Maybe it’s becuase I read a New Yorker profile of the designer Balenciaga, he dressed the royalty of Europe during an era when an aristocratic women might require three outfits in a day, but I found myself thinking about fashion instead of tennis while I was watching Shenay Perry play Elena Dementieva in the fourth round at Wimbledon.
We knew that Andy Roddick’s ranking was going down, we knew that Andre Agassi was going to retire, we can assume that Lindsay Davenport is very close to the end, we’re not sure whether Taylor Dent will be able to play again, and who knows anything about Robby Ginepri.
I’m sure I’m in the minority here, especially among the male population, but I didn’t like the baby doll tennis dress trotted out earlier this year by Maria Sharapova. Besides the infantile look, it makes it hard for me to shop at Abercrombie and Fitch. The men’s clothes are way too big – baggy of course – and the women’s are too small. Seriously, a women’s large t-shirt looks like it belongs on stick-thin supermodel of the past, Twiggy. Besides, wouldn’t you want to look intimidating instead of childlike?
Shenay Perry had this part right. She was wearing shorts. Is there another sport where women wear dresses and skirts while they compete? But’s that’s about the only thing she had right. There was another reason I was thinking about fashion. My mind wandered because Perry was playing so awfully bad. She had the right idea, feed Dementieva slices and try to blunt one of the hardest hitters in the game. But she was a bit predictable with the slice and it kept landing short, fodder for the swift moving Dementieva. Dementieva didn’t have her usual high number of double faults but that’s only because the match was so short. Besides, she didn’t have to worry about holding serve, she broke Perry six times and won the match 6-2, 6-0.
Perry explained the loss by saying that she was nervous. After the match she said, “…being the last American, it is a little nerve wracking.” And that is the story. She was the only American to make it to the second week of Wimbledon. We knew that Andy Roddick’s ranking was going down, we knew that Andre Agassi was going to retire, we can assume that Lindsay Davenport is very close to the end, we’re not sure whether Taylor Dent will be able to play again, and who knows anything about Robby Ginepri.
But I don’t think anyone realized that the US wouldn’t have anyone in the quarterfinals for the first time since 1913. That tells you how bad it is.
James Blake should be able to stay in the top ten if he continues to improve. He worries me though. It’s not that he’s 0-9 in five set matches, it’s that he seems to have no idea what to do about it. I know why I lose close matches, all I have to do is take a look at my mind and it becomes pretty evident. Is he so out of touch?
There is a good young player the US can look to. Eighteen year old, six foot six, two hundred pound Sam Querrey recently won a challenger event, his first tournament as a pro. And he took a set off Blake in the second round at Indian Wells.
When I wrote about the controversy over foreign players in US college tennis earlier this year, German players have won the last three men’s Division I titles, I said that American players should welcome the competition. If these foreign players had been good enough to turn pro out of high school, that’s what they would have done. IMG sports agents would have snapped them up readily enough and clothing companies would have given them contracts.
While I was reading an article about the Sanchez-Casal Tennis Academy in Barcelona, the article mentioned that Andy Murray had trained there, I read about a British player at the academy who knew he wasn’t good enough to turn pro so his next plan was to get a tennis scholarship at an American college. If American college players can’t deal with that level of competition, American tennis won’t get any better.
Two of those German players, Benedikt Dorsch and Benjamin Becker, made it into the draw here at Wimbledon. Evidently they learned a lot of tennis at Baylor University. The US has good university coaches and excellent tennis academies, they have no excuse.
But maybe that’s not the problem. It’s not that the US is doing worse, it’s that every other country is doing much better.