Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Holiday Tableau
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Holiday Tableau 12/21/2006 - 5:59 PM

Howdy. Well, the final countdown to Christmas is underway. This morning, Cowboy Luke and his entire Weekday School (it's a small outfit) staged their Holiday Tableau, an annual event for the parents.  It's a re-enactment of the  Nativity story, in which the kids play the part of various characters in the saga. I like the fact that the Weekday School, while affiliated with the Baptist Riverside Church, celebrates Christmas and Hanukkah, instead of neither. I guess it's a multi-denominational school, rather than a non-denominational one. Bring on the holidays!

XmAnyway, the tableau was enacted on a big stage in the RC auditorium, before three or four hundred people.

Luke and his classmates in 717 drew the part of shepherds (since the costumes were more-or-less homemade, they ended up looking more like Bedouin tribesmen, which may be what the shepherds were anyway). Their job was to sing Noel. Two of the girls in his class, Renata and Kayla, stepped up and took the lead when it was 717s turn.

Staci, a therapist/child development specialist who works with Luke, reported that he sang along. We were seated too far back to see much except the strawberry blond top of his head.

Anybody want to go off-topic? Here's my entry for favorite Christmas movie: National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation. It makes me feel like a philistine, placing it ahead of those sentimental, heartwarming classics, like Miracle on 34th Street or A Christmas Carol.  But I am  more deeply in touch with my inner Knucklehead than my inner Nutcracker. I defy you to watch NLCV and not laugh at loud.

The holiday season is all about the kids, right? So I want to get back to some of the discussion launched by my last post. One of the most frequent criticisms of the academy system that Nick Bollettieri popularized is based on a misconception - that kids get sent there by overly ambitious parents, and that the kids are welcomed with open arms (and eyes fixed on the parents' checkbook). Why, many of you wondered, would the parents of a six-year old like Greer Glodjo ship their child off to an academy, or re-focus their entire family's priorities on a long-shot tennis development plan for a child, when doing so may prevent that child from enjoying a "normal" life?

The answer is that the children in that position are not normal - not any more than chess or music prodigies. And while some parents try to paste their ambitions on a child and goad or force him or her to conform to their dreams, it doesn't really work that way. And the attempt to do that almost always dies on the vine, long before it can even become controversial. Imagine trying to ramrod an kid with no talent for music into an advanced prodigy program at Julliard. First, the school will quickly tell the parents that the kid has no talent. Second, even if the parents somehow beg or buy their way in, the kid won't last a New York minute.

In broad terms, this is also true of tennis. Nobody can explain why some children have an extraordinary facility and appetite for ball games any better than they can tell you why some kids are musical or math prodigies. It all starts with a specific gift - and its one that blind-sides parents as often as it falls upon them as some kind of answered prayer. My own son, for example, shows absolutely zero interest in ball games. I often took him to the tennis courts at Central Park (we basically live across the street from them), and he was aware of what the people were doing on those courts. He knows what I do for a living. I've taken him out with his youth racquet and a nerf ball, just for something to do (as well as out of curiosity), and I'll try to teach him the game at the right time. But right now, there are lots of things he'd rather do, and that may continue to be the case.

By contrast, here's how Greer got involved in the game. She received a tennis racquet as a birthday present (this is all according to her mother, Dr. Deidre Collette and father Arman Glodjo). She and her older sister went out to bang the ball against a garage wall, and within five minutes Greer was pounding away, and warning her sister to stay away from "her" game. Greer's parents then asked her if she wanted to take lessons. She said "yes!" Some time later, seeing how responsive the child was, the parents took a one-week vacation at the IMG Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy.

During their stay, they asked Nick if he wanted to have a look at their daughter, because they felt she was exceptionally talented and drawn to the game. Nick evaluated the child, and he immediately told the parents that she was unusually gifted - so much so, that he was willing to train her intensively, as long as she responded happily and made progress This essentially meant that the Glodjos would have to uproot and move closer to the action (the family officially resides in Bermuda), which they decided to do. Clearly, Greer responded to this opportunity; it was obvious and undeniable to me that she loved playing the game.  The "team", in consultation with experts in the sports development field, then went about designing a specific, unique, child-friendly schedule for training.

Of course, all kinds of unexpected things can happen between here and Wimbledon - including a loss of interest or even a more serious case of burn-out. But it seems to me that this is a chance worth taking, simply because it's better to be pro-active and eager to provide a prodigy with every opportunity than to somehow hold back a willing - and willful - child, especially if the restraint is idealogical. That is, predicated on pre-conceived notions about what childhood ought to be like. All individuals are unique, it seems to me; it's probably better to follow and nurture the emerging longings and interests than to focus on the potential down side, or  fret over where they may lead in worst-case scenarios.

This isn't a blanket endorsement of high-level early training. But we do know that the paths of development for great players have been as diverse - and in many cases, unlikely - as the personalities of those players. This we know for sure: There is no "one size fits all" solution to the challenge of development. Therefore, how can we rule out any approach, unless it's been shown to be disastrous?


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Posted by abbey 12/21/2006 at 11:05 PM

sam has clearly started his christmas shopping for himself. ;)

Posted by Tari 12/21/2006 at 11:07 PM

Exactly, abbey. ;-) When's the TW party, Sam?

Posted by abbey 12/21/2006 at 11:08 PM

ok, i saw the 23rd and it's confession time...tomorrow's my 30th bday. aarghh, i can't believe i'm turning the big 3-0.

