Category Archives: US tennis

FRENCH OPEN Ten Years of Donald Young. Time for Another Look?

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Donald Young celebrates during French Open win over Feliciano Lopez

 

If we have learned anything from Donald Young over the years, it’s that the time to talk about his emergence is now. Today. As in, before his next match at the French Open, when everything could be ruined.

This month marked 10 years since Young’s first professional tennis match. He was 14. Of course, in his case, we knew about him even before that, when John McEnroe, playing a senior event in Chicago, walked past a court and saw Young, a ballboy, hitting groundstrokes. McEnroe was so taken by what he saw that he started hitting with Young, then ran and called his agent to tell him about this amazing kid.

That whole story was a fake, by the way. It was a publicity stunt set up by agents, and it worked to build a myth. The myth worked against Young, told a lie that everyone bought into, including Young and his parents, because U.S. tennis is so desperate for the next big thing.

But since then, Young’s career has had far too much reality, anyway. The losses. The highs followed by crushing lows. The moping. The giving up. And the contentious relationship with the USTA, which once led Young to tweet “FU—USTA!’’

The thing is, when he beat Feliciano Lopez in the second round of the French Open, Young, finally became a feelgood story again, guaranteed to last until his next match, anyway.

It’s time to take another look at Donald Young.

And maybe the USTA, too. Young has told stories of how he was childhood friends with fellow Chicagoan Taylor Townsend, who had her breakthrough at this French Open. The USTA threatened to cut funding on Townsend two years ago, saying she wasn’t fit. It was a dangerous threat, using a code word to call a teenage girl fat.

That story isn’t going to go away. CNN asked Townsend about it on Thursday, and she said that when she got the news from the USTA, she went home and cried.

So two black kids from Chicago, two prospects who were the No. 1 junior players in the world, had major fallouts with the organization charged with developing them. That said, the USTA did help Continue reading


WIMBLEDON: U.S. Tennis Just Can’t Man Up

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Bobby Reynolds was the last American man standing at Wimbledon

REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

So now it’s down to this: Not only aren’t there any U.S. men capable of winning a tennis major, but there aren’t any ready to compete. And there isn’t even a representative to ask about it.

So it falls on some guy named Bobby Reynolds. He was the last American man standing at Wimbledon but lost Thursday to Novak Djokovic. It’s the first time an American man hasn’t reached the third round of Wimbledon since ’12.

That’s 1912, when the Chicago Cubs World Series winless streak was up to … three years. One thing: No American men even entered that year.

“I knew a couple Americans played today,” Reynolds said after his match. “I don’t feel like I’m carrying the U.S. flag, the lone guy left. I just happened to play the last match.”

True enough. So it was bad luck that he had to be the one to turn out the lights. Well, these one-time fluke things happen sometimes. Unfortunately, this isn’t one of those

Please read the rest of the column here

 

 


WIMBLEDON: Finally, Reason for Hope for Future of U.S. Tennis (Women Only)

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REPORTING FROM THE ALL ENGLAND CLUB IN WIMBLEDON

LONDON

By now, two days into a tennis major, the US media usually have rushed in to talk about all the new hope in American tennis. Why the rush? Because the future is now! No, really it’s because in two more days, everyone but Serena Williams usually would be out.

So it’s now or never. And I’m usually ridiculing the rush. But this time, for the first time in years, the hope looks realistic. On the women’s side, that is. With men? Not so much.

On Tuesday, 18-year old American Madison Keys beat young Brit hope Heather Watson, 6-3, 7-5, in the first round. It was Keys’ first match ever at Wimbledon, even though she already is ranked No. 52. And that match probably didn’t draw much attention.

But while everyone is watching Williams and Maria Sharapova (and maybe Victoria Azarenka), a new and very real battle is taking place in the next tier down.

It’s an incredible opportunity for all young players from any country, really. But the news is that the Americans suddenly are in position to consider the opportunity theirs, too.

The women’s tour has a massive quality gap after the top three players.

Please read the rest of the column here at FoxSports.com


OLYMPICS: Andy Roddick’s Career is Stuck. He’s Going to be Great TV Analyst, Though

REPORTING FROM THE LONDON OLYMPICS

WIMBLEDON (Aug. 1) — It’s getting hard to watch Andy Roddick play tennis. You can’t figure out what his spot is anymore. What his role is. Is he the great American tennis star? No. Well, sort of, maybe.

