Monday, February 10, 2014

The Disaster that is United States Tennis

by Savannah

This was a Fed Cup week for the women of the WTA so the ATP stepped into the breach with three 250 tournaments.

via PBZ Zagreb photo f5eadb00-78e4-4f0b-90a5-7db5e53ecfa7_zpscbd63e52.jpg
via PBZ Zagreb

Marin Cilic got a nice win over Tommy Haas in Zagreb. I saw some of the play up to the semi finals and Haas was playing well after being pushed by opponents so it's not like Cilic was facing an untested man across the net. I didn't see the Final but from the score it looks as if it was a decent match with Cilic winning 6-3, 6-4. Some would say he routined Haas. I can't say yea or nay. Team Figure Skating from Sochi occupied my time.

Meanwhile two of the Clown Princes of tennis ended up hoisting trophies.

TAM Per photo 6227b735-c8ed-4f83-810f-5d5a524a6279_zps315e0228.jpg
TAM Perú

Fabio Fognini, who when he's not on top of his game and feels he doesn't have a chance can put on a horrid display on court obviously felt good in Viña del Mar winning the final over Leo Mayer 6-2, 6-4. I like to see Fognini when he's playing his best so I'm sorry I missed this one yesterday.

via AFP photo 3fb449e9-1e77-47ea-9e43-7ba8d6c2bf6b_zpsfad90510.jpg
via AFP

Gaël Monfils is one of the biggest underachievers in tennis. With the talent he has there is no reason he couldn't easily be in the top five contending in Slams and M1000's. Instead when he feels pressed he goes into his act becoming a showman instead of a tennis player. Whenever I see Gaël start clowning I know he is finished.

Yesterday he played Richard Gasquet for the title in Montpellier and to be honest I expected Gasquet to win. I was surprised to see that Gaël won. Maybe he has matured and the new look is in effect inside and out. I hope so. He is too talented not to take advantage of it.

The Fed Cup Disaster

Italy didn't even think it had to send it's "A" team to play the United States in the US city of Cleveland, Ohio. The only player I'd heard of before was Karin Knapp. Mary Jo Fernandez, our Fed Cup coach, picked a good team in my opinion: Madison Keys, Alison Riske, Christina McHale and Lauren Davis who would team up with Riske to play doubles. I'm geoblocked from Fed Cup TV so I didn't make a particular effort to watch but I have to say that I was surprised that Madison Keys didn't win a singles match. Not one. At least McHale won a set. Keys went down to Camila Giorgi (sorry I have heard of her) 6-2, 6-1 and never took the court again. Is she injured? Did they make sure her brain was functioning? The only match the US won was when Riske and Davis took the doubles in straight sets. I wonder if the Italian team cared since they'd won the tie already.

This result was a disaster for American tennis and completed a Fed Cup/Davis Cup wipe out. Our men couldn't beat a team carried by one man and our women, who to their credit have been playing better lately, couldn't rise to the insult of have having a "B" team sent to play them and at least make the tie competitive.

Is it poor coaching? Is it because our top player didn't play? I call bullshit. These young women have had millions of dollars invested in them by the USTA and can't even beat Camila Giorgi and Karin Knapp. Nastassja Burnett and Alice Matteucci played doubles for Italy. Ironically there have been no calls for Mary Jo to step down because to be honest who would be stupid enough to take the job? Mary Jo is an insider and with her husband still a mega agent they're not going to go after her like they would any other Captain are they?

Serena Williams is 31 years old. She's focused on her legacy. Venus Williams is playing for pride and her legacy as well. I've been saying for a while now that after the Williams Sisters retire there is NO ONE. Of all the up and comers I've seen the only one who impressed is Victoria Duval and she may go to college instead of turning pro right away. Sloane Stephens? Forget her. She thinks she's playing for her legacy when she doesn't even have one and by the looks of things may never have one.

Andy Roddick was US tennis for years but he rightly decided it was time for him to step down and do other things. Those who were supposed to step into his shoes? Ain't happening.

But this means nothing to the US tennis establishment. There isn't an American in the top ten except for Serena and that drives them up the wall. There is this kid playing juniors now, Francis Tiafoe, who is sixteen and picked up tennis pretty much on his own. He's still four or five years away.

I'm sure there are frenzied meetings going on about what to do but I don't know if they can do anything. Offer Duval the moon to keep playing? Force Tiafoe to go up against the big boys when he hasn't finished growing mentally or physically yet? Our players can't think on court. Therefore they can't adapt on court. They think they're the shit without having any great achievements, hell without any achievements outside of lower level events or events tailor made for them. Hell at least the Brits have Andy Murray. We've got no one.

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