May 4, 2016

ESPN Tennis Conference Call with Chris Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver

(March 16, 2015) ESPN tennis analysts Chrissie Evert, Patrick McEnroe and Pam Shriver spoke with media on Monday. Currently, ESPN3 is providing live all-day coverage from the three main stadiums at the BNP Paribas Open, with ESPN television joining on Thursday, March 19, through Sunday’s women’s and men’s championships.


How good is Madison Keys?

· “I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve…But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots.” – Evert

· “The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart….I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.” – Shriver

The strong state of women’s tennis:

· “The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.” – McEnroe

· “The bottom half of the women’s draw — Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.” – Shriver

Q. Madison Keys, she’s really at this point obviously a big-time player, top 20. I know how familiar all of you are with her. Can you tell me why of all of the young up-and-coming players you think she is the one?

CHRIS EVERT: I mean, for those of us who saw her at a young age, I saw her at age 12. I think that everybody that saw her at that point thought, ‘Oh, my gosh, there’s so much raw power, that if she could just control it and harness it, she’s going to be a great player.’ Very much like a Serena, she has the second best serve out there, which she’s going to win a lot of free points holding her serve. She has so much power, more so than any of the other top players, aside from Serena and Venus, her whole game, not counting Maria Sharapova obviously on the groundstrokes. But she’s got it all. She has natural ease and power in her shots. I feel like I think Lindsay and her husband are a great fit for her right now. At the same time, I think we all felt she would achieve greatness sooner or later when she was ready, when she was emotionally ready. I think the emotional and mental part came along a little bit later than the physical part.

PAM SHRIVER: Well, I think for me, I’m not as familiar as Patrick and Chrissie in the development part, I’m just familiar with Madison as I’ve observed her the last few years for my ESPN position. The first time I really came out of a match with my jaw sort of dropping was a couple years ago at the Australian Open when she beat Paszek, beat her routinely. She beat her with two weapons: the serve and the forehand. In my mind, in women’s tennis especially, when you can come through with those two big weapons, it can set you apart. Over two years ago she was really, really young in her professional career. Now I think we see the pathway a little more clearly with a great team around her, what she did at the Australian Open. No big surprises. I can tell you from my courtside position a couple years ago, I came out feeling fantastic that the U.S. had a true prospect to get to the top spot.

PATRICK McENROE: Not to pat all of us on the back, but I think it’s been a wonderful progression for Madison. I think the first people that deserve a pat on the back are her parents. She’s a great girl, a great person. She’s got a great head on her shoulders. And her first coaches. Then Chrissie and her brother John, through her formative years when she was 12 up until she was I guess 15 or 16.

Then I have to give a pat on the back to my team at the USTA for doing a great job with her and taking her as a very talented teenager and turning her into a top-40 player. As Chrissie said, I think this is a logical progression for her to get the great insight of a great champion like Lindsay, someone who really studies the game and understands the game well. Obviously they got along great when they did their trial period out at the USTA training center in Southern Cal, so well that along with her husband Jon, it turned into a full-time thing. To me, as the head of player development for the last seven years, this has been an ideal progression for a talented player coming through, and the USTA helping along the way, Chrissie and her team doing a great job, arguably the most important years of developing her technique and strokes. Now obviously passing her off to a great player and great champion, someone who I think can take her all the way to the next level. The next level is winning majors.

Whether she can do that this year is up in the air. But I certainly think within the next 24 months, two and a half to three years, absolutely she can win a major.

Q. Today at the tournament is Azarenka versus Sharapova, then Roger playing Seppi, then Serena Williams and Stephens. Can you comment on some those matches.

PAM SHRIVER: First off, I think the quality of both draws is phenomenal. I think we saw great balance at the Australian Open. I feel like we’re in for just a great year of tennis at all the majors and all the Masters Series and Premiere WTAs. The draws are loaded. We’re getting fantastic early-round matchups.

Stephens-Williams has a lot of history based on the quarterfinal upset a couple of Australian Opens ago, but it also tells a different story of two different pathways, where Serena has been a dominant player since that loss, but Sloane Stephens has gone the other way, but is showing signs. If Sloane Stephens can feel a little more relaxed with Madison Keys picking up a lot of attention from her generation, other American women playing really well, maybe this is Sloane’s true comeback year. I would expect Serena to win that match. Chrissie, you want to take Azarenka-Sharapova?

CHRIS EVERT: No. You take it.

PAM SHRIVER: One of the reasons women’s tennis is looking better this year is because of players like Azarenka being healthy again. She looked for a while like the best hard court player in women’s tennis when she was winning two Australian Opens, almost beating Serena in two US Open finals. She was pretty much a non-entity last year.

The way she played at the Australian, the way she’s playing here, playing the quality of tennis she played a couple years ago, are great for women’s tennis.

What isn’t great is for people who like a quiet match (laughter). But we’ll have to deal with it. It will only last a couple hours.

CHRIS EVERT: I just think that Sharapova-Azarenka is going to be really telling to see how far Azarenka has come along as far as taking time off. She seems to have had a resurgence and she seems to have reset her career and her inspiration, seems like 100%. I always think that taking breaks for players is such a good deal, such a good decision. It just refreshes you. You just get so flat and burned out playing year after year after year and not taking a good chunk of really four or five months off. I think she’s been better as a result. These two players could end up 2 and 3 at the end of the year. That’s how tough this third round is.

On the other hand, Sloane, I love the way she has played this tournament. I’m very happy that she’s with Nick Saviano. I have a lot of respect for him as a coach, seeing what he did with Genie Bouchard. If anybody can help her attitude and mental outlook on her tennis, it’s going to be Nick with Sloane. So good signs, showing good attitude out there, good body language. These are just two great showcase matches for women’s tennis.

PATRICK McENROE: Maybe one you forgot about, we haven’t mentioned her yet, is Coco Vandeweghe. She’s done a terrific job. She’s seeded, what, about 30 or 31 out there. She’s sort of quietly playing the best tennis of her career. Similar to Madison, we’ve known about her since she was a teenager from Southern Cal. Being a huge hitter of the ball and a good athlete. It’s taken her a little while, but she’s figured out how to get herself in really good condition. I love the way she’s playing. She’s still a little bit up and down. She played some great tennis in Australia, then didn’t play so well when she lost. Taking on Bouchard, who Chrissie and Pam talked about already, that’s the first match out there on the stadium court today. That’s a good one. Bouchard obviously with a new coach, as well. She’s got a lot to prove this year, a lot of pressure on her after an unbelievable year last year.

The women’s game is as healthy as it’s been in a long time, to have Serena obviously doing what she’s doing. You’re finally I think seeing some young players that got some gumption, that got some real attitude that they can compete with the best in Bouchard and Keys, Svitolina and others. I think Coco Vandeweghe deserves to be in that conversation, as well.

Obviously we’re certainly looking forward to seeing Roger take on Seppi. While we would all pencil this in as a routine Roger win based on overall his record against Seppi, losing for the first time at the Australian to him, which was a shocker obviously, I wouldn’t be quite that quick. Seppi is a really good player. He’s had an excellent last year and a half on the tour. I expect him to play well again. Obviously Roger’s antenna will be way up for this. Coming off a win in Dubai over Djokovic got him back on track with his confidence that he can have another great year. Just like the women’s draw, the men’s draw is loaded. It’s a nice early test for Roger to see where he’s at.

