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Old 08-14-2013, 09:32 PM   #1
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Default Upside of young American players

[[[ I posted the following as a new thread in General Messages, but I had not discovered that there was a separate forum for USA Player fans. So I am pasting it here again. Feel free to discuss here or there...! ]]]

I have lately begun following up and coming young American talent.

I like the game of:

Jack Sock (main strength: serve)
Dennis Kudla
Steve Johnson
Rhyne Williams
Bradley Klahn

And even younger:
Christian Harrison (younger bro of Ryan)
Dennis Novikov

(Ryan Harrison hasn't been as consistent as people expected him to be. He went upto 43 rank and then fell out of 100 though he might get back to about 50-60)

What do you guys think of these young players? How much upside do they have? Will they stick around in the 70-150 rank range permanently like the Odesnik's, Rajeev Ram's, Jesse Levine's, Bobby Reynold's or will they touch top 20 like the Isner's, Querrey's and Fish's....

My personal opinion on this changes daily, but I do hope at least a couple of them top 50 and stick there. In the best case, I would like all of them to hit top 50 and some to go up to top 20. I think jack sock has the best chance of hitting top 20 due to his serve.

To add: I started looking at these players when they were around 200 in rankings about 6-9 months ago and they have all steadily progressed to 85-125 range. The speed of progress and that they are all moving ahead together has impressed me.

Most of them have done well in college/junior tennis, so they know how to compete.

It's like an army (of 5). The question is, where will they stop?
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Old 08-14-2013, 10:32 PM   #2
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

I have touched on this subject a lot in the last 12 months in various threads. I'm kinda tired of talking about it actually. I'm just gonna quote my last assessment from the Williams' thread.

Quote:
Originally Posted by SapELee View Post
I know I know I'm not supposed to come back until next week but I forgot to bring home some study material so I have a lot of free time on my hand right now So I spent some time reading stuff on tennisprose as usual. Great discussion as always about the American players, their strengths and weaknesses: http://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/ten...rock/#comments

I disagree with one poster though. He said that Rhyne's backhand is awful. Rhyne's bh may not be a weapon but it is not a bad shot and I don't think his technique is bad. But I do agree that Sock's and Johnson's are atrocious. He also said Rhyne has good hands, really I watched Rhyne a lot and he is awful at the net. Maybe he meant good hands as in executing the dropshot

I like Andrew Miller's assessments of everyone's game (pretty much how I feel about most of the players). I agree with him that most Americans don't strike the ball well and that Rhyne and Kudla are the few that hit cleanly off the ground. Sad sad state of American tennis really.

My thoughts, Sock has the most potential but depends too much on the forehand and nothing else (no backhands). Kudla is the most technically correct and probably has the best understanding of the game but is small and mentally fragile. Johnson and Klahn have no backhands. Ryan Harrison has no forehands and rarely hits the ball cleanly. And Rhyne is Rhyne.

The veterans are much more exciting to watch
I wish I could be more optimistic.
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Old 08-14-2013, 11:54 PM   #3
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Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by SapELee View Post
I have touched on this subject a lot in the last 12 months in various threads. I'm kinda tired of talking about it actually. I'm just gonna quote my last assessment from the Williams thread
I wish I could be more optimistic.
SapELee, good thoughts.

(Where are Andrew Millers thoughts on them btw - is there a link to the article?)

I agree they have weaknesses. But aren't they just getting started in the pro tour? Possibly they could improve. After all the person who has the most desire, can work hard, will probably improve the most and go ahead.

Do you think they will break top 50 by end of next year?



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Old 08-15-2013, 04:43 AM   #4
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
Originally Posted by SapELee View Post
I have touched on this subject a lot in the last 12 months in various threads. I'm kinda tired of talking about it actually. I'm just gonna quote my last assessment from the Williams' thread.



I wish I could be more optimistic.
Things seem less dire when you consider how few accomplished young players other countries are producing.

