Tennis Prose



Height Overrated in Tennis?


With how important power and size are considered in professional tennis today, in the age of explosive equipment and finely-tuned, super-fit athletes, you would think there were maybe two or three ATP players ranked in the top fifty that stand over six foot tall.

But the truth is there actually there are ten. One out of five players in the top fifty stand six feet or under.

10 David Goffin is 5-11
13 Roberto Bautista Agut is 6
15 Diego Schwartzman is 5-7
20 Kei Nishikori is 5-10
21 Fabio Fognini is 5-10
28 Philipp Kohlschreiber is 5-10
29 Adrian Mannarino is 5-11
31 Damir Dzumhur is 5-9
34 David Ferrer is 5-9
46 Yuichi Sugita is 5-7

Lleyton Hewitt was the last sub six-foot ATP World No. 1 player back in 2001.

Photo by Henk Abbink

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  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 3:37 am

    OK, here’s the WTA top 20 in height:

    Halep 5’6″

    Wozniaki 5’10”

    Muguruza 6′

    Svitolina 5’9″

    Ka Plikskova 6’1″

    Ostapenko 5’10”

    Garcia 5’8″

    Kvitova 6′

    Williams 6’1″

    Stephens 5′ 7″

    Georges 5’11”

    Kerber 5′ 8″

    Kasatkina 5’7″

    Keys 5′ 10″

    Bertens 6′

    Coco V 6’1″

    Mertens 6′

    Barty 5’5″

    Rybarikova 5′ 11″

    Sevastova 5’7″

    No idea what that list is going to come out like when I send it but you’ll probably get the idea. The mean might be interesting but I’m not working it out. On those statistics Barty is just too short to make it.
    But then Simona’s only 1″ taller.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 14, 2018 at 7:14 am

    Interesting with the women that besides Halep and Stephens, all the top players are like 5-8 and above, but I’d question The Woz being 5-10. She doesn’t look that tall and her father is pretty short. Anyway, I remember Rick Macci telling me that with the women, height doesn’t matter as much because look at Cibulkova getting to a slam finals and she’s 5-3. But that doesn’t seem to be the case.

    With the men, how about Shapovalov, isn’t he listed at 6-feet even too. Yes, I just checked, he is. The only counter argument you can make is none of these 6-feet and shorter players is winning a slam except Wawa. It’ll be interesting to see how the shorter young American players, Rubin, The Koz and Mac Mac fare long term on the tour, right now none of them are faring too well with Mac Mac being 104, The Koz 189 and Rubin 198.

  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 8:01 am

    Duke – I’d also query Wozniaki being 5-10, but that’s how she’s listed and I suppose she was measured at some point.

    The main drawback with very tall women is mobility – Kvitova is exceptional there. Otherwise I’d guess that 5-8 to 5-10 would be the ideal height for a woman, taking everything else into consideration.

  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 8:03 am

    Dan – sorry, I meant you and not Duke 🙂

    I’ve no idea why I make that mistake, except inattention.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 14, 2018 at 9:19 am

    Catherine, please don’t make that mistake again. Duke and I I surmise are as much alike as Abbot and Costello.

  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 9:46 am

    Yes, I know. So my abject apologies and I will take more care in future 🙂

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 14, 2018 at 10:30 am

    Caro is 5-10 or taller. I interviewed her face to face standing up about 7 yrs ago and I’m 5-10 and so is she. She may have grown since.

  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 10:42 am

    Doubt she’s grown since then so she’s probably 5’10. Maybe it’s just her fiancé makes her seem shorter.

    Osaka and Keys win in Rome. So does Vekic so Stan may stay around to give her support. Kerber’s ex-coach Beltz seems to be helping – she used to be a terrible player.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 14, 2018 at 1:41 pm

    Berretini is about to finish Tiafoe, he is the Italian I remember seeing push Tsitsipas to the limits at US Open qualies last year, 76 in the third. Keep an eye on Berretini.

  • catherine · May 14, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Simona’s first opponent in Rome will be Osaka. Naomi made short work of Azarenka today. So this one could be interesting. Naomi looked sharp.

    Kerber is now playing Diyas, Makarova having disappeared from the draw somehow. Coco made no impression on Roman clay. Serena being talked up, by Patrick, for Paris, but I don’t know. If she loses early there a little more of the aura will be melting away.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 14, 2018 at 5:11 pm

    Can’t imagine Serena winning RG an that would make the sport look bad. I say she’s out by the QFs.

    Looks like Sloane will pull this match out.

