Another Major, Another No-Show From the American Men
So, here we are in week number two of Wimbledon, and Blake and Roddick were sent home, I dunno, three rounds ago or something. Really, it should be a head-scratcher. But reality dictates that it’s not—it’s eminently unsurprising. It’s eminently unsurprising because our nation’s tennis boys, for lack of eloquence, suck at the moment. Maybe something’s not right Blake’s mental game. Maybe something’s not right with Roddick’s inability to use his biggest shots with timeliness. Going further, maybe something’s wrong with Taylor Dent’s athleticism, with Robby Ginepri’s lack of a go-to stroke, with Mardy Fish getting in the game a little too late. Whatever the case, many things are wrong with American tennis on the men’s side. And there is no easy fix.
Blake is nearing the twilight of his career. His peak may have come in 2006, when he took a set off of Federer in the U.S. Open quarters and finished the year ranked number four. Roddick may have plenty of shelf life left. But to this point, his pinnacle was reached when he won our national championship a half-decade ago and was given SNL-hosting duties as a prize. All the other mid-to-late twenty-somethings in American tennis—the aforementioned Dent, Ginepri, Fish; and others, such as Vincent Spadea—may not have “peaks” that include top triumph. It’s a cold reality: This generation is stuck in neutral and is traveling nowhere quickly.
It’s on the shoulders of the little ones—Chicago’s electric Donald Young, Georgia Bulldog John Isner, big-serving Sam Querrey, among others—to raise the bar. Given the fact that Agassi and Sampras are still within the rearview mirror’s sight, raising that bar will not be an easy task; American men’s tennis just concluded an era of unparalleled brilliance, one that will likely never come again.
What do you think? Is it still worth keeping tabs on our tennis countrymen, despite the fact that we’ve become accustomed to let-down after let-down in recent memory?