How fast would a peak Roscoe Tanner's serve be measured at now?

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by timnz, Dec 16, 2009.

  1. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Hi there,

    It may surprise, but I'm thinking a little over 160mph.

    In 1978 in the final of the Palm Springs tournament he was clocked at 153mph.

    Now it is clear if you have been around for a while in tennis, that the speed guns have been clocking faster and faster over the last 15 years.

    McEnroe at 50 serves in the 125's, when he struggled to get past 120 at his peak in the early/mid 1980's.

    Back in the early 90's Boris Beckers top speed was on 131.

    Sampras serve until the mid-90's never broke 130. Now he regularly does it at the age of 38.

    I also remember that in the early 90's when Roscoe was around 40 he could still serve a 135 to 140 on occasion.

    So I can easily see Tanner clocking over 160 if he was at his peak now with the current speed guns and the best modern rackets.

    Phenomenal yes? Still faster than anyone alive.

    He wasn't a giant either - 6ft to 6ft 1"
     
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  2. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    Yes, I believe Tanner served faster than anybody ever, or at the very least would have if he had used a modern racquet in his 70's prime!
     
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  3. BreakPoint

    BreakPoint Bionic Poster

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    McEnroe and Sampras can serve bigger now than when they were on tour because they both now use bigger racquets. It's not the radar gun. Becker used to be the biggest server when he first came on tour so I'm not surprised that he clocked in the high-120's. 131 mph was a massive serve during his era and that's why Becker was nicknamed "Boom-Boom". Today, many pros can hit up to 131 mph.
     
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  4. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    As you might know, I've posted extensively on Tanner and his serve. My guess would be up around 150mph. I have never been able to definitely confirm the 153mph recording. If you have some info, please send it to me.

    Bear in mind that the recent radar inflation seen, does not necessarily apply to the early recordings of Tanner. One thing we can be certain of, is that he regularly could go into the 130's. This was recorded more than once, with more than one system. Interestingly, in 1991, he hit 135mph with the then ATP radar, which would have been the fastest serve of the year had he been playing on the main tour. Besting 6'7 Rosset by 1 mph! (which I believe you may be referring to in your post)

    He was a monster that is for sure. He and Roddick are probably the fastest servers of all time, (Rusedski may have an argument as well).

    Note also that I believe Tanner was AT BEST 6 feet(quite possibly under). I stood beside him some years ago..back in the mid 90's..though admittedly, it's possible he might have lost an inch by that time.

    Now it is possible, that indeed, were to get himself a pure drive, with the extended reach, that he could add a few extra mph....it would not be completely implausible for him to reach into the 150's and MAYBE a 160! Doubt he would do this with any regularity though, in actual matches, I think he would average well under Roddick(though were he playing today, his serving strategy would probably be different and he'd go all out like most players today: he specifically has talked about how Gonzales among others advised him NOT to go for his biggest serves all the time), but then, Roddick doesn't hit the 150's or 140's with regularity either.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
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  5. MethodTennis

    MethodTennis Hall of Fame

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    probably about wwhat roddick was serving in 04 and 05
     
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  6. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Professional

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    He's over 6 ft. tall. He did a little clinic at my club as a junior.

    Remember the older radar technology wasn't as accurate as today.
     
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  7. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    From memory, the commentators at Wimbledon were discussing equipment one year. They were relating how some had said that equipment had changed the game and the players were all serving too big now when one asked who had the fastest serve at Wimbledon that year. The answer was Roscoe Tanner who was competing in the seniors event at Wimbledon (40's). He had been clocked at 140+ on a couple of serves.

    Tanner's motion remains the most efficient and fastest that I have ever seen. Rather than hitting the ball at its apex, he hit it on the rise. I have been re-watching the WITC matches on Tennis Channel and Tanner's serve is simply amazing. The timing he had is unmatched by anyone. If he had any of Sampras' other skills, Tanner would have been unstoppable. As it was, he was to Borg as Ivaniseivic was to Sampras, a nightmare!

    I can only imaine that if Tanner were in his 20's today, he'd be serving bigger than anyone on tour but bricking most everything else. He was always super consistent on serving, but very streaky in the rest of his game from his net play to groundstrokes. I imagine Tanner would average in the upper 130s with today's sticks. That is based, of course, on the knowledge that toay, he could get a stick made EXACTLY to his liking.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
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  8. Ripper014

    Ripper014 Hall of Fame

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    Can I just say fasssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssst...
     
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  9. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Did I miss something here? Have radar speed guns suddenly started measuring things faster (that is inaccurately)?

