Clemson Women’s Tennis Team vs. Syracuse Women’s Tennis Team

This week with the “Road Not Taken” we look at the Clemson Women’s Tennis Team vs. the Syracuse Women’s Tennis Team.

Clemson University is a NCAA Division 1 school and they are coached by the very capable Nancy Harris. She has been a popular coach wherever she has been and before coming to Clemson she was the both the Men’s and Women’s Coach at AUM.

I actually had a difficult time finding the roster for the Clemson team. Clemson does have a separate link for it and you can find it if you go the the pdf. they provide in the media guide. The 2012-2013 Women’s roster is almost completely filled with female players from around the globe. There is one American on the team from Bradenton, FL. This type of roster is not unusual for Coach Harris. She has always been a recruiter of the foreign athletes as she did so to a large degree while at AUM during her years there. And Coach Harris obviously does a good job recruiting the foreign athletes because her Clemson teams are always in the NCAA mix and representing the ACC with a top 20 team.

The Syracuse Women’s Tennis Team is also a NCAA Division 1 school and they are coached by former ATP touring pro Luke Jensen. The Syracuse roster is found at this link right out in the open on the athletic department’s site and it is not difficult to find. Luke Jensen is known to only really recruit American girls to play on his team at Syracuse and you can examine their roster here. He does have one player from Lima, Peru. She is a walk-on player to the team.

In Luke’s case his road to the Top 20 is probably not going to happen as fast as it has for Coach Harris. In fact, it might not ever happen, but Luke has said on the “American Tennis Radio Show” with Coach Chuck Kriese he and his Athletic Director are not measuring success by just wins on the court. They are measuring success by how Luke is able to develop his players.

So again we have two different programs and two separate roads these teams have taken. Which one is better–that is for you to decide. We just like bringing up the differences so they can be noted.

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8 Comments

  1. Miren Ivankovic

    JP – interesting article; We have already discussed these issues via Facebook, but here are my thoughts again. I think that you are kind of leaning toward, as well as Coach Kriese (now that he is retired from coaching college tennis) is more US born and less foreign players on the tennis teams. I think that is an honorable stand from the outside of the college tennis looking in. But, your comments are actually doing a disfavor to the ones that are in the system.Why? Your good intentions will bring college tennis back to its humble beginning. It will be similar to the current state of high school tennis, where tennis will be coached by some professor who also has a passion for the game and it will be conducted at the level similar to current tennis campus clubs. I think the better argument is, do we need the current system, that results in professional Coaches and therefore global search for high caliber performers. Coach Luke is a great story, but he supplements his coaching income due to his brand name, so it is easier for him to do what he does. I checked the SU web site and glanced over some sports, and they do recruit globally (see soccer, basketball, etc…). CU vs SU match. I am all in for CU – they are better since they have better players. That is the fact.

    • Hi Miren,

      It is my feeling that there should be no limits on where coaches recruit. I just would prefer to go the route of recruiting Americans myself if I had it to do again. I like the progress that is made with the players in many instances. But I am torn because in many cases the foreign athletes you get have super attitudes and work ethics.

      Personally, I do not like the shortcuts. There are some coaches out there who it never even enters their minds to recruit players at mid-semester from another country to come in and win for them. They take what they have and with the cards they are dealt they play the hand they have. Others will recruit, recruit and recruit. That is where they spend their time and energy. For example, you and I both know it probably never even occurred to Paul Scarpa at Furman to recruit a player in at mid-semester (January) to fill out a roster spot and be a proven performer for the Furman Men’s team. It was not in his makeup. He kept lots of players on his team and from that crop he developed new ones to step up and take on the challenge. This is what those values and that road produces. I like that, it appeals to me–it reminds me of John Wayne and the Old West and Jimmy Stewart and Ronald Reagan. So if John Wayne was going to recruit a team he would do it with Americans most likely. That would be his road.

      Now there are other roads to take. It looks like the Clemson Women’s team roster has on it six players. I am not in Clemson, SC so I cannot say for sure what is going to happen but let me predict. Since the team has six players on it I am willing to wager they are not going to go into the spring with only six players. Maybe she finds some in mid-semester and she gets them in to play for the team in January. I doubt it is going to be American kids that come in at that point. To my way of thinking it will be impact players and they will be from some other part of the globe. And they will be good and they will win. But one path lends itself to actual coaching more than the other. One road or path is going to be based on developing players games from what they did in the fall and the other path is going to be based on managing the talent. This scenario repeats itself time and time again around the country at all different schools.