CHRIS EVERT: Is Bencic playing Wozniacki?

THE MODERATOR: That’s second on.

CHRIS EVERT: That’s another one to watch, 18-year-old Bencic. Patrick was talking about the young ones. She’s 18 years old, had a slow start, but had a great year last year.

PAM SHRIVER: The bottom half of the women’s draw, Bouchard, Keys, Jankovic, Bencic, Wozniacki, Ivanovic, Garcia, Lisicki, Errani, Azarenka, Sharapova. That’s the kind of quality draw that in the last six, seven years we haven’t been fortunate enough to have. The recession of women’s tennis that started with Justine Henin retiring is well and truly over.

CHRIS EVERT: Good point.

Q. I wanted to talk about the event you’re at. Obviously players want to win at every event. This has the aura of a fifth major. Do you see players and advertisers, media, putting this on a higher shelf than other events on the tour?

PAM SHRIVER: From a Southern California standpoint, to think this is the only professional tournament in one of the great tennis hotbeds in the history of the game is kind of a shame. But it also makes it, for this region, because living here, hearing the buildup the last month, you can feel this is a big-time Southern Cal event.

CHRIS EVERT: You look at next week, Miami, this week Indian Wells. You talked about hotbeds. California and Florida are the two biggest tennis dates, I feel, in the country, and have really come up with some great players, play all year round. There are a lot of tennis enthusiasts. It’s only apropos that these two big tournaments are held in these two states. You could say the fifth. I would like to say the Road to Singapore, the WTA Finals, in the players’ mind is the fifth one. But then you have this one and Miami right there with it. It’s probably the most popular with the players. What’s not to be great to come out here in this weather, in this atmosphere, this facility, this venue. I think it’s definitely one of the players’ favorites.

PATRICK McENROE: There’s no doubt that these Masters events in general have been elevated to another level. You might get the same argument from a Cincinnati or even some of the European clay court events, which are tremendous as well. The nice thing about these two events, obviously Indian Wells, the facilities are phenomenal with Larry Ellison, what he’s been able to do to take it to a whole other level by building a new stadium. The grounds are tremendous. I was out there this past weekend. The buzz around the grounds, it’s electric to be out there.

The weather doesn’t hurt out there, as well. I think the time of year. There’s really no major that it conflicts with. You get towards the end of the major clay court tune-up, people are thinking about the French. In the summer, people don’t want to tire themselves out too much leading into the US Open. These two are just great events. This one, where it’s located, what Larry Ellison has been able to do. Ray Moore and Charlie Pasarell starting out had an amazing vision of what this event could be. I think it’s turned into that and a lot more.

Q. Patrick, what do you think of this picture floating around of your brother sitting between Bill Gates and Larry Ellison?

PATRICK McENROE: I thought I was the one in the McEnroe family with a low net worth (laughter). A little reality check for him there, you know.

CHRIS EVERT: Patrick, he was a little intimidated.

PATRICK McENROE: Who wouldn’t be, I’ll tell you.

Q. I have this theory that they made McEnroe pick up the check that night.

PATRICK McENROE: That would be okay. He could afford it (laughter).


In His Own Words: Patrick McEnroe to Step Down as Head of USTA Player Development

Patrick McEnroe

Patrick McEnroe

(September 3, 2014) Various media outlets reported on Wednesday that Patrick McEnroe would be resigning his position of general manager of player development for the United States Tennis Association (USTA). The USTA held a news conference after the completion of the Kei Nishikori – Stan Wawrinka match in which McEnroe did step down.

The following is the official transcript of a news conference in which Dave Haggerty, Chairman of the Board and President of the USTA, Gordon Smith, Executive Director and COO of the USTA and Patrick McEnroe participated.



Wednesday, September 3

Press Conference

Patrick McEnroe

Gordon Smith

Dave Haggerty
An interview with

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Good evening everybody. I’m Chris Widmaier, Managing Director of Communications for the USTA. I know everybody has a lot to write tonight, especially after that grueling five-set match. I do want to thank you for taking the time. Obviously we’re going to open this up, talk about Patrick McEnroe and his future and the future of USTA Player Development. But before we go to questions and answers, I think Patrick had a few words.

PATRICK McENROE: Thanks, Chris. Thanks everybody for coming. You reporters are pretty darn good, so you figure stuff out maybe before we had planned to announce it. Just to be able to talk to my staff and just talk to some other people. But the reality is that I will be stepping down from my position. Over the course of the last couple of months, as we have been looking ahead to what our plans will be in Orlando at Lake Nona for the USTA and specifically for player development, I think Gordon and I both kind of reached the same conclusion. Gordon, my boss, and Dave, his boss, that the head of player development, with the new direction that we’re heading in continuing what we have already started with our inclusive efforts and working with the developmental coaches in the private sector a little bit more, trying to do a little bit more in that area, it made all the sense in the world that the person in this position to be full-time based in Orlando. I think we both looked at each other over the course of obviously quite a few discussions over the last few months and realized that that probably wasn’t going to be me for a variety of reasons, both professional and personal, but I certainly felt, as did Gordon and Dave, that it was crucial for this person to be down there full time with the amount of resources and efforts that we’re putting into the new facility and the new programming in Orlando. So we felt that this was the right opportunity to start a transitional phase so that hopefully I can be involved somewhat over the next few months, however long that may be, to help with the direction that I think we’re going in, which I believe is extremely positive. I’m lucky enough to have a couple members of my team here. Again, I couldn’t get to a lot of them because of just the way this transpired, but they have really done tremendous work on our team and in player development. They’re going to continue to do that and continue to push forward with the direction we’re going.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Gordon, anything to add?

GORDON SMITH: Yeah. When Patrick came to me and told me he wasn’t going to be making the move to Orlando, you know, I really reflected back, because I hired Patrick way back whenever it was. We hired him for a pretty narrow job there. It was elite player development. It was just about a very few players. Patrick realized that the United States really needed a broad-based, organized regional and national program. So now we are in such a different place because of what Patrick has done, what he’s brought to this country in terms of player development. We have a set of regional training centers around the country. We have a very organized coaching education program to raise the level of all coaches. We have much more outreach than we have ever had before. From where we started to where we are has been quite a journey, and I will tell you that Patrick has really created a foundation that we will build on. Patrick will be actively involved for the foreseeable future on the transition. He realized, came to me and said, Look, we are building this new place. We’re making all these plans. If I’m not going in, the person who is needs to be involved in that process along the way. In the meantime, Patrick will be involved in helping us find who that person will be and helping us with that transition as we continue forward.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add, I think the last few years we have been focused on trying to reach out, be more inclusive, think about Team USA and think about doing what’s right for American tennis. Patrick has done a fantastic job. He’s answered everything that the board has asked. He’s really taken us in that direction. That will continue. That’s very important, that we continue to do what we’re doing. We have had some good success. Thank you for all that you’ve done. Patrick will be very helpful in helping guide us as to where we go in the future in succession.

