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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Dokic Joins Brat Pack, WTA Looks For Solution




MELBOURNE, Australia -- An old demon that haunts women's tennis is back: Are young players up to the myriad pressures of international competition, and what should adults do about it?


Australia's tennis chief said Wednesday he would consider more help for teen players after two outbursts, one demeaning and the other accusatory, by Australian star Jelena Dokic after her first-round loss in the Australian Open.


"It's tough for a 16-year-old in the context of losing a match in a Grand Slam she would have expected to have won and she's overreacted to it," said Geoff Pollard, head of Tennis Australia.


The list of teenage starlets who wilt, even if temporarily, under the pressures swirling around world-class tennis stretches back as long as they have dominated women's tennis.


Dokic, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon, was shaken when Rita Kuti Kis on Monday denied her another shot at glory.


Dokic was graceless in defeat. She showed up late at a post-match news conference, for which she was fined $2,500, and dismissed Kuti Kis as a player without a future.


On Tuesday, she accused tennis officials of intentionally saddling her with tough draws in order to sabotage her career. Dokic rose from virtually nowhere a year ago to a high of No. 37. She came into the Australian Open ranked No. 39.


"They say they pull them out [of a random draw] but I don't think so," the Yugoslav-born Dokic said of the system of assigning names in a draw.


Many players were incredulous at the remark. No. 2 seed Lindsay Davenport said: "That's some of the dumbest stuff I ever heard."


Dokic also said her father, Damir, who was escorted out of a tournament at Birmingham, England, last year for loud and drunken cheering, told her there was pressure on her "because of where we come from."


On Wednesday, Damir Dokic grabbed a radio-microphone from an Australian camera crew that was following his family outside their Melbourne hotel and returned it two hours later after the crew complained to police.


The Dokic family emigrated from Serbia and lived in poverty until Jelena began making money playing tennis. Being the breadwinner of the family may add to the pressure.


"A lot of it has come from not having made the progress from Wimbledon she would have liked," Pollard said. "Maybe she thought this would be the next jump she would make and it didn't happen."


He said he would talk to Dokic, whose tournament appearances are limited by age restrictions, and that Australian officials would assess how to help players from different ethnic backgrounds.


"It's a complicated issue with their schooling, and liaising with them and their parents," he said.


Part of Dokic's problem, officials believe, is that she has no full-time coach. Australian Davis Cup coach Tony Roche works with her at Grand Slam events.