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  Topic Review (Newest First)
12-18-2008 10:22 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Todd Paul, 22, ranked 483 after 1st full-time pro year.
06-01-2008 02:02 AM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Apologies if there is a thread for him, but I didn't see it.

I watched Nick Monroe at the Carson challenger. What intensity! This kid wants to win. Almost too much - I wanted to tell him, relax just a little.

He played well too. I'm going to be watching out for him.
05-14-2008 05:44 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

just keeps getting worse and worse and worse. stop chasing the green USTA and fix the sport in this country.
05-14-2008 05:41 PM
Johnny Groove
Re: Upcoming American Players

Alex Tereschenko
05-14-2008 05:39 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Men's college tennis in crisis: Arizona State Univ. cuts the men's program and now Univ of Arkansas has also dropped men's tennis.

Colette Lewis reports:

Today's announcement that Arizona State is going to cut its men's tennis program is on a whole different level. This is a Pac-10 school with a storied tennis history, including a national champion--Sargis Sargsian in 1995. This year the team was ranked 23rd in the country; their loss to Duke in the first round of the regionals on Saturday left them with a 15-5 record in their final season. The school's press release spins the news by comparing the number of sports ASU will now sponsor (20) to other selected programs. Somehow they neglected to mention Ohio State's 38 or Stanford's 35, and worse, every program they mention with at least 20 teams has managed to keep men's tennis.


More from Wertheim this week:
Jon, enjoyed your feature on college tennis. I can see both sides of the coin here, but the situation at many places, similar to your examples, is ridiculous and, frankly, unacceptable! Do you think that some sort of a limit on foreign players (let's say no more than three out of eight and two out of six scholarships to non-US players) should and could be implemented? That way the rules are set upfront, the playing field is fairer and it still offers reasonable opportunities to kids from all over.

-- Bob S., Redwood City, CA

I do think a limit would be logical and fair. Two "internationals" per team, perhaps, which is essentially the way overseas basketball leagues operate with respect to Americans. Would this survive a legal challenge? Good question. Maybe there's a summer associate in search of some busy work who could research this.

But again -- and I hope this point didn't get lost -- this isn't simply about a player's passport. It's also about context and playing history. The best player at Princeton, for instance, is Peter Capkovic, a 25-year-old junior who, according to his bio, once beat Radek Stepanek and former Wimbledon semifinalist Vladamir Voltchkov.

"He brings a wealth of experience from his years competing against the world's best professional player" [sic] we're told.

Sorry, this is not a recruiting coup. It's a dishonorable farce that completely runs counter to the spirit of college athletics. Doesn't matter if you're from Bratislava or Bala Cynwyd: a 25-year-old junior with years of experience playing pro events has no business competing in intercollegiate athletics. Even if your hard-charging A.D. is demanding Ivy League titles. I can only hope that when Princeton wins matches, the adults feel the same level of fulfillment I do when I beat my six-year-old in chess. What a joke. What a shame.
05-08-2008 03:53 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

I don't usually agree with Wertheim much, but on this one I do. Of course there's a solution, the NCAA can put limits on the amount of foreign players each coach can recruit. the NCAA puts all kinds of rules, regulations and limits on what schools - especially DI schools - are allowed to do. Surely they could limit international student scholarships somehow. It's a damn shame when you look at those rosters and there's not ONE American on an american STATE school's team. Our government does not need to subsidize the development of other country's athletes, it's not a discrimination thing, it's a practicality thing.
05-08-2008 03:47 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Jon Wertheim got on his college tennis soapbox again this week:
Perhaps something for you to pass along to Sharko or another keeper of sundry tennis stats: Of, say, the top 50 or 100 college tennis teams, the percentage of their players that come from countries other than the US? -- Dave Anderson, Waikiki, Hawaii

We'll spare the Sharko the work. Just go here and look for yourself. Wait. What's that you say? Someone carted in a soapbox. Why, let me climb aboard and rant:

I think the influx of foreign players is a serious -- potentially fatal, even -- problem in college tennis. And no one seems to have the courage to take a principled stand. Let's get this out of the way first: should NCAA coaches be allowed to recruit foreign players? Absolutely, especially in these global times, the same way the Sorbonne should (and does) accommodate Americans abroad. It would be immoral (and illegal) to assert otherwise.

But there is a line here. And many coaches don't so much cross the line as they bound over it as if catapulted by flubber. When a program fields a roster almost entirely from abroad, at a bare minimum it subverts the spirit of college sports. You could do this with dozens of programs, but let's make an illustrative example out of Mississippi State. Here is its men's tennis roster.