CHRIS WIDMAIER: Opening it up to questions.

Q. Why now a full-time a person? ^ with the salary grade that you have been getting, wasn’t this a full-time salary position before? Why the change now?
PATRICK McENROE: I don’t think it’s a full time. I always saw this job as full time. I mean, pretty committed to doing what’s right for the USTA and for player development in general. Obviously I did some other things, still. Do some other things, as well. That’s obvious. I think when I initially took the job that was really seen as a positive. I know there have been critics about that over the years, and it certainly comes with the territory. But what I think it wasn’t so much about time commitment, it was more about the location and the resources being put into what we’re doing in Orlando, trying to make that really the centerpiece of player development moving forward. As you know, we have a home here that we didn’t have when I first started here. Obviously we have a presence in Southern California that we partner with. So the job really encompasses I believe the whole country, but I believe that moving forward, not just for player development but for community tennis as well, that it’s going to be moving down to Orlando. I just think it’s even more important. You could certainly argue that I should have been in Florida, living there, that I didn’t do the job. That’s your right to do that. But I think moving forward that I felt that the position needed to be in Orlando on a full-time basis. I certainly felt that I was doing the job from here over the last six years because, you know, I was able to use my energies in a lot of different places. You know, the job, as Gordon said, changed a lot over time. It changes from year to year as far as what your focuses are based on what’s happened in the field, based on different priorities. But I do think we’re headed in a very positive direction. Obviously when you look at the top of what we deal with, which is what a lot of people are interested in, is how are our top players doing? Obviously we are doing pretty well in the women’s side. We have a lot of work to do on the men’s side at the top, but I think we have a great group of youngsters coming up. I think we are all very optimistic about the future for them. So there is a lot of tentacles that go into this job. Certainly more than I realized going forward. That’s why having a great team in place and some of them here is, to me, probably the most important of having the right people in place to do the job.

Q. Dave is there any component or Patrick is there any component of this based on the fact the results haven’t been what you hoped in terms of on the court, particularly on the men’s side?
GORDON SMITH: The answer to that is no. If you look at where we are and where we have come from, I think, as I said we have a great foundation. Frankly, I think we are going to see results of that. We have 12 women in the top 100; 12 more in 100-200, far more than any other country. Many, many of those we have had a positive influence on. We are not as far along on the boys. Look at Wimbledon, we had seven out of the sixteen in the Round of 16; three out of four semifinalists, and both finalists. So we are really gaining steam, and I’m very happy with the foundation. Make no mistake, we’re going to continue the course. This is not a change in direction.

DAVE HAGGERTY: Just to add to that, I think the driving force is what we are going to be doing at Lake Nona. It’s really a change. I think this is Patrick saying, Look, I know this is going to be happening. We have to do what’s right. We have to plan for it, make a transition. And you don’t do that so soon that you can’t react and have the plan in place that you want to have. I think that’s really the key driver here.

Q. What would you say over the last six years you’re most proud of and what would you do differently if given the opportunity?
PATRICK McENROE: I’m most proud of the team that’s in place and the commitment and passion of the people working in the program and the outreach I think more recently. I think Dave was a big impetus towards pushing us in that direction to put more structure to that. We always felt that we, meaning player development, were doing that, but I think it forced us to look in the mirror and realize we needed to do things better in our outreach. I think there is a real sense that that’s headed in a positive direction. What would I do differently? You always look back and say there are things I’d like to do us to do even better in coaching education. I think that’s a huge issue for our country in general. The fact we are only governing body in world that doesn’t certify its own coaches. I think that’s a big issue. So there are always things you could have done better. I would love to see if every male player we work with was in the second week of the US Open. I’m also realistic. I also see what the world looks like. Overall, I’m just very proud of the people that have worked under me and that are dedicated to what they do. I believe I have had some influence on them and some positivity towards them. I expect that to continue from them.

Q. As a follow to that, what’s next for you?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, what’s next for me is, you know, we have a full staff meeting that we have in October with our whole team that we do every year. That was certainly a big impetus for me to announce this now, because the last thing I wanted to do would be to go with the 54 people that work in player development under false pretenses, to not let them know what was going on. That really started this discussion that I want to get this out. I want to go down there. I’m not very good at lying, so I’m pretty good at being straightforward and honest. (Smiling.) I want to continue to do that and work with the team moving forward. As much as these gentlemen want me to be to be involved I will stay involved and keep this train headed in the right direction.

Q. When we spoke a month ago in San Diego, you were making the rounds; you’d been to six sections…
PATRICK McENROE: Nine sections, but who’s counting. (Smiling.)

Q. And you were very candid. You said there was a sense that we were pissing a lot of people off trying to do it our way. Even though we thought we were doing our regional training centers the right way, a lot of people thought… This sense of having pissed off a lot of people, how did that play into your decision?
PATRICK McENROE: Oh, that didn’t play into my decision at all. I think that comes with the territory. I think that’s part of me learning on the job. I learned a lot of things. I believe I got better at what I did. Certainly I made mistakes, as we did within the program and as probably a lot of private coaches did, you know, when they are trying to work with kids. It’s difficult. It’s very difficult to create top-level players. I think I have a newfound respect for what my parents did, you know, to create two players, one who was really good and another who was pretty good. (Smiling.) But also for parents of junior players, for coaches of junior players, for the whole process, I think I never really understood it as a player. And now when you get to really see it and you see the work that goes into it and the dedication, et cetera, you realize it’s pretty hard, you know, to get to the promised land, so to speak, to play at the US Open. Obviously the world has caught up to us when it comes to the highest level of tennis. I think that’s a great thing. It’s great for tennis. It’s a global sport. We’re trying to do things better, and I think that means all of us. That means we in player development. That means in the private sector, et cetera. We’ve all got to work together. Maybe that’s one thing I wish I had grabbed on to a little bit earlier, because I do think it’s really paying off for us — not just for us, but for American tennis in general.

Q. Do you think those nine sections are ready to work with your successor?
PATRICK McENROE: Absolutely. Absolutely. There is a lot of people and a lot of dedicated people. This is not about — this program has never been about one person. It’s never going to be. It’s too big. Are is too many entities. Not just within our program, but with the sections, with the private sector, et cetera. So it has to be — to me, the job is one mostly of leadership and of vision. I think I was successful in some of those areas. As I said, coaching education has come under player development. That was something that I was certainly supportive of. I think that’s a positive. Us and my friend, Kurt Kamperman, who runs community tennis, we have worked side by side a lot more than we ever did. I think that’s a positive for tennis. I think that has to continue.

Q. What does this mean for José, Jay, and Jorge ^ ?
GORDON SMITH: Look, Patrick said it. Patrick’s created a great team and a great staff. They’re moving in the right direction. We want them to continue to move in that direction. We don’t see changes in what we are doing or who’s doing it.

