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Mayotte Urges A Program To Improve US Tennis






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 being obsolete.

"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 produce champions."

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 stage.

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.

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