The Taylor Townsend fitness controversy


Will the talented Townsend be able to move ahead?


The amount of criticism leveled at the USTA during the 2012 US Open over the Taylor Townsend situation was ridiculous. Exactly how much enabling of the younger generation


  1. I’ll ask here the questions I asked you on twitter.

    This is still very vague.

    Low iron isn’t something that developed in a day, but you discover this with a simple blood test, and it is easily correctable. So, I have several questions.

    Did they tell her to see a doctor and she refused? When was that, if so?
    Did she refuse to take medications for her low iron after being diagnosed?
    Was this medical condition just discovered right before the open?
    Was she taking treatment for the low iron and they didn’t want her to participate because they thought (or maybe USTA doctor thought) she needs to fix iron levels first and then participate?

    Because ‘low iron’ isn’t ‘fitness’ – if she was 15 pounds less and had low iron issues, would she have received USTA funding or not? Because to me, it sounds like an excuse.

    If it was about the ‘fitness’ and not about the low iron – when did they first tell her she had to get ‘fitter’ in order to receive USTA fundings? A month before the open? A week before the open? Beginning of year? Who conveyed the message?

    More questions than answers, Matt. I don’t disagree with you on principle, obviously a coach or the USTA can tell a player she needs to get fitter, however, when the player is bringing on the results, this needs to be well-handled and I have a feeling it wasn’t.

    Right now, there are too many contradicting stories here, and the USTA explanation doesn’t add up. Was it the iron, or was it the fitness? What was the time table it all took place?

  2. Great piece Matt, here’s a few comments from my side…

    The only reasons a player should be with held from competing from an event is due to injury or illness. Taylor had none of the two.
    In my opinion, no player should be prohibited from competing:
    (A) if they have qualified, met the criteria and reached the standard/level/ranking.
    (B) Due to their color, body composition (as in Taylor’s case here) or nationality.

    The fact it was also left to this late a stage (her exclusion from the US Open), wasn’t dealt with properly or professionally. It’s heart breaking for an athlete, and especially a Junior in this case, to be told they cannot compete when they have clearly earned it.

    From a body compositional view regards Taylor, the reality is this: Due to born genetics and her body presently being Mesomorph/Endomorphic type, Taylor will never have the body frame of a Azarenka or Henin, no matter how much time and effort she puts into her fitness.
    That doesn’t mean she won’t improve her level, quite the contrary, however, with the right program and guidance, I do believe she would be able reach a much higher level of fitness and obtain a more Mesomorph body type (medium-strong athletic build).

    Matt, you are absolutely spot on regards tennis players getting coddled too much. I work with a wide range of athletes in different sports, and for example, in Squash, the standards are way higher when it comes to a higher fitness level and applying ones self. There’s more responsibility on the athlete to reach the standards/times.
    I have always said that, players who apply themselves to working harder on their fitness and condition will increase their career longevity, improve results and decrease the chances of injury. An athlete needs to be aware of this fully to understand

    My advice to Taylor is to take and use the criticism to her advantage, and move on from here with a determination to work even harder. She has proven she has the game and temperament.
    I for one, certainly hope she will be able get the positive out of this and become a great athlete and player for this countries future.

    Allistair McCaw
    Sports Performance Coach to WTA & ATP professionals & Olympic athletes.

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