Q. Thanks for all the sweat and the work.

Q. Used to be when Andre was around, whether it was in Zimbabwe or California, he was meeting the team. You know as well as anyone Roddick was a charismatic leader pulling for America. Now when you talk to John and Sam, terrific people, even all the way down to Koslov and Rubin, there is more of a culture of I’m working on my own game; that’s what I’m interested in. There isn’t that urgency of the, Hey, we’ve got to make this happen for America today. Could you comment about that? Do you sense that? Do you think that’s an issue of any kind?
PATRICK McENROE: I mean, it’s not up to the individual player to do it for their country, so to speak. It’s up to them to do it for themselves. I mean, as a Davis Cup captain for 10 years I spent a lot of time with Andy Roddick; he had an incredible energy and intensity level that was from him. That was him. Obviously he loved playing for his country. He loved supporting American tennis. I think that we have a lot of kids and a lot of players that have that. I think we just need to get better. I mean, our players need to get better. The coaching needs to get better. We want to be as much of a support as we can and a resource for all things tennis where our best players, our young coaches, we’re people getting people in the pipeline, for junior and collegiate tennis we created a separate position in the last few years just to focus solely on collegiate tennis and do what we can support the best players coming out of college. The answer to that question is I believe we have some of that. Great players obviously have certain individuality to them. I mean, look at Michael Chang out there coaching now. His intensity and energy has made a tangible difference in someone like a Kei Nishikori. We can always get better at that. I hope I answered your question. I’m not trying to skirt it. I just don’t see that it’s — I don’t look at that and say, That’s our issue. I look at it and say, We need to get better as coaches, as mentors, as players. We need to play tennis better. We need to train better. We need to be smarter, et cetera.

Q. It’s early on, but do you have any sense of a description of the job or the replacement of Patrick? Say, does it have to be a former player or just a great developmental coach? Somebody maybe with who has a business background a little bit? Do you have a sense of that yet?
PATRICK McENROE: Are you going to knock my business background, too? (Laughter.)

GORDON SMITH: Many of you saw John went to the ESPN set immediately before he came here. John said he was not a candidate for the job, so I know it’s not going to be John. Well, can we clone Patrick and get him to move to Nona? It’s going to be hard to replace Patrick. I was involved with the search when we hired Patrick. It’s a damn hard job, and it’s going to be hard to find somebody. But start with a lot of his talents and you’d have a good candidate.

Q. Would José be considered at all? Do you want a big name like Patrick?
GORDON SMITH: You know, honestly hadn’t thought about it. If you want to know the truth, the reason being Patrick and I had this discussion, we were in no rush. We simply — because he wanted it to come out on his terms. As things began to break we decided to talk tonight. We haven’t gotten that far down the road.

Q. How do you think your tenure in this sort of era of American tennis should be remembered?
PATRICK McENROE: Well, I hope it will be remembered when we have a bunch of players that will be at the top in a few years, because I think, as you have probably learned in your years now of covering tennis, it’s a long road to get to the top. It takes a lot of time and a lot of effort. You know, José and I have, and I fully expect Mark just to at least chime in on that for José to be involved. I’d like him to be on the court more, to be honest. I think that’s his No. 1 role is to be on the court working with players. We had already had discussions about him doing more of that in the near future, particularly some of our young boys that are coming up. But what we always talked about s wanting to put a structure in place, a structure that would help us create a good succession of high-quality players. I have said from the start in taking the job that I never suspected that we or any one person or program can create Serena Williams or John McEnroe or Pete Sampras. But I do believe that if you create a good system and a good program that’s organized, that has a coaching philosophy which we have that reaches out with the great private sector that’s out there that are in this game, that are in this world. Which there are not that many of them, by the way. There are some great ones, but there are not that many of it. That if you do that, this is a 15- to 20-year project. There is some disappointment in me to not see the whole thing through, but I have to be realistic about it about. When I first went to Orlando two years ago, as we were looking potentially for sites just for player development at that time before it became a much bigger deal for the USTA, you know, I wanted to do what I thought was right for the USTA and for tennis in the country. I’m going to continue to do that. So I would hope that some of those things have set some of the parameters in place and put some good things motion. Again, it’s a complete team effort. I hope that I have led some of that charge, that we can’t really just sit back, I believe, anymore and rely on, Jeez, we used to have half the draw at the US Open. Well, guess what? I mean, the world has changed.

Q. How much, if at all, have you tried to pick up things from other countries in the way they develop players?
PATRICK McENROE: You always try to find that balance of being we are the United States and we do want to do things our way. We do want to have the individual obviously be emphasized. But I do think that we wanted to get a bit more organized in the way we approach coaching and coach educating, et cetera. But at the same time, obviously you always look at what countries are doing that are having success, whether it’s France, Spain, Russia, et cetera. But at the same time, I don’t think we ever want to lose what we do well, which is, you know, be aggressive players, serve big, be attacking-type players. But you also have to realize that the game has changed. The game is played from the back court. You need to hit a lot of balls and be able to run and be very athletic. We have clay courts here. We have clay courts in Florida. We are going to have I a lot more clay courts – and some will be red, which will be nice – in Orlando; we have clay courts at our facility in California. We changed the Orange Bowl back to clay. You know, so there is a lot of things that tie into that to try to help our kids develop better so that they become better players.

Q. Is the transition anything more than you helping to find a successor? What’s the timeline for finding a replacement?
DAVE HAGGERTY: To me, I think, you know, a lot of this is new news. It’s something — you know, we are in the middle of the US Open, which is something that needs a lot of focus. But we will begin to plan and come up with something that really makes sense. This is not about change in strategy. We think the inclusiveness, what we are doing and how we are trying to work to develop American champions is the right formula. We have a great team. We just have to continue to move forward. How that looks, you know, I think we need a few months to figure that out. And the role that Patrick will play in it and the guidance that he’ll give us, you know, he’s learned a lot. Sometimes you have to take that learning and use it to make your decision-making.

Q. A year? Longer than that?
GORDON SMITH: I would say that’s an unknown, but if four to six months, could be longer. He will have much broader involvement than just finding a successor. He’s running the show. He’s in place. He’s going to be there to do that until this happens. He’s going to be involved in the search. He’s going to be involved in transferring the knowledge and the lessons learned. So it will be a broad involvement going forward in the transition.

Q. You talked about the developmental process, but what hasn’t been mentioned is our junior competition structure in this country. In my opinion, and in a lot of people’s opinion, that’s kind of an underlying issue with why we’re not seeing more of the top players emerge.
PATRICK McENROE: Yeah, I think it’s safe to say we’ve got some issues in junior comp. There is no doubt about that. We are certainly trying to tackle it in the best way we can. I will say — and I have sort of said this before and said it the wrong way and pissed some people off — but I will say that I don’t think that’s the reason we don’t have players at the top of the professional game. Just like I don’t think we need to have better coaching and education. All the things combined matter. I think junior competition matters. At the same time, you know, if you’re going to make that argument, which you’re welcome to make, then you might want to look at, well, how are we doing in girls? We seem to have a lot of girls in the top 100 and a lot more coming. They sort of play under the same system, as well. I think the premise of your question and statement is accurate, that we need to do a better job in that area, but I do think that it’s one of many issues.

