Star Teen Tennis Player Benched For Being Too Fat
USTA: "It Has Nothing To Do With Body Type"
In professional sports, sometimes pure skill just isn't enough. The U.S. Tennis Association (USTA) is under fire for refusing to financially support the world's #1 junior player, 16-year-old Taylor Townsend, due to the teenager's large body type.
Townsend, one of the tennis world's brightest rising stars, was reportedly told by the USTA to stop competing in matches until she got into better shape. The organization has also declined to pay her competition expenses.
Townsend's coaches have apparently taken issue with her plus-sized figure and are refusing to support her ongoing tennis career until she loses weight. Townsend's mother, a former player herself, ended up paying for her daughter's recent trip to the U.S. Open.
While Townsend's supporters, including countless writers and players, have sharply criticized the move (former champion Martina Navratilova said she is "livid"), the USTA says it's solely concerned with the young player's longterm career.
"It has nothing to do with weight, nothing to do with body type," said Patrick McEnroe, USTA's head of player development. "It has to do with overall fitness, overall what her game is."
Townsend, meanwhile, says the criticism has deeply affected her.
"I was actually very upset. I cried. I was actually devastated," Townsend said. "I mean, I worked really hard, you know."
Though the USTA claims to have Townsend's future in mind, this can't possibly outweigh the longterm effects of publicly ridiculing her body, which is still maturing. Little or large, it shouldn't matter how big you are as long as you can stay competitive.
Just let the girl play.
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