Who is the most important male player ever.

Discussion in 'Former Pro Player Talk' started by JAY1, Apr 8, 2012.

?

Who is the most important male player ever.

  1. Lew Hoad

    2.1%
  2. Ken Rosewall

    3.1%
  3. Rod Laver

    13.5%
  4. Arthur Ashe

    11.5%
  5. Jimmy Connors

    13.5%
  6. Bjorn Borg

    21.9%
  7. John Mcenroe

    6.3%
  8. Andre Agassi

    7.3%
  9. Pete Sampras

    7.3%
  10. Roger Federer

    46.9%
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    So, Budge was a drinker, and was inconsistent? Citations to reliable sources, please!
     
  2. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Is Jack Kramer a reliable source? I think so.
    These statements could be found in Kramer's own book on tennis greats. Remember, he was a friend of both Vines and Budge.
    I think that Budge once lost a big match to Bitsy Grant.
     
    Last edited: Apr 12, 2012
  3. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    By the way, I have just checked the ITHF website for Bill Johnston, and the reference to 120 pounds is definitely there. Are you able to access this website?
     
  4. rdis10093

    rdis10093 Hall of Fame

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  5. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Do you know what a citation is?
     
  6. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Are you able to locate the ITHF website?
     
  7. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Apparently not!
     
  8. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    You are not able to locate it?
     
  9. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Borotra served in the war, though I don't know if he suffered any gas attacks. Cochet was 16 going on 17 when the fighting stopped. Was he really in the trenches? And Lacoste was only 14 when the war ended.
     
  10. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Budge was clearly a lesser player after the Second World War, and when he resumed playing tennis it was apparent that Riggs had passed him.

    That is not the case with Johnston and Tilden. Johnston served in the war, but when tennis resumed he still had a decisive edge over Big Bill, beating him in straights at Forest Hills. The following year Tilden turned the rivarly around, permanently -- and the main reason for that was the work he did on his backhand over the winter. The war was plainly not the main reason for the turnaround, because when the war was over Johnston still had a decisive edge over Tilden.

    Your description implies that Tilden simply showed up after the war and the returning veterans were in no condition to challenge him. Far from it. Tilden remained an also-ran until he worked on his BH.

    And that, really, is the reason that Tilden became a champion so relatively late, at age 27. He didn't make a major overhaul of his BH until then. It is not, as you imply, because the war removed his opposition and he simply showed up to become #1.

    Tilden was a lot older than Perry or Budge.
     
  11. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Yes, it appears that they were young, although I remember reading that they served in some capacity.
    Again, what was Tilden's reason for avoiding military duty?
     
  12. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    The point remains that these were older players, who peaked before the war. Where were the young guys who would have shown up in the early 1920's, and challenged Tilden? They were lying on the battlefields and graveyards of Europe. The 1920's was the weakest era of tennis ever, allowing a player in his late 30's to continue to dominate.
    And how do you explain the physical weakness of Tilden's principal opponents, Johnston (who literally faded away, all 120 pounds of him), Lacoste (who suddenly became weak in 1929), and Cochet (who also lost his robust style).
    This was a weak field.
    Vines could lose to old guys like Borotra or Tilden at times, usually high profile occasions.
     
  13. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    No, the point does not remain. Your premises were ridiculous and unsupported from the beginning, and have now been dismantled by Krosero along with your credibility.

    The 20's, "The Golden Age of Sports" was the weakest tennis era ever? Then based on your logic, it wouild have to be weakest era in every sport. Jack Dempsey, Bobby Jones, Charles Paddock, Red Grange, the N.Y. Yankies aka "Murderer's Row" with Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Notre Dame football and the Four Horseman, even Man-O-War (surely all the best horses served in the war), all benefitted from this weak WWI depleted era.

    Again, your premises are complete nonesense! Further, it seems clear to me that you have an agenda which is irreconcilable with the truth.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  14. Edberg&Becker

    Edberg&Becker New User

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    Borg Laver and Rosewall
     
  15. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    If they served in a youth corp or something of the kind, that hardly means that they were in the trenches; still less that they were gassed.

    Borotra did serve on the front, but again, saying that he underwent a gas attack requires evidence. Gas attacks resulted in all sorts of painful and debilitating injuries on every part of the body (sometimes leading to death), and I have not heard of any such thing in connection with Borotra.

    Ironically Borotra is the one who served on the front lines, but he was known for being robust (and I don't recall any report of him falling ill during his playing days). That's probably how he got his nickname, the Bounding Basque.

    You're assuming that he was "avoiding" military duty. According to his biographer, Frank Deford, he was inducted into the Signal Corps soon after the US entered the war in 1917. He was diagnosed with flat feet and dispatched to a unit in Pittsburgh; he remained there until the war ended the following year.

    No, by the time Tilden was in his late 30s he was no longer dominating. He did win a couple more majors, but Rosewall did the same in his late 30s as well. So by this reasoning you should conclude that the early 1970s was as weak as the 1920s.

