United States tennis is currently crying out for
a player like Tim Mayotte, the former world no.7 who reached two Grand
Slam semi-finals and won an Olympic silver medal during the height of
his playing career back in the 1980's.
Now following the worst Wimbledon for American
tennis since 1911, Mayotte has called for new steps to avert a further
decline and grow seeds of optimism for the future.
Mayotte wants to form a new tennis university to
improve the quality of both performance and recreational players alike
and educate coaches in the best techniques world-wide. And he believes
too many of the current measures employed by both the United States
Tennis Association and in universities around the nation are close to
"By every measure American tennis has
experienced a cataclysmic fall in the world rankings just over the
past 15 years," said Mayotte. " While the theories and reasons are many,
I argue that one problem (though clearly not the only one) is that the
game has changed so radically that a style of playing and coaching that
once produced a number of highly ranked players is now inadequate to
Mayotte has called upon bodies such as the USTA
as well as the United States Professional Tennis Association and the
Professional Tennis Registry to fund the project. He points out they
have spent enormous resources recently concentrating on attracting
children under the age of 10 to play tennis but have neglected to
provide a sophisticated framework to develop players beyond this early
Initially Mayotte believes there should be a two
to three year training program to bring coaches up to speed but more
long term he believes greater importance should be placed on improving
technique on slower courts and coming to terms with the new technology
that has changed the game.
"Over the past decade and a half the slowing
down of courts and new polyester strings (that create vastly more spin)
have augmented and made successful on all surfaces what was a already a
dominant game style on the clay of Europe and South America," he said.
"Americans rarely fared well on the slow clay
courts of Europe and South America, but that reality was overshadowed by
the success our players enjoyed on faster courts, including those at
Wimbledon, the US Open, and the Australian Open, as well as many indoor
events. On those faster courts the serve and volley and predominately
attacking ground stroke game still thrived.
"A number of factors, including the slowing down
of courts, polyester strings (that create more spin and control) and
evolving technique and movement mentioned above, has led to an improving
ability to neutralize the power game and shorter points traditionally
favored by Americans."
Mayotte observed: "A game-style that has first
emerged in the late 1970's has become the dominant one on the world
stage. This style, made most visible by Bjorn Borg, combined
semi-western grips on the forehand and two-handed backhands, in tandem
with efficient movement including a mastery of all movement patterns.
"Consistency and power were joined in this new
type of baseline-centered game which brought increased racquet head
speed through more rotational and vertical power."
Mayotte has approached USTA president Dave
Haggerty as well as notable past and present USTA coaches such as Jose
Higueras, Gilad Bloom, Patrick McEnroe and Jay Berger with his plans.