Wednesday, October 22, 2008

The Almost Club

I started to write a post yesterday about two girls that I'm really excited about on the WTA Tour: Laura Robson and Marina Erakovic.

Each of these two young women have showed great promise and poise in the last six months as they've made their own inroads on the pro tour, but I can't help but think of them as part of a club that I feel is growing and growing: The Almost Club.

The Almost Club grows in membership each year, but in the last two years I've noticed that the application process has sped up and the applicant line never gets too deep - they just hop right in. Over at On the Baseline, Aaress did a great post on "The Most Frustrating WTA Players" on tour right now.

For me, the list could go on and on, but more than anything, I worry for the next generation - for girls like Robson and Erakovic - that they'll always be Almosters... that they'll never achieve greatness.

Perhaps it's something that I shouldn't lose sleep over. Fact is, there are few Venus Williams-like players in the world, and not everyone is destined for greatness. While working with the Easter Bowl, I'm learning how far tennis can reach (over 600 American kids play this tournament every year!) and how selective it truly is.

When it comes to team sports, greatness can be passed around from position to position. But in tennis, there is only one position: on the court. If you're not on it, you're off it. And if you're off it, you're probably not winning very much.

It would take me weeks to talk about all the Almosters on the WTA Tour, so I'll just stick with Robson and Erakovic. For now, they both have their careers ahead of them, so it's unfair to put them in one category or another.

But truth is, they probably will become a part of the Club, because we all know how hard it is to get into that other one club: the Club of Champions.

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