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 Lorraine 12/22/2006 at 02:50 PM

ptenisnet, exit 9 it is. consider yourself waved at in, oh, about 4 hours (I anticipate a LONG drive today).

Now I'm really gone...

MerryHappy everyone!

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 02:53 PM

Posted by Mark 12/22/2006 @ 5:43 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.

++++

I don't have any idea how European tennis camps are run, but I can say this. After watching an in depth docu on Nic's academy watching some of the classes they put young players like Nicole Vaidisova through, I have a guess that the American academies, in particular that one, put WAY too much emphasis on creating a "star"..... a media sensation, and that in itself takes away from the tennis. If you're sitting there telling a 14 year old girl what kind of personality she's going to have in the media and how to bolster her image to make endorsment money, what kind of message does that give her about her sport? It tells her it's all about the Benjamins and the tennis is secondary.

Posted by FoT 12/22/2006 at 03:17 PM

Wow, so many post in such a short time!!! I can't keep up!

First - Happy Birthdays to Abbey and fastbowler!

2nd - Steggy, I know this is OT... but I GOT MY FEDER-BEARS!!! That was a great Christmas gift to myself so I'm glad I got them in before Christmas...

OK... you can carry on with the topic now...

Posted by Veruca Salt (Dark Arts League) 12/22/2006 at 03:24 PM

Merry *hic* Christmas, Everyone!!

*raises her glass of loaded Eggnog*

Posted by JR 12/22/2006 at 03:26 PM

I glad to hear that it’s not all or nothing at Nick’s academy—that you can go for a few weeks at a time, now and then. That would seem ideal for many.
Day 21 of a miserable cold. What a reward for taking the grandkids to Disney World. I thought a cold only lasts 7-10 days.

Posted by Todd and in Charge 12/22/2006 at 03:44 PM

DM, I couldn't agree more -- burnout is a critical factor from ages 14 to 16 or so for so many talented competitive juniors.

But is it your assumption that academies increase the chances of burnout? Or is it parents who push their kids too hard? Or juniors who put too much pressure on themselves? Or some combination of these and other factors?

What I see here in South Florida doesn't necessarily suggest that academies are the primary cause of junior burnout.

Watching these amped-up coach/parents yell and guilt their 10-year-old girls and boys into playing, who feel that they know so much more than any "academy" could possibly teach their kid, is also tough to see -- distorting the parent/child relationship in ways that will only unfold perhaps years later.

It's a tough trick to be a great parent and great coach, but if you can only do one well for gosh sakes be a parent first.

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 03:54 PM

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...
++++

Of COURSE you wanted to write that bummer post about Justine, LOL. Hey, isn't it also true that Kim didn't show at that same awards show when she was nominated a few times?

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 12/22/2006 at 03:58 PM

At the risk of really seeming old, lets go back a bit further. Prior to 1968, there was no pro tennis tour. It would have been inconceivable to set up an academy to charge money, certainly the kind of money being spent these days, for the sole purpose of playing in college. You're probably spending more on the academy than college.

The ethos of the 1970's was a carry-over from the 1960s. Parents took the game seriously, but there was no insitutional interest, not from the USTA, not from agents, not from academies, of how someone was doing at age 16. The only potential interest, for the best of the best, was looking forward two years to three years to college.

Now, what has happened here is there is no doubt that the amount of money being spent by parents has increased, how much better the result?

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 04:04 PM

Pete said:
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.
++++
A poster on another site says Kim did not appear to pick up her award in 2001, and 2002, that Carl Maes picked up the award for her, and that the next time she won it, Elke picked up her award for her, so, what was wrong with Kim, why didn't she show? What was she mad about? Was she acting like a brat? Or perhaps both of them had reasons not to show other than acrimony? It's a funny thing how Justine does something and it has to be spun into something negative, Kim does the same thing and nobody notices!

Posted by Pete 12/22/2006 at 04:07 PM

Tanya - believe it or not, I stand by what I wrote. Note that the JHH riff was a comment, not a post (it could have been our daily conversation starter, I thought of that).

I missed the Fastbowler birthday announcement, so happy!

Those of us in this discussion of development seem to keep putting these different developmental approaches in apposition. Why is there so much resistance to acknowledging the "different courses for different horses" principle (even though ignoring it makes for an interesting discussion). A lot of posters seem to counter-argue agains the academy approach, when the academy approach is not being offered as "better" than stay at home coaching or college.

BTW, I would love for one of our resident Elder sociologists (MMY, AmyLu) to work with Nick and do a study on where his former campers are today (the vast majority who never made it), and how they now see the role of the academy in their lives.