Posted by Lucy 12/21/2006 at 11:08 PM

YAY SAM! HIGH FIVE!

It's okay. Extended trading hours, baby! How procrastinators such as myself ever coped in the era of 9-5 store hours is beyond me.

Posted by Sherlock 12/21/2006 at 11:09 PM

Good choice, Sam. Bourne Identity will look great.

"Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows" eh, Ptenisnet? Cool title. When is that coming out?

Posted by AmyLu 12/21/2006 at 11:09 PM

Lucy, I will definitely by-pass Ace Ventura then. I feel like you and I have very similar taste on things.

And I think I finished my Christmas shopping - I have yet to wrap anything, but I do have all of the gifts.

Posted by Lucy 12/21/2006 at 11:11 PM

Abbey!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! I hope you're having a big party, or doing something cool, like anything except Christmas shopping.

*hugs Abbey*

Ptenisnet. The canoe. I am deeply flattered.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/21/2006 at 11:12 PM

Dont know sherlock.
But, Borders is taking reservations for it.

Posted by AmyLu 12/21/2006 at 11:12 PM

Happy Day Before Your Birthday abbey!

A RNKAS rule will definitely need to be crafted in honor of this day; is the date of your birthday the 23rd?

Posted by Tari 12/21/2006 at 11:13 PM

Whoa, milestone birthday, abbey! Happy Birthday! *Hugs* from me as well. :) Enjoy.

Group hug for Abbey, Tribe?

Posted by Sherlock 12/21/2006 at 11:13 PM

Happy birthday, Abbey!!!

Posted by ptenisnet 12/21/2006 at 11:14 PM

Abbey
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4byUlyh3npk

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:15 PM

Happy birthday abbey!

Lucy: *high fives back* The only other gift I bought was a combination birthday/Christmas one for my Dad.

Posted by abbey 12/21/2006 at 11:16 PM

thanks for the greetings. yes, amylu, 23.

and this is the dorkiest from me yet, but i'm having a kiddie party at jollibee, a mcdonald's type fast food chain. complete with the mascot, balloons, games. never had it as a kid, so i thought, one last chance.

Posted by Lucy 12/21/2006 at 11:19 PM

Hee. Last year I was trying to wrap presents while driving to Mum's house. It didn't work very well - there aren't enough traffic lights.

Group hug!!

Posted by AmyLu 12/21/2006 at 11:19 PM

Okay, well on your actual birthday, there will be a special missive from RNKAS. :)

And I love the idea for your party. That's a terrific idea!

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:21 PM

abbey - The main thing is to do something you enjoy on your birthday. Have fun!

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:23 PM

"sam has clearly started his christmas shopping for himself. ;)"

I have my priorities straight. :-)

Tari: Yes, I am distracted by the thought of my new TV. :-)

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:24 PM

"When's the TW party, Sam?"

Good question. During the AO?

Posted by skip1515 12/21/2006 at 11:28 PM

One of the more interesting things about this Go/No Go to an academy question is that there is a significant difference in the trajectories of male and female pros. Generally speaking girls are able to compete on the tour at a younger age than boys. In fact, it may be said there are girls in WTA draws but no boys at ATP tournaments. (Donald Young being the exception and not the rule.) The part that brute strength plays in the men's game is bigger than in the women's. Of course there are exceptions to this, too, (Davenport?, Serena?), but on the whole it's true.

In light of this it can make more sense for girls to attend an academy. They're game will be closer to its finished state earlier in their lives and the opportunity to be competitive at high levels will happen sooner.

Conversely there are many boys who, like Chang when he failed to impress Hank, succeed due to consistency and not much else in the lower age groups. As they get older they fail to follow up that early success when their peers begin to harness the additional power available to them once they hit 18 or 20.

Am I unfairly loading the point when I mention it's a 6 year old *girl* Nick's touting?

Pete, I understand your questioning why some posters feel the tennis academy route is is worse than the educational path of a piano prodigy. But Julliard requires an audition, if I'm not mistaken. I'm not sure every kid at Bollettieri's (or other major academies) gets there via a similar process. Any details on this?

Lastly, to tie in the film theme with the post's main topic, may I recommend the movies LIttle Man Tate and Searching for Bobby Fisher?

Posted by Ruth_YUL 12/21/2006 at 11:29 PM

then again, family dynamics are expanded when visible to all. the pressures that may or may not be put on a child-tennis-great is no different to that felt by a child who isn't under any spot light.

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:32 PM

MWC: Enjoyed your take on potential.

Posted by Pete 12/21/2006 at 11:39 PM

Abbey: happy birthday, think of us at Jollibee, we'll be with you in spirit! It's like an Elder-fest here tonight (although Steggy is MIA), reminds me of that wonderfully bittersweet Replacements song, Here Comes a Regular. Go Mighty Mats!

Posted by Pete 12/21/2006 at 11:44 PM

Ruth_Yul - fine point, welcome.

And on potential - one thing you can say sure as s%$# is that the world belongs to the risk takers, and the one thing I'm pretty sure of is that a hail of a lot more folks ask themselves "what if?" instead of "I took my best shot, what went wrong?" I think it's because it works out for people who took their best shot, even if that shot didn't exactly pay off in the primary, most desired way.

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:46 PM

" Let's not forget Jordan was cut by his JV coach in high school"

Apparently that was what drove him to work so hard and eventually achieve great success.

