What Is The Biggest Problem in American Tennis?

I think the biggest problem we face in American tennis is not that there is poor training (which no one would disagree), it is mostly that none of us work together, to top that off, most parents are truly ignorant of tennis (need to do a better job at educating them) and that it is really expensive. Worst of all, the thing that kids need most is match play and that is nowhere to be found. I live in Miami, great weather 98% of year, don’t know any coaches who set up match play on regular basis, the solution is working together (coaches, parents, kids, clubs) and reducing costs. Otherwise it becomes cost prohibitive and logistically impossible.

Last week I met a mom who quit work to drive kid around 40-60 miles to get good coaching 3-4 times a week, plus the high priced lessons, plus in order to do that kid has to do online schooling. Problem is kid is alright,not great, parents out close to $1000 week or $52K, mothers income loss approx $45K year. Tennis lessons and no work is close to $100K, kids with no schooling, spell disaster.

So, I meet the parent and she tells me her story, I ask her if I can do a coordination test of the talented girl, to see how her motor skills relate to her tennis. Well, a simple coordination drill that involves foot and hand and eye coordination is an impossible task for the girl at 13. She need not spend $52K, leave school and quit a job. I can assure you this parent is misled and the kid will not be a pro. This is the state of our tennis.

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Helping Tennis Parent to Build Successful Relationship With the Tennis Coach

I received the following request from a tennis parent. Let’s consider the situation and help to the parent with building a successful relationship with the tennis coach .

Please help.
I am a parent of a very talented 9 year old child. She loves to play tennis and I think I have found a good coach. He is charging $100 a week for three 1 hour lessons and wants a contract to be her head coach until she is 18. I want to know what you all think about the cost and the contract. Also regarding coaches how do I evaluate his/her performance as a coach and how much time should I give him/her to see improvements? Please help or guide me to the right information. Thank you. Lee.

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Discussion of the Article “How to Train Young Talented Kids”

There is a comment by Javier Palenque on the article “How to Train Young Talented Kids”. I like it and hope that it is a good food for thought for tennis parents. Let’s read and discuss the article.

Good article, I think the problem is trifold.
1.  Parents don’t understand the math that tennis is and it represents.
2.  In all likelihood, none of the kids will be pros.
3. There are too many bad coaches out there and ignorant parents who are misled.

-  Dear Parents for your kid to be a pro his odds are 2/1000. That is 0.002% ( 99.998% not going to happen).
-  If you are lucky and break the odds, you better be in the top 100 to make any money. Those odds are 1/1000.
-  Break even for a pro is $160,000.00 per year about #150 in the rankings. It takes about 4-7 years to get there. Question for parents? who finances the first years? 4x $160K = Bankruptcy.
-  Tennis is a terrible business, the numbers are all against you.
-  Taking a kid out of school for tennis? Read points 1-4.
-  There are so many bad coaches out there who are hype and know very little and charge a lot. Parents have it very hard to know better.
-  Chances also are if you are too well off to afford all the lessons you want, that you miss the most important key to tennis ” hunger”.

Enjoy tennis the fun, the competition, the workouts the wins and losses, but have a perspective. Your money is better saved and spent elsewhere.

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Maria Sharapova is The Most Successful Female Tennis Player of All Time

Most tennis players outside the top 100 just try to make money for more or less good living and save for a retirement income. Most tennis players inside top 30-100 can be considered as a middle- and upper-middle class. Only couple of dozens players make millions dollars on prize money and a few use their achievements for becoming really rich. The most successful female tennis player of all time is Maria Sharapova; when I say ‘successful’ I mean financial side of her career. Now she is going to extend her business interests and become an investor in the new venture. Read the article below Maria Sharapova now co-owner of a skincare company by Douglas Robson, USA TODAY Sports.

Sharapova 225x300 Maria Sharapova is The Most Successful Female Tennis Player of All Time

To Maria Sharapova’s growing stable of off-court endeavors – candy company founder, global brand ambassador, Olympic commentator – add a new one: investor.

Sharapova, the four-time Grand Slam champion from Russia, will become the new co-owner of Supergoop!, a skincare company focused on preventing damage caused by sun exposure.

An announcement of the deal is expected Friday.

“I thought the idea of being an equity owner would be the next phase in my business development,” said Sharapova.

Financial terms were not disclosed.

Sharapova, who spoke to USA TODAY Sports in a phone interview Wednesday, called her involvement “organic” since she already used the 6-year-old company’s products, which are sold both online and in retailers such as Sephora and Nordstrom.

Her desire to spread awareness about sun damage, especially skin cancer, the most prevalent – and preventable – of all leading cancers, dovetailed with the company’s mission.

One in five Americans will be diagnosed with skin cancer in their lifetime, according to the Skin Cancer Foundation.

“If there was a cream you could put on your body that would prevent women from having breast cancer you can imagine how incredibly popular it would be,” said Sharapova, who learned from her mother the importance of using sun protection after a childhood spent mostly in sun-baked Florida.

