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

Name Origins #1

This is the first in what will hopefully be a series of posts that explain or hypothesize why certain names came into existence or exploded in popularity.  Today’s post examines three trendy girls’ names as of late: Harper, Madison, and Peyton. Have you ever wondered where those names came from?

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HarperMadisonPeyton

Madison
While I don’t have the exact answer behind Peyton and Harper, Madison as a girls’ name owes its existence almost solely to the 1984 movie Splash. Daryl Hannah plays a mermaid who ends up in NYC and upon seeing a sign for Madison Ave, decides to name herself Madison. And viola- suddenly babies across the country were being named Madison. As the below chart shows, prior to 1984, pretty much no females were named Madison.  In 1984? 42. 1985 saw a whopping 299 and it just grew from there. There are some male Madisons out there- it averaged about 34 a year from 1880-1983. There’s Madison Bumgarner, a Major League Baseball pitcher, and Madison Hildebrand, who starred as a realtor on the reality show “Million Dollar Listing.” Madison Bumgarner was born in 1989, so I wonder how he feels having a girls’ name. I would love to interview girl Madisons born before 1984 to learn why they were named that, like did their parents just like it? Were they conceived in Madison, Wisconsin? Were the parents just trying to be unusual or give their daughter a strong, masculine name? Back in the 70s and early 80s, I’m sure a girl being named Madison would have been strange to many people. I wonder what their parent’s reaction was to Madison’s exploding popularity- something they could not have predicted.

Peyton
Peyton was piddling along as a rare girl name until a movie also catapulted it into fame. In 1992, there was a drama/thriller called The Hand that Rocks the Cradle that had a female character named Peyton. I went to high school with a guy named Peyton and most Americans are familiar with NFL player Peyton Manning, who was born in 1976 alongside just 37 other male Peyton/Paytons that year, but just today while in a store I heard a woman call after a little girl named Peyton. So is it assigned more to boys or girls? Originally, it was all boys, but in 1992 the girls took the lead (719 to 448, including spelling varieties) thanks to the movie and have held it ever since. 2013’s tally: 7387 girls to 2342 boys.

Harper
On the 1995-96 season of the super popular NBC show ER, a female character named Harper was introduced and often played opposite Noah Wyle’s character Dr. Carter. The name is definitely on the rise and a few celebrities have named their daughters Harper, including Victoria and David Beckham, the Today show’s Jenna Wolfe and Stephanie Gosk, and Tiffani Thiessen (aka Kelly Kapowski from Saved By the Bell). Not surprisingly, the name is originally an English surname for a person who played the harp or made harps (source: BehindTheName.com) and is often assigned to boys as well as girls.

Madison (girl)
Year Number of Babies
2001 (Peak) 22158
1990 1408
1989 1223
1988 821
1987 750
1986 645
1985 299
1984 42
1970-83 0-6 per year
Peyton (girl)
Year Number of Babies
2009 (Peak) 5310
1996 1104
1995 588
1994 585
1993 617
1992 398
1991 67
1990 61
1989 35
Harper (girl)
Year Number of Babies
2013 (Peak) 8222
2006 597
2004 274
2002 164
2000 135
1998 93
1996 107
1994 33
1992 21
1990 12

Not as Popular as You Think

PopNamesNowNotAsPop
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When I was a kid in school, there might be more than one Amanda, Sarah, or Jessica in class, and every Matt in college seemed to have a nickname because there were so many. My parents (born in the 50s) talk about all the Marys, Johns and James in their classes.  Nowadays, people say “don’t name your kid Madison or Madelyn, there will be 5 Maddie’s in one class alone” but is that really true? Seems like there is more of a variety of names today which would mean that giving your kid a popular name would mean they might not have to contend with being Olivia K. instead of just “Olivia” too often. Looking at data from the SSA, which releases all the baby names assigned since 1880 (as long as it occurred at least 5 times in a year), it would appear my hypothesis is true. Of course, this data set is lumping all names assigned across the entire US, so fortunately they do release data per state, which shows that certain states, especially western ones like Wyoming and Nevada, have much fewer distinct names. I would guess this has to do with them being less populated and less diverse. States like New York had a greater variety and I even noticed many Jewish-sounding names in the list. I read here that Utahns tend to be extra creative, perhaps to help their kids stand out in a culture of super-size polygamous families. I nodded my head when I read this, thinking of the Brown family on Sister Wives– they’ve got 17ish kids with names like Mykelti, Aspyn, Dayton and Paedon. In the end, naming your kid Olivia might mean that in many areas, they will be the only one in their class, but in other areas they might have to take on their last initial.

The graphs above show how popular names today are not as popular as you would think. In each, I compare two of the most popular names of 2013 compared to two extremely common names in the past. I cannot believe how popular Mary was and how little the Olivia and Emma lines are next to it! Note that I picked names with fewer spelling varieties to make this as accurate as possible, like Emma is usually spelled Emma, whereas Sophia can also be spelled Sofia. People back in the day were not as creative with how they spelled names. Grouping names together by similar spellings is something I’m still working on (it’s somewhat of a manual process).

It’s also crazy how many boys were named John or James.  Over 94,000 named James in 1947! Approximately 11.5% of all boys in 1947 were either John or James!  No wonder my dad, James, had nicknames growing up, whether it being something like Jay or Jim or a nickname based off of his last name.

Source: Social Security Administration