How much of it is natural talent and how much is opportunities and hard work?

Ace Tracker
10-13-2002, 05:01 AM
the fact that Andre Agassi is of Iranian/Armenian descent was already mentioned in this board, but his is an example that perfectly illustrates the point of this thread. There is no doubt that Andre has tons of natural talent, but had his family stayed in Iran, and supposing him still being a professional and dedicated tennis player, how would that have affected his career?

In other words, how much does natural talent really account for a player's career and how much consists of good facilities, equipment, coaching, money and hard work? Had Andre Agassi's and Mark Philoppoussis's families not immigrated respectively to the US and Australia, where tennis facilities and opportunities are much more available to talented players than in their ancestors's countries, how good would these players turn out to be?

If you think you would not even have heard of them, then maybe natural talent is less important than having better material conditions. But if you think they would turn out to be good players with good careers no matter how poor and far the tennis courts would be, then maybe talent should account for more than people usually credit it for.

There is no questions that there are lots of extremelly talented players in Third World countries where facilities and daily routines are usually harder to go by. The fact that a few select players from these countries make it in the tour, raises another question: Are these selected few the most talented ones (natural talent) or just the ones with the right financial means to develop their careers?

Chloe le Bopper
10-13-2002, 05:37 AM
YOu might also consider that Agassi's father reportedly would hang a ball over Andre's crib and give him something to swat at it with.

No wonder he sees the ball so well, huh?

10-13-2002, 05:54 AM
AA's mother Betty is an American woman. His father was the Captain at the MGM showroom, and anybody who went there in the early 80s probably met him, we did. Anyway, obviously it isn't just talent or there wouldn't be AA being sent to the Bolleterri Academy at 13, or Safin being sent to Spain same age. AA has amazing hand eye coordination. Obviously the gifts have to be there to benefit from those academies. Dr. Peter Fischer took Pete's natural gifts from a young age and molded them, remember how we hear how he had him change his 2-handed backhand to 1-handed, and volley. But if there is not that in-born talent, plus drive to win, no amount of academy or coaching would make a champion. AA's father had all the children playing tennis, it wasn't just AA, but AA was the one with the extraordinary talent. Tammy got a tennis scholarship, but never played professional. oh there is no doubt that it requires facilities, coaches, etc. to reach that professional level. Monica Seles had to go to the Bolleterri Academy and so did Anna K. to develop the talent they had. Monica had several mentors that paid for her families living expenses. V&S did an exhibition at age 10 and 12 before one of AA&Pete's exhibition at the Forum (lucky to have been there) and were signed by Reebox which gave them enough money to move to FLA to develop their talent at an academy.

10-13-2002, 06:41 AM
Talent alone without financial support would have a hell time surviving the game. Some talented players from the third world who don't have families that can afford to send them to top tennis academies are practically begging their government for financial assistance. Added to that ugly reality, is the fact that even if the tennis associations in these countries have their grassroots program all carefully mapped out, they couldn't do anything as the government buget is already depleted.
That's another talent wasted on poverty.

But then again, so many factors have to be considered if one wishes to go pro and stay long on the tour. Apart from enermous talent, there's determination, will to excel, mental toughness, the list could go on.

10-13-2002, 05:14 PM
Also, natural athletic talent will manifest itself in more than one form. What I mean is, someone with speed, balance, good hand-eye coordination usually be good at more than one sport. Cricket, baseball, tennis all require the above. So, if tennis is not available in your country, you will go towards the sport that is available.

That said, support and facilities can make the difference between a good player and a great player. Look at what is happening in Russia. Once the support became available, more and more players are on the tour. This is especially true on the women's side.