  • jg · May 14, 2018 at 6:35 pm

    Tiafoe did not look sharp, I don’t think he’s used to playing in hostile territory, the Italians love their players, the match before on the same court an Italian beat Cuevas, and you would think he won the French Open, he’ll probably lose 6 0 6 0 next round, I’ve never heard of the guy. That was his career match.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 14, 2018 at 7:12 pm

    What is Scoop’s game like? He says he is difficult to play against? What style would that be? I only know he likes to moonball since he mentions that a lot.

    Dan It really is difficult to keep emotions in check when watching your child play. The more important point you make is the cost of youth tennis. Also the sport just isn’t popular with many kids these days. I do wonder if the top baseball and basketball players played tennis how good the U.S. would be instead of mostly rich kids.

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 2:40 am

    Is tennis in the US just for rich kids ? I thought that had changed. And as for not being popular with kids, I’d be interested to know if that’s changed over the years as well, or if the level of popularity has more or less stayed the same, since maybe the 80s. Has there been any research, surveys etc ?

    Also – I can’t see basketball players being the right physical type for top class tennis. The two sports don’t overlap at all. Except recreationally perhaps.

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 3:10 am

    Oh my CoCo does get some, shall we say, ‘negative’ comments online. She does seem sort of split, can be nice and the next minute capable of some extremely black glances. Usual racquet smashing.

    I don’t know if it’s the tv, but those late matches in Rome look a bit spooky. Empty stands in the dark around the action on court.

  • dan markowitz · May 15, 2018 at 7:05 am

    I wouldn’t say tennis is exclusively a “rich man’s” game in the U.S. What I observe is that its either rich kids who play the game or kids of immigrant families who see tennis as the best way for their kids to assimilate. Where I live in the New York metropolitan area, most of the best kids playing tennis are Asian, kids of immigrant families from Eastern Europe, Russia, Bulgaria and Poland and Indian kids. The Asian kids, Indian, Chinese and Japanese don’t necessarily have a lot of money, although some do, but there are kids from Queens and Long Island who play the sport like its a religion. Are they good athletes? Not particularly, but they’ve honed whatever athletic skills they have, to play tennis.

    I’ve seen very few black kids who are any good at tennis here in the Eastern junior ranks, but there are a few and again, they’re not from American black families, usually their parents are from African countries. In my experience, the richest kids, particularly the Jewish ones, are not the top players because they either don’t have the hunger, the athletic ability or their lives are too cushy to really put 100 per cent into their games.

    Now down south, where Callum played a Nationals event a couple of weeks ago, there do seem to be more black kids who are good playing and the families seem more middle class white. We stayed with one family and their two middle/high school kids went to a Catholic school where they only had to attend school twice per week, the rest was done on the computer. So they went to 1.5 hour clinic in the mornings on the days they didn’t have to attend school and that cost $50.

    So I don’t see the super rich kids playing competitive high-level tennis so much as kids from immigrant families and upper middle class families. Do I think I could field a good basketball team with the kids I see at the academies in New York/New Jersey and Connecticut? No way.

  • Joe Blow · May 15, 2018 at 8:00 am

    In the back of your mind, what are Your goals for your son? Pro tour, college scholarship, lifelong love of the game?
    Do they match up with your sons goals?
    You say he’s a talented pitcher, does he prefer the individual sport, or the team?
    Do decent results in local N.Y. tournaments get him on college radars?

    Would you be happy with say a career path like Noah Rubin? Junior Wimby, college scholarship,stay a year, hit the pro tour, but then probably losing money?

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 8:04 am

    Thanks Dan, interesting about the south too.

    ‘Only had to attend school twice per week’ ? That certainly hasn’t caught on in the UK. One way of cutting the education budget I suppose.

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 8:08 am

    Raining in Rome.

    But not before a farewell yesterday to Roberta Vinci, one of the best volleyers in the modern game.

  • Dan Markowitz · May 15, 2018 at 8:22 am

    That’s a hard question to answer right now, Joe, as he turned turned 12 this week. He hasn’t had his growth spurt yet and I don’t really have any idea of how good/great he might become. You know, I’ve been at this with him since he was 2 so I sometimes get lost in knowing/telling how good he is.

    The high school coach had heard about his reputation and came and watched him practice the other day as Cal as a 7th grader next year can play a varsity sport. And he said without a doubt he’ll play no. 1 on the varsity team next year. Now White Plains doesn’t have the best tennis team, but for a 7th grader to play no. 1 it’s almost unheard of.

