Arthur Ashe. Jimmy Connors. John McEnroe. Andre Agassi. Pete Sampras. Michael Chang. Jim Courier.
They were the best. They were America's best. And when they competed against the finest tennis stars in the world, they prevailed far more often than they failed.
All of these fine stars won Majors. All of them were so reliably competitive that by season's end, any die-hard American tennis fan could rest assured that their world ranking would be in the top-10.
In 2002, Chang and Sampras retired. In 2006, Agassi retired. And America's once proud place as one of the elite tennis powers on the planet faded into oblivion.
American men's tennis has diminished dramatically, not by a dip but by a colossal deluge.
In the late 1990s, the American entourage of Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Jim Courier, Michael Chang, and Todd Martin would compete fiercely and competitively in every match and every point.
Certainly, there were those moments when even these giants stumbled.
But despite those moments, every American fan knew that the next time they returned to the court, they could expect a greater performance.
The Colossal Five (as I call them) were stellar in stamina, physique, enthusiasm, and perseverance. Combined, these five professionals have won...twenty-seven Majors!!!
Where is that today? Who are the standard bearers of American men's tennis? Andy Roddick, Sam Querrey, Mardy Fish, James Blake, and John Isner. Combined, these five professionals have won...one major, courtesy of Roddick's title at the 2003 US Open.
Why am I bringing this up here, you ask? The 2010 Legg Mason Tennis Classic in Washington, D.C.!
The Legg Mason Tennis Classic is recognized as one of the top-20 tournaments on the ATP tour. It serves as a gargantuan leg in the US Open Series and often draws a lot of Americans to compete.
Forty-eight players were in the main draw, with the top 16 seeds earning opening round byes. Four of the sixteen top seeds were Americans: Andy Roddick, John Isner, Sam Querrey, and Mardy Fish.
Their first matches in the tournament were to occur in the Round of 32, thus placing these American players two matches away from quarterfinal action, three matches away from semifinal action, and four matches away from championship action.
And then, over the course of two days from August 4-5, Washington tennis fans watched an American massacre that has NEVER happened in the 42-year history of the Legg Mason Tennis Classic: Zero Americans in the Quarterfinal Round!!! ZERO!!!
Sam Querrey was stunned in the Second Round by Janko Tipsarevic of Serbia. John Isner blew a third set lead and lost in a tiebreaker in the third round against the ancient Belgian Xavier Malisse.
Mardy Fish blew three break-point chances in the third set and ended up being broken twice in a Third Round loss to Croatian Marin Cilic.
And, the biggest stunner of them all: Andy Roddick got DESTROYED by Frenchman Gilles Simon, a player not even ranked in the top-35, in a shockingly one-sided 6-3, 6-3 result in the Third Round!
All the top-seeded Americans bowed out of the tournament before quarterfinal play began in DC. And no other American joined them from the opening round.
The field of eight has already been set for the Legg Mason Tennis Classic and DC tennis fans will be watching a field that contains NOT A SINGLE AMERICAN PLAYER!
Truly, if America's tennis game was not already disgraced from abysmal performances by its male athletes in the majors, it certainly is now given this unforgivable performance in a tune-up tournament on her own soil! Disgraceful and shameful!