Tuesday, January 7, 2014

The Targeted Elite Junior Tennis Player in New Zealand

Its about time I commented on the New Elite Targeted Junior Tennis Player pathway implementing in New Zealand. The new strategy has been developed by Tennis New Zealand over the past year and has received wide acceptance from the tennis community that the targeted approach will ensure a more effective use of its limited resources."WIDER TENNIS COMMUNITY?"
The Targeted Athlete Programme is designed to identify and target a small number of exceptionally talented New Zealand junior tennis players who Tennis New Zealand believe have the potential to achieve its High performance objective of having more players ranked inside the top 150 players in the world in years to come.

This is their (TNZ) vision To inspire New Zealanders by having players ranked inside the top 150 on the WTA/ATP Tours and performing with distinction on the international stage by 2020.That is in 6 years time? First off all get your blinkers off if you think this vision will happen by 2020.Maybe you should of worded it dream and not vision!

I need to say straight away that TNZ in the past 20 years have failed dismally on many projects and if you were a parent with an outstanding talent would you really let TNZ guide the career of you child.Answer NO!

Finn Reynolds (13), Macsen Sisam (13), Rosie Cheng (15) and Valentina Ivanov (12) have been selected as the first four Elite Junior Targeted Athletes. These athletes will now come under the close monitoring and guidance of Tennis New Zealand who will invest in and work collaboratively with the players private coach and families on developing and implementing a world class high performance programme for these players.
Tennis New Zealand CEO Steve Johns says that “the selection of these four outstanding young players is an exciting first step in the journey for tennis in New Zealand back to glory days when several players were playing for New Zealand with distinction on the international stage”.

So I have to ask with all that experience Mr Johns has as a tennis talent scout outstanding is a big word to use for juniors so young.Certainly these players have targets on their backs as I am sure many local juniors not considered to be among the 4 elite targeted tennis players will be out to prove a point.In Fact some have done this already with Rosie Cheng being defeated in the 18 and under champs by Ella Hassel and Top seeded Sissam beaten in the quarter finals of the 14's nationals just this week. Sissam has been training in Spain and one would expect a targeted outstanding elite tennis player to win their local National age group title.This is not having a go at these players selected its about TNZ throwing all their eggs in one basket to what I would class as baby's in the scheme of a pro tennis player.

The four selected players are already working very closely with Tennis New Zealand on the development of their 2014 programmes which will see the group spend a large portion of the year overseas competing and training from the Tennis New Zealand base in the Netherlands. Yes the Netherlands players have been based there for a few years , Not the answer guys especially for this age!Just because Andy Murray spent his junior days at Spanish Academy's I am sure parents get excited when they have the chance and finances to do this with their child thinking this will make their child a Murray!.Murray went to Spain not the Netherlands! AND THE OTHER THING MURRAY HAD GOING WAS EXCEPTIONAL TALENT!

Usually a good gauge of talent is if a junior is beating and winning against the next age group especially in girls tennis.Rosie Cheng is ranked about 300 ITF points played mostly Grade 4 , I am sorry but I have to query these selections.Winning a 12's National Australian singles title is not an indication if the player is earmarked for top 150 pro's.

John's goes on to say The need for a different approach to its High performance programme was essential says Johns if New Zealand players are to have any chance of completing successfully on the international stage.  “With very limited resources, we had to focus our investment and energy into a smaller group of players to ensure that we are able to provide them with a realistic chance of competing against the best in the world in the future” says Johns.

So I ask this question what of the Paige Hourigans ,Kyle Butters ,Alex Klintcherov's, the message I get is TNZ do not think you will reach 150 what is this spelling out to parents and players?Do you have to be privileged and in favor of the powers that be? Hourigan by far NZ best 16 and under girl did not go to Mexico to represent her country in Junior Fed cup and I believe much to do was for financial reasons.

We have had already two defections one by Sasha Jones to Australia and the other to Cameron Norrie to UK. One gets the impression College Tennis is the flavor of the month but really is this the bar you want tennis players to follow if you are going to be top 150.Its not the answer! and I can real off a large list of NZ players in college and finished college that wont make top 300.