Posted by MWC 12/21/2006 at 11:46 PM

Skip,

Academies have two routes: One, your family has sufficient funds to pay for you to train there, irregardless of ability, and two, the academy "discovers" you via tryout, and maybe offers you a scholarship. Let's not forget that Bolleterri is actualy a subsidiary of IMG now, so IMG can sign "potential" professionals with the understanding that if they turn pro, their time at the academy is free.

Posted by abbey 12/21/2006 at 11:48 PM

thansk, pete. and i will.

and pete, what did you do to steggy?! ;)

steggy, take a break from work, will you. it's christmas, and it's my bday, and because.

Posted by MWC 12/21/2006 at 11:48 PM

Sam: the other point re JOrdan, was he hadn't finished maturing physically at 14...with the growth spurt and subsequent advantages (as well as hard work) he was able to start his journey to greatness. At 14 he just wasn't physically ready.

Posted by Pete 12/21/2006 at 11:52 PM

Skip - I have never seen a kid who can't play (at a high level) get serious attention at Nick's, but at the same time I like him for being welcoming all. Think about it: you really want to be a good tennis player, but you stink. I think you still deserve all of the encouragment and support you can get. I think it would be horrible if your ability to indulge and pursue your passion and dreams were subject to a hard, cold, realistic judgment that ended up send this message: Yeah, kid you love tennis and want to be a pro, but you blow so get out of here. It's like telling a lousy aspiring novelist to stop writing, instead of honestly telling him how far he has to go, his chances of getting there, and then saying if that's where your heart lies, keep going.

Posted by Sam 12/21/2006 at 11:52 PM

MWC: Good point - I hadn't considered that aspect.

Posted by abbey 12/21/2006 at 11:53 PM

"the other point re JOrdan, was he hadn't finished maturing physically at 14...with the growth spurt and subsequent advantages (as well as hard work) he was able to start his journey to greatness. At 14 he just wasn't physically ready."

exactly the same point skip made re girls v. boys development.

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 12:07 AM

I'm here (just got woken up by effing India, again.. called four times in 6 minutes).

Just wondering something.

Skip/DM/MWC: Correct me If I'm wrong here but, wouldn't it be bad to put a still-growing child under constant hardcourt play and training?

Posted by Lisa 12/22/2006 at 12:30 AM

Oh, Ptenisnet, "Love Actually" is my favorite "modern" Christmas movie. I can't listen to "All I want for Christmas is You" and think of the movie and leaving through Gatwick on Tuesday, I thought of the little boy running past the security guards to say good bye to the little girl.
NLCV is also a good one but since our lights go in the shrubbery and not the house (ahem, husband is not at all the handy-type) part of that movie bypasses me.
Oh, the rain didn't come so we did do the group caroling thing tonight--someone hitched a flatbed trailer to a truck, loaded bales of hay on it and we were taken through a neighborhood caroling.

Posted by D-Wiz 12/22/2006 at 12:32 AM

*quietly sneaks in and then YELLS*

HAPPY HOLIDAYS, EVERYBODY!!! :)

Hi all! Had a busy end of week & weekend last week, then I got sick. Bleh! Do you guys know that it's absolutely *impossible* to catch up reading TW if you haven't checked in around this joint for 5 full days? I'm kinda obsessive-compulsive about reading every post (don't wanna miss nuthin') and I. Can't. Catch. Up! LOL!

Anyway, just wanted to send warm wishes to everyone. I'll continue to be pretty MIA 'round here for the next 3 days since illness further delayed my already delayed Christmas shopping (yes, I *am* a Loser with a capital 'L'), but I've missed you all and if I can't get back as soon as I'd like, well...I'll be thinking of ya! Happy Holidays!

Posted by Lisa 12/22/2006 at 12:38 AM

Oh, I have heard that the USTA is considering adding an 8 and under division. Our club pro was called about it and asked what he thought and he said NO!
Basically, the 8's play with the 10's anyway if they're at all interested in competitive tennis. I don't see a need for adding 8s, do you?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 12:57 AM

Hey D-Wiz: Happy Holidays! Hope ya feel better soon.

Good night all.

Posted by MWC 12/22/2006 at 12:59 AM

Steggy: Without knowing exactly what Bolleterri is doing with GReer, I would say I'm sure they make allowances with the girl's age. THe surface is irrelevant, ie..a hardcourt isn't going to destroy a 6 yr old's knees. That being said, it's better for a child to learn on a clay court. The time on the court each day and the duration are the key figures. Most 6 yr olds can't focus for more than 30 minutes at one time. So I would assume, again without much knowledge about Greer's schedule, that her training sessions are roughly half an hour, but she probably has 4 a day. As she gets older they'll increase her duration and frequency.

Lisa: I am of the opinion, as a teaching professional, that even 10 and under is run poorly by the usta. So I can only imagine that the USTA will make no allowances for 8 and under matches. The 10 yr old's now play just as long as their 18 yr old counterparts. I think the 10 and unders would be best served playing an 8 game pro set or two out of three short sets to 4 games, and IF they go with an 8 and under, they should be limited to a race to six games.

Posted by Lisa 12/22/2006 at 01:33 AM

MWC, had you been polled by your CTA or district about the 8's? Even at Level 3 touneys, I've had to pass out portable score cards for the nets for the 10s because get nervous using a court without score cards.
I think the 8 game pro-sets are reasonable. I know some kids who went to sectionals when they were 10 and 11 and the long matches in 110 degree weather caused one to have a heat stroke.

