Jordan Thompson has continued his inspired return from the tennis doldrums to reach the last 16 of an ATP Masters 1000 event for the first time.
The world is set to look upon Melbourne Park on Monday for the beginning of the Australian Open. This should be a moment that Australia is proud of and wanting to showcase Australia and the Aussie young guns.
However, there is an issue that is very serious with Tennis Australia. We continue to see a lack of performance by Australians performing at Grand Slams. Yes the talent is there but the young group of Australian professional tennis players have not lived up to their potential as yet.
We continually see inconsistent performances by the Australian tennis ‘Rising Stars’. Whether it is poor discipline or the inability to cope under pressure, Tennis Australia needs to look at the pathways for young tennis players coming up through the ranks.
Australia is so lucky to be hosting one of the four Grand Slams. As the Grand Slam of Asia/Pacific, it is remarkable that the big money influence from Asian cities have failed to gain one of the prized events.
The Australian tennis community should recognise that they need to start performing in front of their home supporters or else Melbourne and Australia are at risk of losing the Grand Slam to Asia.
We see too often that players are abusing their role as elite Tennis players. Daria Gavrilova, and Nick Kyrgios come to mind when thinking about Aussie young stars who have abused their role as players.
They should be proud to represent Australia and take it as a privilege not a right to be touring the world on the Global Tennis circuit. They have at times lacked effort and have echoed the ‘dummy spit’ that Serena Williams made during the US Open Final last year.
The reason might be simple – we are not good enough but if Tennis Australia recognise this is the reason why we are not producing quality performances on the court then it is their responsibility to introduce better pathways and coaching to fix the trend of poor performances at the elite level.
A national performance squad could be set up to identify the young talent coming through the ranks similar to what we saw happen with cricket. Unlike cricket, tennis has one format to focus on meaning that developing good quality elite talent shouldn’t be as hard as Tennis Australia has made it look.
Ash Barty is probably our biggest hope to win the ladies tournament and Alex de Minaur on the Mens but both are still long shots to go anywhere near the final stages of the tournament.
Alex too has had his little moments of overreacting, but Ash is a good quality player that has had doubles success. Being involved with the Brisbane Heat for the inaugural Women’s Big Bash League has all but only helped her to develop her elite sport performance being surrounded by elite sportswomen in a professional team environment.
How is Australia supposed to be competitive in the Davis Cup, Fed Cup or the newly created ATP Cup when their players cannot take it up to the world’s best tennis super stars at Grand Slam level?
This is an issue that Tennis Australia needs to fix and fix quickly if they want Australia to win a Davis or Fed Cup soon in the future.