PUBLISHED: 17:13 EST, 7 September 2012 | UPDATED: 17:18 EST, 7 September 2012
- Taylor Townsend, 16, won two matches at the U.S. Open’s junior tournament today
- The teenager’s mother paid for her flights to New York so she could compete, after USTA refused to fund her travel
Taylor Townsend, the 16-year-old number one junior tennis player in the world, has been told to lose weight by the U.S. Tennis Association (USTA).
The Chicago native is the reigning junior Australian Open singles champion, the junior Wimbledon doubles champion, and today she won two matches at the U.S. Open’s junior tournament.
However, despite the fact she is part of the USTA player development program, they refused to fund Taylor’s flight to to New York to compete in the U.S. Open, and said they wouldn’t finance any other tournament appearances until she lost weight and got into better shape.
Slim down: Taylor Townsend, the 16-year-old number one junior tennis player in the world, pictured today the U.S. Open, has been told to loose weight by the U.S. Tennis Association
Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program told the Wall Street Journal: ‘Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player.
‘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.
Her mother, Shelia, who paid her daughter’s travel expenses to the U.S. Open herself, said she was confused by the USTA’s decision, because after all, her daughter ‘is No. 1, not just in the United States, but in the world.’
‘It all kind of came as a shock to us because Taylor has consistently done quite well,’ she said.
However the USTA’s decision seems to illustrate that its priorities lie in the importance of developing long-term fitness, successful results and longevity, rather than purely competitive results, in the hope of boosting the current decline of American tennis.
‘You have to be fit, but you don’t have to look ripped’
Earlier this summer, Miss Townsend lost in the first round of qualifying for a professional event in Vancouver, and her coaches asked her to withdraw from the USTA Girls’ National Championships in San Diego, return to the Florida-based academy and embark on a more strenuous fitness program.
However, winning competitive tennis matches does not necessarily directly correlate to having a svelte figure.
In 2007, Serena Williams won the Australian Open singles title despite being in what has been described as ‘the worst shape of her career’.
Also, standing at 6-foot-2 and weighing 175lbs, former U.S. tennis star Lindsay Davenport ranked among the largest players on the women’s tour, and still became number one.
Too heavy? Despite the fact Miss Townsend is part of the USTA player development program said they wouldn’t finance any other tournament appearances until she lost weight and got into better shape
Former number one on the men’s side, Mats Wilander said: ‘You have to be fit underneath, I don’t think you necessarily have to look ripped.’
While Miss Townsend, a polite and professional teenager who said she is dutifully doing ‘everything they ask’ her to do, was asked to represent the U.S. in a junior Federation Cup event in Spain later this month, her future schedule will remain up to the USTA.
Mr McEnroe said: ‘We’ll assess when this tournament is over.’
‘I’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities, great fitness, great coaching,’ MIss Townsend said of the USTA. ‘I’m being professional about everything.’