Posted by MWC 12/22/2006 at 01:38 AM

USTA doesn't poll anyone, they simply have tournament committees that make their decisions. What the committees fail to realize, just as the USTA has, is that in their efforts to make more money, they are hurting the game overall.

Posted by Rosangel 12/22/2006 at 02:24 AM

DM, skip1515 , MWC and Pete as well as others: some interesting perspectives on this whole question. Thanks for sharing.

Posted by sophie 12/22/2006 at 04:59 AM

Up to the age of 11 I think the only thing my parents asked me about was whether I wanted to go to bed in the afternoon, or was I going to behave.

After that age, I took control and ruled the world.

Posted by fastbowler 12/22/2006 at 05:38 AM

I have to ask: When did the tennis prodigy, accelerated training phenomenon start? Was it Tracy Austin or Jimmy Arias' example of success as teens? How did the "rush" to start early to get out there and be the next teen phenom become such a PRIORITY? Sure, the Eastern European example of early recruitment is just as established, but we hardly hear and/or don't really discuss stories of burnout heartbreak from that sector. Is this early training truly the price of tennis success? (Hmmm… I'm sounding rhetorical. Feel free not to answer?)

As I quoted Elf in my post at the Archive Advisory, the Will Ferrell movie is one of my favorite Christmas movies. The quotes in the movie alone will NEVER stop being funny!

"There's no singing in the North Pole!" "Yes, there is!"
"Bye Buddy… Hope you find your dad…"
"Not now, Arctic Puffin!"
"You're NOT Santa!"
"If you were Santa, what song did you sing for me on my birthday?" "Why, 'Happy Birthday' of course!"

I also love A Christmas Story ("Fa ra ra ra, ra ra ra!"), The Ref and Metropolitan.

And abbey, it seems you have no e-mail but: are you me? Niki to my Jessica? I'm in the Philippines, and my birthday was yesterday too!

Posted by May 12/22/2006 at 05:42 AM

Happy holidays, everybody! Enjoy yourself.

Can someone explain to me how can it be that Andy Roddick is included in SI Best Looking Athletes list, and TMF is not? I like Andy, but if he is good-looking, Federer is nothing short of breathtakingly beautiful.

SI just has something against Saint Roger, who will spend this Friday visiting an orphanage for tsunami victims. What is Wade doing today?

Posted by Mark 12/22/2006 at 05:43 AM

Is there a difference between the way european and American tennis academies are run? I ask because all of the top players at the moment seem to have learned their tennis in Europe - Henin, Mauresmo, Federer and Nadal. However, I think most of them were involved with their federations (Nadal the exception?)rather than being pummeled into submission on the court every day by a parent. Perhaps that's really the key point.

Of couse, often the correlation between being a good junior and a good senior is somewhat obscured by the fact that talented youngsters 'play up' an age division, so don't necessarily win everything, and then get on to the pro tour. Seles didn't have much of a junior career because she was already playing in the big leagues. I think Hingis is still the only player to be ITF junior and senior world champion (though Amelie was robbed this year).

I'm gonna cast a vote for the nutcracker over the movies :-)

Posted by mmy 12/22/2006 at 06:46 AM

May:

Re SI and considering Andy sexy.

Remember the endless shots of Andy shirtless this summer? (If you watched US tv you will have seen his abs way more than you wanted to ).

They are trying to 'sell' Andy as 'house heartthrob' -- we are supposed to believe that bikini clad lovelies follow him from tournament to tournament.

Cynics consider the Andy-Maria 'whispers' to be part of this campaign.

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 at 07:30 AM

I think that kid should be at least 12 before they go to these academies then they can make the choice for themselves rather then have a parent push them into something they don't want. Hey Temes, great news on the Williamses lawsuit, they don't have to pay any damages. Maybe now they can concentrate on tennis rather then spending all their time in court. I look forward to a renewed rivalry between Justine and the Williamses. This made tennis so exciting. For Pete and Steggy, Merry Christmas and a happy new year, and thanks for all your hard work in making TW a family friendly place to talk about tennis and OT discussion. You guys don't realize how much this place means because without it I would waste all my time at the mall spending money. I never realized there were so many lurkers at TW until they gave me advice on my party incident, please try to post more often and become a regular. To lurkers and all the regular gang, Temes, Lucy, Sam, Rosangel, momofan, Sherlock, DM, and the biggest KAD at TW, Tim, Merry Christmas and a great new year. I'm feeling great because this is the last day of school. May O7 be the year of Justine. Go Justine, kick butt and take no prisoner in O7.

Posted by Lita 12/22/2006 at 07:44 AM

Dunlop Maxply-I really enjoyed your post. I agree with you about both Michael Chang and Pete Sampras. When they were teenagers I doubt people would have chosen them as the next world number 1 and 2 of their area.

That's the nice thing about Tennis. You can never really predict. So many things can happen throughout a player's carreer at any stage.

A Christmas movie to watch: "Joyeux Noel". It's a european movie. Don't know if it made it to the USA. It's very touching, and a true story about german, french, and british soldiers in WWI celebrating christmas in the battle field.

It's not a comedy though.....

Posted by Lita 12/22/2006 at 07:54 AM

and Pete... it would have been nice to have someone who actually runs, or has ran, a tennis academy to give input to your post. It would help to get some insider's input from the other side of the coin. I think such "guest blogger" would allow us understand better what goes on in the academies and what they have to say on the matter.

cheers!

