Tennis is now dominated by tireless European players, many of them born far from the genteel country clubs usually associated with the sport. For the United States Tennis Association, the failure to develop young stars has become a crisis. The organization counts on American stars for television ratings in its marquee event, the U.S. Open, and the roughly $45 million a year in U.S. television-rights fees the ratings generate. That represents a quarter of the USTA's annual budget. Lower ratings will inevitably lead to less money. The dearth of talent exists even though tennis participation has risen more than 30% in the past seven years to nearly 17 million players, according to the Sporting Goods Manufacturing Association's annual participation survey. The U.S. needs to adopt the boot-camp approach followed by the new generation of European champions, tennis experts say. The Serbian triumvirate of Jelena Jankovic, Ana Ivanovic and Novak Djokovic all practiced tirelessly from an early age, then moved away from their parents to train among elite players at top academies. "At the end of the day it's all about who works harder and what is in the gut," said Tracy Austin, a two-time U.S. Open champion. "So many of the parents in the European countries, they'll send the kids away. It's a hunger and work ethic that seems different there."

— decline of tennis in US due to work ethic  

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