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05/06/2011

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M

I know.

So kerflummoxing we're not even talking about it -- in part 'cause I think no one is sure exactly how to address the problem ...

 Jenny

That's a great shame. IMVHO this is due to lack of play, practice and experience on the red clay courts. I apologise if I sound critical here and have no wish to offend anyone because I respect all the players and their fans. Injury/illness aside, did any Americans compete regularly on the red clay in South America or Europe this season or even last year? Chile, Argentina, Mexico, Barcelona, Monte Carlo? Are they reluctant to travel out of their comfort zone in more ways than one? Just look at the current top ten and aside from Fed, Murray, Rafa, these guys have been out there whacking it down on the red dirt as well as competing successfully on the hard courts, even the smaller tourneys. These days players can't afford to be complacent and turn down the opportunity to earn valuable points. For Andy Roddick it's too late now, it's been his choice and he has until recently been lucky enough to maintain his position in the top ten without having to slog it out on clay, now he's being left behind. I don't know what to say about Sam Querry, he's still young and was doing so well on the dirt a couple of years ago, I had high hopes for him, I believe he took a set off Rafa at DC. At least Isner is willing to give it a try. Raonic [Canada] is giving it a great shot and willing to train in Spain under a tough Spanish coach and practice with Ferrer. This is in the hands of the USTA now and nurture junior talent to become complete players if they want to change all this. I'm sure I read Gonzo was playing a challenger in Europe this week to try and get back to form and gain some points, what does that tell you?

chipnputt

Tennis is a dying sport in America. TV ratings have been in decline for 20 years.

 Jenny

I'm afraid it's the same in the UK, the majority only come to life for Queens and Wimby. I only know one other hard-core UK fan aside from me. Also not everyone here chooses to pay for cable or satellite TV, if they do it's for the footie, possibly cricket. We never have tennis on terrestrial TV apart from Queens or Wimbledon.

M

"I don't know what to say about Sam Querry, he's still young and was doing so well on the dirt a couple of years ago"

I followed him and Johnny Isner playing together in this tournament in the doubles, Jenny -- they made it to the semis, they only got beat by the Bryans, semi-LOL.

I do think with Jim in charge of the DC team, I kind of feel the younger Americans making an effort about the clay. I just hope they didn't start too *late*.

There's a young lady, too, Sloane Stephens, who turned in an imo quite respectable 6-2, 6-3 against the Woz at IW, but we just don't hear about her much.

Sigh.

chipnputt

Besides, the ATP isn't doing much to grow the sport. Almost impossible to believe that the top 2 players play a grand total of zero tournaments in LATAM, one or at most two in Asia, and zero in Africa. There is one slam in Melbourne and one Masters in Shanghai. The remainder of all the big tournaments are in Europe or North America. See how Formula One and golf have gone about courting new markets over the last decade or so. The money, and hence the influx of new participants, has similarly grown. In tennis, we've been talking Roger-Rafa forever. Just occasionally DelPo or Nole or Murray. Nobody else. Not a good state of affairs.

 Jenny

It's also about hunger and ambition. The Williams sisters never lacked the desire. Juniors not born on the dirt should be starting as young as possible, eg 12/13, too late when they become pros. What is Jose Huigueras doing, he's on site isn't he?

Jenny

The very top players have to schedule wisely, so I can understand why they don't get down deep and dirty in eg South America. Sorry, but some others have no excuse not to compete there if they have the sincere desire to improve on all surfaces, get used to clay, learn how to construct points in rallies and pick up some rank points. It's a good work out for non-clay courters, test their fitness/stamina/movement against the hard-core dirt ballers, because these boys are striving successfully to improve on their least favourite surfaces.

chipnputt

My point is the "scheduling wisely" needs to involve the top guys going to Latam, Asia and Africa, i.e., hold some tournaments with serious points at these locations. I mean Cincinnati has a 1000 event but the best India or Brasil gets is a 250 event. Something is wrong here and this needs to change quickly if they are are interested in popularizing the sport.

Jenny

Totally agree. LOL Don't get me going on the grass court status, three/four 250's and one slam, ridiculous! Introduce some grass, it doesn't have to be in Europe.

Jenny

Chip, I also think TV has a lot to answer for in the decline or promotion of interest, one leads to another, don't you think? We don't even have a dedicated tennis channel and the terrestrials [5] don't broadcast tennis. Eg today it's the Turkish Grand Prix on BBC and Rugby on ITV. Home tourneys are broadcast by their country but who else in the world gets to see, unless they're dedicated enough to root around for a freestream. There are folk here who don't even know Madrid is happening, but they'll be watching rugby or FI because it's there and east to be seen!

chipnputt

I agree. TV goes where money is to be made but it also generates interest. But I think the first one leads. TV goes where the money is -- the leading needs to come from the administrators of the sport. And the tennis administrators don't get it. In the last decade tennis has barely expanded, only adding a Shanghai 1000 event to the mandatory calendar. In the same time frame, F1 has added races in China, India, Turkey, Singapore, Korea, Bahrain and Abu Dhabi. Golf has expanded even more. This is my gripe: Tennis is getting more and more inward looking, more Eurocentric, while other sports are seeking new markets. it's almost a death wish.

Dominic Anderson

"Juniors not born on the dirt should be starting as young as possible"
I agree, start from soon...

Players should get used to play on every type of court, of course you can have your favourite one, but why skipping events that has the type of court you like the less or you aren't used to, I think they should play them the most so they can catch up with the others...

Also, the tennis associations should make bigger tournaments in other continents as some already said here, or at least, make it be like some kind of obligation for each player to participate in 1 or 2 events per continent, since they doesn't chose it for them self... They are a lot of people in other countries that would like to see the top players playing there.

Jenny

Your second para says it for me Dominic. I remember Safin hated grass, thought it was best for cows, but towards the end of his career did rather well on it. Manolo Santana was the first Spaniard to win a Wimbledon crown.

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