Posted by skip1515 12/22/2006 at 08:16 AM

mwc: You're right, I'm sure, that different kids have different arrangements at the tennis academies, including Bollettieri's. I just wonder what the *exact* terms are under which someone gets to live and train at NBTA. What does it cost and who gets to go?

We're discussing Bollettieri's, but I don't mean to single them out. The question really applies to all the top facilities.

When I was still teaching tennis full time we had two boys who spent their semesters at Nick's. (Full disclosure: this was 25 years ago.) One of them in particular was struggling with whether or not to return. He wanted to, but it had been hard for him. He wasn't a top dog. Dealing with the competitive nature of the place was wearing him down emotionally. It's not bad that it was competitive, but that is the atmosphere.

This boy wanted to be a great tennis player, Pete, and I'd never coldly squash his hopes, as your budding novelist scenario goes. But none of us saw in him more than a doubles player at a Division One school, if that. Unlike a friend telling a would be writer they couldn't write the sequel to See Spot Run, the tennis pro's taking the kid's money – you owe him an honest assessment of his chances of reaching his goals. You, Pete, said you'd been there when Nick's given someone this kind of advice and I don't doubt it. Nor do I envy Nick the task.

This is different than sending your intellectually gifted child to a school that challenges them, unless you send them with the predetermined idea that they're going to be astrophysicists and *not* a molecular biologist. Every kid attending top academies can't possibly have good odds of making the top 100 in the world. College ball? Yes. A life on the tour? Maybe, but not the one any sensible parent would spend tens of thousands of dollars on *each year* in a speculative venture.

So besides any question of the academies' ability to craft mature tennis players, I do wonder how many of the numerous kids populating Bollettieri's complex are there with false hopes implicitly fed by the academy's willingness to take their money.

Posted by Alista 12/22/2006 at 08:31 AM

Pete, this is off-topic off the off-topic. I saw the article about the Rutgers tennis and I'm wondering how many of the Rutgers tennis players are from the United States? At my school, most of the tennis players are from Europe or the Nordic countries (I'm an first generation immigrant so please don't think I'm hating on the foreigners here). Now, I know that this has nothing to do with why the program was cut and I don't have any statistics to back this up, but it does seem that most of the college tennis players in the USA aren't from the USA. I think this is relevant at state colleges at least, because state colleges are partly paid for by taxpayer money and I have a difficult time seeing why tennis programs consisting of players that are mostly foreign should be supported by taxpayer money. Many of these students get at least partial scholarships and the program itself is paid for by the university. If anybody has information or thoughts on this, please share and if any of my assumptions are wrong (because like I said I have no statistics on this) please correct me.

(Bear in mind that I think that the term student athlete is an oxymoron, when it comes to football players at least. I've been a lab instructor and had many football players in my labs and they are required to spend so many hours per day at practice (usually twice a day), I don't see how they have any time to study or learn anything. I don't even blame the student athletes; I think the whole thing is a fraud and that they are duped. Nobody intends for them to get an education, and the NCAA should stop the pretense.)

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 09:09 AM

Alista: Regarding student athletes and the NCAA's pretense, I find it comical how during college football games on TV you'll see commercials talking about University X and their academics. Of course, the school may be a good academic institution, but putting that on during the game is a joke.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 09:14 AM

Well said, Samantha. I hope you have a Merry Christmas and a happy new year as well. Don't shop too much. :-) Of course, I'm also hoping for Justine to have a great 2007.

Posted by temes 12/22/2006 at 09:40 AM

I don't know why I have a very fantasized picture in my mind about these academies, like they're something great, like something out of Harry Potter, such as the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I guess it depends on the children, whether they like it or not. I definitely think that they should not be exposed to the "superultramegahardwork" at six(omg), but rather after they're ten. I believe then they're old enough to know that they really want to be world class athletes.
I'm so glad the Williamses got out of that lawsuit intact, I hope they never have to see that awful Carol Clarke again.
I dare them to screw up 2007.
Thanks Samantha, same to you and everybody.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 12/22/2006 at 09:59 AM

Bill Murray's Scrooged?

Also, I'm a sucker for the wartime b&w films, particularly Holiday Affair...

My boys like Elf, which I think will hold up surprisingly well, with its use of classic 60s claymation imagery, color, and sound.

Posted by Olivejuice 12/22/2006 at 10:05 AM

I like the Christmas music in Home Alone. I can't really say I love the movie but the music is great.

Posted by temes 12/22/2006 at 10:38 AM

Oh, this wasn't the academy thread. Oh WELL.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 10:40 AM

"I like the Christmas music in Home Alone"

Same here. I really liked the movie too.

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 at 10:43 AM

"I always want to win, but in a clean way," Juju said upon being named the UNESCO sport ambassador of the year. Justine became the first woman and the first tennis player to ever be named to the pretigeous post. Not even Roger has been given such an honor. Justine was given the honor because of her dedication to "fair play and sportman like conduct", according to the head of UNESCO. This appointment strongly contradicts what some of the haters have said about her conduct. Go Justine!

Posted by temes 12/22/2006 at 10:48 AM

That's hilarious, Samantha. Out of all players...
No, no...that's nice for her.

