Is American Tennis Behind? Probably
First of all, I kind of touched upon this subject in my last blog post but I will give more of an opinion of Americans in tennis here. The last American to end up in a Grand Slam final was Andy Roddick and that was when Reebok was still a major sponsor and his visor was “kick-ass”. I personally have had high hopes for American tennis with Jack Sock in his best form, Steve Johnson looking pretty good and Next Gen star Francis Tiafoe who recently has won his second Challenger Tour title.
Just six years ago, not a single American man or woman was ranked in the top 10. That is currently not the situation given that with our next wave of Next Gen stars hitting their stride and house hold American names are becoming more popular. Even Coco Vandeweghe just cracked the top 20 and its nice to see another American woman make it high in the rankings that isn’t named Serena or Venus.
There are some American talents that have had a hot start at the US Open or another tournament where they just had a stroke of luck. Three Americans come to mind; Ryan Harrison, Donald Young, and Melanie Oudin. Do you remember Melanie Oudins run at the US Open? She had those inspirational Adidas Barrciades with the customized phrasing on the heel. Where in the world did she end up? Dropped off the face of the earth. Ryan Harrison and Donald Young are still hanging around but barely. They pop up in tournament qualifiers but both of them rarely make it pass the first round.
A lot can be said on technical ability as well. Most American athletes rely on pure athleticism so coaches don’t necessarily worry about teaching technical ability. If you can hit the ball harder than your opponent and it works, coaches will say your game works. Jack Socks grip is the ugliest and most unusually thing I have ever laid eyes on. But, he hits the ball harder than most people but may lack other skills that can help him crack the top 10 on the tour.
With the National Campus in place for the USTA, Americans can now train on red clay (which WORKS, TRAIN ON CLAY COURT). We are moving in the right direction for American tennis but we still have a long way to go in order to catch up with our European counter parts.