USTA Tries to Keep Top US Teen from US Open Junior Tournament

Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 07:15 am
I read about this during the Open but didn't post it. Did anyone catch the story about the number one junior player in the world, US player Taylor Townsend, who was denied a wild card into the US Open, denied a wild card into the qualifying bracket and was asked to stay home from the juniors competition because the USTA wanted her to "work on her fitness"? Did I mention she is the reigning girls 16 Austrianian Open champion, number one and from the US? The USTA originally said it would not pay her travel expenses to the US Open but she went anyway at her own expense. US champions Lindsey Davenport, Serena Williams and Martina Navratilova, all of which were large teens reacted with anger. Serena Williams has taken heat from the press and public about her body shape and "fitness".
"I was not svelte at 15, and I was not fit at 15. If they had told me I could not play, I mean, that could have ruined my career," Davenport said.
"I would have been cut from the USTA program," Navratilova said.

The USTA backtracked hard when the press got wind of it but since a lot of TV commentators are also on the USTA payroll, the coverage on TV was zero. Add to it race (Townsend is black with a body build more Serena Williams than Chris Evert), gender and body image issues and you have a major fiasco for the USTA. Here's a clip from Good Morning America on one side and an article in the Wall Street Journal on the other. What could they possibly have been thinking to slam the US's top prospect?
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Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 08:16 am
Another article by Sports Illustrated.
Reply Tue 11 Sep, 2012 02:21 pm
One more update: Townsend won the US Open Junior doubles title and lost in the quarters of the singles draw.
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 07:56 am
If anyone is following, this is an update from the French Open where Townsend is progressing up the singles draw. She says she is good with the USTA now and that they have been helping her fitness with a program focused on her lower body strength and endurance.

ESPN wrote:
A cheerful girl who jokes and laughs easily, Townsend said that she and the USTA have a very good relationship. She's having a great time in Paris, where she can look out her hotel window and see the Eiffel Tower before she goes to Roland Garros, where she has been dispatching opponents in the junior bracket as her family looks on.

Townsend advanced to the juniors quarterfinals Tuesday afternoon, then rushed to prepare herself for a formal world champions dinner. Wearing a white dress, she looked spectacular, like a Hollywood star on the runway.

Townsend is not the prototypical leggy, trim tennis player. She carries weight around her middle. She is more Serena than Sharapova.

To put in a term you might hear while touring the Louvre, she is Rubenesque.

"She may not look like anybody else," said her father, Gary Townsend, a high school principal who played basketball and baseball in college. "But put her up against anybody in a mile [run], or anybody in a match, and she's not going to wither. She's not the littlest girl in the world. In the end, though, she's still a girl. She hasn't gotten that grown woman's body yet. She just turned 17. She's still a kid. I look for different things in the years to come. She'll probably look a lot different when she's 20 than at 17. More defined. It comes with age."
Reply Thu 6 Jun, 2013 08:35 am
What an annoying decision by USTA in the first place. Good going, though, Taylor Townsend.
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