Rebirth of American Tennis [INFOGRAPHIC]

Here’s a graphic companion to my previous post on the next generation of American tennis!

 

The Rebirth of American Tennis

Let’s be honest: when’s the last time you and your friends gathered around the TV to watch hyper-competitive kids duke it out on the court or the field? The Little League World Series gets a lot of attention, sure; but for all the viewership records it sets, it pales in comparison to its professional cousin. And then there’s Under-21 soccer and basketball, which are huge for the youthful athletes. But again, we’re not spending advertising dollars or throwing watch parties. We save it for the pros.

closeup of tennis court

But that doesn’t meant they’re not worth watching. It’s kind of cool to see a junior athlete grow up to be a top professional! And if these competitions are any indication of tomorrow’s success, the tennis world is due for a shakeup.

Why? Because American tennis is poised for a huge comeback.

Fivethrityeight’s Wiley Schubert Reed broke it down for us: out of the top five boys in competition today, four are American. The Red, White, and Blue has also taken four of the last six junior Grand Slam titles, and the 2015 US Open junior final was an all-American affair.

This kind of tennis pedigree hasn’t been particularly common in the past, but these youngsters have a nurturing coaching system that wants to see them succeed. While it may seem like something any athlete would take for granted, access to this kind of training wasn’t available even a generation ago.

The data is very favourable for top-10 juniors to have a major impact on the professional level. However, that data only covers a 20 year period from 1987 to 2008. In the seven years since, it has becoming increasingly difficult for junior talent to crack the top 25 in the pros. Reed notes that these two conflicting data sets raises a very interesting question: are the juniors just less competitive than they used to be, or are the current pros staying on the court longer?

Well, remember when I mentioned that junior competitors are taking advantage of a better athletic and coaching system? Turns out the pros are using it as well. They’re fast, leaner, and stronger— not to mention that they’re staying fit for longer. This increased athletic longevity just cements their position.

Data is awesome, but it can’t predict the future; nothing can. So we’ll have to wait and see what our talented young athletes can do. Whatever the outcome, we’re in for a treat.

US Open 2015 Preview

The 2015 US Open is set to begin at the end of the month. We aren’t entirely sure who’s participating (although the usual suspects are sure to make appearances), and the only guarantees so far are Wimbledon 2015 champion Novak Djokovic for Men and three-time defending champion Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova for Women.

But even with so much uncertainty, there is still much excitement to feel! The US Open signals the beginning of autumn and a ending to an exciting year for tennis. At the Australian Open, we’ve seen Djokovic take the crown from defending champ Stanislas Wawrinka, only for the wily Swiss to return to a champion’s Throne at Roland-Garros. We saw the living legend that is Roger Federer secure his 1,000th win at Brisbane, and fall to Djokovic in a classic Wimbledon showdown.

As for the women, the story has been of one player: Serena Williams. She’s been dominating the court with an unstoppable consistence, winning all three major tournaments this year with poise and superb athleticism. We watched her complete her second Serena Slam at Wimbledon, as she now holds all four grand slam singles titles at once.

So, what’s in store for the US Open? We’ll have a Djockovic looking to further assert himself as the men’s number one, and a Roger Federer looking for his first major singles title of 2015. Although he’s 34, you certainly cannot count him out! And then there’s Nadal who, struggling to return to a healthy form, has not been able to advance past the Quarterfinals. That kind of hunger can be dangerous on a tennis court, and make for very inspired play.

Will Serena stay miles ahead of the competition? No doubt it can be a privilege to see such a master play with such goodness, but it can also be exciting to witness an underdog David toppling a champion Goliath.

August 31 can’t come soon enough!

Wimbledon 2015: A Tournament to Remember

Wimbledon left many a tennis fan breathless this year. A furious back and forth between tennis champions brought many to their feet in the final moments of matches, but only one can step off the clay a champion. After the dust settled on Wimbledon 2015, several surprise names were left standing.

Facing well-known tennis champ Roger Federer is no small challenge. However, Novak Djokovic was more than able to meet the obstacle. Crushing his opposition during the games, Djokovic carried an unprecedented 48-3 by Slam’s end. Slated to win the upcoming U.S. Open, Novak is the odds on favorite to win in the men’s category. The former 2014 champion, Rafael Nadal, struggled early in the game, ultimately being knocked out early. Though many point to his injury as the cause of his struggle, analysts found that his lack of confidence and technical skill was his downfall.

The women’s side saw the return of powerhouse, Serena Williams, and another triumphant win in her long list of victories. The holder of all four tennis Grand Slams for the second time, Serena is the Wimbledon 2015 women’s champion. On the heels of her victory, however, came a series of biting remarks about the champion. Decrying her technique and physique as “belonging to a man,” former tennis champion Martina Navratilova came to the champions defense, stating “Serena is built like a man? I don’t think so. She has the curves of a woman. Her strength seems to have become an issue as she is perhaps, the most powerful tennis player.” With more than double her closest rival’s points, Serena is the top-ranked player ever.

Wimbledon may be over, but tennis fans are still buzzing over the action. Champions from all around the world are preparing for the next great tournament, and the final chance to prove themselves at the U.S. Open. In a few weeks, the courts will open, and heads will roll.

 

Tennis News: Just in Time for Wimbledon

With Roland Garros comfortably in our rearview mirror, the next stop tennis road now leads to Wimbledon. The old and prestigious tournament has a reputation for being a place where history is made. Who could forget Bjorn and McEnroe’s tiebreak at the 1980 Wimbledon Final? Or when Cal State LA History major Billie Jean King established dominance in the early 1960’s?

We still have a week to go until the opening match on the Lawn, but there has been enough tennis developments to whet our appetites and get us ready for the Summer’s sporting staple.

At Gerry Weber, Federer Wins an 8th Title

Yes, you read that right. Federer has scooped up a record eighth win at the Halles Open. This time, victory came over the Italian Andreas Seppi, who kept up with the Swiss powerhouse for the two sets. The threat of rain put a pause in the action for some time, but before long, both sportsmen were back at it. Seppi pushed Federer hard on the serve, but the defending champion managed to pull away from a 4-4 tie, secure the second set, and clinch the victory. Federer now enters Wimbledon with a championship win under his belt (and a check in his pocket!). After being pushed so hard, the 33-year old should prove to be explosive out of the gate.

roger federer backhand

Roger Federer snagged a record 8th win at the Halles Open

Andy Murray, Queen’s Champion

Roger Federer isn’t the only competitor entering Wimbledon with a  recent tournament win. Andy Murray, Wimbledon 2013 Winner, is coming off of a tournament victory at the Queen’s Club, his fourth Club title overall. He won this one in a particularly stunning display of endurance, defeating Serbian Kevin Troicki and South Africa’s Kevin Anderson within hours of each other. The best part of it for Murray and his fans? He feels that he’s in better shape and a fiercer competitor today than he was when he won Wimbledon two years ago. Let’s see what Britain’s native son can accomplish at home!

Nishikori Fighting Back from Injury

Although Seppi advanced to the Halles Open Final to stand opposite Roger Federer, he did so with a little help from fate. Two of his opponents during the tournament, Gaël Monfils (France) and Kei Nishikori (Japan), suffered injuries during the tournament and were forced to retire. But the latter, the current No. 5, is confident his calf injury will be fully healed in time for Wimbledon. He also told the press his retirement was more of a cautionary strategy than anything, saying I don’t want to take a big risk for Wimbledon, but I’m sure it’s going to be ok.” The tennis world sure hopes so. It’s always a privilege to see the best in the world turn out a peak performance at such an important tournament.