    Chris Mayotte, who was no. 83 in the world, has seen Cal play since he was 7 and he said it’s all talk right now, but he thinks when Cal is 17 he’ll be 5-11, 183 lbs and hit the ball like a monster and he’ll beat a top 200 player at that age. At 20, he’ll make the Wimbledon Main Draw and at 22 he’ll be top 75 in the world. Now this is Chris Mayotte’s prophecies, but I’m willing to see what I can do as far as keeping Callum’s eye on the ball, getting him good coaching, taking him to tournaments and trying not to burn him out to see if these projections might have some validity to them.

  • Hartt · May 15, 2018 at 10:54 am

    Kasatkina just beat Tomljanovic 6-0, 6-4. In the first set Dasha played near-perfect tennis because Ajla did not play that badly. Dasha could not keep up that crazy level in the 2nd set and Ajla raised her level, but Dasha did enough to win.

    I love watching Dasha play, especially when she plays this well. She is capable of hitting hard, especially with her FH, but she is not a baseline ball basher. She relies more on her amazing quickness, her excellent defense and her variety. In this match she made some superb drop shots and a couple perfect lobs. Especially in the first set her accuracy was terrific. She could not have walked the ball to the spots and placed it there any better.

    Dasha is No. 11 in the live rankings, so I expect her to make the top 10 soon.

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 10:58 am

    Unless she meets up with Kvitova 🙂

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 12:21 pm

    Angie wins t/b second set. Good win for her after injury break and dislike of Roman clay. Sharapova is rolling past Barty.

    Hartt – I’m not disagreeing about Dasha – she’ll be top ten soon. Just she needs that bit of experience.
    I’m sure she saw her match v Petra that way.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 15, 2018 at 1:18 pm

    Dan, you also said Gilad Bloom, another former top 60 ATP pro and top junior said Cal has a world class forehand, a national level backhand and sectional level serve. Those again are very very high praises from a perspective that knows. Has John McEnroe taken a look at Cal yet? I looked at Cal’s USTA record and he wins a lot of matches. He is right there in the mix, anything can happen from this point on but he’s in a winning position right now. I liked what I saw in Newport and he was close to blasting me off the court which not even some current and former Division I college players can do.

  • catherine · May 15, 2018 at 1:25 pm

    Sharapova/Barty into the 3rd. Could go either way.

    I had a look at Kerber/Diyas highlights. Diyas is a good clay player, fast and runs down everything. Angie came from 2-5 in 2nd set, moving well and hitting some good angles. A match with several great extemporised rallies, I thought, played at a lively pace. Angie looked much better than she did in Stuttgart.

  • Hartt · May 15, 2018 at 2:01 pm

    Shapo played an incredible match to win over Berdych in 3 sets. Berdy totally creamed the youngster in the first set, winning 6-1, but Denis played better as the match progressed. He won the 2nd set, and the decider was very close, going to a TB that Denis eventually won.

    One of Denis’ many strengths is his ability to play the big points well. Those of us who have followed Berdy’s career know that, unfortunately, that is not one of his strengths. What is so exciting about Denis is that he is a terrific competitor as well as an excellent player.

  • Hartt · May 15, 2018 at 3:15 pm

    Further to the Shapo story, Denis will become the Canadian No. 1 when he gets to at least No. 26 on Monday. In the live rankings he is 3 points ahead of Raonic, who is No. 27. Milos has been the Canadian No. 1 since June, 2010, so this is a big change.

    Denis is scheduled to play Geneva next week, then RG, and Stuttgart after that. I wonder if he should pull out of Geneva – this is a lot of tennis all at once.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 15, 2018 at 3:57 pm

    looks like Shap is ready to shock the world, like the 18 year old Safin did at Roland Garros, beating Agassi in the first round in five sets and then defending champion Kuerten in the second round also in five sets.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 15, 2018 at 4:11 pm

    Wow Callum sounds pretty good. Being a No. 1 player in high school in 7th grade sounds impressive.

    Dan have you considered putting together some YouTube clips of his play? I believe a lot of parents put together such highlights and it is great for college recruiters to see these players and what skills they have. Your son sounds like a lock for college tennis at the very least. With tuition so high these days, that’s a huge deal since a scholarship is worth so much. The college tennis facilities at many big schools are second to none.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 15, 2018 at 4:20 pm

    Wow huge win in France for Kozlov over Hugues-Herbert. Maybe he is good after all. He faces some French guy I never heard of next.

