30 years ago we had teenage Grand Slam champions and most players retired by the time they were 30; but now “peak performance” has shifted almost a full decade. Why is that?
Chrissie Evert made her Grand Slam tournament debut at the 1971 US Open at the age of 16; and in 1973 (18 years old) Evert was the runner-up at the French Open and the Wimbledon Tournament. A year later she won both those events.
Andre Agassi also turned professional at the age of 16 and competed in his first tournament at La Quinta, California. He won his first match against John Austin, but then lost his second match to Mats Wilander. By the end of the year, Agassi was ranked world no. 91
And look at all the top pros who are not “maturing” until their mid 20’s and then competing at the highest levels well into their 30s.
Why Is That?
Sure some Americans like John Isner and Jack Sock took the time to complete college; but most of the other pros were still trying to earn a living on the tennis court in their late teens.
Much of the credit for longer careers can be attributed to the “team” that the top pros have around them, with physios, dieticians, etc.; plus the sophisticated stretching and training regimens they now utilize.
So that could help explain the “why longer careers” question … but I think it also helps explain the lack of teenage success. These “old pros” are hanging around and still beating the up-and-coming youngsters, who would have had more success if they weren’t around.
What do you think?
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