Yes, you read the title correctly, Taylor Townsend is said to be she is too heavy to play the US Open Junior tournament. Unfortunately, this ridiculous claim has been buried in the shadows of the current US Open happenings (aside from the normal schedule, Federer loosing early, Andy Roddick  and Kim Clijsters retiring).

It’s true though, the USTA told Townsend to not play the US Open Junior tournament because she was too fat. Earlier this summer Townsend was told: the USTA wouldn’t finance any tournament appearances until she makes sufficient progress in one area: slimming down and getting into better shape.

Uh, what? Look, I understand the USTA wanting to have their products and investments be in ideal shape to have a lengthy career, but this is absurd! Townsend is, after all, the #1 junior girl in the WORLD. She has won the Australian Open Junior Girls title this year, the Wimbledon Junior Girls Doubles this year, and reached the French Open Juniors Doubles final last year. Clearly her weight has nothing to do with her performance in major tennis matches. Townsend is also in the quarterfinals of this years’ US Open Junior Girls singles and in the semifinals of Girls Doubles; more on this in a minute.

The USTA Junior Development program is run by Patrick McEnroe, who made the following lame-ass statement on the subject, “Our concern is her long-term health, number one, and her long-term development as a player,” said Patrick McEnroe, the general manager of the USTA’s player development program. “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.

I really don’t understand why he would say something ridiculous. I would think, especially with American tennis majorly lacking, he would want somebody like Townsend to be at the US Open with the USTA holding her hand every minute of every day. Sort of having her on display, you know, so they can say, “Look what kind of talent we have found and developed!”

I looked up some recent pictures of Townsend just to see what these claims the USTA were making could be true:

Taylor Townsend too fat for tennis

Sorry USTA, Townsend is not fat.

Alright, so let me get this straight, the USTA thinks she is fat???!!?!! Are you kidding me? I mean, she’s not Sharapova skinny, but she’s an athlete. Athletes range in sizes, shapes, muscular density, big boned, or whatever else you can use to describe an athlete. I do not think she is fat at all.

The only thing that the USTA will get from pulling a stunt like this, is a bunch of scrutiny (at least I hope). I also wonder if the USTA should be sent a strong message with a multi-million dollar civil rights lawsuit? Either way, it’s pure insanity.

Townsend did have somewhat of a fabricated response to the USTA asking her to sit out, “I’ve gotten a lot of great opportunities, great fitness, great coaching,” she said. “I’m doing everything that they ask me to do and being professional about everything.” Of course you are saying that sweetheart, if you said anything to the contrary the USTA would probably turn their back on you faster than an Andy Roddick first serve. Basically, don’t bite the hand that feeds you. I wonder how Townsend really feels.

Patrick McEnroe said after she entered the junior tournament, “We’ll assess when this tournament is over.” Sounds threatening right?

Remember how I said that Townsend was currently playing in the US Open Junior tournament? Well, Taylor’s parents put together the money and are doing it the old fashioned way, paying out of pocket. I admire the courage of the Townsend family to take such a risk, who knows what the repercussions could be, but it takes some cojones to go for it.

The bottom line is, the USTA should encourage healthy diets, healthy players, and injury prevention education, but they should never say such things to a young teen. If I remember my teen years, I was sensitive to physical criticism; I can’t imagine what it would feel like if it was publicized on a major media outlet like the Wall Street Journal.

What the USTA said could very well have an opposite effect. These words could hurt Townsend emotionally, driving her into eating disorders like bulimia and anorexia. I know, it’s extreme but the truth is, Townsend is still human.

It is really shameful that the USTA would say such atrocities to a talented tennis player like Taylor Townsed. I sincerely hopes she wins the US Open Junior tournament, sorta like a big “FU” to the USTA. That’ll show ’em.

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Filed under: Future of tennis

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