At Wimbledon With Marcia Frost...
Saturday, July 7th-A Conversation with Tracy Austin
Former world No. 1 Tracy Austin may have retired from the sport 20 years ago, but she has remained involved as a tennis writer and commentator. We had known each other during her summers at the Port Washington Tennis Academy before each U.S. Open. I certainly never stepped on the court with her (though I seem to remember beating her at a few Pac Man games!), but I know off the court Tracy keeps informed on the sport's players -- including the juniors. When Donald Young & Madison
Brengle became the first American juniors to make the Wimbledon finals in 26 years my first instinct was to head over to the broadcast booth and ask Tracy -- the 1979 Junior Wimbledon winner -- what she thought about it.
Q: Why do you think it's been so long since American juniors have won Junior Wimbledon?
TA: A couple of things. First of all, I think the game is much more international. I think that other countries are now producing younger champions. For example, Russia… Kournikova inspired a lot of youngsters to play. They realized that you don't just have to be a gymnast. You can really make a life for yourself outside of Russia. Travel and compete in tennis. I think that has opened it up.
Now a lot of people are from Poland, the Ukraine. Tamira Paszek played in the ladies' event. She's from Austria. I just think that the game is much more international. I think that the kids are much more professional at a younger age. They're (the non-Americans) training so much harder; getting really top-level coaches. I think the competition is just so much tougher at a young age.
Why aren't there more Americans like this? I think it's a multitude of reasons. I think sometimes the Europeans and other countries are a little hungrier. Our kids have so much in the States and they don't get to compete as much against each other. That's short sighted because you need to complete against each other to get as good as the rest of the world. To me our young juniors don't like to compete against each other. And they need to use each other to get mentally tough to compete against the rest of
I do think that we have so much in the States. Sometimes it is that one athlete that comes through who is driven. That's what we need to find. The young kid. You've got to find talent and drive -- a mixture. Get them in bunches at academies and find that combination.
The Official Wimbledon site is one of the best around and also has coverage of the junior events. Be sure to check it out at http://www.Wimbledon.org
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