American (women's) tennis well is running dry
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
If you've been wondering if there's an American woman out there not named Serena Williams or Venus Williams that has a shot at winning a major title in the near future, well, you probably don't have to worry about it.
American tennis, especially at the WTA level, appears to be in a free fall. Just last week, the U.S. failed to place a player in the men's top 10 for the first time since the computer rankings were introduced way back in 1973, as top-10 fixture Andy Roddick dropped out for the first time in four years.
But I'm concerned about the American women in this particular article, as the mighty Williams sisters continue to be the only ones who are producing anything on the ladies' tour.
Serena is currently the standing world No. 1, which is no surprise considering she's the reigning Wimbledon and Aussie Open champ, and Venus is ranked fifth in the world and is a former No. 1. Serena boasts 13 Grand Slam singles titles, while Venus checks in with seven. That's 20 between 'em.
And that's awesome.
|American hopeful Melanie Oudin has been flatlining for most of this 2010 season.|
But after Serena and Venus, it gets pretty ugly in the contiguous 48, with Melanie Oudin (44th) coming in as the only other top-50 American. And the next-highest American woman after Oudin would be Vania King, who checks in at No. 79.
And guess what? There are no more American women inside the top 100 after King, who is a non-factor out there. At least the spry Oudin reached a U.S. Open quarterfinal in dramatic fashion last year, stunning a bevy of Russian stars, in come-from-behind fashion, along the way.
But the 18-year-old Oudin hasn't done much on the circuit since then, and still has yet to title as a member of the WTA Tour. She failed to get past the second round at this year's first three major events, including head- shaking opening-round exits at both the Oz and French Opens.
And King (who certainly is no Billie Jean King)? Fugetaboutit! She's only ever reached the third round at a Grand Slam event once (which occurred at last year's U.S. Open). She's been a first- or second-round loser at 16 other major tournaments.
But King (Vania King), unlike Oudin, has at least titled once on the circuit (four years ago in Bangkok).
|Vania King is one of only four Americans inside the women's top 100.|
Minnesota native Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who beat her Fed Cup teammate Oudin at a tournament in Montreal just this week, is just outside the top 100, at No. 101. Which means there are only four American women inside the top 100!
Thank goodness we (USA) still have Serena and Venus out there, otherwise we'd be watching a whole lot of American-less women's tennis.
The last American woman not named Serena or Venus to capture a major title was Jennifer Capriati at the 2002 Aussie Open. And you'd have to dip into the '90s to come up with a non-Williams American winner at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, as Lindsay Davenport was the last to turn the trick at the All England Club, in 1999, and in New York, in 1998.
And Serena is the only American woman to capture our national title -- the U.S. Open -- over the last eight years.
And when's the last time an American not named Serena or Venus finished a season inside the top 10? Well that would be Davenport back in 2005, a year in which Lindsay finished No. 1.
|Bethanie Mattek-Sands is ranked just outside the top 100.|
Heck, in 2006 there were zero American women inside the top 10 at year's end.
Whatever happened to the good old days when American-born women dominated the top-10 landscape? Like in 1980, for instance, when five of the top 10 hailed from the U.S., including the top-two ladies in the world, Chrissie (Evert, that is) and Tracy Austin.
Will we ever see five American women inside the top 10 again? I seriously doubt it, considering how popular tennis has become all over the globe in the last quarter-century.
What's the (tennis) world coming to when there are more Belgians in the top 20 (Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin and Yanina Wickmayer) than there are Americans (Serena and Venus)?
My native Pennsylvania, alone, is almost four times the size of Belgium.
The Russians, as a whole, dominated in recent years, but they're starting to cool off, with only one player, Elena Dementieva, residing inside the top 10 for the time being. But they certainly spread it around (in terms of success), with the likes of Dementieva, Maria Sharapova, Svetlana Kuznetsova, Dinara Safina, Vera Zvonareva, and even Anastasia Myskina. Three of those women have corralled major titles; two have reached No. 1; and all have played in at least one major final.
Sure, the Williams sisters are still here, and the younger one is still a dominant force on tour, but Serena and Venus aren't going to be around forever, and the United States needs to produce at least one woman who can challenge for a top-10 spot sooner rather than later. And that woman currently does not exist (sorry, Oudin), although some have been starting to hype Coco Vandeweghe in recent weeks, despite the fact that the 18-year-old has yet to accomplish anything in "The Show."
By the way, Vandeweghe is the niece of former NBA star/executive/coach Kiki Vandeweghe.
About five years ago, California's Alexa Glatch was a "promising" American.
Five years later...she stinks (as far as potential Grand Slam winners go).
Did You Know?: Venus has never finished a season as a year-end No. 1. And Serena's only accomplished the feat twice.
At the upcoming U.S. Open, Serena will certainly be among the favorites, as she always is. Venus...not so much. Oudin...an extreme longshot at best. And King (Vania King) and Mattek-Sands? Not in this or any other lifetime.
Dear USTA, It's time to get back to work!