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.