – just hope.
Closing this one out, yeah, it is bad. For US standards. But it could be worse.