Monday, May 18, 2009

College Tennis - A Sobering Look

by Savannah

Colette Lewis fingers must be raw as she keeps those of us who follow her on Twitter updated on the NCAA Championships taking place now at College Station, Texas.

The names of the schools are familiar - University of Southern California (USC), Ohio State, (OSU), Duke, Notre Dame - but just like at the pro level Americans are increasingly few and far between on the teams representing the participating colleges.

It's an old argument but in the light of Patrick McEnroe's State of United States Tennis press conference last week the situation deserves to be discussed.

Matthew Futterman writes in the Wall Street Journal American college tennis is less and less about American kids.

Heading into the NCAA championships, which began Friday, foreign-born players accounted for nine of the top 20 women's singles players, including four of the top five. The top-ranked collegiate player is Northwestern's Maria Mosolova, a sophomore from Moscow. Other than third-ranked Julie Cohen of Philadelphia, who plays for the University of Miami, Ms. Mosolova's top competitors hail from Bulgaria, Croatia and Lithuania. On the men's singles side, foreign players claim 12 of the top 20 spots in the rankings, including the No. 1 ranked player, Spaniard Arnau Brugues of the University of Tulsa.
...the American college system offers foreign players something far more rare abroad -- a free college education and organized, high-level athletic competition for players who aren't going to be good enough to be a top pro.

John Isner of the United States and Somdev Devvarmanof India are two players who came out of the American college system. Both are trying to make the leap to success in the pro ranks. At this time Isner may have more name recognition among serious tennis fans but most have heard of Devvarman as well.

There is no immediate solution in sight as most athletically inclined kids in the States get fed into the football, baseball, basketball programs.

It's something to think about as the NCAA's head into the final rounds.


Colette Lewis said...

Zsilinszka was born in the Slovak Republic but is an American citizen and has lived in North Carolina most of her life, so is probably not the the most appropriate photo to use to illustrate your point. It's interesting that the Duke women champions are 100% American, while the Cal team in the final had 5 of 6 players from outside the U.S.

Savannah said...

Thanks for the correction Colette. I really appreciate and admire the work you do. I was going to remove her picture but I'll leave it so that everyone knows how this American saw a name and leapt to the wrong conclusion. :)