Saturday, April 26, 2008

Informal Stroke Speed Survey of US Tennis - Spring 2008 Update

In my on-going survey of stroke speeds in US tennis, I have some more interesting data from the world of college tennis. In early April, I measured the serve speeds from the singles matches contested between the CU and Texas women. So without further ado, here are the numbers:

CU Buffs

Player Position

Average 1st Serve

Average 2nd Serve



















Texas Longhorns

Player Position

Average 1st Serve

Average 2nd Serve



















To sum up the info in the two tables above:

The average 1st serve (12 players) was 76.3 MPH.

The average 2nd serve was 61.6 MPH.

The fastest serve (in play) was 97 MPH.

The slowest serve (in play) was 50 MPH.

The average fastest serve (in play) for the 12 players was 86.1 MPH.

The average slowest serve (in play) was 57.1 MPH.

What do these numbers mean?

Well, the differences in serve speed between the pro and collegiate women are pretty similar to those I found between male collegiate players and their ATP counterparts… (see my earlier post titled: Memo to American College and Junior Players: Find another 30 MPH ASAP!

I then analyzed the serve statistics from players who competed in the 2007 US Open Women’s Round of 16 to the Finals and found the following:

The average 1st serve (12 players) was 97.6 MPH (vs 76.3 MPH for the collegians).

The average 2nd serve was 81.1 MPH (vs. 61.6 MPH)

The fastest serve was 124 MPH (vs. 97 MPH).

The slowest serve was 67 MPH (vs. 50 MPH).

The average fastest 1st serve was 110.8 MPH (vs.86.1 MPH).

The average slowest 2nd serve was 71.5 MPH (vs. 57.1 MPH).

The difference between the serve speed performance between the pro and college level for the women is at least 15 to 30 MPH – which is indeed a staggering difference!

It appears that the performance level of the women’s collegiate game is diverging from the pro game – in the wrong direction – just as I’ve observed on the men’s side.

And the record bears this out… Can anyone name who’s the last female player from the collegiate world to crack the WTA Singles Top 50 or 80 in recent memory?

Currently, there are only 2 players with any collegiate tennis experience in the WTA Top 100 Singles: Jill Craybas (WTA #66; Florida,1996) and Lilia Osterloh (WTA #94; Stanford, 1997). And, there are only 3 players in the Top 150 with any collegiate tennis experience… the 3rd player being Laura Granville (WTA #136; Stanford, 2001).

Having seen these 3 players compete in person at some point in the last 7 to 8 years, I can tell you that their serve speed profiles resemble the WTA profile more closely than they do the collegiate profile.

So, in the end, the difference in achievement (i.e. being a successful collegian versus being a successful tour pro) still boils down to the ability to perform to a given standard…

You see, in US tennis, that “standard” has been your win and loss record as you’ve come up through the competitive ranks. There is little attention paid to the objective performance standards that you need to achieve to be competitive with your (elite) peers. And, as we slowly “fill in” those real, measurable standards (as we’re trying to do here), we will improve our chances of achieving the (competitive) goals we really want. At least you’ll know exactly what you’re aiming for!


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At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't doubt your numbers, and I've seen enough collegiate tennis to realize that the men and women who compete are not generally WTA or ATP tour worthy, but your assumption is that every top collegiate player has visions of turning pro after finishing their college careers, and I just don't beleive that's so. Most realize that their post-graduate careers are more likely to be in the corporate office than the tennis court, and I don't necessarily think that's a bad thing. Many of them play tennis for the same reason I joined my high-school team, it's fun. For some it's also the opportunity to earn a scholarship. I am with you in deploring the state of U.S. tennis in general for those who do have dreams of turning pro. You can add to lack of coaching talent, the lack of any kind of systematic way of seeking out talented kids and giving them some structure to develop their talents. My neighbor's kid was hitting with adults by the time she was 5 and had developed into maybe a 5.5 to 6.0 player by the time she was 10, but her mother was frustrated by the fact that she had no idea how to take it to the next level. It wasn't like she had the money to pack her kid up and send her to Bolleteri either. Others who had seen this kid play and should have known what to do, did nothing, offered no advice. The girl finally ended up playing tennis at some West Coast JUCO, but it seems a terrible waste of talent.

At 5:36 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

you're not getting the point of the article, plus the neighbor's kid being 5.5-6.0 at age 10 is completely horseshit, go f*ck yourself


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