Last Sunday, it was announced that Spanish Davis Cup captain Carlos Moya has been replaced by former WTA player, Gala León García.
Toni Nadal, the uncle and coach of Rafael Nadal, voiced his disapproval of the hiring to Onda Cero radio.
”It is preferable that [the captain] is someone with a background in the world of men’s tennis,” he said. ”I have nothing against her, I don’t know what her capabilities are, and I hope she does her job well, but in theory she is a person that doesn’t know men’s tennis, because men’s tennis isn’t the same as women’s tennis. The truth is that the men’s game isn’t the same as the women’s game on the tactical level, not that one is better than the other.”
There are so many problems with his comments that I don’t even know where to start, so let’s break it down bit by bit.
“It is preferable that [the captain] is someone with a background in the world of men’s tennis.”
This is the most reasonable comment Toni Nadal made in response to the situation. It would be ideal for a Davis Cup Captain to be acquainted with the ATP World Tour, so that he or she has some degree of knowledge regarding the players of the opposing team.
Is it an absolute necessity? No. With the Spanish team having been knocked of the World Group, don’t be surprised if they are pitted against smaller nations composed of players who are essentially unknown commodities.
Slovakia, opponent to the United States in World Group Playoffs earlier this month, is a perfect example. I would be willing to bet that neither Gala León García nor Toni Nadal ever heard of Norbert Gombos, one of the two players the Slovakian team had playing singles.
Let us assume Leon Garcia has zero knowledge of men’s tennis – which further assumes she had never seen an ATP World Tour match in her life – would all hope be lost? Of course not. As someone who has been around the sport for many years, the lefty Spaniard could compliment her knowledge of the game with the innumerable quantity of videos and match highlights that are at her instant disposal via the internet.
In the first round of the U.S. Open this year, Novak Djokovic played 79th ranked Diego Sebastian Schwartzman; the World No. 1 admitted before the match that he had not seen much of Schwartzman, and had to go back and look at videoes to establish an idea of how the youngster plays.
Branching out to other sports, the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers recently hired a coach by the name of David Blatt. Blatt has never coached single NBA game in his life, but because the Cavaliers trust his basketball knowledge from his years of coaching overseas, they believed he has what it takes to coach LeBron James and his teammates.
”I have nothing against her, I don’t know what her capabilities are, and I hope she does her job well, but in theory she is a person that doesn’t know men’s tennis, because men’s tennis isn’t the same as women’s tennis.”
This comment is just plain ignorant.
First, Toni admits that he doesn’t know what León García’s skills are. This is where he should have stopped. He knows virtually nothing about the former World No. 27 but proceeds goes on to make a wild assumptions about her anyway.
Perhaps we should be happy “Uncle Toni” had no part in the decision-making process. How does he know what she knows about the ATP World Tour and its players? The truth is he doesn’t, and automatically excluding a candidate because the candidate is a former women’s player is absurd. Who is to say that someone like Gala León García isn’t a die-hard follower of the ATP World Tour and knows more about its current players than someone like Juan Carlos Ferrero or former Davis Cup coach, Carlos Moya?
Perhaps Toni Nadal should have followed Andy Murray’s example. After working with Amelie Mauresmo, Murray concluded that the Frenchwoman, a former WTA No. 1, was a viable choice as a coach of either sex.
“The truth is that the men’s game isn’t the same as the women’s game on the tactical level, not that one is better than the other.”
The truth is that no two matches, even if played between the same players on the same court, are the same. It does not matter if they are between two men, two women, or a man and a woman.
To be sure, there are some general differences between the men’s and women’s game, with the most obvious being the importance of the serve. It is indisputable that men serve faster than woman and as result, end up holding more frequently. The WTA Tour also sees less players approaching the net, but such a difference isn’t too drastic.
Outside of these distinctions, there are some men and women who play with a lot topspin, and some men and women who hit the ball very flat. There are some men and women who like playing offensive tennis, and some men and women who like playing defensive tennis. There are some men and women who hit big serves, and then there are some men and women who prefer to simply start the point with their serve. There are so many variations in playing style that we see on both tours that to claim that they are tactically different in the sense that men do things that women do not is ridiculous.
Toni Nadal believes that Gala León García may not be a proper leader for the Spanish Davis Cup team because she played on the WTA Tour. There is a level of hypocrisy here that cannot be denied. Has anyone asked Toni what knowledge he has of the WTA Tour to make such an adamant claim about the differences between the ATP and WTA Tours?
He claims that León García cannot, in theory, know about the men’s game. Yet shouldn’t we question, using Toni’s own logic, what he knows about the women’s game? Because, you know, “in theory,” he is a person who could not know about the women’s game, if he believes the men’s game to be so vastly different.