    If a serve measured 153 mph in 1978, wouldn't it measure 153 mph today?
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2009
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  10. Don't Let It Bounce

    Don't Let It Bounce Hall of Fame

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    There may have been an inflation in radar gun readings in the last 15 years, but we can't assume it's been inflating all along. Bill Tilden was clocked at 172 mph (using a mechanical timepiece), after all.

    It may be that Tanner's 153 was an anomaly attributable to imperfect measurement technique.
     
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  11. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    All those speeding tickets I got were inflated by inaccurate measuring devices?

    I want my fine money back!
     
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  12. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    If you had a good lawyer, you wouldn't have had to pay the ticket in the first place!

    Either that or slowdown:)
     
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  13. timnz

    timnz Hall of Fame

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    Anomaly

    Why do people assume it is an anomaly? Tanner had plenty of clocked serves in the 1940's so why would 153 be regarded as an anomaly. Is there any evidence reported that there was something wrong with the radar gun?

    The best evidence is - what was his opponent serving in terms of speed. Was it exceptionally fast as well?
     
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  14. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Roddick's fastest is 155 mph. Nothwithstanding the inflation of speed-guns, I think if you gave Tanner (in his prime) a modern racquet and modern strings, he would best that.
     
    Last edited: Dec 21, 2009
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  15. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    That's sort of what I said in post #2:)
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Tanner's low 140's back in the late '70's would have translated, with modern rackets, strings, shoes, and radar, to around low 140's today.
    No difference.
    I was timed at lower 120's with WilsonProStaffs. Highest 120's with YonnexOPSGreens, a really stiff aluminum racket with a super high sweetspot.
    DickStockton was around low 130's, and he wouldn't go any faster with new equipement.
    Same as it ever was, same as always.
    Tanner, 6' and 1/2", 190lbs., all upper body, birdlegs.
     
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  17. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    So you did.
     
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  18. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Ah, the delusional, lying, 3.5 has returned. First, Tanner was actually 175lbs at his playing prime, and second, he most certainly did not have birdlegs. his legs were certainly bigger than Borgs and any number of other players and we dont' call them birdlegs. He was fairly stocky (for a tennis player, he was hardly a monster in the upper body either) all around, and quite symmetrical from upper to lower body.

    At least this piece of misinformation from LeeD won't harm anyone's game.
     
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  19. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    Impossible to know since he would probably steal the radar.
     
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  20. darrinbaker00

    darrinbaker00 Professional

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    And write a bad check to the bail bondsman after he got arrested. ;)
     
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  21. jimbo333

    jimbo333 Hall of Fame

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    We've all read the book then:)
     
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  22. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Datacipher....
    Tanner walked into our booth at the TransAmericaTourney, but did not talk to me or the head stringer. In the booth at the time was MikeCahill from somewhere back East and RaulRameriz. Tanner made them both look like midgets, as he did next to our head stringer or me. Rameriz was easily 6' and 170 lbs of muscle. Tanner dwarfed him in width and weight. This was 1978 in the SanFrancisco tourney. I can't say his weight earlier, I'd only seen him live then.
    Dibley spent hours in our booth, and Tanner was heavier, wider, and probably much stronger. Dibley was 6'4" or taller, and easily 185lbs.
    I played and lost to JoaroSoares (#1 for Foothill) that year, 4th round Q's for that tournament.
    Sorry, don't need to make this up, it happenned 32 odd years ago. FTC was the sponsor EQ shop for the TransAmerica and I worked there in the ski dept. in the winter and stringing rackets in the summer.
     
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  23. Shaolin

    Shaolin Hall of Fame

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    Then...escape in a stolen boat.

    But I digress..
     
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  24. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Your judgment of weight is, as I've clearly shown, is as questionable as your judgment on the other matters I've corrected in the past.

    In your last post you claimed Tanner was 6'1/2, so yes, apparently he dwarfed him in height by half an inch.

    Ah...well when you compare him to other player weights you just made up, it's very convincing! So you think Tanner, who was ~4 inches shorter than Dibley(who was no scarecrow) was 5lbs heavier? LOL. It's even more ironic since not only is height one of the biggest correlates with weight, but, lower body mass makes a huge contribution as well, and you characterize Tanner (unfathomably) as having "chicken" legs.

    Uh huh. Well if you said "gee, I think Tanner might have weighed 190lbs, going only by my instinct from 32 years ago", then I would simply correct you. But, once again, you've stated something which is incorrect as a fact. I find this annoying, and since you've done it repeatedly on so many topics, I really have no respect for you whatsoever, and wouldn't trust a single word you utter, as you've already proven yourself

    FACT: Tanner was WEIGHED by Vic Braden at just under 175lbs. He did NOT put on 15lbs of fat or muscle in 1978, nor was Braden's measure off by 15lbs. Your judgment is.