Q. Last couple of years when you were out there looking at the Orlandos and whatever, were you aware from the start that you were basically looking for something that was going to take you out of a job, or was there a point where you thought you’d be able to stay with it?
PATRICK McENROE: I think a little bit of both. I mean, you know, obviously I feel like I have been able to do the job from here. If I didn’t think I’d be able to do the job I wouldn’t have kept doing it. But I do think — look, my interest was always in what I think was best for the program. That’s the bottom line. As I said, Gordon and I discussed potential directions to go, and I think we both looked at each other and we have worked well and we have been honest with each other for all these years. Dave since he became president, as well. I said, Look, I think this is going to work best for this position at this point to be based there. So, yeah, I guess I was my own worst enemy if I said I wanted to keep the job for as long as I could. I never looked at the job from that perspective. I looked at it as a great opportunity. I was paid well, obviously. I did my best and will continue to do my best. I made some mistakes, but I think generally speaking I’m proud of the fact that I have been able to be part of Davis Cup for ten years and this job for, you know, six-and-a-half years. Maybe it will seven by the time I sort of officially step aside. Whatever it is, that’s a pretty good run. They have treated me, the USTA, great. They have always been very honest with me. I have been very honest with them. I’m going to continue to do that.

Q. The last I guess 40 years, professional football, professional basketball, to a lesser extent hockey, baseball, has been pretty shrewd in using colleges to basically be a very seamless pipeline, cheap. Some could say exploited. But do you think that you, tennis, has done or could do a better job of exploiting the sort of infrastructures already in college?
PATRICK McENROE: There is no doubt we could do a better job. That’s why we assigned one of our coaches to specifically follow college tennis and specifically work with the players and the coaches. At the same time, I like to deal with reality, as well: If you look at the reality of the rankings of men’s and women’s tennis, the majority of the players didn’t go to college. It’s just a fact. It’s just a reality. That being said, we’re seeing some darn good players come out of college, particularly on the men’s side. Even a few on the women’s side that are doing well. That’s great. What I would really — what rang true with me is when I did some of my travels around the country and I heard from a lot of parents that that was important to them, that college tennis be a viable option. Because, you know, at nine or ten it’s pretty hard to say if you’re going to be a pro or not. So that sort of reenergized me to say, Hey, we need to make sure and do what we can to help college tennis, because a lot of — we might lose a lot of players when their kids are eight, nine, or ten that do other sports and get involved in other things and the parent says, Jeez, college tennis is, I don’t know. It’s not really viable. I think we need it to be healthy, and the healthier it can be it’s better for tennis in general. And I think it can be a pipeline, but it’s not going to be like football.

Q. Between public and private, could you talk a little bit about that relationship in terms of how that’s grown?
PATRICK McENROE: I think it needs to get better. That’s obviously been a huge push for us recently. The reason I say that is because it’s so much harder to make it. The private sector, you know, the tennis world has changed. I don’t mean professional tennis. I mean the business of tennis has changed to where clubs and academies, et cetera, they have — it’s more financially based now. It’s economics of how they can just stay in business. So the better a junior tennis player gets as a kid, 11, 12, 13, up to 17, 18, the more resources it takes for them to continue to develop. That’s where I believe the USTA can play a huge part in helping that process, be part of the process. And certainly not be the only part. We definitely know that. But at the same time, we need to send that message to those coaches out there, and they also need to receive the message I believe from the USTA that the — you may very well need us at some point, and that can be a good thing. If you think you can do it all alone, God bless you and good luck, but it’s pretty darn tough. The USTA can be a valuable resource in that process.

Courtesy of ASAPSports and the USTA.

As a media outlet credentialed to cover the US Open, Tennis Panorama News has permission to post this transcript.


Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe is Among the Honorees at Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program Gala



New York, N.Y., May 28, 2013 The Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program (HJTEP) is set to celebrate its 41 years of service and dedication to its program participants on June 17 and 18.

HJTEP’s year-long commemoration will begin on Monday, June 17th with a celebration dinner and cocktails at 6:00pm at Guastavino’s (409 East 59th Street, New York).  This event brings together tennis champions, celebrities and gracious donors, supporting HJTEP’s community services with special guests Vanessa Williams, Richey Reneberg and the evening’s emcee, Janice Huff of NBC New York.   This year’s honorees will include Jeanne Moutoussamy Ashe, widow of Arthur Ashe, Assemblyman Keith Wright, Black Enterprise Magazine and Dante Brown.


The main event will take place the next day, Tuesday, June 18 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, NY. Matches begin at 10:00am with tennis legends and celebrities including Patrick McEnroe, MaliVai Washington, Gigi Fernandez, Bea Bielik, Clyde Drexler, Kim Fields, Lori McNeil, Chanda Rubin and many others, paired with amateur participants. The finals will be played in Arthur Ashe Stadium at noon.


“We are ecstatic about the upcoming celebration of our 41 successful years in service that has helped pave the road to success for children in Harlem through tennis and education programs,” said HJTEP Executive Director Katrina Adams. “Our fundraiser is exceptional in the way that it unites everyone who is in support of the Harlem Junior Tennis and Education Program, from the participants, the charitable donors and tennis legends; everyone is mutually working towards accomplishing the same goals and we look forward to many more years of service to come.”


Say “No” to Best of Three

By Dave Seminara

Why is it that tennis writers and former players always seem to be agitating for changes that would result in less tennis being played in the pro ranks? For years, we’ve been hearing that the Davis Cup shouldn’t be an annual event, and that tennis’s offseason should be longer. Now during the first week of this year’s U.S. Open, the buzz was all about reducing the men’s matches from best of 5 to best of 3 in majors.


Ben Rothenberg made a best-of-3 pitch in the New York Times’ U.S. Open Preview issue, ESPN tennis analyst’s Darren Cahill and Patrick McEnroe said that the idea was getting some traction and merited further discussion and Billie Jean King wrote a piece for The Huffington Post arguing the same point.


I’m a tennis fanatic and I live for dramatic five setters. While Cahill and others have said that the Olympics best of three until the final format proved that best of three could be as compelling as the best of five majors, I had the opposite experience. For me, the Olympics felt no different than a Masters 1000 series tournament like Toronto, Cincinnati and the rest.


King maintains that the men should play less in order to avoid injuries like the one that’s kept Rafael Nadal out of action this summer. But there are scores of current and former players that continued to win into their 30’s under the best of 5 format- Jimmy Connors, Ken Rosewall, Roger Federer, Andre Agassi- and some athletes from every sport will sustain injuries no matter how many sets they play.


Rothenberg’s primary justification for paring back the length of men’s matches is the notion that the player who is leading at the end of 3 sets nearly always wins the match. He cited a statistic indicating that the player leading after the first three sets won 90% of matches in the last five years, but this year’s Open certainly bucked that trend.


There was a total of 23 five setters, with 10 players coming from 2 sets to love down to win in the first four days, tied for the second most in the Open era, and only 4 behind the all time record set at the 2002 Australian Open. Of the 23 five setters, the player who was winning at the end of the 3rd set won on only six occasions.


If the final had been straight sets win for Andy Murray, just imagine all the drama we would have missed out on. The match was full of plot twists, and despite the fact that it lasted almost five hours, the crowd didn’t want it to end. After Murray won the first two sets, the crowd seemed to shift allegiance to Djokovic-because they wanted more tennis- and then shifted back to Murray in the 5th.