Nick, if you read this, it really would be a great project.

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 04:16 PM

Tanya - believe it or not, I stand by what I wrote. Note that the JHH riff was a comment, not a post (it could have been our daily conversation starter, I thought of that).

+++

Fine, so it's been presented to you that Justine didn't show up because she's mad. But........ it's gossip. Unless you speak to her and she says to you "pete, I was so mad about last year, I didn't want to go" you don't really know why she didn't go or if it's warranted. Did your friend from Belgium ever call you and tell you why Kim didn't show for her awards, did they just hurry and get a hold of you and burn up that phone line with the latest juicy bit on something negative on Kim or something made out to BE negative because she didn't show up? Quite frankly, if Justine is mad at them, I can see why. A belgian poster that watched the awards show said that when interviewed, Kim was of course asked "are you friends with the other players" to which she replied "yes". And then "Have you ever had coffee with Justine?" to which she replied "no, I have never been to Monaco" Man, you think that Monaco comment wasn't calculated? hahaha, it disgusted both the Belgian poster and his friend watching with him, and I can tell you, I have seen her do that so many times over the last few years, look all sweet and just get that subtle little comment about Justine in, thinking nobody gets it, yet I've never seen Justine do that to her. I can only hope when Kim retires, Justine will finally be safe from the jealous Belgian axis of evil enemies, Kim, Papa Lei, and Vanderbeek. I really can understand why she doesn't have alot to do with these people even if it means getting bad press, like the old song goes, "they smile in your face, all the time they wanna take your place"

Posted by FoT 12/22/2006 at 04:42 PM

Hey Pete, since we're talking about 'birthdays' - when is your birthday? Just wondering...

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 at 05:04 PM

Tanya, a brilliant post. Justine was smart not to go to anything that two faced, backstabbing, phoney, jealous, lying Kim and her cronies were having. Kim has been doing this for years, pretending to be all sweet and nice, smiling in Justine's face and then putting her dad up to lying about Justine being on drugs. She is jealous of Justine success. It must be hard being an underachieving, one slam wonder who's about to retire. I hate to say this around the holidays, but I can't stand Kim and I'll be cheering for her to lose EVERY match. It's a disgrace what she has done to Justine and of course nobody will criticize her when she doesn't show up because she such a "nice girl." Yeah, and so is Tonya Harding. But you know what success is the sweetest revenge, so Justine just needs to ignore Kim. One more year and Kim will be gone and Justine won't have to put with the likes of Kim. But I hope Kim realizes that when you do wrong it come back and get you. Go Justine!

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 05:14 PM

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 @ 5:04 PM

Tanya, a brilliant post. Justine was smart not to go to anything that two faced, backstabbing, phoney, jealous, lying Kim and her cronies were having. Kim has been doing this for years, pretending to be all sweet and nice, smiling in Justine's face and then putting her dad up to lying about Justine being on drugs. She is jealous of Justine success. It must be hard being an underachieving, one slam wonder who's about to retire. I hate to say this around the holidays, but I can't stand Kim and I'll be cheering for her to lose EVERY match. It's a disgrace what she has done to Justine and of course nobody will criticize her when she doesn't show up because she such a "nice girl." Yeah, and so is Tonya Harding. But you know what success is the sweetest revenge, so Justine just needs to ignore Kim. One more year and Kim will be gone and Justine won't have to put with the likes of Kim. But I hope Kim realizes that when you do wrong it come back and get you. Go Justine

+++

Thanks, Samantha. The thing is, I think when it comes to everybody and everything else, Kim probably is the nice girl they say she is most of the time. But when it comes to Justine, she has a really dark and envious feeling, trys her best to not let it show overtly, but........ always manages to either get that sly little dig in here in there, or her camp does it for her on a regular basis. And she and her camp know darned well that Justine is hypersensitive and will let it cause her to do something that isn't "politically smart" like not showing up for the awards show. Kim has all the aces in the hole, she has the Belgian tennis federation and system full of her daddy's cronies...... I guess since Justine usually beats her in the big matches and Justine is the one that is the better champion, there is really justice in this world.

Posted by Pete 12/22/2006 at 05:17 PM

June 19, 1949, foT. I'm old.

Posted by Samantha 12/22/2006 at 05:19 PM

Although it's true, I'm sorry for saying I can't stand Kim. I wish her all the best in her retirement and marriage. But I wish she would just leave Justine alone.

