US Olympic tennis team is missing key top-ranked players

The players qualified for the US Olympic team are very different from the those playing in the Olympics

The United States tennis team competing in the Paris Olymics was recently announced. Even though it was public knowledge which players qualfied for the team, it was a surprise to hear the final announcement.

Why was it a surprise? Alternates are already in play, and in the case of the men, the alternate and his backup are members of the team.

While some will blame the players for not participating, that is not fair to them. The ATP and WTA do not prioritize Olympic tennis competitions. Though the Olympics are a worldwide stage to attract new fans to the sport, the top players are restricted by existing schedules, obligations, concerns about defending ranking points, and health. And they do not gain any ranking points by participating in the Olympics.

Who is and is not on the Olympic team?

Let's start with the good news. The top-ranked women's players, Coco Gauff and Jessica Pegula are on the team. They will be playing singles and doubles. Joining them on the women's side are Danielle Collins whose 2024 swan song has been miraculous and Emma Navarro who was an alternate. Navarro will play singles and doubles with Desirae Krawczyk, the doubles specialist on the team. Kathy Rinaldi is the US women's coach.

Madison Keys chose not to participate in the Olympics despite qualifying. Given the different surfaces players need to prepare for in an Olympics sandwiched between two Grand Slams, the transition from grass to clay to hardcourt is a huge challenge which is why top-ranked world players like Aryna Sabalenka and Ons Jabeur are not participating.

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The men's team is absent even more top-ranked players. Ben Shelton, Frances Tiafoe, and Sebastian Korda have declined their Olympic spots. Shelton made his position known months ago, but Tiafoe and Korda surprised fans. Tiafoe was excited to play, but his MCL sprain suffered this week in Queens could have been a significant factor in his decision. Joining Taylor Fritz and Tommy Paul will be Christopher Eubanks and Marcus Giron. Fritz and Paul will play singles and doubles. The US men's doubles specialists on the team are Rajeev Ram and Austin Krajicek. Bob Bryan will coach the US men's team.

Mixed doubles teams are yet to be determined. Olympic tennis matches begin on July 27 and run through August 4.

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