One could argue that this year’s draw has been the exception, not the rule, but consider how different tennis history would be if the men had been playing best of three in the majors during the Open era. Roger Federer wouldn’t have a career slam, because at Roland Garros in 2009, his one win there, he would have lost to Tommy Haas in the Round of 16. And he wouldn’t have regained the #1 ranking, breaking Pete Sampras’s record for weeks in the top spot, because he was down two sets to love in the 3rd round of Wimbledon this year against Julien Benneteau.


Then again, he would have won the 2009 U.S. Open over Juan Martin Del Potro and could have fared better in other majors, like the 1999 Wimbledon, the 2011 U.S. Open, and the 2002 and 2005 Australian Opens.


In a best of three set world, Rafael Nadal would have lost to Robin Haase in the 2nd round at Wimbledon in 2010, rather than winning the title; Novak Djokovic wouldn’t have won this year’s Australian Open or the 2011 U.S. Open; and McEnroe would have a career slam, having beaten Lendl in the final of the ’84 French, rather than blowing a two set to love lead, but he wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1980.


Neither Michael Chang nor Boris Becker would have won majors at 17, and Becker wouldn’t have won Wimbledon or the U.S. Open in 1989. The point here is twofold: first, it isn’t that uncommon for players who are trailing at the end of three sets to win the match and then go on to win the tournament, and second, the better player is more likely to prevail in best of five set encounters. For obvious reasons, fans want to see Rafael Nada late in the final, not Robin Haase; Roger Federer not Julien Benneateau. If the men’s game switched to best of 3 sets now, it would also make it difficult to compare records from one era to another.


But the most important reason for keeping the best of five format is that five set matches test a player’s mental and physical strength in a way that three setters don’t. All of the most dramatic men’s matches I’ve seen in my lifetime- Federer-Nadal in the final of Wimbledon in 2008, Federer- Roddick at Wimbledon in 2009, Borg-McEnroe at Wimbledon in 1980, Lendl-McEnroe at the ’84 French, Connors-Krickstein at the ’91 U.S. Open, Isner- Mahut at Wimbledon in 2010, and McEnroe-Becker at the Davis Cup in ’87- were five setters.


Yes, five setters are tough on the body, but at most majors, the players have a day off in between most of their matches. And, let’s face it; watching guys overcome cramps and other injuries to win is high theater. Who could forget watching Pete Sampras gut out a win over Alex Corretja at the U.S. Open in ’96 after throwing up in the plants at the back of the court?


Tennis writers often suggest making dramatic changes to the sport, but I love tennis too much to advocate any changes that would result in less tennis. As far as I’m concerned, the sport is just fine the way it is.




Jamie Reynolds of ESPN on Approach Shots

Jamie Reynolds (Photo by Rich Arden/ESPN)

Tennis Panorama News had the unique opportunity to visit the ESPN broadcast compound  and spend time in the control room in Melbourne during coverage of the Australian Open back in January. Senior Vice President of Event Production for ESPN Jamie Reynolds took time out from his extremely hectic schedule to speak to us about the logistics, technologies, philosophy and personalities of ESPN’s Australian Open coverage.

Karen Pestaina for Tennis Panorama News: How are the logistics of planning different for the Australian Open versus the other slams?

Jamie Reynolds: The way that we approach the Australian Open is similar in the way we do all four majors. And ESPN is unique in the aspect that we literally take apart our entire operation, our entire family, our entire circus and we take it three continents and an island.

We go to Australia and then go on to Paris, we then go up to the UK for Wimbledon and them back down to New York at the end of the summer. The nine month rip is pretty aggressive. So we probably pick up 115 people, and literally land on these hotspots for these events, move them in for three weeks. And I think we are probably the largest broadcaster who does all four majors at that level of commitment or the magnitude of the production assets that we bring. So it’s pretty challenging.

The biggest thing, the hardest thing for us, relative to the Australian Open, candidly is that we are upside down on the time zone to our audience and the fact that we don’t start until 9pm and we run the overnight hours, that’s great, but when we are trying to grow the sport, it’s a little challenging. How do you get people to stay up all night long or want to get invested, either TIVO, record, DVR the matches, because they are that much of a tennis fanatic to take advantage of what we are doing versus what they getting immediately either texting, news reports, Morning wheel of the news, they can get all that social currency to get up to steam.

So our challenge really, for this particular event is probably more editorial that logistic.


TPN: What is the biggest technological challenge in covering the Australian Open?

JR: This event is technically, is one of the easier events for us to handle technically. We’ve got a partnership going with Channel 7 Australia, who is also the host broadcaster. So ESPN comes in and effectively we are a world feed embellisher. We put our own character, our own personality, our own voices, graphics, music. Pick the asset that can actually tailor the world feed presentation to look and feel like a standard ESPN product.

So perhaps our biggest challenge is what if we don’t necessarily agree with you on covering a match? Or perhaps the isolation plan for Tomic or for Federer or for Roddick or for Rafa perhaps. That assignment of cameras may not be perhaps the level or the rate or philosophy that we might bring to a match. So how do we cover that chasm?

Technology wise we continue to push the envelope by bringing assets like the Spidercam, the aerial system that you see out on Rod Laver, that’s a device that we on ESPN brought to the tennis world and introduced at the majors at the US Open three years ago, convinced Tennis Australia, Channel 7 that it might enhance their coverage, convinced all the parties to come together and bring it down and fly through Rod Laver.

This year we’ve been very aggressive in trying to help Channel 7 understand how that could be an asset to enhance the coverage package. I think that everyday we chip away at it and get a little bit bolder with its flight pattern and we kind of rely on it a little bit more. I think that it enhances the value of its coverage.


TPN: Now that we are down to one American left in the singles draw, what are your angles going to be?

JR: Without the Americans doing well for the first time in the open era and not get to the round of 16, that’s challenging for us. Because we’ve got a lot of personalities and lot of what we do look at from the access to a lot of these players, what the interest is back home. Our particular productions have migrated to a new way of thinking. Specifically this is truly an international event with so many great personalities form around the globe, and because we do reach a lot of countries with ESPN, we think a little bit broader in how we are actually in going after a Hewitt story, a Roger or a Rafa or a Raonic or Tomic and any of the ladies as well.

That our goal now is to make that as personable, as desirable, in terms of wanting to understand the back story, getting our audience invested inn them, just trying to figure out the best way to convey that to our audience so they don’t mind that there are no Americans. We don’t have to put the red, white and blue all the time but there’s really great tennis out there that is fun.


TPN: Any new technology being implemented at this year’s Australian Open.

JR: The Australian mindset is very unique. They are gregarious fun loving good folks down here. They tend to be incredibly open-minded in terms of progressive introductions of new ideas to help convey the event and one of the initiatives they’ve helped us achieve is what we call our behind-the-scenes franchise. And that behind-the-scenes franchise as effectively as I describe to our teams is this: “Take behind the velvet ropes. Give me discovery and access. Take me places I couldn’t get to if I had a ticket or if I had the ability to watch every hour of what ESPN puts out, I need to feel like I actually in the event and going somewhere where no one else can go.”