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 05:30 PM

Posted by Pete 12/22/2006 @ 5:17 PM

June 19, 1949, foT. I'm old.

+++

and a Gemini to boot! I'm sure the posters here have noticed all the current tennis stars that are born under the sign Gemini, including, Lindsay, Venus, Kim, and drum roll........ JUSTINE HENIN HARDENNE! :-D

Posted by kevoka 12/22/2006 at 05:31 PM

Thanks for the post in the previous thread by Armani, the parent of Greer.

I have always been fascinated by what would make a parent decide to send their kid, especially one younger than say 14, to one. Amani clarified that it is only a couple of times a year for short periods in their case.

I have often wondered how someone can look at a kid and say "they have got it". Enough to decide to invest the money and family disruption to send them to an academy (other than a parents dream). From my own exprience in business I know of certain professions where you can determine if someone has it before investing in them. Sales and computer programing are two of them. I can ask a couple of questions (programmer) or watch them in action (sales) and determine if someone has the capability. It's like throwing a duckling into water, they swim. Throw a chick into water, and you don't even have dinner. How do you know in tennis? Outside of the fact they sleep with their racquet, what else can you tell? Are racquet marks on the face enough to send them away to an academy, to move the family etc?

From another perspective I can understand using local resources. My second son (age 11) swims year around and is in the water 5 days a week for 2 1/2 hours. It is a time consuming endeavor for us. Looking at popular activities for kids, I would say that behind horses and hockey (godawful practice times), swiming requires the most time commitment from parents.

He is ranked pretty high for his age group, but my wife and I are under no illusions that he will be an Olympian. In fact a college scholorship is probably out, given, like tennis, most schools are dropping mens swimming. And we are not shy about telling him this. The biggest reason I do not think it will last will be due to burnout. If burnout does happen, so be it.

The reason we support it, and allow him to spend so much time on it, is for our own sanity. When this kid does not swim, he just bounces (literally) off the walls, and is intolerable. He loves swimming. All my wife and I ask him after swim meets is if he gave it his best. I will cheer for him no matter how well he does. But it is his choice to pursue. In fact, there have been times when we have "kept him out of meets as an incentive" to change some behaviors.

Posted by FoT 12/22/2006 at 05:35 PM

Pete - I wouldn't say you're 'old'... but 'seasoned'! lol... Anyway, I'm just a few years younger than you so we're both "seasoned veterans"! That sounds better than 'old'. Right?

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 05:38 PM

"June 19, 1949"

Wow Pete. I was also born on June 19 (1970).

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 05:41 PM

"........ JUSTINE HENIN HARDENNE! :-D"

That's right, Geminis rule :-)

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 05:49 PM

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 @ 5:41 PM

"........ JUSTINE HENIN HARDENNE! :-D"

That's right, Geminis rule :-)

***

In Tennis they really do have a presence, some other Geminis in the tours are: Petrova, Rafa, Davydenko, Baghdatis, Gasquet, and Djoko is on the cusp, and could be one too.

Posted by Sam 12/22/2006 at 06:00 PM

Cool Tanya. Gasquet is another favorite of mine, and I also like Baghdatis.

Posted by Rosangel 12/22/2006 at 06:15 PM

Pete: You are not alone! I agree with the "different courses for different horses" approach.

Arman and Deidre: Thankyou for sharing your perspective, and the information about your family and Greer. I wish you and your daughter the very best.

DM: Every instinct I have tells me that you're right on the point that the biggest risk to any junior tennis player in training (wherever that may be happening) must be that something happens to cause them to lose their love of the game. It could equally apply to other professions too. I also have to agree (from the perspective of a person who was a gifted child in my own way) that it's good if parents can remove pressure by appearing to be indifferent regarding success or failure. My own parents, although doing nothing to hold me back, were so laid back about my academic progress that sometimes it felt that they didn't care enough either way! But this certainly didn't hurt my motivation - I actually liked the fact that I was doing things for myself, not to please someone else. All the pressure on me came from within.

Posted by fastbowler 12/22/2006 at 06:37 PM

There was nothing to miss, Pete—I didn't tell anyone beforehand about the birthday! But it was truly nice of you to greet me! More importantly though: why do you know what Jollibee is? I am FLOORED. A Happy Christmas to you and wish you a beautiful time with your family this holiday season.

I don't really follow horoscope "readings" (what DO you call those things they publish in the newspapers with your outlook for the day?), but I've observed enough that the breakdown of personality types according to birth signs to be quite true! It'll be a fun discussion of analyzing players and their game on those parameters on a tennis-light occasion. Roger, a Leo? Was there any doubt?