    PS. When Becker was in shape, he weighed in at just under 190lbs. Tanner did NOT outweigh Becker.
     
    Last edited: Dec 22, 2009
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  25. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Really now, what year did Braden weigh Tanner? Did you know adult males can vary their weights by over 40 lbs. in one year?
    Did you know GeraldDepedier now weighs over 240lbs.?
    Did you know JackNicholson weighs more than 240lbs.?
    Heck, when I was working the booth, I must have weighed 135. In 1986, I weighed right around 145. In 1988, 181!
    Tanner lost in the 3rd round, was slow in direction changing, was fat.
     
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  26. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Did you know that ATP pros don't vary their weight by over 40lbs in one year? Did you know that for a pro tennis player in his prime, a sudden change of weight from 170-175 to 190lbs would be disastrous? Can't believe you're even trying to argue this, shows how far you're gone.

    Uh huh...you caught Tanner during his special fat period. He had a great year for being so far over his normal playing weight. Won 2 pro tournaments, 4th round of the 3 slams he played. Amazing really.

    But, even if we were to buy your premise, that your guesstimates of player weights are accurate, and that they all were abnormally weighted on the day when you saw them, it STILL wouldn't be reflective of their normal career weight. Which makes your blase pronouncement of Tanner being 190lbs, and "dwarfing" in height and weight the other players completely false and misleading.
     
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  27. Z-Man

    Z-Man Professional

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    I've been watching those matches from Hilton Head, and he is absolutely POUNDING the ball. Not much spin--dead flat, and at least as fast as the fastest servers today. From those same vids, I also think Goolagong and Virginia Wade served pretty well considering the racquets.
     
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  28. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    And I assure you that, while it's great you can see how impressive those serves are on TV, in person, it was exponentially more impressive. I have see many world class servers up close, even been on court with a few big ATP servers...as deadly as they were....none ever took my breath away like the Tanner motion did. It's unique and stunning.
     
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  29. tennytive

    tennytive Semi-Pro

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    I called the service line in a match between Tanner and Borg and either Tanner was taking it easy that day, or he may have been playing at less than 100%, because his serves were easy to see.

    Granted, by then this was part of the Senior Tour, around 1992 or abouts in Countryside, IL. and maybe players held back a bit for exhibition matches.

    I agree with Rabbit, that the most interesting thing about Tanner's serve was his toss and hitting on the rise. I don't remember anyone else doing that then or since.
     
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  30. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    1992 is like 15 years past Tanner's best years. That could be a long time, depending on how often he played after he retired.
    I can only comment on Tanner's weight based on him walking into our booth. I still don't know when he was weighed 175, but I doubt that weight, just like I doubt most of the player's weight listing nowadaze.
    Height is only one factor in "big". Width and weight is also a factor. Tanner had wider shoulders, bigger trunk, wider waist than Dibley. Dibley was not much built different from KevinCurran, who was 6'3" and 155.
     
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  31. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    Indeed, Tanner was barely 6'0" and did weigh 175 in his prime. I remember this distinctly because of an ironic twist. In a Tennis magazine interview during that period, Arthur Ashe opined that he thought he'd have a longer career because he didn't carry around as much weight (for his height) as Tanner. The irony was that Ashe was to suffer a heart attack the very next year.

    Tanner was built like a linebacker, thick from stem to stern. He had bigger legs than most of the guys on tour. Bird legs? Ashe is more like it.

    Agreed again. TV didn't/doesn't do justice to how hard those guys/girls really hit the ball. And, watching a WITC doubles match the other morning between Ashe/Laver and Borg/Nastase, they were absolutely clocking the ball. The big difference between now and then was that they had to have more prep time to really generate pace with those racquets. Today's gear allows later preparation and faster head spped, but when given the right conditions, a pro from the 70s could hit the ball on any stroke as hard as today.
     
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  32. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    The irony is that if I recall Tanner set a record for the Senior Tour for service speed I think at aroung 135 mph. I think the ATP record was slower at around 134.

    Tanner's serve was very impressive in his prime. Ashe mentioned in his book "Off the Court" that Tanner was one of those he felt didn't reach his full potential. The tone of the paragraph I think was that Ashe thought Tanner was extremely gifted as a tennis player.
     
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  33. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Yea right , bird legs

    [​IMG]
     
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  34. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Oh, and btw, I used those PDP Open racquets for some of my collegiate career and I can guarantee that one can squeeze 10 mph more out of today's racquets. Played a lot like the old Red Head.
     