And with that kind of mindset and philosophy with Tennis Australia, “where can you give us access to?” Well we can go to the workout room, we can go to the locker room, we can go to the hallways, the waiting rooms for the players, the player lounges. We can go to the car park area, where a lot of them just go and out their headsets on and just get into a zone and just kind of shut the world out to deconstruct their match. They’re very open-minded, progressive in terms of allowing that access. With that comes the ability to kind of shape the way we convey this event as opposed to just a rectangle on a screen, two players back and forth, three-hit rally or a 17-hit rally. It’s a little sexier, a little bit more valuable, more attractive presentation. I actually feel like I’m part of it, a part of the community, behind the velvet ropes and going somewhere where I couldn’t even go if I were on site.


TPN: What would surprise tennis fans about being behind the scenes?

JR: There’s an incredible amount of camaraderie and I think that what doesn’t convey that whether it’s the ATP or the WTA, these athletes and personalities do travel the circuit week after week and what you actually see behind-the-scenes is the feeling of family amongst the players themselves. As combative or as aggressive as they can be with each other out on a court there is sincere appreciation, chemistry, commitment to one another, whether they are having a good year or a poor year. There’s respect but there is a dynamic that these athletes share with each other. It’s not as adversarial as it might convey over an 11-hour show window where we are just showing guys beating back and forth with each other.


TPN: What is a typical day for you and the talent?

JR: This is probably the most challenging because of the sheer number of hours that we televise. When we say first ball to final ball, it is a very solid commitment to coverage of the most important matches from front end to back end. That really requires commitment of literally hours per day. So when you look at the first ball starting at 11am and often times ending like New York ending after Midnight, if not later, keeping people motivated through that 14-day stand is challenging. And with a roster of  personalities, our talent roster, keep them enthusiastic, keeping them invested and focused on being “on” for that 10 hours a day waiting for a match, getting ready for one that is coming up tonight,  and you really gotta go through your head for 2 hours and come back with the same enthusiasm, that’s challenging. You are asking a lot of people.

So what happens behind the scenes to help that? It’s the sense of community, family and respect for each other we all try to create. This isn’t just a group of specialists, assassins coming into do a single job. We’ve got to keep everybody working with the chemistry and taking advantage of that. So we’ll rotate teams. You might see Chris Evert working with Pam Shriver today or you will see Patrick McEnroe and Darren (Cahill) or Patrick and Chris Fowler so we can actually keep them involved with each other because they don’t have to always rule out “ Oh God I’m just sitting with my partner for this match and I’m doing every single match him for the next 14 days.” It changes up the dinner table a little bit.


TPN: Who are the practical jokers behind the scenes?

JR: I think that those in the tennis community and those of us who are running the sport know what kind of personality a Brad Gilbert brings. And we know, we look loving and fondly at Cliff Drysdale. He’s the godfather of our team, the elder statesman. As a perspective, he is the longest running talent on ESPN, bar none. He’s been with us since 1979, so we look at that history, having done Davis Cup that year, he is the man who is the franchise longer than anyone.

And then you look at Darren Cahill. Cahill with the Aussie wit, terrific personality. Patrick McEnroe, that’s pretty good – an acerbic wit. And McEnroe has a pretty good timbre to work with. Look at the gals – Mary Joe (Fernandez) and Pammy (Shriver) are well respected. Pammy can be polarizing, she’s got a great personality, she will go off on a flyer and make us all laugh and look at things a way many of us would never think about. She connects the dots on a lot of different stories and a lot of personalities. So that’s kind of like a really valuable spark. It’s a good roster.

Follow ESPN’s tennis coverage on ESPN2,, on twitter @ESPNTennis and @ESPN10S and online on their tennis home page.


Patrick McEnroe to Donald Young: Apologize

(April 25, 2011) On Friday Donald Young directed a curse-filled message at the USTA on his Twitter after falling to Tim Smyczek in the final of the USTA French Open Wild Card Playoff.

“F*** USTA! Their full of s***! They have screwed me for the last time!”



Right afterwards Young tweeted:

“That tweet was out of character. ive never been like that before. but im tired of it. sry about the language, but not the thought behind it.

…and deleted his twitter page shortly after the post.


On Monday, the USTA General manager of Player Development- Patrick McEnroe held a media conference call  to talk about the USTA’s French Open Wild Card playoff tournaments. Partial transcripts provided by Fastscripts by ASAP Sports.

Patrick McEnroe‘s opening statement:

After Donald won the Tallahassee challenger, which was the week just before the playoff, about three days before the competition was to take place, we received at Player Development an email from Donald Young, Sr. asking us to give Donald a wildcard for the French Open.

We, of course, elected not to do that because that would be going against the principles of what we have established: having the players earn it. Despite the fact that Donald had made a jump up into the top 100 on the latest rankings, those of you in the tennis world know that his ranking wasn’t high enough to get him directly into the French Open. So we went ahead with the playoff as we felt obviously was the right decision for us.

So when Donald made his comments on Twitter, I was obviously taken quite aback by the language and also by the intent of what he said in his comments. His subsequent comment came before he took down his Twitter account that he apologized for his language, but not for the message behind it. When I read that, I thought a lot about the time and effort that our team at Player Development has put into Donald in trying to help him reach his potential. This call isn’t to debate necessarily what it means to help a player, et cetera. I can just tell you that we have worked hard and long to try to help him. And I think he was making quite a bit of progress based on the amount of time he spent with our team in the last six months at a couple of our centers, including Carson and Boca.

I want to just for the record let you people on this call know some of the actual help that Donald Young has received from the USTA over the years. This predates my term as the General Manager of Player Development.

I can go back to 2005 when one of our coaches, Mike Sell, spent about six months on the road traveling with Donald to the Australian Open juniors, to the Easter Bowl, to the Italian Open juniors, to the French Open, et cetera. I can go to 2006 where he periodically spent time with some various coaches on the staff. In 2007 David Nainkin was essentially exclusively Donald’s coach for basically the entire year. David spent 20 weeks on the road that year working exclusively with Donald. He didn’t work with any other players at that time. This was before we had a full-time program that was dedicated to helping our pro players and our juniors out in Carson, which is a little bit different than it is now. That year, at the end of that year, Donald reached a career high in his ranking. Starting in 2008, Donald spent the first few months of the year again with Mike Sell who wrote some detailed reports of Donald and what he thought that he could do to reach his potential, one of which was something that I repeated in a letter that I wrote to Donald about a year and a half ago. It’s funny because I was reading Michael’s notes from three years ago, and he essentially used some of the exact same language, which was that we felt Donald should be in a competitive training environment as much as possible. We didn’t think that was happening on a regular basis.

After that, Ricardo Acuña spent about the next four months working exclusively with Donald.

This is again in 2008. In 2009, Donald spent a few weeks training with Jose Higueras, who at that point had just recently been appointed Director of Coaching. Jose took a personal interest in Donald, working up a plan and a routine for him. In 2010 Donald spent quite a bit of time on the road with Hugo Armando, a coach no longer with our program, and also received a wildcard that year into the Houston event, which was a USTA event, into the US Open for the fourth time in singles. He received a wild card into Atlanta, into Cincinnati, and into New Haven. Just for the record, Donald Young has received 13 US Open wildcards in his career, four of which were in singles, main draw singles, two of which he won because he won the junior championships, one of which in doubles he won because he won the doubles championships. So he’s received a total of six doubles wildcards, two mixed wildcards, four singles, and one in the qualifying of singles.

