SBD/Issue 200/Leagues & Governing Bodies

WTA Sees Fewer Young Phenoms; Serena Only Star In Wimby Semis

The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour "has long thrived on a steady pipeline of pigtailed prodigies," but the "stream of teenage phenoms has slowed," according to Douglas Robson of USA TODAY. So far this year, 10 of 12 Grand Slam semifinalists "have been 25 or older," and "whether the trend is good or bad for tennis -- or the players themselves -- is open to debate." USTA Player Development GM Patrick McEnroe said that the women's game is "merely catching up." He said the men's game "has been that way for a while." Robson notes "another factor is the WTA's age-eligibility rule," which restricts the "number of tournaments women under 18 can play" (USA TODAY, 6/30).

Pironkova Says Tennis Is Popular Sport In
Bulgaria, Lots Of Kids Are Starting To Play

UNDER THE RADAR: Bulgarian tennis player Tsvetana Pironkova, who defeated Venus Williams yesterday to advance to the semifinals at Wimbledon, said tennis is a "really popular sport" in Bulgaria, and "lots of kids are playing." The country also boasts a 19-year-old "up-and-comer" on the ATP World Tour, Grigor Dimitrov. But Pironkova indicated that there are "no academies grooming potential young stars in Bulgaria," rather the "feeder system remains clubs and coaches, with limited help from the country's tennis federation." Pironkova: "If a kid is good, the coaches start paying a lot of attention. That's pretty much it." But Pironkova added that Bulgaria's tennis federation is "doing more to promote the game these days" (BOSTON GLOBE, 6/30). In Miami, Linda Robertson writes women's tennis "needs new challengers, new rivalries," as "contenders, many from Eastern Europe, have ebbed and flowed, but none has stuck" (MIAMI HERALD, 6/30). In Daytona Beach, Michael Lewis wrote, "Let's say you're the head of NBC's Wimbledon coverage. ... You look up Tuesday night and your semifinalists are Serena Williams, Vera Zvonareva, Tsevetana Pironkova, and Petra Kvitova. Oy. I don't think ratings records will be set, let's just put it that way. But hey, that's one of the fascinating parts of tennis" (, 6/29).

WORKING TOWARD THE SAME GOAL: Patrick McEnroe discussed his brother's John McEnroe Tennis Academy, opening in N.Y. in September, and its relationship with the USTA Player Development program. Patrick McEnroe: "We want to be on the same page. I'm happy that he put his hat in the ring. We've got our program, and he's got his, but at the end of the day, it's all about trying to help tennis. Specifically, to help American tennis. More specifically, to help tennis in New York. There's absolutely no reason we can't coexist" (N.Y. TIMES, 6/27).

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