    Opelka faces Bonzi early in the morning. If he and Koz win, they will meet on the dirt in an epic affair. Stay tuned for that one.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 15, 2018 at 4:36 pm

    Hugues Hebert is ranked 70 something in the world, Kozlov beat him last year in SS on grass before Wimbledon. I saw Hugues Hebert watching Kozlov play in Newport vs Menendez Maceiras, like trying to figure out how did I lose to this lil pusher guy? Well he didn’t figure it out, big win for Kozlov against a quality player seeking revenge. Nishioka blew the second set vs Bambri in Busan and then quit down 0-3 in the third probably from exhaustion.

  • Hartt · May 15, 2018 at 5:21 pm

    Kohlschreiber just won over Sock in SS. The match finished past 11:00 pm, so the players must have been very tired. But Kohli totally outplayed Jack in the big points. At the net Sock did not even glance in Kohli’s direction, managed to shake hands without looking at him whatsoever. What a jerk!

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 15, 2018 at 5:40 pm

    Another crushing loss for Sock, he really was touting how he was back and heading forward now, basically saying the slump is over. But it’s not, unfortunately he ran into a red hot player. Give Sock credit for he is bitterly hating these losses and he’s got the right mindset to regain his lost status. I think his cold handshake with Kohlschreiber should be taken as a positive and this hatred of losing reflects how hard he’s working and how serious he is about not accepting his mediocre sub journeyman results this year. I think smashing two or three of his Babolats Safin style would have also been acceptable behavior considering how poor his 2018 has been.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 15, 2018 at 5:57 pm

    I doubt Sock is working hard somehow. These results confirm it. He is 5-9 this year and Kohli at 29 is the highest ranked player he has faced. Those results are mediocre; if he played tougher competition, it stands to reason he would be even worse.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 15, 2018 at 5:59 pm

    PHH is No. 90 but still a nice win for a struggling player.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 15, 2018 at 6:19 pm

    It’s too bad Sock didn’t win by a walkover. He would have been blasted next round by Kei or Grigor and such a spanking is what he needs to re-assess his season.

    File this prediction for later: Sascha Zverev ends the year at No. 1.

  • Chazz · May 15, 2018 at 7:06 pm

    Break points won – Kohlschreiber 3-3, Sock 0-8. End of story, he’s not getting it done. Whoever was announcing said he’s going to start coaching him next week. Looked like a pretty standard handshake at least for the WTA.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 15, 2018 at 7:17 pm

    Sock stated on IG thsi week after beating Ferrer, “never gonna be a shadow of myself…the only way is up.” That’s a pretty clear message. He’s done fooling around and playing in the shadows of the elites. He’s an elite and will be back up in the elite echelon. At least that’s how I interpret that statement. And I’m sure Sock is not just talking the talk, I’m sure he’s working hard and trying to refind his lost game and lost swagger. But as these losses keep piling up, you wonder if they will take a toll on his psyche. If the game has passed him by.

  • Hartt · May 16, 2018 at 8:08 am

    You can be bitterly disappointed by a loss and still not be a jerk at the handshake. Other players manage to do it all the time.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 9:22 am

    Not everybody likes everybody. Can understand when certain players may not show any warmth at certain handshakes. Some players despise each other and get extra acid in their bellies when they play a player they dislike. Like Sharapova vs Cibulkova, Fed vs Djokovic, Connors vs Mac, lendl vs Mac. These intense rivalries make the sport greater.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 16, 2018 at 10:19 am

    Let’s not pretend Sock is a jerk. He’s a nice guy who comes from the heartland of America. Scoop may be right that it would be nice if was a jerk so the sport had some personality. But it’s not the case; he’s as wholesome and apple pie as they come.

    That’s not my issue. It’s his lame practice efforts. Grow up already and out in the work like a Domi Thiem.

    But yes, Sockis a nice guy you would want dating your daughter.

  • Hartt · May 16, 2018 at 10:25 am

    But why would anyone dislike Kohlschreiber? He is a very professional player who quietly goes about his business.

  • Scoop Malinowski · May 16, 2018 at 11:07 am

    Not suggesting Kohlschreiber is a jerk or disliked, but players in dreadful slumps are not happy campers. Sock is in the worst stretch of his career and he can’t get out of the quicksand. So what if he was ice cold at the handshake, he’s got a load of problems and pressures to deal with and shaking hands like Novak Djokovic or Petkodance is not a high priority.

  • Duke Carnoustie · May 16, 2018 at 11:33 am

    I didn’t see it but I doubt Sock has a problem with him. Sock is as wholesome as it gets from Nebraska and is a true patriot. He is good people. I can’t imagine him hating anyone on tour.

    It would serve Sock well to get a little nasty, aka harrison.



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