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Are tennis players getting taller?

Are tennis players getting taller?                                                                                                                             Drew Carneal, Tennis Central

In recent years, professional tennis has been shifting in various ways. For instance, the average age of some of the best in the ATP and WTA tours has shot up into the 30’s. Take Roger Federer and Serena Williams. Both are still dominating the game, yet they combine for a shocking 68 years of age. Not to paint the picture of a wrinkled Fed shuffling around the court, but still, he is getting old! Among this trend, it seems as though height is growing as well, quite literally. While you might only see a few towering players in the world’s best, the real shift is occurring among the youngsters.  According to an article published by Sport 360, seven players in the ATP’s top 150 aged 20 and under combine for an average of 190cm or 6’2’’ in height. These include the likes of Nick Kyrgios, Borna Coric, Lucas Pouille, Alexander Zverev, Thanasi Kokkinakis, Kyle Edmund, and Hyeon Chung. Now, we’ve all heard the saying “from the ground up”, well, it looks like our ground is rising.

Even though new-aged tennis will take some years to truly establish itself, the current greats are taking notice. In an interview with Rafael Nadal at the Australian Open, he says “The taller the people, the bigger impact they can make with their serve. And the tour dictates that there are more and more tournaments on hard court and less on clay. That’s where the serve matters.” Nadal brings up an interesting point here because it alludes to a question that many people ask. Are the players adapting to the game or is the game adapting to the players? In other words, what is the defining reason for the recent growth in height? As Nadal notes, the value of a powerful serve is becoming increasingly greater as the number of clay court tournaments is diminishing. Yet, can one argue that this shift is the industry’s response to our up and coming giants?

Regardless of how you answer that question, it is important to realize that our beloved game is evolving. It is time to say good bye to our Billy Jean King’s and David Ferrer’s and welcome in more John Isner’s and his siblings.

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