View Full Version : Is this 8 year old a potential pro?

03-03-2005, 02:45 AM
Hi everyone, I have a question I'd like to ask. I know this 8 year old who has loads of potential- he is a real standout performer for his age and I can really see him going all the way. He has the smoothest service motion I've ever seen on an 8 year old- he is not that tall but can get the serves in with ease (He can hit about 8 in in a row). His favourite shot is the forehand. Very modern, and to my surprise he can hit drive volleys off the fh very cleanly, provided that the ball doesn't come at him too fast. Bhs, volleys, and smashes are not a weapon but pretty stable. He can return serve by getting into position quite easily. He has good sense of control and ball direction.

My question: How good were most pros when they were around 8 years old? Cos I have no clue, yet I think this kid is really something special, and not many people around him seem to notice.


03-03-2005, 03:30 AM
You need to wait until he is old enough for girls, then you see just how good he is ;-)

SC in MA
03-03-2005, 05:35 AM
Arthur Ashe said in one of his books that all touring pro players started playing tennis before 10 years old. He could not name one who started after 10. He then named a number of folks in other sports who started after 10 years old. So it sounds like this kid is on the right track to becoming a pro, if he chooses to follow that path and other variables (desire, injury, growth, etc) don't get in the way.

Geezer Guy
03-03-2005, 06:21 AM
My understanding is that most-if-not-all of the best pro's today were great players as kids. However, there are TONS of great players as kids who do NOT go on to make a living at tennis, for a variety of reasons.

03-03-2005, 07:42 AM
There are many 8 year olds that fit the description you gave. It's good that the young man has potential, but that, in no way, indicates that he will go pro. Many things happen, both physically and mentally in a young mans life. The key for him right now is that he is having FUN playing. Don't go overboard with his training. I'd even suggest exposing him to other sports. As he gets older, you will get a much better indication of his potential. The 12 and under level is VERY serious competition nationally. The only problem with this is that some 12 year olds are 5'6" and well built, while others are 4'7" and skin and bones. In their early teens, the better players will really start to develop and excell. Some kids show potential early but then stagnate. Others grow into their genetically pre-defined body which unfortunately is not as athletic as they would have hoped. Like I said: keep it fun for now. When young men get into their early teens, they tend to make decisions about which sport they want to persue and how serious they want to be.

Kaptain Karl
03-03-2005, 06:30 PM
I had a 6-year-old student many years ago, who was truly amazingly gifted. His parents ruined him.

By the time he was 12, he was so sick of them pushing him and pushing him to excel ... he actually began intentionally losing in tourneys. That got them off his back.


It would help if someone with a really level head was helping to discern if the child wanted to devote all that time, energy and work to the game ... or if it was just the kid's Coach or parents.

- KK

03-03-2005, 06:43 PM
I agree, it's better to just hv fun at tennis and hv potential to be a well balanced nine year old child. Reminds me of the over zealous parent of my 4 1/2 year old tennis (private lessons) student.

03-03-2005, 07:46 PM
Stan Smith started playing tennis at 17 rs. he did okay.

03-03-2005, 10:28 PM
Thank you for your feedback everyone. I guess I got a little ahead of myself, but it's just that I'm really excited at the prospect of knowing (and maybe influencing) a future pro player. Anyway a little more infO: He enjoys playing soccer as well, and his dad is athletically built and around 6 feet 2, so this makes it even more exciting. But you're all right- I think it's really important for them to have fun at the moment, but interestingly, when I asked the kid (kind of as a joke) if he wanted to become a professional tennis player, he replied quite seriously: 'yes, or a professional soccer player'.

I don't think his parents push him too much, and he is always trying out different, creative things on the tennis court, experimenting different ways of hitting the ball, which I find very fascinating. Well I guess we'll just have to wait and see. I'll dig this post back up in 7 years time if he wins the boys singles at Wimbledon!

03-03-2005, 10:44 PM
****. I think you are sincere but you're right you are WAY ahead of yourself. I wouldn't even seriously think of this kid as a future pro. If you want to treat him that way for motivation fine, but you must be careful. Bear in mind, that ten's of thousands of kids around the world have this dream. Many are talented, many have great storkes. Only a precious handful will make it. There are SO many twists and turns on the way to a pro career, even those with the talent often don't make it for psychological, financial reasons or a lack of proper training facilities or injuries or....well just about anything. At his age and development, the road is so long. You must be careful, there are far more burnouts and dropouts and kids that end up resenting their parents/coaches(at every level and age) than kids who become top 100 players! The odds of him continuing down the pro path to stardom are probably about 1 in a million, and many of those factors you can do nothing about, so take the advice of those who said just keep it fun for him and try to keep him developing on track.

I can appreciate your enthusiasm though, it's a LOT of fun to watch a talented youngster developing.

The experimenting is terrific. In all honesty, this is the process the best take and how great strokes are developed. Not by a coach spewing endless templates and instructions on mechanics. A good coach will let his body and mind learn and simply nudge and point in the right direction. Let his natural strokes form.

I myself have struggled lately with a very promising 11yr old who is top ranked....I am not his daily coach, but the father comes to me for advice from time to time. He is talented and on track but I'm worried that they are to assertive that he is going to be a world beater, while that does give him a cocky arrogance, it may lead to problems down the road. Already he has severe temper problems in tournaments.

Anyways, also, bear in mind, that at the early junior level, personally, when assessing eventual potential, I probably look at strokes as the least important factor. Great strokes are wonderful, but if you're shooting high, you must look at other factors, athletic potential. Hand eye, quickness of hands and feet, balance, feel. Because even the slowest, lumbering pro is actually well above average athletically and you must be in today's game. Without this, you cannot make it and while you can prosper at the lower levels, eventually it will catch up to you.