I think Sock will probably be a top-20 player in time unless he's complacent.
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Old 08-15-2013, 08:27 PM   #5
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

I think the upside of Harrison, despite the current slump, is his drive and ambition. I think the talent is there, too (huge serve and forehand) -- not sure Sock is better and Harrison has more experience on the tour.
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Old 08-15-2013, 09:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
Originally Posted by grkhetan View Post
SapELee, good thoughts.

(Where are Andrew Millers thoughts on them btw - is there a link to the article?)
With Tennis-Prose, you have to scroll down and read the commentary (that's where the daily discussion of players and current tournaments take place).

Quote:
I agree they have weaknesses. But aren't they just getting started in the pro tour? Possibly they could improve. After all the person who has the most desire, can work hard, will probably improve the most and go ahead.

Do you think they will break top 50 by end of next year?

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Yes, they are young and have time to improve.

I can see a couple of them in the top 50 if they put in the work and improve their weaknesses, might take a while though.


Work To Do

Sock
  • Backhand/Slice
  • Learn how to construct points/be more patient
  • Returns
  • Fitness

Kudla
  • Mental Game
  • Consistency (Getting UEs under control)

R. Harrison
  • Forehand (the take-back is too close to the body often leading to errors especially when running around the backhand)
  • Striking the ball cleaner
  • Playing closer to the baseline
  • Should focus on the transition game, try to get to the net as much as possible (IMO, Ryan's ground game is weak, his strokes tend to break down under pressure - the main reason why he struggled against the top players).

Williams
  • Biggest weakness is the transition/net game (needs to work on moving inside the court and finishing point, Rhyne is uncomfortable at the net especially when he is rushed)
  • Use the backhand more (has a habit of substituting it with the backhand slice especially against opponents who can't overpower him like Ginepri and Kudla)
  • Mental game/better mindset (a headcase with history of choking/breakdowns; doesn't always give best effort)
  • Needs to work on getting fitter/stronger (to his credit, he is in much better shape than last year)

Johnson
  • backhand
  • returns

Klahn
  • backhand
  • returns
  • I have a hard time seeing Brad in the top 50 without improving his backhand; he has only one game plan, hit hard, if fails hit harder.

Basically everybody with the exception of Kudla has a serve and forehand game. Kudla has a Ferrer/Hewitt like game. Williams has clay shots. Harrison's game is suited for grass.

College guys (that have not turned pro yet) that have potential to be top 50 - Work to do


Dennis Novikov
  • Consistency (really needs to get the errors under control)
  • Mental game

Alex Domijan
  • Movement
  • Backhand
  • Passion/Commitment (have been questioned numerous times)

Did I miss anything Smoke?
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Old 08-21-2013, 04:02 AM   #7
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

nice descriptions... I am particularly amazed at how they've kind of progressed together as a group (all within 20-25 ranks of each other) -- from late 200's to now 85-120 range. I think this might indicate that one's progress motivates the others to do well, and hence they are going up together. This is a very healthy thing -- like the way Isner and Querrey have been close to 20 -- having company around the ranking makes one want to maintain the level. One clear example was, Querrey when he dropped very low in the ranking when he was out due to injury for a while, was very motivated to come back to top 20 as quickly as possible -- he couldnt digest the fact that his buddy was in top 20 where as he was way down (what, close to 100?).

I think this will get this guys to reach the 50-80 ranking range together and might get them --- in the best case -- to all hit the 30-70 range as well.

I predict 6 Americans in the top 60 within 2 years from now. (Isner + Querrey + these youngsters, assuming Fish continues to face health problems)
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
Originally Posted by Huckleberry Z. View Post
I think the upside of Harrison, despite the current slump, is his drive and ambition. I think the talent is there, too (huge serve and forehand) -- not sure Sock is better and Harrison has more experience on the tour.

