| By Long Island Tennis Magazine Staff

The USTA has announced that eight-time Grand Slam champion Ivan Lendl will be working with its player development program over the course of about 50 days over the next year.

“I enjoy working with younger players. You can form them and help them the most,” Lendl told The Associated Press. “It’s just fun watching how they try to learn. They ask a lot of questions. They try different things. They’re just eager to get better.”

In addition to Lendl, the USTA also announced the addition of two other coaches, Americans Mardy Fish and Jill Craybas. Both will take part in preseason training camps which run from late November into December.

Fish will be based in California while Craybas will work in Florida.

“It gives our players a chance to make a connection to, and get training from, other players who have played at the highest level,” said Martin Blackman, head of the player development program. “And kind of gives them a perspective for where the bar is in terms of what they can accomplish.”

 There is no denying the decline of American success at the professional level in the last decade-plus. No American man has won a Grand Slam singles title since Andy Roddick in 2003, and none has even reached a Grand Slam quarterfinal since 2011. On the women’s side, besides the Williams sisters, no American has participated in a Grand Slam final since 2005.

“We had a little break in that connection with the last generation of American champions,” added Blackman. “What we’re trying to do now is be a little more systematic and strategic about getting all of our past champions involved and re-engaged.”