Will American Tennis Ever Come Back?

June 26, 2012 | Jeffrey Gilley

Over the past decade, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and more recently, Novak Djokovic have dominated professional tennis.  Andy Murray is in that conversation as well but has consistently showcased a lack of mental fortitude that is needed to win a major.

Andy Roddick and the Williams sisters have been the lone representatives for the Unites States and have had success.  Serena and Venus have been dominant and credit is due for all of their accomplishments.  That said, the Williams sisters and Andy Roddick are coming to the end of their careers.  Venus was recently ousted in the first round of Wimbledon and was visibly distraught throughout the match.

Since the days of Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, and John McEnroe have passed, elite American tennis have been hard to come by.  John Isner and Mardy Fish seem to be the only American tennis players that are relevant as of now.  The Williams sisters are fantastic but are coming to the end of their careers.

So who will be left to carry the torch?  John Isner is a fan favorite in many cities.  This is mostly because of his marathon match against Nicolas Mahut in 2010 at Wimbledon.  Isner is known for his serve and is very difficult to break.  While his size is an advantage for serves and net play, his size is a detriment when it comes to footwork and movement.  Sure, Isner moves very well for a man his size but he gets into a lot of trouble against players like Federer and Djokovic who can neutralize his serve and make him work for every point.

One of the larger problems for American tennis is the lack of court variety in the Unites States.  Across the country, there are only five grass courts and a limited number of red clay courts.  Younger players need to be exposed to these kinds of courts in the United States.

Even today on their natural surface, Americans are struggling to win on hard courts.  This is because tennis clubs and facilites have failed to adapt to the new technologies in shoes and racquets that put more emphasis on footwork and topspin rather then power alone.

Americans have always been taught that in order to win, you must have a big serve and forehand.  That philosophy has changed over the past decade and is why Europeans have dominated the sport for so long and is exactly why Andy Roddick could never beat Roger Federer.