In the past year, we felt that Donald made some significant strides. He spent two and a half weeks with our team out in Carson, including with David Nainkin, who has gone on to have a very successful coaching run in the last couple years with Sam Querrey and Mardy Fish, and also our strength and conditioning man out there, Rodney Marshall, who spent quite a bit of time with Donald in December and also throughout the beginning of this year where we had David helping him in

Australia, we had Rodney helping him there, we had David again leaving the tournament in San Jose early where Sam Querrey was still in doubles to go be at the qualifying for Donald in Memphis. Donald also, when he came back from Australia, spent about eight days at our center in Boca training with Jay Berger, our head of men’s coaching. That is really just a snapshot of some of the help that Donald has received in the last six years. Again, quite a bit of this predates my start here as the GM of Player Development.

From the media conference call:

Q. What does Donald Young at this point have to do to get back into your good graces and become a part of the program again?


Patrick McEnroe: It’s not even my good graces. This isn’t personal. This is about apologizing, number one, okay? We deal with a lot of different scenarios. Most of the time, if not all the time, we keep it internal, we try to deal with it. We understand there’s coaches involved, whether they’re personal coaches, whether they’re parents, et cetera. We want to do the best we can for there to be a two-way street.

We’re not going to sit here and dictate everything that has to be done. At the same time we’re not going to be dictated to either.

You can’t come to me and tell me, Here is what I want and here is what you need to do for me. Unfortunately, I think there’s way too many people out there that think that’s what we’re here to do. We’re not here to do that.

We’re here to help our players with the resources that the USTA has given Player Development, which is a part of the USTA. We want to be accountable for our program and for what we’re doing. For us to be accountable, obviously the more influence and the more control we have over what the player’s doing, the better we feel about where we’re going with that player. Again, that doesn’t mean we have all the answers, that there’s not another way to do it. Sure, there are plenty other ways to do it. But we want to be working in a relationship that’s a two-way street.

Read the entire transcript here.


Update as of April 26 – the LA Times reported that Donald Young issued apologies on Monday night to at least two members of USTA Player Development – David Nainkin and Jay Berger.


Update as of April 26th – the LA Times reported that Donald Young has apologized to  Patrick McEnroe.

From the LA Times:

Donald Young spoke publicly for the first time Tuesday about his obscenity-laced outburst on Twitter last Friday. In his Twitter message, Young ranted about his perceived treatment and the way the United States Tennis Assn. determined who would get the U.S. wild card into the main draw of next month’s French Open.

Young angered Patrick McEnroe, head of the USTA player development program, as well as national coaches Jay Berger and David Nainkin with his characterizations of the USTA.

On Tuesday, Young said, “I apologize for the way I said what I said. [Twitter] wasn’t the right place to say it.

“It was a disagreement about the way the wild card was handled. It’s their decision and the way they did it, that’s their right.”

Young, who called Berger and Nainkin with apologies Monday, said he and McEnroe had exchanged text messages Tuesday. “Patrick says that everybody’s good,” Young said.

Read the rest here



Gracias, Bogota by Junior Williams


Gracias, Bogota


By Junior Williams
I had a lot on my mind as my flight from Miami touched down at Bogota,Colombia’s El Dorado Airport Wednesday afternoon. Most prominent was whether or not I would regret my maiden voyage to South America.
A number of my tennis fan friends chose to skip the Davis Cup World Group Play-off between the United States and Colombia, citing U.S. State Department travel warnings and Bogota’s reputation for crime which goes back to the drug wars of the late 20th century.

When a driver from my hotel picked me up and engaged me in conversation -being nice enough not to ridicule my lack of fluency in Spanish – it was definitely a sign of things to come: Bogota is one of the friendliest cities I have ever visited.

I decided to spend my six days and five nights in the La Candelaria section of central Bogota, full of 300-year old colonial buildings,university students and narrow streets. My room at the Hotel Ambala was only $42 a night in U.S. currency, and the staff at the hotel made me feel very much at home.
The trade-off: A very small room with a bathroom you have to squeeze into,and the pulsating beat of bars and nightclubs into the wee hours of the morning. A far cry from the upscale JW Marriott in northern Bogota where the U.S. Davis Cup team is staying, but I’ll take the charm of La Candelaria any day of the week. 



National Capital building at Plaza de Bolivar




My American friend and I have been walking all over Bogota, from the Plaza de Bolivar – home of the national capital building – to the Plaza de Toros la Santamaria, the bullring hosting the Davis Cup. In this city that’s more than 8,600 feet above sea level, I can understand why many cited altitude as a big challenge for the U.S. team. We did lots of huffing and puffing in the hilly parts of Bogota.



Transmilenio/Museo de Oro station



When we weren’t walking, we took the Trans Milenio — a rapid transit bus system masquerading as a subway. It’s a good way to see other parts of the city, with mountain tops looking down over the metropolis.

Bogota is also the home of cheap and tasty eats, where you can get breakfasts and lunches for as little as $2 to $5 US (1800 Colombian Pesos= $1United States). Empanadas, tamales in banana leaves, and sizzling meats are just the tip of the iceberg. Dinners are also inexpensive, but don’t wait too late to go out for a meal. Very few restaurants are open past8pm.
Carrera 7 was a pleasant surprise on Friday night . No cars allowed. It was like a street fair for several blocks.

As far as safety is concerned, there is a heavy police presence in Bogota.It’s not unusual to see officers with muzzled dogs patrolling the streets.

The homeless are very savvy. Expect one of them to come to you and ask for change right after you purchase something on the street.



View of Bogota from Monserrate peak



While dining in a restaurant, I met a retiree who left Chicago to live in Bogota. I asked him for the must-see spots in the city. He mentioned Monserrate, a mountain top where a white church overlooks the Colombian capital.

I took his advice, and the views were breathtaking.


Monserrate Sanctuary



Since we were dining, he also gave me some “tips” on tipping, which is not customary in Bogota (though some eating establishments have service charges). He said if you want to give a tip, give it directly to the waiter or waitress. If you leave it on the table, anyone can take the money.
He also said Colombians are some of the nicest and most generous people you’ll ever meet. “If you ask for one thing, they’ll give you two or three.”
He went on to say that Bogota’s reputation as the most dangerous capital city in the world is unjustified.

I couldn’t agree more. Even when I was walking down crowded streets wearing clothes that screamed out I am an American, I’d get smiles,welcoming gestures and strike up friendly conversations with Bogotanos. 



I didn’t get a chance to see all of the hot spots here, such as the Museo del Oro which I hear is wonderful, but I’ll have plenty of fond memories of Colombia, and not just because of the tennis.
Gracias, Bogota! 

Junior Williams is a long-time journalist and tennis fan. At a moment’s notice he can give you a list of all the Davis Cup match-ups that would give the US home ties. He was in Bogota reporting for Global Village Tennis News covering the US vs Colombia Davis Cup tie.

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