Under Achievers in the ATP
Occasionally I have an opportunity to watch Professional Tennis for the pure enjoyment of the Game and not as a Coach looking to analyze a Player's Game Strategy in order to pass various tidbits unto my Students.
In the past week my second most favorite Clay Court Tournament, the Mutua Madrilena Madrid Open has been non-stop action for both the Men (ATP) & Women (WTA) who are preparing for that little contest at Roland Garros known as the French Open.
There's a term I've often used to describe the majority of participants in the Main Draw, which is 'Draw Fillers' which refers to those who everyone knows has absolutely zero chance of not only winning but most likely not even getting to the Rd of 16. Every once in awhile one Player may slip through depending on which top level Player gets injured or defaults before the Tournament starts (Lucky Losers) as they are called but 'Draw Fillers' are basically there to do just that, fill up the draw and provide Theater for the true Contenders in the Tournament.
But what about those that were considered Contenders at one time, never accomplished the heights that we thought they would and now are merely hanging around for the pay check?
How many Professional Players in the ATP can you name that never lived up to there potential? If you don't agree with my list please tell me why
In my opinion a few that come to mind are:
Fernando 'Gozo' Gonzalez
This list makes up basically Players who are currently active. I'm not saying your List of names has to be current Players although. As far as the WTA, I have a ton of names that fit this description.
Yikes, I was the hitting partner for a few of those guys and gals.
Most people don't realize how much off the court drama goes on with tennis players. The ones who can stay out of it tend to be able to focus on the task at hand. Remember when Agassi was the underachiever? He wanted to have fun, but his extreme athleticism helped him to stay at the top even when his mind was on a rock concert or something else. I was Hingis' hitting partner for a while while coaching at Saddlebrook and she went the opposite way. Her mother kept her focused early on and then finally, the desires to have a "normal" life kicked in and being the best was no longer a priority. Saddlebrook is a very laid back place and many of the pros listed train there. (I used to hit with James Blake and Mardy Fish) Part of it is their personality and part of it is that they have other things on their minds. One other thing too. Players like Federer, Agassi, Sampras, etc. are able to win giving 60%-75% in most matches. They then turn it on for the final rounds and the better opponents. Players like Hewitt, Blake, Fish (players without big weapons) have to play at nearly 100% most every match. It takes its toll over the years when you have to play every match like it is a championship final. I played professionally for 3 years and I would have been quite happy being called an underachiever ranked in the top 25 like many of these "underachievers". ;)