Posted by AmyLu 12/22/2006 at 07:24 PM

Pete, I'm sure you've left for the week, but in regards to your study proposal, it would be fascinating. The best manner in which to do a study, however, would be a prospective one - in which you start observing/surveying kids now - both those at acadamies and those not at academies, and then continually follow them over time. You'd literally be able to see before your eyes how their lives develop - and would be able to continally evaluate the impact that enrolling in an academy has on one's life.

Posted by Kenneth 12/22/2006 at 08:55 PM

Samantha wrote

"...It's a disgrace what she has done to Justine and of course nobody will criticize her when she doesn't show up because she such a "nice girl." Yeah, and so is Tonya Harding...."

OK Samantha, with that one quote, you've earned my respect for life, despite your overly ardent feelings toward JHH!

I have opposite feelings toward being a prodigy. I was one, educational, skipped a grade, blah blah blah, but it wasn't at all what I wanted. I wanted to be a tennis star. I was in love with Steffi Graf (ha, and look where I am now!), and I wanted professional training oh so bad I could taste it. However, that was not in my parents' (my dad to be exact) plan, and it was just more studies for me. I think had I been given the chance, I would have loved being at an academy doing something I absolutely loved to do, instead of so much heavy focusing on my studies. It all depends on the child, and although 6 may seem a tender age (and it is), I knew absolutely at 6 how much tennis meant to me. I know its PC to say kids don't know what they want, but I think that's a bitter misconception, unlikely to be changed however.

Posted by Tanya 12/22/2006 at 09:38 PM

I don't really follow horoscope "readings" (what DO you call those things they publish in the newspapers with your outlook for the day?), but I've observed enough that the breakdown of personality types according to birth signs to be quite true! It'll be a fun discussion of analyzing players and their game on those parameters on a tennis-light occasion. Roger, a Leo? Was there any doubt?
***
They call those "daily horoscopes" although most real astrologers call those "crap". They don't work well because they go off only how the transiting planets affect your sun sign, when in reality, if you were to get any useful information from those, you would have to use your rising sign to do it, not the sun sign. Roger is a Leo in every sense of the word, and I think his main rival for GOAT, also thought of as a "king", Pete Sampras, is a Leo.

Posted by skip1515 12/22/2006 at 10:26 PM

Thank you to Greer's parents for contributing. I wish them all the luck in the world with their daughter, for whatever their family's goals are.

fastbowler wrote: "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?"

fastbowler I have three words for you: Hoad, Rosewall, and Connolly. Termed the Whiz Kids in the early 50's, the two Australians made their marks on the global game before they were 20. Maureen Connolly won the US Nationals when she was 16 and sucessfully defended the following year. Young tennis phenoms are nothing new. What is new is that now they make money.

To kevoka and others who wonder about the ability to see that kids have "it", and what "it" is, I can't speak for Bollettieri or others who run programs, but my experience includes teaching kids who went on to high levels in the tennis world (NCAA champs, top 20 rankings), and I'll say this about that: every single one of the more advanced kids showed a preternatural ability to focus, to be serious about their practice and training.

On the athletic ability side they all had wonderful natural movement; even the kids who weren't great movers knew instinctively how to approach a ball better than your average Joe or Josephine. I saw a slew of kids who could hit a ball as well as the best of them, but they lacked a specialized, mental focus maturity gene, and that meant they could knock a stunning forehand every 17th ball. In between they were like everyone else.

More than anything the real prospects' strength was an ability to concentrate on hard work at a level that belied their young age in an almost scary way. Not unlike young Greer, I suspect, and I mean that as a compliment. I'm jealous more than anything else.

(BTW, not to deceive or mislead: none of these hyper talented kids were my private students, and their success doesn't reflect on me at all. They trained at the center where I taught, and I worked with them on court. It's very possible they learned some interesting language from me, or a joke or two, but that's about it.)

steggy: thanks for the wishes for improved kitchen electronics.

Posted by skip1515 12/22/2006 at 11:00 PM

Oh, one other danger faced by talented, fast track athletes: sex. The prospect of being at parties with members of the opposite sex at the onset of puberty tends to unconcentrate the mind wonderfully.

