Junior pre-match handshake idea shortlived

NEW YORK – The USTA made an official announcement on Sunday, lauding a new protocol it instituted to increase sportsmanship at the junior level.

It was a good time to do it, at the biggest and most high-profile junior event under its purview.

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It’s actually a great idea, a harmless one that only is a plus.

A pre-match handshake was added to the customary post-match shake for all junior matches this week in New York.

It’s a reflection upon the world we live in that it has to be mandated, or that extra gestures are even needed to emphasize fair play and sportsmanship at the entry levels of the game.

Still, it was a good initiative.

handshake

Except … that’s past tense. It only lasted a day or two – at most.

Gone, and already forgotten

A random sampling of matches on the steamy outer courts Tuesday produced only one or two examples of the shake.

A boys’ doubles match on Court 7 between Americans Niroop Vallabhaneni and Alexander Lee, and Brit Anton Matusevich with partner Adrian Andreev of Bulgaria was one of them.

And the four kids – and the chair umpire – had big smiles as they were doing it.

But at the majority of others, it didn’t appear to even come up.

Here were Taisya Pachkaleva of Russia and Kamilla Bartone of Latvia.

Nothin’.

And here were French players Clara Burel and Diane Parry, who were taking on Weronika Falkowska and Stefania Rogozinska Dzik of Poland.

Still nothin’.

Well, it was a good idea while it lasted. No clue why the umpires didn’t keep at it.

But, as one veteran U.S. official said when I brought it up with him, it still lasted longer than a similar effort at the pro level years ago.

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