      Again, for me it is just a preference. Off the subject a little but it explains where I am coming from a little better. I have never really enjoyed watching women’s basketball except in one instance. I used to love the teams at Clemson under the coaching of Jim Davis. Man, could he coach. He was superb as a coach and he really could get to the girls to come together and play as a team. You could really see that happening. Many other teams that came in to play against Clemson had one or two stars and the offense revolved around them. Jim’s teams did not and consequently I loved watching them play ball. He now coaches at Tennessee Tech and I would be willing to bet you they do the same things there now with him.

      I bring this up because my last year I went and watched the University of Miami Men’s Tennis team play against the Georgia Tech Men’s Tennis team at Georgia Tech. When the singles matches went on the court what I saw disappointed me in two ways. One, there was only one American player on the court out of 12 players. And two, the majority of the players were South Americans and they played very typical counter-puncher to aggressive baseliner games. Nearly all of them played in this fashion and it did not look like any of the players on either teams really had developed as players and could do more than pound the ball from the baseline. If I am coaching a team and I recruit them to play I want to see them do more than just play like they did when they were 14-16 years of age. I would want them to at least be trying to do more. Do not even get me started on the doubles. It was a little disappointing for me to watch especially since I know the Head Coach at Tech can do so much more as a player himself and he did. On top of it neither of those teams was very good in their conference or from a national perspective. they ranked about at the middle of the pack for the men’s teams nationally.

      I think recruiting the foreign players short circuits the coaching process for me and I would not do it that way–but that is my choice.

  2. Miren Ivankovic

    Oops….

    Furman team signs international players (from Greenville News – basketball)

    • I really want no limit. If a coach chooses to go a certain route that is their choice. But once you choose to do it a certain way and your coaching energies are allotted there then that is it. It is hard to convince mom’s and dad’s here in the USA you are a developer of talent as opposed to a recruiter and manager or talent.

  3. Miren and JP…the point that I would like to communicate in this discussion of a three visa limit in American colleges is: The US is producing players and the top fifity are going to play somewhere in Division I or II. The world has 135 nations producing Davis and Fed Cup players for their country. The top ten from each of those countries have been developed, supported with travel and coaching, to be the possible players to represent their nation in DC and Fed Cup play. That is 1350 kids per year that are the ones that are looking at coming to the USA to play our UNIQUE college system. With the loss of some 400 tennis programs over the past decade in the USA, it has become EVEN MORE difficult for an American kid, particularly a boy since the 4.5 scholarship limit makes it more difficult for a college coach to line up a team. For the record: FOREIGN PLAYERS ARE AWESOME from Pancho Segura in the forties at Miami, to Rafael Osuna from Mexico for USC’s Trojans, to Mikael Pernfors to Matia Boeker at Georgia. As an American interested in seeing the juniors from 51 on down (like a John Sadri of NC who was 65 in the juniors)…what is wrong with a 50% split of starting roster spots for US juniors to have a chance to play/develop for four years with great coaching? Every college gets the same opportunity for foreign players rather than the six foregin player lineups that lock out American juniors. Further, with ‘local talent’ on a team, the chances of the program being cut/eliminated are LESS since there are parents, alumni and taxpayers who want our education system to provide opportunities for education for the children of country. That’s what I see….bp

    • Brian, There is nothing wrong with what you propose and I think it would be neat if other coaches decided on their own accord to choose to do just that and recruit American kids. I actually would like to see teams with only Americans on their teams. I like America.

      But that said I like players who are hard workers and not spoilt too. So many kids here in the USA I would not recruit just because I do not like to be around them. So I want the choice to recruit who I want to recruit. If I can find Americans that will do what I say and who can act properly I see no reason not to recruit them.

      Once you get your Visa limit passed then you will want to tell me from what state I have to recruit from and right-handers in proportion to left-handers. Next, you will be joining the Democratic party! Then you will be telling me I need 3 Republicans and 3 Democrats on each team.

  4. Miren Ivankovic

    In many European league systems (that do pay for play) there is a limit on foreign players per team. In German’s Bundesliga, I think there is a room for only 2 foreign players per team. Some actually have more than 2, but 2 can play per match. But, I like the US system better. I do not want us to become like Europe. I think that is the whole point. Solution – make American players better, promote tennis at junior colleges and community colleges, as well as naia, ncaa divisions 2 and 3, etc….there is plenty of spots available if you know how to play decent.

    • I agree with you. But I also want to point out where people choose the different paths. There is a difference between coaching a team good and recruiting a team good. Once you have a rep as one it is tough to change that.

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