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  35. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Another bird leg photo,

    [​IMG]
     
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  36. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Look at all the hair on his head. Photo must be '75. Red HeadPro came out then. Him being a pro, might have had it earlier.
    Rameriz was sitting in our booth. Rameriz had thicker legs. Rameriz was same height and 175. I'd assume someone with bigger legs but smaller upper body as a smaller person.
    Tanner dwarfed Rameriz's upper body.
    I was 5'11" and 135 lbs. with the skinniest bird legs of anyone.
    DickStockton was the guy I thought had the idea tennis playing body.
     
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  37. Ano

    Ano Hall of Fame

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    Victor Pecci did that.
     
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  38. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    The racquet is not a Red HeadPro but a PDP Open, our team didn't get those until 78
     
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  39. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Are you sure?
    Looks like a HeadPro to me. I played with that racket in '76, well after it was introduced. Curved bridge, red plastic, shape of head looks to me like a HeadPro. Twas a long time ago, thos.
     
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  40. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Nope, he played with PDP

    [​IMG]
     
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  41. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    I think I've written this about 1000 times on this forum. Tanner didnt' hit it on the rise, though it appeared that way. Kevin Curren and a few others have actually hit the serve on the rise.
     
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  42. Datacipher

    Datacipher Banned

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    Seriously. You BS about biomechanics, tennis history, and tennis strategy all over the board. Then you come into this thread, stating wild guestimates of pros weights, as a fact. You contradict yourself, claim intimate knowledge of these guys, and you actually can't even get the racquet right....UNREAL.

    Nice.
     
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  43. Rabbit

    Rabbit G.O.A.T.

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    To not know that Tanner played the PDP Open is a little on the ridiculous side after some other claims you've made about him. From memory, Tanner played a wooden Wilson (Stan Smith) in college and then the PDP Open as a pro. From there, he went to Le Coq Spotif.

    Also, from the pictures posted, Tanner appears thicker from the waist down than his upper body. He had thick arms and legs and is thin through the trunk.

    The ATP site has Ramirez listed as the same height as Tanner, but Ramirez has 5 pounds on Tanner 175 to 170.
     
    Last edited: Dec 24, 2009
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  44. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Yea, funny thing about those old PDP Open racquets is that after a few string jobs, the orange plastic throat piece would often warp and buckle. I never saw the Red Heads throat piece do that as it was thicker and more ridged. I have no idea whether Tanner's serve would be faster than Roddick's or Goran's or Colin Dibley's but I'm sure it would be right up there. I saw him play at court level in 80 or 81 and his serve definitely stood out vs. the other pro's there that evening. I can't remember who beat him that day but I do remember he couldn't keep three backhands in a row within the court. I mean, he just didn't miss but his flat drive would be several several feet long. Lots of fun to watch though.
     
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  45. NostalgiaTennisFan

    NostalgiaTennisFan New User

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    Here are serving records as they progressed from 1991 till today
    Serves are in mph
    1991 Mark Rosset 134
    1992 Richard Krajicek 132
    1993 Michael Stich 131 (Australian Open and it stood at that all year!)
    1994 Goran Ivanisevic / Greg Rusedski 136
    1995 Greg Rusedski 137
    1996 Mark Philippoussis 137
    1997 Greg Rusedski 143 (US Open and Grand Slam Cup vs Kafelnikov - out wide in the first court it is a scorcher!)
    1998 - 2002 Greg Rusedski 149 - Indian Wells at high altitude
    2003 Andy Roddick 150
    2004 - 2010 Andy Roddick 155
    2011 - Ivo Karlovic 156 (looks like a 140 to me)
    2012 Milos Raonic 155 - he will break 160 mark for sure
    To think that Tanner was scorching earth in the 70's with old equipment
    Dont't forget Elsworth Vines - his serves would have been in 160 - 165 mph today according to those who saw him blast 30 aces in 12 games against Bunny Austin in 1932 Wimbledon final.
     
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  46. NostalgiaTennisFan

    NostalgiaTennisFan New User

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    True, Kevin Curren hits on the rise with a devestating effect, Goran Ivanisevic hits at the apex of the toss.
     
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  47. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    Are the speed guns getting more accurate? Or less accurate? Or simply faster?
     
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  48. KineticChain

    KineticChain Professional

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    By this rationale, Tilden actually served over 200 mph
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Tanner had the second fastest lefty serve of the time, to VictorAmaya.
    Dibley was 5mph faster, and known to be the fastest server of the late '70's.
     
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  50. Goosehead

    Goosehead Hall of Fame

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    are the tennis balls different from the old days, they seem to bounce more now..

    I was watching some late 1970s match..and if the ball hit the tape it didn't bounce up as much..:confused:
     
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