The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) reportedly decided not to fund 16-year-old tennis-playing phenom Taylor Townsend’s (pictured) U.S. Open juniors trip because they reportedly think she is too heavy, according to Diets In Review.
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Apparently, the awe-inspiring talents of the young teen — who is the No. 1 ranked girls junior and won the Australian Open juniors tournament — are not enough for the powers-that-be at the USTA. The tennis organization, whose general manager is Patrick McEnroe, has a fairly new player development program in place, and they claim that they are concerned with Townsend’s “health and long-term development” as a player.
Amid criticism for their decision, the organization shot back that they want to make it clear that while they are not denying their star player entry in to any of the tennis tournaments, they will NOT pay for any of her travels until she is deemed fit enough.
In a seemingly conflicting statement, the USTA said, “It has nothing to do with weight, nothing to do with body type,” McEnroe told ESPN. “It has to do with overall fitness, overall what her game is.”
In response, Townsend’s mother, Sheila, a former college tennis player, did what any parent would do who wants to keep fueling her child’s dream by swallowing the costs of her daughter’s trip to this year’s U.S. Open.
Unfortunately, due to the USTA’s controversial decision, Townsend had already missed the U.S. girls’ nationals, where she would have had the opportunity to earn her way in to the U.S. Open. A request for a wild card in to the main draw or qualifying at Flushing Meadows also was turned down.
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Not surprisingly, quite a few high-profile tennis pros, who admit to having struggled with their weight as younger players, came to Townsend’s defense.
“You cannot punish someone for their body type,” the statuesque 6’2, 176-pounds, former World No. 1 American professional tennis player Lindsay Davenport told the Wall Street Journal (WSJ). Famed tennis-player-turned coach Martina Navratilova, who also spoke to WSJ, described herself as “livid” that the USTA was making weight — and not attitude and skill — a consideration for financial support.
As with most people, Townsend admits that keeping fit has not been an easy road for her, “I’m not going to sit here and say that I couldn’t have gotten in better shape or that I couldn’t get in better shape,” she told ESPN. “I’m not going to sit here and say that I’m the fastest person, the most agile, because I’m not. There’s definitely room for improvement, but it’s a personal opinion.”
Still, some critics of the USTA, which has garnered much publicity from “blond bombshells” such as Victoria Azarenka, Maria Sharapova, Anna Kournikova, wonder if the organization is looking to fill their camps with model-like “lookers” as opposed to skilled players?