Its top player, Ivan Bjelica, is a 24-year-old senior. (Move over, Frank the Tank!) According the ATP website, Bjelica was playing low level professional events -- he once lost to Novak Djokovic -- as early as 2003. Even if a school can get its compliance office to sign off on this guy, I think you're hard-pressed to defend recruiting a 24-year-old former pro to play on your college team. Again, this is just one illustrative example. Just for fun, I checked out the roster for Mississippi State's rival, Ole Miss, one of the nation's top teams. See for yourself.

And it's not just Division I. A few years ago an editor asked me to look into this dynasty program at Lander University, a small Division II school in South Carolina. We naively thought that there was a cool story to be written about an unlikely tennis hotbed. Sadly, it turned out that the team was simply importing all its best players from overseas. Check out the Bearcats' current roster and it's no wonder Lander can beat the daylights out of the small school down the road that recruits from nearby high schools.

The offending coaches will quietly tell you that they are under pressure from their bosses to win titles; that can't be achieved when they restrict recruiting to the local talent pool. But this "everyone-else-is-doing-it" logic is cowardly.

First, there ARE successful programs that manage to field teams without bending the rules. Note, for instance, the perennial success of Stanford (granted, an easy recruiting sell) or Ty Tucker's program at Ohio State.

Second, this "logic" is self-fulfilling. If it becomes clear to every local kid that his odds of getting a college scholarship are nil because the spots are all going to some 23-year-old ringer from Slovenia, you're begging kids to switch away from tennis. Then the local talent pool really will be as shallow as a wading pool.

One wonders what role this unfortunate trend plays in the recent eliminations of college tennis programs. The budget axe swings at State U. and the athletic director needs to cut a (men's, invariably) non-revenue sport. The wrestling team or the diving team is comprised of local kids, whose parents paid taxes and know legislators. The tennis team is a collection of Venezuelan ringers who played futures events, couldn't cut it and decided to get a U.S. college scholarship instead. Pretty easy decision, I'd think.

Again, this is not meant as a jingoistic Lou Dobbs tirade. Coaches are entitled, if not obligated, to recruit globally. But the coaches filling their entire team with overseas players, particularly with old-timers who've already tried their hand on the pro circuit? That's indefensible. Next time we enumerate the causes of the sport's stunted growth here in the U.S., don't forget to include these guys.
Here's some more links where Wertheim discusses the influx of foreigners in US college tennis:

Good USA Today article "NCAA tennis: Too many foreigners or not?"

U.S. College Tennis Grapples With Foreign Element

Inquiry Sought on Rules for College Eligibility

Foreign flavor in NCAA tennis is too rich for some


Colette Lewis, who runs the Zoo Tennis blog, posted her thoughts about the Wertheim column here:
And finally, Jon Wertheim, who has always railed against foreign players in college tennis, does it again today in his mailbag at I too wish the majority of players in U.S. colleges were from the United States, and that the sport of tennis was popular enough and produced enough revenue to assure its continued existence on the college level. I admire coaches who can find and develop talent here in the United States and also incorporate talented players from other countries into a team that broadens the cultural perspective of all its members. That is certainly the ideal and Jon is within his rights to call out programs that don't find that happy medium. If he uses his column as a soapbox/bully pulpit, that's fine. But I notice he did stop short of suggesting a solution, because, in this flattened world, I think he knows there isn't one--at least one that will keep college tennis as a viable option for those who want to use it as another developmental tool. My complete response to his earlier Tennis Magazine column two years ago (sorry, no link available) is here, and it, and my Racquet Sports Industry column from last year, thoroughly covers my thoughts on the topic.
12-30-2007 08:12 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

You should see the video of the Silva kid playing on But five? How young is too young?
08-19-2007 10:09 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Here's a blog from Justin Gimelstob about Isner, Querrey, and Young, who he calls "three excellent prospects."
08-17-2007 06:41 AM
Re: Upcoming American Players

I saw an interesting little guy on TV today. He's Nelson Vick. He just won the Wisconsin high-school tournament as a Freshman. He took 3rd place in the U16 doubles in Kalamazoo this year---won one match in the U16 singles, then lost to the 4th seed (and finalist, James Seal).

He was generating some very considerable power from defensive postions. He whole service motion needs to be re-invented, but other than that he was pretty impressive. He stayed agressive the whole match.

Also, he seems to be a head-case. He kept turning his baseball cap backwards on break points.
07-31-2007 09:06 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

It looks like the future of American tennis may be in the hands of a five year old boy currently living and training in France. His favorite players are Federer, Monfils, and Blake.

This article disturbs me.

Could this 5-year-old be the future of tennis?
By Douglas Robson, Special for USA TODAY

THIVERVAL-GRIGNON, France — It's a hot June afternoon, and Jan Silva is doing things on a tennis court few his age ever have.

At one point, he laces a one-handed, topspin cross-court shot against his hitting partner, who lunges in vain. Jan curls his arm to punctuate the winner with — what else? — a fist pump.