Honestly, I really don't love Harrison's game at all. I think his biggest asset is his fire and competitiveness. I would love it if you could just take Harrison's crazy competitive streak and inject it into both Sock and Williams. You'd have two really good players if you could do that.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:23 PM   #9
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
Originally Posted by SapELee View Post

Alex Domijan
  • Movement
  • Backhand
  • Passion/Commitment (have been questioned numerous times)


I wrote Domijan off a long time ago. I have a better chance of knocking up Anna Kournikova than Domijan does of cracking the top 100.
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Old 08-22-2013, 12:26 PM   #10
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

UCLA is going to be straight LOADED next year.
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Old 08-22-2013, 07:20 PM   #11
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Yes, harrison seems to play at a high level very inconsistently. He does have some good wins over the past few years (one was against Raonic for example, and there are others as well). But he has a lot more bad losses. He made into Cincinnati best 10 hot shots:

(look at 0:43 mark)
http://youtu.be/AN0C0WDi0q0

What do you guys think of Collin Altamirano who won Kalamazoo -- I guess we'll see how he plays in the main draw here at the Open.
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Old 08-22-2013, 08:40 PM   #12
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
Originally Posted by kidbourbon View Post
I wrote Domijan off a long time ago. I have a better chance of knocking up Anna Kournikova than Domijan does of cracking the top 100.
Well, this thread says "upside of young American players". If Isner can make it into the top 100, I don't see why Domijan can't.
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Old 09-03-2013, 10:41 PM   #13
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

Quote:
So no American man will venture into the second week of the Open. The players who were teetering on the brink of breaking through have all been shot down miserably: Harrison, Querrey, Sock and now Isner. And there’s no cavalry backing them up. The Klahn’s, Kudla’s, Williams’ and Johnson’s I can now say after watching them all play this week except Rhyne have no chance whatsoever of being Top 50 players. Maybe there’s hope with MaKenzie McDonald, Stefan Kozlov and Jared Donaldson.

There’s only Serena, Sloane and Alison Riske left in the women’s draw, but when you compare what’s coming in the American women’s brigade compared to what’s coming with the American men, it’s substantially embarrassing. I think the system’s broke and it has to be fixed.
http://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/alr...its-davis-cup/

Dan Markowitz is one tough critic. I'm not fond of writers using the phrase "no chance whatsoever" because it disregards the "room for improvement" theory. Don't feel bad though b/c he was pretty harsh on the ladies too.

Quote:
Really, you think Keys and Hampton have what it takes to win a slam? Hampton’s 23, she’s barely in the Top 20 for the first time, that’s not a slam contender and Keys has all the weapons, but she moves like Lindsay Davenport. Even Stephens, who’s game I don’t like to watch, is a long shot for a slam.
http://www.tennis-prose.com/bios/ten...ge-1/#comments
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:34 AM   #14
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

I dont really agree with the article, its just too harsh. It says Isner had a "dismal" year in the Grand Slams this year and says he does not know how to play a 5-setter. Now he did not play Aus Open and retired out of Wimbledon, and lost in 3rd round in 5 sets to Haas in Roland Garros, so am not sure you have enough information here to call a "dismal" year. He has also reached QF at US Open in 2011, so he obviously knows how to play 5 set matches. Nobody can forget the Mahaut match either at Wimbledon, where John survived through the longest match in history by far.

Then it says "the players who were teetering on the brink of breaking through have all been shot down miserably", which is also not true -- since many Americans lost in close, well-fought matches. Sock was up for a set and half for example. Many other players had chances to win, including Smyczek, Ram, Blake, Johnson, Rhyne Williams, Klahn, etc.
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Old 09-04-2013, 01:39 AM   #15
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Default Re: Upside of young American players

I have not seen these players play as much as many of the guys in this forum have -- but based on what I have seen, highlights, forum comments, youtube videos, etc. What I have concluded is these young guys have some potential but have a lot of areas to improve upon -- but I believe these guys will improve -- since the main thing that lacks in American tennis is the "fighting spirit" -- with all these guys spurring each other on, I think they will develop the fighting spirit. And once thats there, everything becomes possible.

I am modifying my predication made a few comments above in this thread :-) I now believe: "6 Americans will be in the top 80 within 2 years from now".
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