Seriously Tennis in this country is regarded as a Summer sport and until TNZ try to tackle a cultural issue and address local issues give more incentive to juniors to keep playing tennis year round then New Zealand will never be to the fore of tennis.

Just look at the wonderful questions NZ commentators ask the players at ASB and Heineken Tennis tournaments the most asked question was " what do you think of New Zealand" as if it was a tourism event.Then another commentator describes the events a wonderful social event for players and they have the chance of getting their pictures in the social section of the Newspapers" YEH RIGHT! After a doubles match last night one of the questions was"so you like coming to the net?" well hello! its doubles and men's doubles where it is won from the net! RIVETING!Most players that play here cannot make the draws of the bigger prize-money tournaments and the named players certainly get a great appearance money fee to make up for it.

There are many good coaches that are not being utiliized because their ideas and methods are different than TNZ they sadly are very much disenchanted with tennis in this country.You can read the plan here LINK Just look at the swot analysis if you want a good laugh!

New Zealand have used programs from other countries and tried to apply here in their pathway ..big mistake! You must have a program that will suit New Zealand Tennis and local culture and geographical problems. The perception is that Auckland is New Zealand Tennis.The other thing Junior Tennis players here are mostly not tough enough , their parents want it more than the child and the crying!!!!

In early February, Tennis New Zealand will announce the selection of a slightly larger group of players who will form the Development Targeted Athlete Squad and which will consist of players that it believes have the potential to be in the Elite Targeted Athlete programme in the future. - will be interesting to see who will be named and what traits are different from the 4 elite targeted tennis players.

For a start a clean sweep of administration and the board who is not held accountable enough for the direction of tennis in this country.

So I open this link for comments 


  1. Steve, Spain produces the best Tennis players in the world[ males at least that is] What's with Holland? There are no good reasons that we shouldn't produce excellent Junior players, except the inept Tennis Administration, Johns and the TNZ Board certainly need to change and listen, Gary Auckland.

  2. Ella Hassall beat selected Elite Junior Rosie Cheng in a semi final at the NZ Junior Champs last month. Ella was also selected to represent NZ at the Junior Fed Cup in Mexico. She has also beaten Paige Hourigan on past occasions. Should she now replace Rosie as one of the four Targeted Athletes?
    If TNZ are really serious about getting tennis players into the top 150 then they really need to invest time and money in a lot more than four players - any or all of them could go off the rails for any number of reasons.

    1. Roger Federer lost to very lower ranked players before, are you arguing those players are greater than him.

    2. I do not think we can use Federer as an example and we are talking about tennis players from New Zealand. Federer had more talent in his little finger than who you are trying to compare.

    3. No she should not

  3. @funinsydney13 Point well taken.!

  4. Steve, the TNZ strategy was designed by a few people who now have the jobs involved within the TNZ plan. This system is for them alone, rather than for the community of players and coaches. We all know the timeline doesn't add up, especially considering the average age of a top 100 player is 27. The reason these coaches are going young is for two reasons.
    1) One of the National coaches is running out of options - he started at Fed Cup, then went with Davis Cup, then with our top 18 year olds and hes now with U/15's. Simply no results at any level.
    2) Going young secures their National jobs for at least 3 years.

    Rather than easily providing a system that brings people together, this system WILL fail because its designed to segregate everyone apart from the 4 players involved and the National coaches getting the wage..... it's diabolical
    The truth is that many of the Davis Cup and Fed Cup players were outspoken and the previous TNZ structure had results proven coaches who attempted to really change things....they even got together to write a letter against leading the system into further decline. Steve Johns decided everyone else was wrong and that him and these current National coaches are right........
    Players and parents of talented juniors need to ask themselves a very important question with regards to our National coaches - "what National reps have they actually produced themselves for NZ?"..... you will only need one hand to count them all.

  5. couldn't have put it better myself. you my friend see the big picture. wonder what salaries these mofos are on. betcha steve has a great c.v but this does not mean his solution is superior to the next guy. he's the lone individual holding the million dollar racquet and able to swing wherever he chooses. forget the fact he may not be the best person to do this. alas don't hate the player, hate the game.