Many sports experts and tennis fans comment on the fact that the USA no longer has a strong presence in the professional world of tennis. It’s no secret that the Arthur Ashe and Andre Agassi era of American tennis has come and gone but are the professional American tennis players of today really that bad?
In the current Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) world rankings, six American men are among the top 100 players in the world. To put this in perspective, Spain has six men’s players in the top 30 rankings. So maybe it is as bad as it sounds and these spectators have raised valid points?
However, the answer is not that simple and part of the problem is the insane amount of pressure and criticism that is placed on the American men to perform. In part, this could be due to a sense of nationalism; people want to be proud of their country and the pressure and criticism that players face is a misguided attempt at protecting the Agassi and Ashe reputation that was built up over the years. The thing about a reputation though, is that it is fluid and ever evolving so no matter what pressure and criticism the American men are faced with, the reputation of American tennis cannot stay the same. And frankly it’s about time that it changed. The focus has always been on men’s tennis and we just aren’t seeing many results.
A lot of people, even I’m guilty of this from time to time, seem to completely ignore the women’s side of the game. And right now the American women are making their presence heard. Twelve women’s players comprise the top 100 slots of the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) ranking. The United States is the most represented country in the WTA rankings, currently. That’s double the number of men’s tennis players in the top 100 and the current #1 women’s player on tour is American. Her name is Serena Williams and you might have heard the name once or twice.
The 2014 US Open will be the chance that the women need to showcase their talents. Hopefully, we can count of Serena Williams to make a deep run in the last major tournament of the year but this tournament could also be a young players breakout session. Leading the way is Catherine Bellis, a 15-year-old American who took down the #12 seed Dominika Cibulkova Tuesday afternoon in a shocking first round match. After two full days of play nine other American women will accompany Bellis into the second round of the US Open. Serena William’s dreams of taking home another singles trophy are still alive and well but she will not be the only American to keep an eye on.
The future of American tennis looks bright for the women and it’s time that they get the attention they deserve. I’m not saying that we abandon all hope on the men’s side of the game, but if Bellis and the women have a hand in rebranding the reputation of American tennis, then I’m not that worried about what the future has to bring.