Posted by Pete 12/22/2006 at 11:44 AM

I don't want to write a bummer post on the eve of the holiday, but this is what a friend in Belgium wrote me the other day:

Here in Belgium the association of sports writers elected Justine Henin-Hardenne as best female athlete in 2006, but she refused to come over to Belgium to receive the trophy during a big live show on TV. She is said to be angry because she finished only fourth last year (the winner was Kim Clijsters; but remember, each of them won only one Grand Slam tournament in 2005). Even the Minister of Sports tried to convince her to come when he met with her in Paris, where she was presented as a new UNESCO ambassador.

The show she was invited to ("Sportsman, Sports Lady of the Year"), which is organised by Clijsters's buddy, Bob Verbeeck, is broadcast live on television in prime time, on the main TV network. With this year, she's won the trophy three times, while Kim Clijsters was five times the winner...

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 at 11:56 AM

Pete, I totally support Justine. She has always been treated like a second class citizen in Belgium. Remember how badly she was treated at the Fed cup where she was told not to show up because she was too sick to play and yet Kim was allow to come to the game even when she wasn't playing. Good for Justine for sticking up for herself and refusing to show up. She made the right decision. She should have won both years. It's a disgrace the way she was treated by phoney Kim and her buddies. Go Justine make them appreciate you and all you have done for Belgium.

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 11:58 AM

Oh, almost forgot. A Christmas Story is probably my favorite Xmas movie.

Although the Xmas scenes in When Harry Met Sally come in a very close second (and Harry Connick Jr. does Xmas songs very nicely).

Posted by Mike 12/22/2006 at 12:02 PM

I love Miracle on 34th Street and Elf.
A little bit off the topic. I just read top 100 stories in 2006 on espn.com. Fed's succes in this year is only story number 10 in this year. It seems that Fed scored even worse on ESPN than he did on SI. interesting, isn't it?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 12:20 PM

Mike: Yeah, I heard that about Fed on one of the ESPN radio shows yesterday morning. Fortunately I don't put much stock in what ESPN or SI think about tennis (in general, some of the tennis analysts/writers are good).

A link about the women's year in review:
http://sports.espn.go.com/sports/tennis/news/story?id=2701095

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 12:21 PM

Major Award.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 12:26 PM

Sam
The heartening bit for tennis is that no 10 wasnt the top tennis story. Agassi came in at No 8 or something. That's good and bad I suppose.


I strongly suspect that KC deserved the nod over JHH last year considering she
1) came back from injury
2) won her first major.

Posted by vanfan 12/22/2006 at 12:34 PM

"Good for Justine for sticking up for herself and refusing to show up."

YIP, page 88

Posted by Mike 12/22/2006 at 12:36 PM

I think it's really sad;I mean, what more somebody should acomplish in sport in order to be approprietly recognized.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 12:42 PM

Although it is questionable that
zidane, landis and bonds need to be stories 2, 3 and 6.

Posted by Rosangel 12/22/2006 at 12:46 PM

http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/tennis/6204315.stm

Someone else quitting playing Davis Cup. Though I'm speculating that Stepanek's injury earlier this year is probably a factor.

Good for the US?

Posted by Arman 12/22/2006 at 12:50 PM

This is a response to Peter's articles regarding Greer and numerous postings regarding our daughter, Greer Lalaith Glodjo, which responses we had just become aware of and reviewed in their entirety.

First, thank you for your kind words regarding our daughter. And for your concerns.

However, there is a good amount of informational asymmetry which I think needs to be corrected in order for everyone to gain a proper perspective as to the circumstances surrounding Greer.

Next to her parents, there are no people on this world that are more concerned about Greer's well-being and development, in particular off-court, than Nick Bollettieri. I am only writing this post in order to make sure that no erroneous inferences are made as to his motives and his diligent, endless and overwhelming support and energy that he has given to our daughter, on and off the court.

Greer is not a full-time student at the academy. She is not on her own and is not in any boarding-school environment. She is not part of the IMGNBTA program.

Greer spends 3-4 weeks at a time in Florida, several times per year. When she is is Florida, she is with her family, meaning her parents and siblings.

Greer plays tennis about 60 minutes per day, from 6-7pm, being coached by Nick.
Sometimes, the lessons go to 75 or 90 minutes, if there is any specific elements they get caught working on.

Nick puts absolutely no pressure on, nor any expectations of, Greer.

The rest of the day, between the time Greer wakes up until 6pm, Greer spends generally making animal shapes out of clouds, riding her bike, swimming, drawing, learning to tie her shoes and being home-schooled.

Greer is officially enrolled at the Balmoral Hall School for Girls, in Winnipeg, Canada. She is home-schooled, but is receiving official credit by BH.

Greer is one year ahead in school. She is learning Grade 2 materials this year, when she should be in Grade 1. Before people post articles about pressuring Greer to advance in school, please note she takes about 2-3 hours per day of schooling, but does so fairly continuously, thus the gain.

As for the rest of her time, Greer travels with us between Bermuda and Canada and spends a significant amount of time *not* playing tennis, when away from IMGNBTA.

Thank you for your concern, we hope that this addresses any assumptions made in error and we look forward to share in Greer's development, on and off the court.

As for reasons why Greer has our support for the amount of time she does spend training and why she is with Nick, as to the former, knowing you draw an audience and knowing you are good at something by age 6 will surely make a significant difference to her self-confidence, self-image and her views on the world, which for a young girl is, we venture, highly significant. Plus she loves it.