"He's really playing to win," beams his father, Scott Silva. "There's ice cream on the line."

Jan, or "Jani" as his parents call him, is 5.

He also is the central player in an experiment that goes well beyond what most families would risk to build their child into a sports champion. Last August, the Silvas sold their house and two cars in Rancho Cordova, Calif., near Sacramento, and moved to France with their two other children so Jan could live and train full time — with all the family's expenses paid — at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Paris.

"Sold our home with everything in it," says Scott, a 38-year-old social worker who played basketball at Southern Oregon University. "We're getting Jani ready for something much bigger."

In doing so, the Silvas embarked on a potentially perilous path that families of tennis prodigies have taken with a few spectacular successes (such as Andre Agassi), some brief successes who flamed out (such as Jennifer Capriati before her comeback at age 20) and many more who never came close to being the champions their families envisioned.

Their patron, Patrick Mouratoglou, figures the estimated $140,000 a year he says he is spending on the Silvas will pay off in recognition and prestige for his academy if Jan becomes a star.

Mouratoglou, 37, also runs a management company. The Silvas, who referred to one of Mouratoglou's employees as Jan's "agent," say they have not signed any contract and have not been pressured to do so. "They just want us to see how things work out," says Jan's mother, Mari Maattanen-Silva, a former top tennis player in Finland.

Maattanen-Silva, 32, acknowledges that what she and her husband are doing is unusual, but she rejects the notion they are forcing tennis on their son. "Everyone thinks we're crazy, but when they come and actually meet us they are like, 'This kid loves it,' " says Mari, a tennis instructor who now teaches at Mouratoglou's academy. "We don't have to push him."

There's no blueprint for raising a tennis champion, but the formula often involves a kid swinging a racket before being able to read or write. Many go to big academies, though rarely as early as Jan. Parents usually are heavily involved.

Agassi's father, for example, dangled tennis balls in his crib to sharpen his eye-hand coordination. By age 6, the future eight-time Grand Slam tournament champion was doing interviews and exhibitions. Tracy Austin had her image on the cover of Tennis Week magazine before her fifth birthday; she won the U.S. Open at 16.

The Silvas' decision to uproot themselves and hitch their future to a 4-foot, 60-pound boy who likes SpongeBob SquarePants might seem bold. The examples of overbearing and fanatical parents in tennis — and numerous celebrated flameouts by young players — might make it seem reckless.

Scott, who was a counselor in the Sacramento County Welfare Department, and Mari, who taught tennis at the Gold River Racquet Club near Sacramento where the family spent much of its time, are friendly and attentive to their three children. The others are Kadyn, 11, — also a talented player training at Mouratoglou — and Jasmin, 3.

The Silvas passionately believe that Jan, and perhaps Kadyn, will be champions.

"Best-case scenario," Scott says, "is they both win Grand Slam titles. With the athleticism that Jani and Kadyn have, they can do whatever they want to do in tennis."

And the worst-case scenario?

"Jani wins a bunch of Grand Slam titles and Kadyn plays professional tennis but isn't as successful as he'd like to be, and then does whatever he wants," Scott says.

California coach Robert Lansdorp, who helped develop top players Austin, Pete Sampras and Maria Sharapova, says predicting such success for someone so young is a stretch. "I couldn't tell Maria was going to win Wimbledon when she was 14-15," Lansdorp says of Sharapova, 20, who was 17 when she won the Wimbledon title in 2004. She went on to win the 2006 U.S. Open.

Except for Austin, who landed on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 13, Lansdorp says none of his students looked like potential champions before they were teenagers. And even then, some didn't.

"You don't find that out when a kid is 5 years old," he says.

'They almost have to do it'

The Silvas say Jan's talent was evident early. Barely 1, he often demanded to see a video of a favorite player, James Blake, and soon began hitting balls for hours against a door in the Silvas' home.

The Silvas say Jan's training options at the local club where Mari taught tennis were limited. They were invited to the famed IMG/Bollettieri Tennis Academy after sending a video of Jan to academy officials, but they eventually decided the 250-student academy in Bradenton, Fla., was too big to give Jan enough attention.

Scott says IMG was wary of attracting negative publicity by working with a boy who had not entered first grade. He also says it wasn't willing to help pay for housing, education and coaching, which typically run about $50,000 a year at the academy.

Some very talented kids land scholarships or discounts at the academy — Agassi did when he went to Bollettieri as a teen — but most do not.

Mark Gorski, the IMG agent who received the video of Jan, says IMG was not prepared to give financial help to such a young prospect.

The Silvas got a break when 2006 Australian Open runner-up Marcos Baghdatis, who had trained at the Mouratoglou Academy as a teen, saw Jan play at a youth tournament in California 16 months ago. He contacted Mouratoglou, who flew the Silvas to France for a tryout and later invited them to return.

