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The ultimate goal is to produce Grand Slam winners, you can’t produce them. The USTA high performance program is for a handful of players and it is not supporting the group of our best American players.

The whole world is training elite tennis athletes and the USTA can not come up with a program that is working. A program that is focusing on our top American junior talents. Junior tennis athletes that don’t have the financial support, don’t have a good national ranking and are in most cases never been looked at. There is a big difference between the official USTA ranking and the real performance, check out the USTA ranking and compare it with the ranking. The USTA ranking just measures points per tournament, however the measure “the performance strength”. In other words the USTA TOP 10 ranked juniors may not be the best talented players with potential. Continue to read at

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Hal is right, I lived it Boca with my son, for 1 horrible year.  Now trying to pick the pieces and shaping his game again.  Nothing good came out of that association.  You leave and you get ostracized.   

The First Tee program by the USGA is much more creative and has actually produced pro golfers and tons of college players. It is about the game of golf and producing outstanding individuals, not 40yr old ex-pro's trying to build their ego's.

I VE been trying to do the same thing in jacksonville nc but its not easy finding volunteers and sponsors for tennis eventsperiod. but i will continue to keep pressing my efforts no matter what and will eventually have a tennis facility in this city. the children are suppose to be our future right.

Good luck Willie!  you keep the dream alive!

How are you getting started?  Are you starting off at a public facility like most pros do when they are starting a new academy?

Wille B Henderson jr,

Please list your credentials to take on this endeavor.

What is your background in Tennis?

I have worked for three Federations, the USTA, the German Federation and the Mexican Federation, and people love to second guess what is being done.  No matter what the federation does, it is never enough.  All federations have a limited budget and they have to place a limit somewhere on who they can help.  If they help 50, the numbers 51 and up will complain.  If they help 100, the numbers 101 and up will complain, and so on.  

Compared to most countries in the world there is an incredible amount of help here in the US.  Most federations do not even have a tenth of the budget the USTA has for player development. 

Off course there are always better ways to do something and the USTA has a lot of areas to improve but all in all most players in the world would kill for the opportunities available in the US.

So, why, in your opinion, do we have a lack of top players at the moment?

I think in general there are cycles.  I remember after the Connors, McEnroe era everyone was panicking because there were no players.  However,  after a few years we had Sampras, Agassi, etc.  Now suddenly we have a lot of women, out of no where. The men will come.

The other important factor that we need to keep in mind is that tennis has become global.  Everyone has similar opportunities.  There is an international junior tournament every week somewhere in the world.  Every coach can have access to the latest information on coaching through the internet and all this has leveled the playing field.  There is much more competition and even the smallest countries have one or two decent players.  Therefor the US will probably never dominate the way they used to.  Having said that,  the US is still one of the countries with the best opportunities for players and therefore should always have top players.

I am sure top men will emerge soon! 

Recently, a DII tennis coach who recruited my son explained his philosophy of tennis recruiting to me. First, he is from another country. Second about half of DI and DII college players are from other countries  I asked him why that was happening.

He summed up a nagging question that many tennis fans and aspiring players wonder. He said the USTA is primarily a bureaucracy set up to make money from average players and takes advantage of  parents( particularly parents with more money than sense) that think, by pouring money into tournaments,fees and travel, will somehow guarantee college tennis or above. " Most college coaches know that. "Just because a player has a high ranking in the USTA doesn't always tell the true story.

My son did not travel all over the country playing tennis. He started at 8 played USTA until 13 all during the same time he played baseball, soccer, and football. At 16 he picked up his racquet again. Three lessons a week, and he played one tournament about every six weeks for two years. Tournaments no more than three hours from home.

I asked the coach how he found my son. He was at a tournament watching other players and saw him,.. raw talent with great fundamentals that would be great to develop. And he went on to say.. many 18's that have dedicated their life to tennis are as good as they will ever be. Particularly those that are over coached and injured before 18.

Back to international players. He told me that many countries select true athletes and develop them in a nationally sponsored program. They can't play tennis unless the are very athletic .  Professional tennis players are truly athletic. 

We did not send a single letter to any coach, yet  we got about 12 recruiting  invites.  so.. the coaches are there looking court to court when you don't know they are there. Plus they don't look until you are in the 16's. I was told they don't care what you do when you are  in 12's. So, my  advise I would give.  SAVE  money, be realistic about your child's abilities. You can't buy athleticism. But you can take all that tennis money put it into a college fund, and send your child to the school of his dreams.

I think this is great advice.  The one distinction I would make is that junior tournaments are good to play early for most players.  I think that learning how to play matches (and especially under stress) is a learned skill.  The more tournament type matches you play, the better you should be getting at them.  In your son's case, maybe his other sports gave him that same ability to perform under pressure. 

Thanks for sharing your experiences here - I'm sure many parents would be envious of how easily it seems to have come for your son.  I wish it worked out for me like that when I was a junior, that's fur sure. 

Your are so kind. Yes! Play Tennis!! But don't get caught up in spending too much money, or pressuring your child. Tons of DIII and NAIA schools for the college bound athlete to enjoy tennis. However, money will most likely come from yourself or academic scholarship funds. Not the schools athletic budget. So, have your child consider where he would like to go to school first.. then tennis. You can also join ITF and play Futures. Low level pro stuff...Good luck Americans! Hang in there! son's path wasn't  always an easy one. A major concussion in football put him into home school and  back into tennis. He is definitely a force...on any playing field. but that comes with a price too...It's called blood sweat and tears! His and mine! Certainly, not a typical story. But, I hope a thought provoking one for struggling parents and athletes. 


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