“I think the voice that I have can be quite powerful in this category,” added Sharapova, who turns 27 this month.

The Supergoop! investment is the latest in Sharapova’s expanding business empire, which includes her Sugarpova candy line and a number of lucrative sponsor deals with the likes of Nike, Samsung, Porsche and Tag Heuer.

Since landing on U.S. shores from Siberia at age 7 and winning the 2004 Wimbledon a decade later at 17, few female athletes have parlayed sporting success into commercial opportunity with more acumen.

In 2013, Sharapova topped Forbes’ list as the top earning female athlete for the ninth consecutive year.

Her take: $29 million, the vast majority of it from endorsements and appearance fees.

“To date, there has not been a broad reaching voice for UV education and we’ve finally found our megaphone in Maria,” said Supergoop! CEO and founder Holly Thaggard in a statement.

On court, Sharapova has yet to return to top form after missing the second half of the 2013 season due to a right shoulder injury.

She reached the fourth round of the Australian Open and lost for the 15th consecutive time to No. 1 Serena Williams at the Sony Open in Miami last month, her third semifinal of 2014.

Her ranking has slipped to its lowest point in three years, but the No. 8 Russian said she was feeling better three months and five tournaments into her comeback.

“It’s a work in progress,” she said. “It’s tough to expect your ranking to be that high when you miss 5-6 months of the season. I don’t know any other way to put it. That’s the reality.”

Sharapova added that she was confident in her ability to return to championship form as she did following shoulder surgery in 2008.

“I’ve done it before,” the 2012 French Open champion said.

The good news is that she is returning to the surface where she has posted some of her best results the past three years, despite once describing her footwork on clay as akin to a “cow on ice.”

Five of her seven titles since 2010 have come on dirt, including two at Stuttgart, where she kicks off her clay campaign April 21.

“It’s the surface that I’ve improved on more than any other,” said Sharapova. “I no longer have any excuses when I get on a clay court.”

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How to Build Fruitful Cooperation Between Tennis Coaches and USTA Player Development

I received an interesting opinion on the post “Can American Tennis Coaches Develop New Champions With Help of USTA Player Development?” from Ray Brown, PhD. I found his view very thoughtful and decided to publish as a separate article. Read it carefully.

America has always been the country of the rugged individualist, and we still are.

Great players, scientists, artist, coaches, educators, writers, engineers, managers, etc. are rugged individualists who come out of nowhere; they always have. The exact origin of champions will always be a bit of a mystery because of the intangibles of the human personality. To find champions in any field, we must cast a wide net that allows for intangibles to make their mark. The next great tennis champion may be a ragamuffin from nowhere, USA, but only if they are able to find their way into the “system”.

Lansdorps Birthday1 300x266 How to Build Fruitful Cooperation Between Tennis Coaches and USTA Player Development

Of particular note is that the corporate culture of the USTA only invites the nice polite parents, players and coaches to participate in their bounty. The thorny personalities, common to great achievers, are immediately eliminated by bureaucracies because the bureaucrats have a very thin skin and cannot endure frankness of the ilk of Robert Lansdorp. But frankness is essential; blunt appraisals are essential for discovery and to facilitate the entrance of gifted individuals into tennis or any enterprise. Great thinkers, and players, are thorny, like Robert, and thus do not fit into the amicable mold required to be a part of the thought process of a bureaucracy. They are unwelcome in the peace-loving, don’t make waves USTA.

Because of their hubris, bureaucracies justify replacing the collective minds of millions with the thought process of a few like-minded individuals. In this action, a bureaucracy becomes a filter that is more likely to obstruct the emergence of talent than to facilitate its emergence because it cannot consider intangibles, think outside-of-the-box or avail itself of serendipity. From where does this hubris arise? It arises from individuals who assume that they are the all-knowing “tennis gods” entitled to legislate behavior rather than facilitate creative thinking. The USTA’s legislative point-of-view justifies obstructing parents and coaches from developing players by excluding them from financial support and facility support.

Hubris always justifies a bureaucracies’ desire to a dictator rather than a facilitator.
But dictators do not inspire cooperation, especially from highly qualified individuals. This is yet another reason why the USTA should be a facilitator, not a legislating dictator. By dictating how player development will proceed, not only do they lose the benefits of more minds, the creativity of the thorny individual, the energy of volunteers, but they the lose cooperation of capable individuals, engender antagonism, diminish their goodwill and spawn public confrontation and condemnation. This is never good for an organization’s public image.

The bottom line: We must cast a wide net (that may even include some degree of randomness) in order to account for the intangibles of the human personality and spirit in our search process, unlike what the USTA Player Development does today; we must include thorny, disagreeable and diverse personalities in the development process unlike what the USTA does today; we must include many minds in the search process, not just a chosen few, unlike what the USTA does today; and, be a facilitator, not an all-knowing self appointed “tennis god” as the USTA is today.

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