The Silvas are not wealthy; Scott says Kadyn's game (he was a top 10-and-under junior in Northern California by 8) has been hurt by a lack of money for coaching.

The Mouratoglou Academy takes care of the Silvas' every need, including housing in a small chalet just overlooking the facility's 16 courts, meals, coaching, court time and equipment. The Silvas say they would be crazy not to take the opportunity to fulfill what they say is Jan's burning desire to play tennis.

"What do you do when you have this kid that shows this unbelievable gift?" asks Scott, who says the family still rents a home in Northern California and visits regularly.

"They almost have to do it for the money part," says famed instructor Vic Braden, from whom the Silvas sought advice last year.

Jan seems to enjoy life at the academy, and doesn't appear to grasp the consequences or pressures of his being there. Each day, he trots down a small hill from the Silvas' three-bedroom, one-bath home to the academy's courts.

Jan, who has deep brown skin and shocks of blond hair, practices for an hour with Mari, attends three hours of school and returns for another two hours of tennis in the afternoon. That's followed by an hour or so of physical training such as soccer or coordination drills. At lunch in the academy's restaurant, he smiles often and pals around with older kids.

Asked about his favorite players, Jan says, "(Roger) Federer and James Blake."


"Because they are really good."

Why not Baghdatis?

"He never wins any of his tournaments." (Actually, Baghdatis has won a couple.)

During his afternoon practice, Jan — in academy-provided Nike shoes and clothes — scampers around the court against Mouratoglou. He nearly breaks down laughing when Mouratoglou makes him sprint from corner to corner. Not surprising for a child of kindergarten age, he also is prone to temper tantrums, racket tosses and sulking when he makes mistakes.

"Braden warned us that he will go through a lot of rackets," Mari says with pride and apology.

Gripping a racket nearly the length of his body, Jan's fluid strokes and timing belie his age and size. He serves overhand, approaches the net to volley and can put topspin on shots, including his natural one-handed backhand.

Braden calls Jan one of the best 5-year-old players he's seen.

"He likes competition," Mouratoglou says. "He always wants to win. He has charisma. You look at him, and you understand immediately that he's not like everyone. These are the characteristics of a future champion."

Mouratoglou admits pinning hopes on someone so young has left him open to criticism.

"I'm just saying that he's different, that he has unbelievable talent, that the parents are focused," he says. The Silvas "have a goal. I have the same goal. The kid has the same goal. We work in the same direction; it's just a matter of time."

Treating Jan 'like a pro'

The delicacies of trying to build a champion aside, Mari says she and her husband are "treating (Jan) like a pro." Jan has two coaches in the Sacramento area, another in Florida and Braden, who continues to consult with them as a mental coach.

Braden, who runs the Vic Braden Academy and is a licensed psychologist in California, says the Silvas must tread cautiously. "They have to be very careful with (Jan) because people fawn over him. I can list a lot of kids that were destined for great things and never made it."

Says Austin, now 44: "If you set your sights on No. 1 or top 10, there is not much margin for error. If you're (ranked) 300 in the world, is that a failure? The key is to know what you're getting into beforehand. Don't say you're going for No. 1. Don't just focus on that one kid. Don't make that kid feel like the breadwinner."

The Silvas say they won't be disappointed if Jan eventually decides tennis isn't for him. "I just want him to stay healthy and be a good person and hopefully become a good tennis player, because he's working so hard," Mari says.

"Jan has chosen tennis, and tennis in a huge way has chosen him," Scott writes in an e-mail after the Silvas were interviewed. "We are just doing our very best to make sure that he stays grounded."

Find this article at:
06-06-2007 08:05 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

I agree, that would be great. There was an Easter Bowl recap show that showed extended highlights of all of the finals, so I got to see a little of Rhyne Williams. He was impressive. He has a fantastic forehand. I think he's going to do some major damage in juniors before all is said and done.
06-06-2007 07:32 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

^^ I agree, I've been reading Colette's blog for a while now to acquaint myself with junior and college players. I'm especially interested in seeing how John Roddick's boys are doing. He has a new website up but there's not much info about his players up yet.

What I would love more than anything is for somebody to upload videos of the junior players matches somewhere, either on YouTube or some Juniorplayer website. It's one thing to read about them but if we could actually see them in action I think it would be a tremendous tool in promoting the juniors from the grassroots up.
06-06-2007 06:26 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

Nah, I just follow it closely. But I recommend Colette Lewis' ZooTennis blog if you don't already read it (at least if you're interested in American juniors).
06-06-2007 05:36 PM
Re: Upcoming American Players

SHB, you really know your juniors. Do you run a blog or website, btw?
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