loris bertolacci

Sport, Health and Fitness

Womens Tennis Rankings and Ages 2008 Jan Top 100



Ave 100 24.3
StDev 4.1

Top 100 womens in JAN is approx 24.3. Pretty much always the same. So why wouldn’t one create a developmental model simply on what happens year in and year out in any specific sport. My research and presentations to the Geelong Football Club Match Committee in 2001 was that the average AFL Grand Final Team was 25.7 and each player had >100 games on average. Only 3/4 < 22 etc etc. This model repeats itself in AFL with the odd clanger as happens in nature. Below is a lecture I presented at an AFL conference in 2002 on development simply using ages as a guide which relates to all sports.


And so in tennis the womens rankings seem to vary between 23.6 and 24.5 over many years. They seem to come in at 21.5/22 on average and go out at 27 on average.

And if they can come good before that go for it. There are no rules. No stable developmental stages as people like to construct.

But the reality is that it seems to take time. On average. Agassi was good at 16 and good at 35. He was not average. Thats the point.

So the same theories stick. There is room for the 18 to 20 yo but seems they have to be pretty good and still seems 20 plus is the norm for getting into the elite “on average”.

I have put the teenagers in green. About 13 or 14 teenagers in TOP 100.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Tennis | Leave a comment

Development and Tennis in Australia. How Young?

Teen shows how to move up from junior ranks |The Australian

Margie McDonald | January 07, 2008

said Liz Smylie, former Tour player and now tournament director of the …Tennis Australia, under CEO Steve Wood and player development director Craig Tiley

Recently this excellent article was in the Australian. All good. But in sport there is a certain inevitability with maturation and ranking lists. It does take time. These types of articles are correct in general but subjective in nature and somewhat emotional even. Of course we want to get kids into ranking lists ASAP but history and raw hard data doesn’t support this.

Analysis of womens tennis rankings year in and out show simply that it takes until well into their 20’s to crack the top 100. Sure some real talents can shine early but very few.





These stats are a bit rough and I will update them soon for 2008 but simply show some trends with development and how long it really takes. A 15 year old who is not a star might have to wait till 2015 to crack the top 100 and be there for a year or two. Daunting but the stats support this. She would be 22! Still young.Close analysis of development in Russia shows they seem to be 2 years ahead with their girls but still 21.9 average age for their top 100 girils. This was a year ago as are all my stats and year to year these change a bit but not much. So don’t hang me as I will update this year soon.

Now one can even look at top 500/1000 russian girls and we dont see millions of teenagers as is often subjectively reported.

Then have a close look at actual ranking lists. Yes they change from year to year but not a lot. In the girls, on average they seem to drop out of the top 100 at 27 and go into the top 100 at approx 22. Forget superstars. Australia does not even crack it for heaps of “average” players these days given the world is playing tennis now. One constant in life is change.

What does it all mean? In AFL it simply takes till players are 25 on average to peak. Also teams in all sports. World Cup Squads in soccer are 27 plus.. Very few teenagers play in finals. Some do. Not many. Always happens. Takes 6 to 8 years to develop a team.

In sprinting 26 is the age! Males and females. And so on.

So in tennis we are imploring our 12 and 15 year olds to push into the elite level. That is OK. Yet when one assesses these kids that can play a bit some cannot even do a basic bodyweight squat. They play heaps of tennis with paid coaches in the suburbs but there is very little proper development. One sided development and biomechanical disasters. Some are ok with fitness but movement mechanics and core strength and stability. Well!

So all of a sudden our girls are miles behind. No use smashing them with runs around the TAN or PLYOMETRICS if they cannot do the fundamentals at 16 or 17 let alone 13.

Added to this is the fact that even with excellent devleopment schemes from 12 to 16 it will still take most girls till they are 20 plus to crack the top 100 let alone the top 500 sometimes.

I think the problem lies in the fact that in tennis the coaching of fitness is very very poor at the youth age with little emphasis ont the basics ( core / footwork / technique / weight training and so on). Thsi is a different issue to fitness. Also in my opinion our kids shoudl be encouraged to play many sports till 13 or 14 and then specialize.

Thus they would be naturally fitter and stronger and more balanced. But an industry lurls out in the suburbs that means tennis coaches may not encourage this multilateral development.

Even sports like swimming and gymnastics as well as netball/basketball and soccer should be played by these girls to make sure they are tough fit aussies and not one sided underdeveloped little girls.

The other problem is from 16 to 19. This is a tough age. this is when the “average player” will push through the rankings. By then though the parents are either bankrupt or divorced having funded their kids in tennsi for years. HA.

But at this age kids are growing up and it is tough to stay “bubbly” till 21 until they crack the next level. There are few professional clubs in OZ and systems at this age and people are often edgy and impatient for results.

So these are just general thoughts and I will redo the stats for this year soon and may be surprised. I am sure TA knows all this and also have fantastic steps in place.

But it is a different tennis world to the 50’s/60’s and 70’s. We seem to keep saying we have great sports science in OZ but I think that we may be a little behind in practical strength and conditioning. That is another story.

January 9, 2008 Posted by | Tennis | Leave a comment

Volleyball Base: A new conditioning site for Volleyball

My daughter Lauren Bertolacci and boyfriend Dave Jones have started a conditioning site called Volleyball Base.


They are now very experienced athletes but also have worked professionally in conditioning and rehabilitation. Their site will be very practical but also provide great information on integrating sports science into the game of volleyball. Lauren is NO 6 playing with Fighting Kangaroos in Germany and Dave is playing with Liepzig.


I will be involved with an Italian site on conditioning ( http://nuke.preparazionefisica.it/) and translate their material for an English site. I will contribute to this site, but colloborate and closely support Lauren and Dave on theirs. Thus I am sure we can integrate the best of many worlds and create a strong discussion area for a potential boom sport in Australia.

So much resource and money and talent in sports science and coaching gets somewhat wasted in Australian Rules Football given it has little international exposure and is a “fishbowl” sport. Volleyball in Australia needs this input from here in OZ and also Overseas ( Italy and Germany) and Sports Science and elite sports training methodology must be become a focus in Australian Volleyball at every level , and as Lauren said there is heaps of expertise in OZ.

I hope all our endeavours help the sport and then of course, hopefully, some sponsors realize it is a huge sport. Probably No 3 participant sport in the world but as someone said recently, Soccer is a religion in many countries, so maybe it is the 2nd biggest participant sport around.

January 4, 2008 Posted by | Volleyball Strength and Conditioning | 1 Comment