Chris Evert: Why America has produced a host of fresh tennis champions
Tennis legend Chris Evert believes US tennis chiefs deserve the credit for a boom in the game, as she outlined why so many new stars have emerged in America in recent years.
America has nine players in the world’s top 100 on the ATP Tour and a further 17 in the top 100 of the WTA rankings, with Coco Gauff and Sofia Kenin among those tipped to win multiple Grand Slam titles in the coming years.
While Britain struggles to find its next great champion, Evert told Tennis365 that the transition from the junior ranks to the professional tour is an important phase of development that needs to be handled with care and she believes a big training hub is the key to success.
“I think it helped when the USTA moved to Orlando, and they came up with that big facility,” she told us at a Eurosport event.
“I think that has been a good training ground for a lot of the young girls. Shelby Rogers, Madison Keys, I know some of them make their home down there, some of them just go there a lot for training, good coaching, good fitness facilities.
“We’re a bigger country than the UK and tennis is the number one women’s sport in America. When little girls grow up, they aspire to become, by watching Serena Williams and by watching their role models, they aspire to become tennis players.
“We have a lot of good academies, first class academies here. The depth has just been incredible over the last few years. But I think the USTA has really help and reached out with more resources than ever before.
“The USTA foundation has 250 different programs for under-resourced kids, that certainly has helped a lot as well. I’m all for staying home and living a normal life and practicing after school, and that’s the way I was brought up.
“But at the same time, it’s amazing when you take a kid in 8th grade who stayed at home, went to school, practised with their local coaches, practiced two hours after school and then they go to an academy.
“They they’re be practicing with other kids, practicing maybe three hours a day, doing an hour of pretty intense off-court training, they have mental conditioning as well, physical conditioning, and they’re living in an environment where it’s very competitive, and very disciplined, and their game was up like that much in three months.
“So, you have to make that choice ad I think it depends of the kids. Some kids are matured enough to move to a facility where they can train, and I think other kids aren’t matured enough.
“It depends of the kids. In the same breath, when you look at Kerber, when you look at a lot of top players, they moved at a young age to an academy, whether it was in Spain or whatever it was. I think at some point 13, 14 that’s a good age if you want to just devote yourself 100% to an academy.”
Eurosport is the home of Grand Slam tennis and the Australian Open will be live on the network in January.
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