Despite being so stressed out by the United States Tennis Association (USTA) over issues relating to her weight, Taylor Townsend, 17-year-old Chicago-born and now Boca Raton, Florida, resident tennis prodigy has advanced to the juniors quarterfinals of the French Open.
Last year, Townsend was the junior champion at the Australian Open and reached the third round at the French Open and Wimbledon before closing the year with a quarterfinals appearance
at the US Open. Townsend finished the season as the world's No. 1-ranked girl. She is the first American to do so since Gretchen Rush in 1982.
Townsend, the World's No. 1 junior girls player and the reigning junior Australian Open singles champion continued to have issues with the USTA. There are reports that U.S.T.A failed to support her throughout the year despite her winning accomplishments. She had publicity said that she denied financing for later tournaments because of a dispute over her training habits. The USTA. said there had been a misunderstanding.
In a recent ESPN interview, Townsend,
“It was really tough. This is an age where you're really self-conscious, especially being a girl. It's a really sensitive subject for girls especially. It was really hurting me, because first of all, I'm not built like all these girls. They're all skinny; they're all, like, tall. I'm short and I'm built. I'm muscular. I can't do anything about it. That's how I'm built.”
"It sucked because I didn't know what they wanted. I was working my butt off. I didn't know what else they wanted me to do. But now, I don't care. People can talk and say whatever they want to say because I go out on the court every day and I bust my butt, and I know it doesn't matter what other people think."
According to an article in the Wall Street Journal, "Before this year's Open, Taylor asked the USTA for a wild-card entry slot in either the Open's main draw or its qualifying tournament, which Taylor had played in last year. Her requests were denied. After the USTA asked Taylor to skip the U.S. Open junior tournament, her mother told them she'd pay her daughter's expenses herself." As Taylor's mother said, "It all kind of came as a shock to us because Taylor has consistently done quite well," she said. Her daughter, she reminded, "is No. 1, not just in the United States, but in the world."
In fact, Taylor was asked “to stop competing," consequently missing the USTA Girls’ National Championships in San Diego, because she had to get in better shape.
Townsend's mother, Shelia, who played tennis at Lincoln University, this week she said she'd been baffled by the USTA's decision. "It all kind of came as a shock to us because Taylor has consistently done quite well," she said. Her daughter, she reminded, "is No. 1, not just in the United States, but in the world."
At the head of this whole controversy is Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA's player development program. McEnroe confirmed that Taylor’s expenses to and at the US Open were not paid by the USTA. His excuse, “Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player," McEnroe said. He also added, "We have one goal in mind: For her to be playing in [Arthur Ashe Stadium] in the main draw and competing for major titles when it's time. That's how we make every decision, based on that." McEnroe also claimed there had just been a miscommunication.
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