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post #1 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 04:04 PM Thread Starter
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The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

Only two under eighteens left in the top 100, Melanie Oudin and Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Have we seen the decline and fall of the tennis teen? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Does your eye mist over at the memory of Austin, Jaeger, Seles, Sabatini, Capriati and Hingis - all in the top 10 at a younger age than the two named above...

Is it that the restrictions on playing for teens have killed the prodigy for good and is it one of the reasons why the game seems a bit stagnant at the moment?
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post #2 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 04:19 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

Yeah I felt this without the stats. Thanks for bringing the stats out.

I don't honestly know what to think. But it does seem like the Age of the Teen Queen is over.

I remember in the late 90s how we had the youngest Grand Slam final ever: V.Williams (17) v Hingis (16) and youngest semifinal ever: Hingis and Kournikova and so on.

I think the last all-teen final was 1999 US Open.




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post #3 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 04:23 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

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Originally Posted by StephenUK View Post
Only two under eighteens left in the top 100, Melanie Oudin and Michelle Larcher de Brito.

Have we seen the decline and fall of the tennis teen? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Does your eye mist over at the memory of Austin, Jaeger, Seles, Sabatini, Capriati and Hingis - all in the top 10 at a younger age than the two named above...

Is it that the restrictions on playing for teens have killed the prodigy for good and is it one of the reasons why the game seems a bit stagnant at the moment?
Well the game has become more physical, teenagers need to develop more before they can hang with the top players. MLDB is the exception since she handles power so well, but eventually she'll be caught up.
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post #4 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 04:41 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

The age restrictions have definitely played a role in the statistics there. Younger players just don't get as much match play at the senior level now, so it really limits the opportunity to gain that early experience and move up as quickly.

For the player, I think this is a good thing, there has been so much burn out through the years and I think the tour has had the right idea to try and protect these young players from playing too much before they are developed physically, and even emotionally. For a fan/media point of view, I suppose you could say it's a little detrimental because people love the story of a young prodigy, they always will.

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post #5 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 05:51 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

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Well the game has become more physical, teenagers need to develop more before they can hang with the top players. MLDB is the exception since she handles power so well, but eventually she'll be caught up.
They can handle the pace...the players at the Junior level are hitting just as hard nowadays. They just don't get to play as much, due to the age restriction rule.

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post #6 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:36 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

The young players just can't play enough to maintain a certain level of consistency. Michelle had good enough results to get into the top 100 but even she has this problems. You can see that when she plays some tournaments in a row she can grab some good results (the summer hardcourt season last year, RG-Wimbledon this year). But when she she plays only from month to month her results will decline (The loss in Quebec City last year, AO this year...)
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post #7 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:48 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

One of the problems also is that most of under18 are from Europe and there is a lot of strong ITF's so the players decide to play those, and of course the climb in the ranks is slower. If you notice, Mcihelle and Oudin are both "from" USA and they receive WCs to stronger american tournaments unlike the Europeans, who are lucky to get a WC to their home tourney, if they have one.
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post #8 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:55 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

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They can handle the pace...the players at the Junior level are hitting just as hard nowadays. They just don't get to play as much, due to the age restriction rule.
They can handle the pace maybe, but not over 3 sets, it takes a bigger toll on their bodies and we only have to look at Laura Robson at wimbledon to see the way she burned out in the second and third sets. Now if it was Elena D on the other side, it would have been something like 6-3 1-6 0-6.

And no i've seen quite a few Junior matches at wimbledon and the French Open this year and a lot of them have just been puffball fests.
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post #9 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 06:56 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

This is good. Maybe they can actually enjoy their youths now
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post #10 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 07:02 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

I think its sad, tennis was similar to gymnastics in that you could be a world famous teenager.
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post #11 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 14th, 2009, 09:48 PM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

The major reason for this is that the game is now much more physically demanding than it was a few years back. Players will now struggle to be competitive at the WTA level until they reach their prime in terms of physical condition (at around 18 y.o., right?).

Also recruitment problems. The dearth of supernovas is a sign that pro tennis is no longer the most appealing career option for athletically gifted young girls. Tennis now has to compete with other sports, and it seems to be losing that battle.

I doubt the AER has played a major role in this as it has been in force since 1994 and it's only now that we're noticing this trend.

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post #12 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2009, 12:22 AM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

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Originally Posted by StephenUK View Post
Have we seen the decline and fall of the tennis teen? Is it a good thing or a bad thing? Does your eye mist over at the memory of Austin, Jaeger, Seles, Sabatini, Capriati and Hingis - all in the top 10 at a younger age than the two named above...

Is it that the restrictions on playing for teens have killed the prodigy for good and is it one of the reasons why the game seems a bit stagnant at the moment?
I'd have to say 'the decline and fall of the the tennis teen' is a good thing. It was great for marketing the game. But so many young players burned out and got injured. And it's not like the AER prevents super talents from emerging young. Venus and Serena Williams were far more restricted by their parents than the AER would have. And for all stardom Tracy Austin achieved young, her body broke down under the stress.

In fact, look at the entire last wave of really good players who managed to avoid the AER, and who played a lot in their middle teens. Hingis, Clijsters, Henin, Kournikova, Sharapova ..... those are the veteran stars that are supposed to be in the top ten with Elena Dementiva and the Williams sisters. Where are they?

A top ten of Safina, Serena, Venus, Dementieva, Kuznetsova, Hingis, Clijsters, Henin, Kournikova and Sharapova would carry more than a little bit of star power, wouldn't it? And you'd still have Jankovic and Ivanovic to mix in there.

Does my eye mist over at the memory of Austin, Jaeger, Seles, Sabatini, Capriati and Hingis .... Austin, Jaeger, and Hingis robbed of their physical abilities because of playing too much too young. Capriati losing the heart of her career in rebellion against the pressure her family put on her. Sabatini pulling a pre-Clijsters/Henin, and getting out young because it just wasn't worth it? Yeah my eyes mist over. At what we'll never see because those players were abused so young.

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post #13 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2009, 12:41 AM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

I think it's less exciting for tennis but it's better for the wellbeing of these young people. Young players can burn out easily and let all the fame and money lead them to some pretty stupid decisions.

And if your life were gold, how long do you think you'd stay living?
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post #14 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2009, 01:47 AM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

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Also recruitment problems. The dearth of supernovas is a sign that pro tennis is no longer the most appealing career option for athletically gifted young girls. Tennis now has to compete with other sports, and it seems to be losing that battle.
Why it is the most popular female sport in the world and by far the most popular female sport with regards press attention and fans.

I suppose Vaidisova bucked the trend in recent years when she made her big breakthrough.

BTW Kournikova blamed AER for her lack of progress through the ranks cause you couldn't get a flow of tournaments in a row.
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post #15 of 53 (permalink) Old Jul 15th, 2009, 02:27 AM
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Re: The decline and fall of the tennis teen - only two under 18s in the top 100

Pavlyuchenkova just turned 18 a few days ago, and Polona Herzog is 18 and a half. So it is not that bad, also like Randy H said, the restrictions play a role in delaying the arrival of the new talents.

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