Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
ISSN: 1303 - 2968   
Ios-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
Androit-APP Journal of Sports Science and Medicine
©Journal of Sports Science and Medicine (2017) 16, 489 - 497

Research article
Comparing Matchplay Characteristics and Physical Demands of Junior and Professional Tennis Athletes in the Era of Big Data
Stephanie A. Kovalchik1,2, , Machar Reid2
Author Information
1 Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, Melbourne, VIC, Australia
2 Game Insight Group, Tennis Australia, Richmond South, VIC, Australia

Stephanie A. Kovalchik
‚úČ Institute of Sport, Exercise and Active Living, Victoria University, PO Box 14428, Melbourne 8001, VIC, Australia
Publish Date
Received: 07-06-2017
Accepted: 29-09-2017
Published (online): 01-12-2017
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Differences in the competitive performance characteristics of junior and professional tennis players are not well understood. The present study provides a comprehensive comparative analysis of junior and professional matchplay. The study utilized multiple large-scale datasets covering match, point, and shot outcomes over multiple years of competition. Regression analysis was used to identify differences between junior and professional matchplay. Top professional men and women were found to play significantly more matches, sets, and games compared to junior players of an equivalent ranking. Professional players had a greater serve advantage, men winning 4 and women winning 2 additional percentage points on serve compared to juniors. Clutch ability in break point conversion was 6 to 8 percentage points greater for junior players. In general, shots were more powerful and more accurate at the professional level with the largest differences observed for male players on serve. Serving to the center of the court was more than two times more common for junior players on first serve. While male professionals performed 50% more total work in a Grand Slam match than juniors, junior girls performed 50% more work than professional women. Understanding how competitiveness, play demands, and the physical characteristics of shots differ between junior and professional tennis players can help set realistic expectations and developmentally appropriate training for transitioning players.

Key words: Competition, data, performance, tactics, youth

           Key Points
  • Junior players transitioning to professional level, must adapt to a field of a deeper and higher-quality athletes
  • Junior players rise in the professional ranks, they can expect to compete in more events, matches, sets and games throughout the year
  • The margins differentiating winners and losers of matches at the professional level are significantly narrower than at the junior level
  • Some of the largest differences between junior and professional tennis are in its physical demands
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