The US Open: What It Means To American Tennis

Photo credit: CNN

Photo credit: CNN

The United States Open Tennis Championships. Sometimes called the “Super Bowl” of our sport, is one of the biggest sporting events in the world. It may not have the tradition of Wimbledon, but to Americans this tournament ranks #1 in terms of importance. It’s really hard to explain how much it means to tennis in our country. It’s more than just a tournament. It’s significance is comparable to an entrance exam, where a student’s (in this case a sport’s) future is on the line.

The US Open, which is commonly referred to simply as “The Open”, has been played since 1881, making it one of the most oldest events in tennis history. Since 1987 it has been the fourth Grand Slam of the year, and it has been played at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, New York since 1978. Some of the most famous matches in tennis history have occurred in New York, and many of those matches featured American players.

In the “Golden Age” of American tennis, players like John Mcenroe, Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, and Andre Aggassi gave the U.S an annual shot at taking the title at their home tournament. Even the likes of Andy Roddick and James Blake gave American’s considerable hope, with A-Rod taking the title in 2003. Things are not as bright these days. That 2003 US Open was the last Grand Slam singles title won by an American Player, and we haven’t had the number 1 ranking since early 2004. This year marks the ten year anniversary of Roddick’s memorable win. The next two weeks will have a massive impact on the sport of tennis in USA.

Here’s the current issue: Most great athletes in our country choose to pursue sports like Football, Baseball and Basketball because of the national and worldwide attention those sports receive. In order for Tennis to be successful in America we need great athletes. Now that’s not to say we don’t have any; because we do, just not enough. If you remember back to the early 90’s, Aggassi, Sampras, Courier and Michael Chang were all top 10 players, and they pushed each other to get better. The famous Nick Bollittieri Tennis Academy was known for having kids compete fiercely against their peers to improve. The USTA is doing all they can to get back to that, but it’s going to take some help.

That help has to come from current American players. The only way to get the attention of the country is for someone in the men’s game to succeed. That doesn’t mean we need somebody to win it all, because that’s highly unlikely. What we need is someone to make an exciting run that captures the emotion of our country. Will it happen this year? It’s unlikely, but you have to believe. The American crowd give their players unreal support during matches, and we have a lot of young guys competing in the main draw this year.

John Isner and Sam Querrey are both established pro’s going in the completely opposite direction. For Querrey, it’s been a terrible summer. Sure he made the semi’s of Winston Salem, but that was in a depleted field. Isner on the other hand, is heading in the right direction. He won in Atlanta, along with impressive runner-up finishes in Washington DC and Cincinnati. Isner could play Rafael Nadal in the fourth round if both players get there. That’s the kind of match that could have an impact on the country.

However, what we really need is a fresh face to embrace the crowd and shock the world. We have a few hopefuls this year in Ryan Harrison, Jack Sock, Denis Kudla and the 18u Kalamazoo champ Colin Altamirano. These guys have game, but they’ve yet to put it all together. The US Open puts American Tennis under the spotlight every year, but this time around even more critical question will be asked. How will the American players respond?

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7 thoughts on “The US Open: What It Means To American Tennis

  1. Nice

    Sent from the far blue line

  2. “That 2003 US Open was the last Grand Slam singles title won by an American Player, and we haven’t had the number 1 ranking since early 2004.”

    Come on guys, I expected better of you than this. It mimics the misogyny of the British press after Murray won Wimbledon – the front pages proclaimed him as “the first Brit to win Wimbledon for 77 years” despite the fact that four British WOMEN had done so in that period.

    One of the current US Open singles champions is an American; she also holds the number 1 ranking. She is the centerpiece of American tennis right now.

    If you’re going to discuss what the US Open means to “American tennis” in general without reference to any women at all, you are being sexist. If you only want the article to refer to men’s tennis, that’s a perfectly acceptable editorial decision, but it should be flagged up in the headline – i.e. “The US Open: What it means to American men’s tennis.”

    • You would be completely right, except for the fact that this blog does not cover Women’s tennis. If you look at our header, it specifically says “The Best ATP World Coverage”. Serena has done so much for American tennis, we aren’t disputing that.

    • Like it or not, but men’s tennis is on a completely different level than women’s tennis. The men’s game is the star of the show and women’s tennis is more like the minor leagues. Don’t let the fact that they receive equal prize money fool you. (They should not receive equal prize money, but that is an argument for another day.) The men generate the majority of the interest and revenues.

  3. You completely ignored women in this post!

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