As to the latter, only Nick knows what he sees and we are truly honoured to have had this chance for her to share her smiles with him.

Best,
-Arman and Deidre

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 12:50 PM

Pete's ESPN blog from yesterday:
http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/blog/index?entryID=2705064&name=tennis

Posted by Lorraine 12/22/2006 at 12:55 PM

hey, Sam! I'll be down in your neck of the woods (Moorestown/Mt. Laurel) starting later today through Wednesday. I'll wave in your general direction when I get down there!

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 12:59 PM

*shakes head*

disaster in the making.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:01 PM

Hi Arman
Good luck to you and your family. Hope to see her on the tour in about 10-12 years.

Posted by Lorraine 12/22/2006 at 01:03 PM

why Steggy *looks innocent* whatever do you mean?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:04 PM

Cool, Lorraine. Have a safe trip, and I'll be sure to wave back. :-) I recommend avoiding the Moorestown Mall and other major shopping areas around here!

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:04 PM

Lorraine
Since you will quite likely be driving through my neck of the woods, can you wave at me too? Pretty please?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:09 PM

Arman, Deidre: Thanks for your post. Best of luck to Greer. She sounds like an intelligent, talented, and well-adjusted girl.

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 01:12 PM

Lorraine: You know, there are products out there for babies. Stuff to advance a child's education; to give your child an "edge" for future success against its peers. One set of products is called "Baby Einstein".

Apparently folks have forgotten that while Einstein was brilliant at creating the bomb and advancing physics, he had to have a babysitter around to make sure he didn't walk out of his house wearing only his underpants.

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 01:13 PM

new post up..

Posted by Tari 12/22/2006 at 01:17 PM

Thanks for that information, Arman and Deidre. I know that I definitely wanted to hear your perspective, and appreciate your providing it. Sounds like Greer is in very good hands all around.
Thanks again, and best wishes.

Posted by Lorraine 12/22/2006 at 01:17 PM

sure, ptenisnet -- where are you relative to the NJTP? I'll be sure to wave on my crawl down...

Sam, LOL -- I've experience the M'town Mall at Christmas. NOT an experience I'd like to relive!

Steggy, I promise not to forget to wear something over my underpants! You are too funny.

I'll be internet-less, and thus TW-less, for the most part, for the next 5 days (I'm already going into withdrawal), so I hope everyone enjoys whatever holiday they might celebrate!

Posted by steggy 12/22/2006 at 01:19 PM

Enjoy the long weekend, Lorraine. We'll keep the fires burning, as usual.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:26 PM

Lorraine
Right off exit 9.
Drive safe and enjoy our week.

Posted by Pete 12/22/2006 at 01:32 PM

Arman, Deidre - Thanks for taking the time to clarify you and Greer's relationship with Nick and tennis. I'm surprised and delighted to see you take part of the dialogue here at TennisWorld and I hope you continue to post thoughts and comments, on any subject whatsoever.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:33 PM

ptenisnet: Ah, pretty close to Rutgers.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:38 PM

yes sir mr sam. in some ways i never left school.

you didnt go there did you?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:40 PM

Sure did. I graduated from Rutgers in 1992.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:44 PM

Cool. So you are like ~35.
I started grad school on Busch campus in 91.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:46 PM

Close - turned 36 this year.
I lived on Busch campus all 4 years I was there.

Posted by jackrabbit 12/22/2006 at 01:47 PM

Pete,
I was wondering if you ever heard of Victoria Duval and Rokia Sacko,two little girls who are very talented?
One lives in Miami and the one is Canadian and might be the best player Canada will ever have.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 01:50 PM

Close - turned 36 this year.
I lived on Busch campus all 4 years I was there.

No freaking way. I lived off campus but most of my classes were on busch. I worked in the Core building for a while.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 01:56 PM

Wow, small world. Most of my classes were on Busch as well, since I was an engineering major.

Posted by ptenisnet 12/22/2006 at 02:01 PM

no kidding. Now I can commiserate with someone over the demise of rutgers men's tennis.

Posted by Lisa 12/22/2006 at 02:05 PM

Very interesting post by Arman and Diedre. It sounds like they have their daughters and theirselves in check.

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 12/22/2006 at 02:15 PM

To Greer's parents.

First of all, I don't think I'm ever going to get used to this concept of the internet, where one second you're having a theoretical discussion about junior tennis training, and the next moment the parents of one particular junior player, who live thousands of miles away, write in.

What a world.

That said, now that this discussion is moving from the theoretical to the actual, I should first say that, of course, any advice or critique of a particuluar junior player is not worth too much without actaul knowledge of that player. The variables, from physical skill to mental traits, are simply too great for generalities to be of much help.

However, any of my posts on this subject should be read with the following generality in mind, which, I think in fact does hold true, and should you wish to discuss via personal e-mail, I would be happy to do.

That generality is that the path to the pro tour, or even division one collegiate play in the U.S., is most certainly a marathon, not a sprint.

Prior the the academy system really being in place (we're talking the 1970's), basically California and Florida dominated junior tennis. However, even though California and Florida dominated in terms of depth, such dominance did not, in terms of overall accomplishment, keep a kid named John McEnroe, who is a year older the me, from not only winning his fair share of junior tournaments, but also (well, no need to elaborate on the rest of his career). I remember chatting with friends of mine who had run up against Mac in junior tournaments, and, being kids, it never occurred to us that he was only able to spend some fraction of the time we Californians could spend on the court.

