Tennis Prose



11 Biggest Overachievers In Tennis

By Scoop Malinowski

Alex de Minaur – A very good but not dominant junior, the Australian has progressed to ATP stardom. The undersized baseline dynamo who takes the ball early is 24 now and ranked 18 in the world with seven ATP titles and nearly $10m in prize money earned. Demon’s best ranking was 15.

Cam Norrie – The Brit lefty who played NCAA tennis at TCU has blossomed into a world beater. The 27 year old is ranked 13 now, and has won five titles. Last year he hit his career high rank of no. 8 in September. Not one pundit expert ever predicted Norrie, who turned pro in 2017, to reach the top ten with his awkward strokes.

Diego Schwartzman – the 5-7 Argentine is 30 now and has faded to a 107 ranking but he’s won four ATP titles and over $13m in prize money earnings. His best ranking was no. 8.

Adrian Mannarino – now 34, the French lefty isn’t a power hitter but as one hitting partner once told me, “He doesn’t miss.” Still ranked in the top 50 at 46 and with a career high of 22, Mannarino has won 262 ATP matches and a pair of ATP titles and over $10m in prize money.

Su-Wei Hsieh – The undersized and unorthodox double-handed player from Chinese Taipei has won five Grand Slam titles, the most recent two weeks ago after an 18 month hiatus from the sport. The 37 year old has been ranked no. 1 in the world twice. She’s also a former top 30 singles player. Hsieh won Wimbledon in 2013, 2019 and 2021 and Roland Garros in 2014 and 2023.

John Isner – The top American for a decade has fallen to 102 at age 38. But the former Georgia Bulldog has won sixteen career titles and scored wins vs Federer, Nadal, Djokovic and Murray. He’s also won over $22m and 484 matches.

Yoshihito Nishioka – The 27 year old Japanese lefthanded player is ranked a career best 24 with two ATP titles to his record. A knee surgery following a fall chasing a Jack Sock forehand in Miami five years ago did not halt his career.

Danielle Collins – The daughter of a Florida landscaper could not even crack the lineup for her Florida University team, then transferred and won two national titles with Virginia. As a pro she reached a Grand Slam semifinal (2019) and final (2022) at Australian Open, won two WTA titles and earned a best ranking of no. 7 in the world.

Simona Halep – The Romanian looked like an ordinary basic player in her early pro years but developed into a two time Grand Slam champion (Roland Garros and Wimbledon) and the third highest money winner (over $40m) in WTA history after the Williams sisters.

David Goffin – Though he’s fading now at age 32, the former world no. 7 who looked more like a ballkid than an ATP elite, Goffin has reached the QF round of AO, Roland Garros and Wimbledon and 4R at US Open. He’s won six ATP titles and over $16m.

Ivan Dodig – The Croatian journeyman singles player who once beat Nadal in Canada at Rogers Cup 16 76 76 (in 2011), has won seven Grand Slam titles in doubles (3) and mixed (4). The 38 year old also won a silver medal at the 2020 Olympics in doubles with Marin Cilic. Dodig has won 22 ATP doubles titles.

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  • Bill McGill · June 23, 2023 at 2:57 pm

    I don’t know how anyone took one look at Cam Norrie’s strokes and said “you should consider going pro.” It’s unbelievable to me that he cracked the top 10, won Indian Wells, has 5 titles and made a Wimbledon semi.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 23, 2023 at 9:39 pm

    Bill you are right I have to add Norrie to the list, big oversight to forget him. He’s at the top of the list.

  • Steve · June 26, 2023 at 8:01 am

    Maxime Cressy is currently 55 in the world in singles and has been as high as 31 in the world. By first hand accounts he wasn’t the best singles player on his college team but has somehow forged a career towards the top of the ATP.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 26, 2023 at 8:22 am

    Steve, I like Cressy a lot and saw him play early in his ATP career when he was a big yeller and CMON roarer in Challengers which was irritating players then he transformed into a stoic player and got to top 30 but he’s had a poor year so far and not thrived on grass as he expected but he’s a dangerous player and his time will come. He’ll join the list when he gets to top 20 and then higher which I feel is his destiny, top ten. I know an attire company who attempted to sign him but he’s not doing any deal with anyone until he’s top 10 when he will have leverage for max bucks. Cressy believes he will be top 10.

  • Steve · June 26, 2023 at 11:01 am

    Who touted him has a junior? Did his college coach predict he’d reach 31 in the world?

    Let’s hope he reaches his goal.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 26, 2023 at 11:20 am

    I don’t know many details. I saw him play US Open qualies a few years ago and he was playing Mahut and at the time was being coached by a Notre Dame player who became friendly with after they had a very close match during the season. The Notre Dame player was from Long Island, named Alex Lebedev, good guy. He believed in Cressy’s potential obviously. I suggested they contact Pete Sampras and train with him and get some volley tips and advices, not sure if they did that. Sampras sister Stella is still the coach for UCLA women’s team.

  • Steve · June 27, 2023 at 9:48 am

    Good idea to make the journey to Sampras to seek his wisdom as a few greats have done like Djokovic and Fritz.

    I love watching some of the players on this list just as much as I like watching Tomic these days fight it out in small tournaments with his innate, God-given talent.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 27, 2023 at 10:42 am

    Steve, I saw Sampras say he was interested in coaching and it’s surprising no players have seized that opportunity. Tomic is working hard and playing the low level tournaments but his results haven’t been knocking anyone’s socks off. Speaking of socks, Jack has not played since losing at Sarasota Open Challenger to Tristan Boyer ranked over 1000. Jack could be done. His ranking is 369. Kozlov, Harrison, Young, Steve Johnson, Sandgren, all may be near the end.

  • Steve · June 30, 2023 at 10:18 am

    Yeah, Sock seems to have found instant success in Pickleball.

  • Scoop Malinowski · June 30, 2023 at 12:34 pm

    Sock is very good at PB but he didn’t win the singles or mens doubles titles, he lost midway through those draws in Charlotte, in doubles be played with a top guy Tyson McGuffin, he did win mixed doubles with the dominant female player Anna Leigh Waters. It was a good result for his first pro tourney but also somewhat of a failure as it was expected by some that a top tennis pro like Sock would come in and open the can of whoop ass on PB but not quite. Sock is a fallen tennis player, losing to players ranked 700 and 1100 this year. Despite training so hard to get back to the top 100 where he has not been in over four years. Doubles results have been ordinary too.



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