McEnroe laments state of US tennis


Originally published on: 19/07/11 11:00

The chat has hummed in the background for quite some time but with the US Open Series beginning in Atlanta this week, talk of the so-called decline of American tennis has intensified.

“It bothers everyone in the States,” seven-time Grand Slam champion John McEnroe told a Philadelphia newspaper this week. “They think it’s fine in Europe. They’re okay… we’re used to being spoiled.”

The crux of the problem appears to be an underwhelming presence of Americans at the top of the tour rankings, coupled with a lack of Grand Slam titles  – not since 2003, when Andy Roddick won the US Open, has an American male won a major tournament. Gone are the glory days enjoyed by the likes of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier and Jimmy Connors. There are currently just two American men in the top 30 – world No.9 Mardy Fish and No.10 Roddick, while in the women’s game, Bethanie Mattek-Sands is the highest ranked American at No.30 as the Williams sisters appear to be sinking without trace on the WTA ladder.

“There was a lof of success and now we’re not getting any. It’s frustrating. There’s no doubt about it,” added 52-year-old McEnroe, who opened his eponymous John McEnroe Tennis Academy in Manhattan in 2010. “That’s why I started [the Academy], because I wanted to get the buzz back in tennis. And I realised that’s going to be a long-term project. It’s not going to go snap your fingers and here we go. You’ve got to be hungry. Are we hungry enough?”

The desire, at least in terms of numbers, seems apparent in Atlanta this week. Eleven Americans – including two wildcards and two qualifiers – are featuring in the 28-strong draw at the ATP 250 tournament.


Tim Farthing, Tennishead Editorial Director & Owner, has been a huge tennis fan his whole life. He's a tennis journalist and entrepreneur as well as playing tennis to a national standard. He also helps manage his local club and volunteers for his local tennis organisation. He's a specialist in content about the administration of professional tennis and tennis coaching for all levels.