US Tennis… food for thought

Updated: Jul 27, 2021

This week ESPN shared the news that there was not a single male American tennis player in the top #30 ranked players in the world “since computer rankings began”.  “Since computer rankings began”, for those of you playing along at home, means 1973… since coffee with a friend was still a dime, so to speak.

What does this mean, and why am I writing a few words on it in the midst of a squash blog.  Astute question my friends, and candidly, it’s a bit of a “long bow“, but bear with me.

Tennis has millions of dollars invested in it, tennis academies, a well developed National Governing Body, a television presence, a modern coach education system and collegiate backing.  Yet, the US can not put anyone on the top of the mountain, or on the precipice of the edge of the outskirts of the top.  Ouch.

There are two obvious possibilities, to my mind at least.  What no-one ever likes to say is that any sport “needs the horses”.  It’s a good old fashioned expression which suggests that, without the raw athletic talent in a sport, you can’t achieve success.  You’re not going to get a cow that can climb a tree, a monkey that can run a respectable marathon time or a guy into the top 30 in the tennis world without some very high level genetic characteristics.  Maybe that’s the problem.

The other option is that maybe they’re not paying attention to the full five trainables. Our Squash Tigers model is all about recognizing that we have a complex, decision making sport, not unlike tennis, and that physical strength and technical competency are not enough.  Our model calls for attention to our SMART model:

  1. Strategy

  2. Mental Skills

  3. Athleticism

  4. Real World Skills and

  5. Technical literacy

Now, to be clear, I’m not speaking from a tennis informed position.  Maybe they don’t have the horses… but maybe, just maybe, there’s more to the sport than hitting the ball…

See y’all on court.

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