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Thursday, March 29, 2012

Study on Transition from ITF Juniors to Pros; WTA Will Try to Stop Grunting on Junior Level

I was sent Peter McCraw's Pathway to the Top 100 study several weeks ago, and then with all the USTA Junior Competition Schedule changes and the Spring Nationals, I neglected to post it. (By the way, it appears the third 14s and 16s "Masters" event I mentioned in yesterday's post was mistakenly inserted in the 2014 example calendar by the USTA, and there will not be an additional tournament for that age group going up against the Easter Bowl.)

There isn't a lot of earth-shattering information here, and the study is from 2009, but it does provide some interesting statistics, including the now well-known increase in the average age of the Top 100. But the age of first ATP/WTA ranking hasn't followed that trend.

As for the predictive value of making the ATP/WTA Top 100 after being Top 10 in the ITF Juniors, there's this statistic:

Percentage of Top 10 Juniors who made transition to Top 100 ATP / WTA Rank:

1985-1991 (7 years): Boys – 52% / Girls – 51%
1996-2005 (10 years): Boys – 58% / Girls – 72%

So for boys, it's pretty much a toss-up, girls are more likely to make that transition, but even though it seems like a lot of data, I would caution that only 85 boys and 90 girls were studied.

McCraw has a website where he has posted separate and more detailed studies for both boys and girls. The site also includes more on the advancing age topic.

Now it would be interesting to see a study on how many Top 10 ATP/WTA players over the past 15 years were never top 10 in the juniors. I've done a tiny bit of that research on the current ATP/WTA Top 10s and here's the numbers, with the player's highest ITF singles ranking in parentheses.

1. Novak Djokovic (24)
2. Rafael Nadal (145)
3. Roger Federer (1)
4. Andy Murray (2)
5. David Ferrer (-)
6. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (2)
7. Tomas Berdych (6)
8. Mardy Fish (14)
9. Janko Tipsarevic (1)
10. John Isner (93)

1. Victoria Azarenka (1)
2. Maria Sharapova (6)
3. Petra Kvitova (27)
4. Agnieszka Radwanska (1)
5. Samantha Stosur (27)
6. Caroline Wozniacki (2)
7. Marion Bartoli (2)
8. Na Li (20)
9. Vera Zvonareva (3)
10. Andrea Petkovic (36)

Not many conclusions to be drawn from that either, I don't think.

The WTA board held meetings this week at the Sony Ericsson, and one of the issues addressed was the grunting that has proven such an irritant to so many fans. According to this article by Doug Robson for USA Today, the organization has given up trying to change the current players, but will instead focus on the juniors. This seems like buck-passing to me, and enforcing the hindrance rule at junior tournaments, where there are so few officials to begin with, is a lot more difficult than the WTA is making it out to be. Fearing the current grunters would suffer if made to stop, the board decided to put its efforts elsewhere.

Officials hope to partner with prominent tennis academies and the ITF to teach about optimizing play without excessive grunting as well as the repercussions once a player turns pro.

A second effort includes stricter enforcement of the existing hindrance rule at the junior level, Walker said.

Why should or would officials enforce it at the junior level, when they won't enforce at the professional level? Because juniors haven't got the power to ignore them, while the women on the WTA tour apparently do?


Clark Coleman said...

Better to do something than nothing. If it is impossible to do anything about the grunting at the pro level, it makes perfect sense to phase out the problem by getting juniors out of the habit. That will gradually have an effect on the WTA over the next twenty years.

The grunting issue is pretty simple to me. Fans provide the money for the sport, directly or indirectly (through ad revenue). Fans need to enjoy watching the matches. Some of the matches have to be watched with the sound off, or not enjoyed so much, or not watched at all. Sports are entertainment. What the fans want should be paramount.

coach said...

the dumbest solution to a problem ever.

grunting bothers paying fans at pro tournaments.

sloution is to stop junior grunting at junior tournaments. where? int the usa. all over the world.

the logic is incomprehensible. tennis officials are complete morons.