A longitudinal study of the career trajectory of top elite tennis players: 22e Symposium, Vereniging Voor, Kinesiologie, 15 december 2017 Vrije Universiteit Brussel, “DIVERSITEIT IN BEWEGING"

Research output: Unpublished contribution to conferencePoster


Introduction. In professional tennis, the career trajectory from starting age to the top podium of professional tennis remains unknown. The aim of this research is to highlight the characteristics of the career trajectory of the most successful professional tennis players and to establish a range of statistical benchmarks that coaches and federations can use for player development. Method. Data were obtained from official website of ITF, WTA and ATP. The names and birthdates of all players that achieved a top 10 year-end ranking between 2007 and 2017 were recorded. Player career trajectory is examined by four distinguishable stages, initial years, ITF Junior-circuit, ITF pro-circuit and WTA/ATP tour. The first participation and title at the four stages and the significant rankings were recorded as benchmarks. All the dates of the benchmarks were converted to chronological age based on players’ birthdates. A boxplot was applied to depict the age distribution by each milestone of all top 10 players. Independent T test and One-way ANOVA were applied to test the differences between genders and between ranking levels. Result. Both male and female top 10 players started playing tennis at an average age of 5.5 years old. 50% of the female players participated first ITF junior circuit at the age of 13.6 years, reaching their best junior performance at the age of 16.0 years. It takes an average 1.9 years from first WTA title to top 10 world ranking at the age of 22.1 years. In contrast, 50% of the male players made their ITF junior debut at an average age of 14.9 years, reaching their best junior performance at the age of 17.2 years. It takes an average 2.9 years from first ATP title to top 10 at the age of 23.1 years. Conclusion. It takes almost 10 years for talent players from starting age to reach international junior top and another 10 years to reach senior top 10 ranking; players follow a similar trajectory at a junior age, have a fast ascending speed to top 100 ranking but varies from to 100 to top 10.Higher ranked players appear to reach benchmark earlier than lower ranked player
Original languageDutch
Number of pages1
Publication statusPublished - 15 Dec 2017


  • Tennis
  • coaching
  • professional success
  • talent development

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