Young Pete
03-03-2005, 10:46 PM
in my opinion that kid needs to have a lot of support from his mom and dad to help him get the best tennis coach and practice time in his area. Look at pete sampras, he started from an early age and his parents sacrificed everything for him. The 8 year old kid described here should play up in tournaments, learn to serve and volley, watch footage of the great aussies..i.e. The Rocket, and play tennis as much as he can per day as possible......provided he get the best coach and devote all his skill and energy in the tennis court. He should not be distracted with other sports and tennis should be his only priority aside from his family as long as he really loves the sport. His parents should not put too much pressure on the kid, the kid should put pressure on himself. The parents should let the coach deal with the kid while staying away from him at times. The kid should appreciate and love the game and above all respect it. His desire to be a tennis champion has to come from himself alone, with a little encouragement from his coach and parents.

my .02 cents.

03-04-2005, 05:45 AM
An eight year old serving an vollying ? My son does this (ok - he's nine now, but) and it works great with mom and dad who feed him the volly, but MOONBALLS are the favorite shot of the under 10 crowd, and when the net is chest high on you, you don't have much chance.

My advice, if you want to encourage him to go pro is to FORBID him to play tennis, and then make sure there is a wall and a court near by that he can get to behind your back. ;-)

03-04-2005, 05:54 AM
Oh -yeah there was a post ages ago with a link to a site with clips of young tennis players, but I couldn't find it

03-04-2005, 06:03 AM
TADA !!! (yep, it's a boring Friday afternoon)

You can at least see how he compares.

03-04-2005, 06:47 AM
TADA !!! (yep, it's a boring Friday afternoon)

You can at least see how he compares.
So, which one is he?

03-04-2005, 09:29 AM
Great insite DataCipher. Having watched many young men grow up in a variety of sports (which means I am old and wise now :-0), I agree with your statement about looking for the natural gifts of hand eye, foot speed, overall athleticism etc. Good strokes are a dime a dozen, just like a good basketball shot. But that alone will not take you to the pro level.

03-04-2005, 10:45 AM
You never know, apparently Jimmy Arias played a practice match with Rod Laver when Arias was 10 and gave Rod all her could handle, and although Arias had a good career, he never had the success some people expected him to have.

03-04-2005, 11:49 AM
Really? Stan Smith didn't start playing until he was 17? That's amazing.

ty slothrop
03-04-2005, 12:48 PM
You never know, apparently Jimmy Arias played a practice match with Rod Laver when Arias was 10 and gave Rod all her could handle, and although Arias had a good career, he never had the success some people expected him to have.

uh, let's do the math on that. how old is arias now, 40? that makes him 10 in about 1975, which would mean a ten year old giving the GOAT - approximately six years removed from the Grand Slam - "all he could handle."
maybe the math is wrong, but that just can't have happened

on the other hand, there's a zygote down at my club who could beat this 8 year old, sharapova, and all of the changs (michael, betty and carl)

03-04-2005, 12:49 PM
I do not want to be negative but this is all very premature to start thinking of a pro career at 8.

My four year old can hit serves and get the ball back in play four or five times before she misses. People tell me she is going to be better than me in no time. I always say I hope so but it will not be me that makes her that way. She will have to do that herself.

Please do not ruin the kid. I am a former touring pro (a has been never was that topped out in the 600s). I will never push my kids into the game. They have to ask me to go hit. My 4 year old also takes gymnastics and dance besides tennis. I have seen too many kids ruined by their parents.

Case in point, one of my best friends was top 10 in the nation in the 12s. By the time he was 18 he couldn't qualify for Southern sectionals much less worry about being a pro. My club had 6 pros come out and 21 D-1 scholarships earned in a five year span in the 80s. The kid of which I speak didn't even play college tennis.

Let the kid develop at his own rate. If he has the talent and desire, it will all work itself out. If not, he will have some good times playing the game. The desire to be good is important from the kid not the parents or friends.

Sorry to get preachy but this is something I have seen destroy kids and families. If he shows promise - guide him - please do not push. He will have a hard enough time growing up.

WW Volley
03-04-2005, 12:51 PM
TADA !!! (yep, it's a boring Friday afternoon)

You can at least see how he compares.

Cripes, I think that 10 year old is better than me, lol.

03-04-2005, 09:53 PM
Hey cool link. The 8 year old I'm talking about has a very similar service motion to that of the 10 year old German boy, Finni Meinecke. The smoothness is almost identical, except his is platform and Finni's is pinpoint. I couldn't compare forehands cos most of these youngsters seem to be double handed off both wings, but I can tell you that his forehand looks like Ferrero's but slower. This Finni kid has better footwork to the short balls by far though.

Anyway... I'd better put this one to bed now. Thanks for all the feedback everyone!

03-05-2005, 04:50 AM
Really? Stan Smith didn't start playing until he was 17? That's amazing.

I would highly doubt that he started at age 17. He was in the finals of the NCAA championships at like age 19. You are telling me that he went from a 1.0 tennis player to a 6.0 in 2 years? USC gave a tennis scholarship to a complete beginner? yeah right.

03-05-2005, 08:05 AM
Don't take it too seriously, nurture his love for the gave. The process and development of technique is 10 times more important than the wins in the early years. Teach an all court game. Most baseliners are fully developed by the time they are 15 years old. The allcourter developes more shots and strageties and continues to develope until they're 20. That's what makes Federer so hard to beat nowadays. My son is on a similar track. Many well known pros project him to make the tour. We take a low profile approach. He's #1 in his section in his first year 14's and top 100 in the nation. No home schooling, no academies although he has received scholarship offers. He's a normal kid who does well in school. He plays only 6 hours a week apart from tournments. For boys, it only becomes apparent in the 16's although the talent is always there.