I could go on, but as parents of a promising six year old player, especially one who is as accomplished as Greer seems to be, your challenge is actually much more simple than you think. All you have to do is make sure that she's still playing at age 16. That's it.

Obviously, it would be prudent to not allow some horrendous bad habit to develop, but other than that, its ultimately up to the player. The development of a tournament player from age 6 to 11 or 12 or so is basically irrelevant as long as nothing happens in that age to affirmatively harm their long term career.

What I have seen, in a few decades of watching junior tennis, is that the number one risk is not: (i) developing a straight-back backswing instead of a loop, or (ii) a semi-western grip as opposed to eastern, or (iii) a two-handed backhand when it should be a one-hander, but instead, the risk that something will happen to cause the kid to lose the love of the game.

To that end, and I find this difficult to do as a parent, I think it is critical to "act" as if you really do not care how well or badly your child does. Part of this act which is extremely difficult to do in tennis involves sheilding the child from the enormous parental effort required to even become a reasonably competitive player, let alone a nationally ranked junior.

In this sense I would say that the biggest risk present in a tennis academy is that, even for a six, seven or eight year old, it is perfectly obvious what is going on at that academy. It is not as if there is any question what the goal is of players there. And, for an older player, there is no question about the family commitment required.


As you can tell, I'm more of a fan of the "Wayne Bryan theory," or the "Ann Davenport theory" than "the academy theory"

The "tennis academies" of the United States used to be the Division I intercollegiate programs. Then, thanks in part to Bollettieri's success, the intense practice players recieved in college was shifted to high-school, and now, grade school.

This is the background from which I post.

Man, who would have thought that there would be actual pressure on a tennis message board?

Posted by Todd and in Charge 12/22/2006 at 02:20 PM

Appropos of our discussion on juniors, here's an article from today's Miami Herald on Evan King, a 14 year old from Chicago, who's playing in the Junior Orange Bowl:

http://www.miami.com/mld/miamiherald/sports/16295473.htm

The USTA is attempting to get him to move to a full-time academy and stop attending his local high school. His parents are highly educated and have always emphasized the value of schooling.

Here's the key quote from his Dad:

''The USTA has done wonderful things for Evan, given him exposure, the opportunity to travel to Europe and broaden his tennis horizons, but it's their charge to develop the next great American champion and it's our charge, as Evan's parents, to develop a balanced, confident, educated individual,'' Van King said.

``We don't want to take a chance of a lifetime away from our son, and, of course, we'd love to see him one day win the U.S. Open, but we have to be realistic. We've seen so many cases where it doesn't work out and the kid feels like a failure playing collegiate tennis and feels like his parents robbed him of his childhood.''

The Kings point to James Blake, Bob and Mike Bryan, John McEnroe and Arthur Ashe as examples of former collegiate players who made it on the pro tour.

''Some people would argue you can't make it that way anymore, but I say there is no one way to do anything,'' Van King said. ``One reason Evan doesn't have mental heart attacks during matches is that he has balance in his life.

``This issue has been heavy on our minds at this tournament, and we're listening to what everyone has to say, but it just seems too early to change Evan's life so drastically. Maybe in two years, we'll feel differently.''

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 12/22/2006 at 02:36 PM

Todd,

Putting subjective feelings aside, I think your post raises a very intersting statistical question. The question is: "how many examples are there in the history of the pro tour, men and women, of players that have the following characterisics: (i) the general consensus is that such player was a potential grand slam chamption, but (ii) despite the fact that, as an adult (say, over age 17 or 18), the player fully committed himself or herself to the tour, that (iii) some lack of committment at age 12, 13, 14, or 15 resulted in the player not reaching his or her potential?

The list of players I have ever heard about that would fit that description is exactly "0."

The list of players who have behaved, at ages 14 and under as if they hoped to one day win a professional tournament, but ultimately burned out on the game is so long that it would run into triple digets.

That is sort of the statistical issue which bears upon the theoretical discussion.

I would agree with Evan's parents in that the tournaments he plays in the next couple of years are irrelevant to whether or not he is ever good enough to win on tour. Of course, it might not help to quit tennis for two years, or only play once every two weeks, but other than that its too early to tell.

However, realistically, if you win the Orange Bowl 14s, and do not quit tennis, you are 99% assured of a college scholarship at a top school if you want one. Maybe not top three at Stanford (after all, four years is a long time), but certainly a good program.

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 02:46 PM

Tanya, I don't wish anyone any unhappiness, but when you see Maria's dad yelling at her from the stand while pumping his fist, you have to feel sorry for her. Also, Andre has said many times how much he resented the pressure he received from his dad. I just think some of the parents go to far with their kids. I'm sure Andre and Maria's dad love them, but sometimes parents can make mistakes which cause their kids pain. Sometimes it's best to guide kids but let them have an imput on big decisions.
******
Samantha, I'm sure it's very annoying to Maria when Yuri acts up in the stands, but to go as far as to say it must be "horrible" to have him as a parent, well that's too far, Maria has never made any comments in her interviews that would lead me to think she feels horrible with her dad or that it is miserable to be his daughter. There are people out there who never touched a tennis racquet that have moms and dads that are much worse and they don't get the benefit of that parent lifting them to wealth and extreme success either. Parent child relationships aren't always rosey for anybody, I don't think Maria is complaining about the "Deal" she got when it came to parent karma.

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