He isn’t going to win another major or get anywhere near the mountaintop again, but he’s still the only men’s player to be a star in U.S. pop culture, married to Brooklyn Decker, swimsuit model. Can he win a big match? Maybe one. He’s not coming, he’s not going. He hasn’t stayed too long, but it’s hard to know what he’s staying for. Maybe he just likes it.

But he’s sort of just suspended there, killing time. And it could go on, uncomfortably, for a while.

“I feel like it’s extremes with me right now,’’ he said after getting crushed Tuesday by Novak Djokovic in the Olympics at Wimbledon. It was 6-2, 6-1 in 54 minutes. “If I win one, it’s like Career Appreciation Day. Then if I lose one, it’s like we should take him out in the field and shoot him in the head.’’

Roddick is going to be a great TV analyst. That’s where he can mean the most to U.S. tennis now, if he brings his sharpness and his brutal honesty with him. You might not know it, but privately he is thoughtful about all sorts of issues. His sarcasm and meltdowns can become selling points for TV, too.

Please read the rest of my column at FoxSports.com


FRENCH OPEN: Yes, Andy Roddick Lost Again. But it’s not His Fault No Other Americans are Good Enough to Boo

Andy Roddick loses again at the French Open

At some point, routines just become ruts. And while watching Andy Roddick in the first round of the French Open Sunday, you might have gotten annoyed at him. Irritated. Frustrated. You were in the rut.

It has been years of feeling that way about Roddick, especially at Roland Garros. But the truth is, it’s time to get off Andy Roddick’s back.

He’s not the present anymore. He’s the past. And it’s not his fault that no other American player has been good enough to move into the present and take the torch of U.S. tennis from him. Roddick, aging, stands there holding it, judged by it.

He lost 6-3, 6-3, 4-6, 6-2 to Nicolas Mahut, the guy known for losing the marathon 2010 Wimbledon match to John Isner, 70-68 in the fifth set. Mahut is 30, and a journeyman. Before Sunday, in his long career, he had won just one match in the main draw of the French Open.

Please read the rest of my column at FoxSports.com


AUSTRALIAN OPEN: U.S. TENNIS, R.I.P.

John Isner, now the best American player

And, poof, just like that, American tennis is gone. No, not just from the Australian Open, where the last American man standing, John Isner, lost before the first weekend of the year’s first major. US tennis is gone from the world map, too.

The top players have faded, and the bottom ones aren’t good enough. This is the moment US tennis has been nervous about for years:

Not one American man is good enough even to contend for a major championship. Forget Wimbledon. Forget the US Open. And only one woman, Serena Williams, is good enough. She will hide the problems in women’s tennis in the United States for a little while longer.

But the men? They are a vacuum.

It has been coming for years. John McEnroe and Jimmy Connors passed the baton to Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, who passed it to Andy Roddick, who managed to win just one major. But still, he was a top player. And now? Roddick has crossed the finish line and put the baton on the ground somewhere. No one will take it. You want it? It’s yours.

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


U.S. OPEN: Was this Andy Roddick’s Last Run?

Andy Roddick

Reporting from the U.S. Open for FoxSports.com

FLUSHING, NY — Whatever Andy Roddick is, he’s energy. Either he’s an overachiever reaching No. 1 without much talent or an underachiever winning young and then letting the game pass him by. But he’s emotion.

Either he’s a feisty competitor or a creep, but he’s passion. And that spills over into the crowd, which wants to cheer him on or curse him out. Sometimes both.

Either way is fine with Roddick. With him, everything is an argument.

But on Friday in the world’s biggest tennis stadium, in the world’s loudest city, in the quarterfinals of maybe the world’s most important tournament, the US Open, the crowd did something different.

It sat there quietly while Roddick was crushed by Rafael Nadal.

Crickets.

And it was so strange that it threw Roddick off, made him suspicious about what was going on and why.

“I think you’d rather be booed than have silence,’’ he said after losing 6-2, 6-1, 6-3.

“You know, it’s an empty feeling.’’

The match, as well as the crowd, was the sound of one hand clapping.

And you can’t be certain what thousands of fans are thinking. They might be thinking thousands of things. But they all acted as one, and I’m pretty sure I know why:

American tennis fans felt sorry for Roddick. Not just for the moment, but also for the realization of where his career is. This was Roddick’s last stand. Jimmy Connors’ famous run? Andre Agassi’s? Pete Sampras’?

This was Roddick’s. The last stand for the longtime face of American men’s tennis.

 

Please read the rest of the column at FoxSports.com


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