Tennis- Young vs. Old

PlayersYoungVsOld

Click to enlarge (and if still looks kinda small, try clicking it one more time and it should get bigger- worked for me in Chrome).

After doing my first tennis post and seeing a bunch of American youngsters in the Australian Open women’s draw right now (I’m especially excited about the upcoming Madison Keys versus Madison Brengle match), I wondered- exactly how many up-and-comers do we have? So I ran some stats on young versus older players in each country and the results in the graph above. The first graph is all players in the top 300 and then the bottom two are per gender. The average age of women in the top 100 is 24.8 and it is 27.6 for men, so I changed the age used as the threshold in each graph.  A few things I noticed:

  • Lots of up-and-coming American women! Madison Keys (currently ranked #35), Lauren Davis, Christina McHale, Nicole Gibbs, Taylor Townsend, and Grace Min are all 22 and under and either in or hovering around the top 100. Christina McHale has already been a staple in the draws and seems to be here to stay. There’s also 15-year-old Catherine Bellis, who had a great run at the US Open this past year.
  • Interesting how many European countries like Germany, Spain and Italy currently have lots of older players- this could just be a sign of the game’s increasingly global scale as more Asian and lesser known European nations are taking ranking spots away.
  • Looks like we can expect to see some good Dutch players on the women’s side coming up- can’t think of any good Dutch player since I’ve been following tennis (2001). The men don’t have any young Dutch players right now.
  • The Australian men are doing great- the women, not so much. Someone’s gotta replace Sam Stosur! She’s getting old in tennis years.
  • Surprised to see so many young Japanese women- 11 under 24- but only one is inside the top 100.  Not as many young Japanese men as I thought- there are only 5- but of course Kei Nishikori is one of them and his game has been hot lately.
  • Of course a large amount of young players is just one step in the process of having success- they actually have to rise up in the rankings and play well as they get older and not get burned out
  • Perhaps Roger Federer and Martina Hingis have had some influence on the ladies of Switzerland- there’s 5 under 25 and one of them, Belinda Bencic, is only 17 and ranked #34 in the world!! Impressive. She is the top Swiss right now. Bencic trained most of her childhood at Melanie Molitor’s tennis academy- Melanie is Martina Hingis’ mother!
  • Russians started dominating the game soon after I started following pro tennis in the early 2000s. So since I used to think they were going to completely takeover, I was curious where they stood. This graph tells me that there are 10 women under 24 years old, which is a decent but not super high amount, but only one of these 10 is inside the top 100! (And that one is Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, who is 23). So I’m thinking Russia might see some loss in its dominance in the upcoming years.

Curious to see how all this plays out because just because a country has a lot of young players in the top 300 doesn’t mean they all have what it takes to move into the top 50 or top 10.

Source: WTA and ATP, data taken in October 2014

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