Posted by fastbowler 12/23/2006 at 05:33 AM

Tanya: "Daily Horoscopes" of course! (Says so right there in the papers. *facepalm*) I'm sure the daily "crap" ones are just that, and hopefully no one is planning to seriously guide their day to them! Thanks for your learned perspective. What do to you think of all the Gemini players up thread? (I'm sure relating horoscopess to playing styles will drive Pete and/or steggy semi-batty!)

skip1515: You've added ANOTHER interesting dimension to the academy approach discussion. I guess all this is a modified rumination on what defines "greatness" as a tennis player, and that greatness is comprised of. Teen phenoms may have started as early as the 1950s, but I guess the real question, as you brought up, is the cashing in on those phenoms with aggressive training at a specialized academy. That may have started with Tracy Austin and Jimmy Arias. I would be interested to hear your observation.

Posted by Tanya 12/23/2006 at 02:02 PM

Tanya: "Daily Horoscopes" of course! (Says so right there in the papers. *facepalm*) I'm sure the daily "crap" ones are just that, and hopefully no one is planning to seriously guide their day to them! Thanks for your learned perspective. What do to you think of all the Gemini players up thread? (I'm sure relating horoscopess to playing styles will drive Pete and/or steggy semi-batty!)

***
:-) a "the astrology of playing styles" thread would probably be pretty fascinating,although the astrology naysayers probably wouldn't go for it much. I've given a few quick looks to some player's charts that I could get hold of, very interesting.

Posted by Rosangel 12/23/2006 at 02:14 PM

Kenneth:
I just wanted to say that I read your post and feel for you. I don't know when you were growing up exactly, but today it seems completely paradoxical that in a world where child-centred development is so much the norm (my theory is that it at least has some relationship to the amount of on-court emoting we see in tennis today, but that's another story...), and where children's needs are generally such a big focus for so many families, there still seems to be a view in some quarters that children aren't capable of knowing what they want at a young age!

As one who did know what I wanted very young (even at six), as you did, I know that isn't true. I think in my own case, if I hadn't been heard, it would have done great damage to my relationship with my parents - because you expect your parents to be able to see truths that are evident to you.

Posted by JR 12/23/2006 at 03:04 PM

Skip:
I faintly recall reading that Hoad and Rosewall played a one set exhibition as 12 year olds during a Davis Cup tie!

Posted by JR 12/23/2006 at 03:15 PM

I (unsuccessfully) tried to confirm the story, but I did learn that Rosewall was a natural lefty, trained by tennis playing parents, who owned some tennis courts.

Posted by kevoka 12/23/2006 at 09:10 PM

Thanks Skip1515.

It sounds like 94 volleys in a row is a really good sign. It also tells me to give up the dream of being the world number 1 in the super senior category, and I have about 20 years to get there :). I have only been playing for 2 years, but from your desciption Joe would be my name.

Posted by Mark 12/24/2006 at 06:51 AM

Sometimes it must be the other way round: the kid can be the pushy one too, carrying the parents along with them, and then the prospect of the child's success sort of carries them along. It sort of struck me that the Seles household was probably a bit like that.

Of course, the difference between treatment of gifted and talented sportspeople and talent in other areas is that adacemic careeers are not so explicitly competitive: no doubt the world's number 300 tennis player is outrageously gifted.

Posted by Rosangel 12/24/2006 at 07:29 AM

Mark: As someone who's involved in recruiting graduates and/or postgraduates in the "real world" these days (among other things), I'd point out that academic careers aren't the right comparison for sportsmen and women, necessarily, as most graduates, the best or otherwise, go on to do something else, not even necessarily directly related to their degree subject. Though a good degree may be an end in itself for someone who loves to learn, it's also a passport to other things in life. No wonder so many parents are keen to see their kids do well at school and beyond.

Where I come from the top graduates from top universities can command huge salaries on starting in certain fields, as employers know that they have to compete for them. Their numbers are small enough that it's meaningful. Also, they often start on a fast track when they do take up employment. So academic prowess in certain fields (mine, certainly) is very likely to correlate to high earning power and the more 'glamorous' careers.

My own discussion of being an academically inclined child in the earlier thread, in case it's unclear, was only intended to relate to dealing with children who are gifted, not where their careers might lead them.

However, I'd agree wth you in a more general sense, as clearly in the western world everyone goes through some sort of educational process, and part of its purpose is to equip all pupils with basic skills, not to eliminate them from competition. And at university the standards you are trying to reach are genearrly absolute ones rather than relative ones.

I think some academics are very competitive, by the way. I simply don't know enough about it, but I think there's a lot of competition in trying to be the first to publish on certain scientific discoveries, no?

You may be right about Monica Seles.

Posted by Rosangel 12/24/2006 at 07:31 AM

"genearlly" in the above should read "generally". Sorry.

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