Tennis - American tennis legend Jimmy Connors is joining forces with Martin Barba, a former professional tennis player, and Fred Luddy, the Rancho Santa Fe owner of the San Diego Aviators, to form American Champions Tennis, in a bid to help develop men's talent in the United States.
Speaking to The Guam Daily Post, Connors says, "The run we had was so good back from the ‘70s to the ‘80s to the ‘90s and into the early 2000s. With all the talent and resources in this country, it’s hard to understand.
To be honest, that frustrates me. It’s not one of those deals where they’re stealing money from kids. Our goal is to raise American champions. I’ve been on the outside for a bit. I’m working to get on the inside a little and try to understand what’s up.
We’ve got a lot of talent over here. We do. There’s no doubt. What’s it take to win a grand slam? The differences (between players) are minute. Why do Federer and Djokovic and Nadal have it and so-and-so doesn’t? Why could I do it and (Bjorn) Borg do it and Sampras do it, but not some guys we played with? The line is so fine between No.
1 and No. 100. There’s got to be more to it than the tennis itself. My heat (serve) was about 110. Everybody was afraid of that serve. I didn’t have that kind of power. I was playing against Roscoe Tanner and he could serve it 140.
But I had six serves. I was a knuckleball pitcher. I could mix it up well. My game was to keep them back so they couldn’t be so aggressive at the beginning and I was able to do that. Some guys have big serves and the groundstrokes need work.
I had good groundstrokes and a return and my serve needed work”. Barba says the lack of great coaching is one of the main reasons for the lack of success among American players. "There just hasn’t been great coaching.
That’s the best I can say without pointing fingers. The coaching just hasn’t been there. Certain people hired their friends, instead of getting people who could really help. It became an old-boys’ club instead of a training group.
They’ve had millions and millions (of dollars) and they haven’t developed anybody”. Hopefully, with the work done by the trio, American men's tennis may see an upswing in the coming years.