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The Tennis Thread

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11 minutes ago, Soapsuds said:

The Czech women have a tourney with fans and no masks.

 

When I started to read this sentence starting with "The Czech women..." I thought you were going to talk about their history of leading very  messy personal lives.  I thought Vaidisova was messy but Petra Kvitova beats Nicole by a country mile!

 

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While I do agree that Dokic's narrative was covered poorly in the media, many journalists seemed to mostly cover how defensive the family appeared to be, the father's statement that he believed they were being discriminated against because of their Serbian identity made any stories accusing him of being an ogre (which he was), practically radioactive as it would be viewed through the lens of xenophobia (which sadly, the British media had a habit of engaging in xenophobic comments).

 

Another problem with stopping abuse in tennis is the fact that players act as independent contractors as there is no players' union.  In fact, there appear to be more protections for tournaments than there are for players. It was even worse 20 years ago.  You had Damir Dokic and Jim Pierce who were obvious terrors to their daughters, but you also had parents who were seen as aggressive but not abusive, like Peter Graf, Steffi's father.  I remember watching a biography of Steffi and one childhood friend, who went pro around the same time as Steffi, recalled Peter Graf slapping Steffi, after Steffi complained that she was tired and didn't want to practice anymore.

Then you had Pete Fisher, a dentist and tennis tutor who taught the likes of Pete Sampras and Alexandra Stevenson, who is now a registered sex offender after having served three years in prison for child molestation.  By the time I learned about him, it seemed as if it were an open secret.  You also had the svengalis who set very bizarre regimens for their pupils (e.g. Patty Schnyder) akin to cult-like mind control, isolation and weird dietary restrictions. 

 

Sadly, tennis is rife with abuse of all kinds (racial, psychological, physical, sexual) and part of the problem is a glaring lack of even minimal oversight and protections.  One basic step that could have been taken and should have been taken a long time ago is to form a players' union that instituted some protections and protocols for player well-being.  If it isn't obvious that this sport needs one, I don't know what it will take.

 

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Not sure what anyone expected the tennis association to do about the abuse.  Ban the parents from coming to matches if they were unruly but at home?  

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54 minutes ago, ChitHappens said:

Not sure what anyone expected the tennis association to do about the abuse.  Ban the parents from coming to matches if they were unruly but at home?  

 

The question is which tennis association? The ITF? The WTA? Tennis Australia? Tennis has eleventy billion associations, all of them ineffective at pretty much anything.

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A first step could be to introduce a minimum age for entrance into ATP and WTA tournaments. Tennis history is full of child stars who have burned out at a very young age, or found themselves in trouble with drugs and/or the law.

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7 minutes ago, I Am A Swede said:

A first step could be to introduce a minimum age for entrance into ATP and WTA tournaments. Tennis history is full of child stars who have burned out at a very young age, or found themselves in trouble with drugs and/or the law.

 

The WTA has the age eligibility rule, which many complain about but is there for a reason. I think the target should be the parents, guardians and the adults. Yes, parents get barred if the behavior is particularly egregious but in a sport where minors are allowed to compete at the highest levels, there should be some resources available for an athlete to turn to if they are being abused by a parent and/or coach. Nothing is 100% fool-proof but not to have anything at all in place is dereliction of duty.

Another issue is what constitutes a minor is totally different in Europe than the U.S.  Even so, there should be some resources for adults as well, although if an adult doesn't want to take action, there isn't much anyone can do.  Not to even try though, is unconscionable.

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Coco Gauff is experiencing this very thing and when the word "depressed" came up, dad stepped in and put that to bed very quick.  I think depressed is used too easily and I don't think Coco's dad is a bad guy but Coco is under quite a bit of pressure.  It may be getting to her.  Covid just may have done her a favor.  

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24 minutes ago, ChitHappens said:

Coco Gauff is experiencing this very thing and when the word "depressed" came up, dad stepped in and put that to bed very quick.  I think depressed is used too easily and I don't think Coco's dad is a bad guy but Coco is under quite a bit of pressure.  It may be getting to her.  Covid just may have done her a favor.  

 

When Coco had her initial breakout success, quite a number of people were complaining about what they perceived as the age eligibility rules holding her back.  I think the heck not!  Those rules are there for a reason. The pro-tennis entities tend to chew up their prodigies and then when disenchantment and burnout happens, those same entities look to point fingers at the players.  Donald Young is a prime example of this.  It wasn't him crumbling under the weight of expectations as much as it was him pushing back against being constantly told that his parents weren't good enough to be his coaches and that he should dump them--by the way, it was Donald Young Sr. who was coaching Taylor Townsend all during last year when she had her thrilling run in the U.S. Open--then when Young started to show a distinct lack of confidence, instead of seeing how they could help, the USTA was there to snicker and tut-tut about how they were right.

Speaking of Townsend, the same USTA did a lot of emotional damage to her psyche but last year, she seemed to have been on the road to finally starting to meet her potential with some confidence.

 

For me, it's too soon to tell which way Coco will end up but she certainly has the talent and the tools to become a great player.

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