    The one great problem with pointing to Tilden's age is your assumption that he was an inferior champion merely because he was 27 when he started dominating. You cannot assume any such thing when it comes to certain men whose longevity is well-known and proven: such as Tilden, Gonzalez and Rosewall. All who knew Tilden remarked upon how robust he remained even as he advanced into his late tennis career. One doctor after examining Tilden remarked that he had the body and lungs of a much younger man.

    This suggestion that Tilden was somehow a champion physically on the way down in 1920, who should never have been allowed to become for #1 if not for the war, also flies in the face of those who witnessed Tilden's peak tennis in 1920-25 and either compared it to the best tennis they had ever seen or flat-out declared it the best ever.

    Lacoste grew infirm in the late 20s but he was all of 14 when the war ended, and there is no need whatsoever to bring the war in as a factor in his career. The same should be said for Cochet unless you can show evidence to the contrary.

    Johnston tired at the end of the 1916 final at Forest Hills, which went to five sets. Dick Williams beat him, largely due to greater stamina. Of course this was before the war, so again it would be a shaky argument to bring up the war as the cause of Johnston's poor stamina in later matches. He already had stamina problems before the war.
     
  16. monfed

    monfed Guest

    It's Rafael Nadal in a sense because he stopped Federer from attaining tennis immortality.
     
  17. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    If Johnston weighed only 120 pounds, as indicated in his ITHF biography, it would stand to reason that he would encounter stamina problems before and after the war. This hardly makes him a great opposition for Tilden, and the fact that there was no one else close to the number two spot speaks volumes about the lack of depth in the field of the 1920's.
    The only good explanation for this is the catastrophic effects of WWI.
    A similar problem was encountered in the pro game of the mid-sixties, when Laver and Rosewall showed up in almost every important final, and if tennis had been open then, it likely would have been the same. This is not to deny that these two guys were great players, but it makes it difficult to rate the greatness of Laver.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  18. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    My dear friend Limp, I am still waiting for your reply to the ITHF biography of Johnston, and the fact that he weighed 120 pounds.
    Some people have difficulty admitting to a mistake.
    Not every sport was weak in the 1920's, certainly baseball attracted great athletes.
     
  19. Mustard

    Mustard Talk Tennis Guru

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    Have you seen that picture of Bill Johnston? Does he look 120 pounds to you?
     
  20. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    You can't always tell from a picture.
    In this picture, he certainly doesn't look like Tarzan, and, honestly, he does look worn out. He looks older than his age.
     
  21. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    You make things up and expect to be taken seriously? Sorry, you've BS's yourself into a corner of no credibility! You're a troll with an agenda. I don't have any more time or patience to waste on you.
     
  22. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I already asked him that. He won't answer the question. He's a troll!
     
  23. decades

    decades Guest

    jack kramer.
     
  24. kiki

    kiki Banned

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    No way it could be guys like mark Mc Cormack or Donald dell, they were Lehmann Bros or Bearns kind of guys¡¡¡
     
  25. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Did I make up the ITHF website biographies?
    You know, people will only have greater respect if someone owns up.
     
  26. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    I answered twice. Bill Johnston looks very thin in this photo, even though his upper body and legs are shrouded by billowy clothing.
    He looks about 45 years old and worn out, not like his real age of 28. He was supposedly younger than Tilden, but doesn't look it.
    If you wanted to make the point that he weighed more than his official weight of 120 pounds, you should have chosen a different photo!
     
  27. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    Bill Johnston contracted tuberculosis later in life. According to Don Budge, Johnston was offered a contract to turn pro but turned it down because people said it was un-american to do so. I don't think it had anything to do with the war and when he battled Tilden I don't think he had TB.
     
  28. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    He had TB long after he retired in 1927.
    His reason for retirement was simply weariness and lack of strength.
    Looking at that photo provided by Limp shows us why.
    Did I answer the question, Limp?
     
  29. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    It says here that his tuberculosis was already starting to take effect in 1927 when he retired: http://www.tennis.ukf.net/BILL JOHNSTON.htm

    Johnston's bio in Bud Collins' Encyclopedia also says that in 1927 "his age and his health began to tell."

    Johnston had another reason for retiring, besides the decline in his game. He wanted to dedicate himself to his business (he was in insurance). As early as 1922 he had announced that he would retire if he lost at Forest Hills, to concentrate on his business (a plan that obviously he did not carry out).

    Years later he said that he and Lacoste were similar in that both had interests outside of tennis.
     
  30. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    That is all very interesting, but let me remind you of the basic point, that the
    120 pound Johnston (120 pounds at his peak) and Le Petit Lacoste (whose play also fell off early, when he was 26, due to reported physical weakness) did not represent a high level of competition at the number two spot. This era does not compare to later decades in the depth of competition.
    The reasons why Johnston and Lacoste fell off the edge are interesting, but really beside the point.
     
  31. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Not at all. Tilden winning his first major at 27 was somewhat late but he was in good company.

    The year these men became the top player in the world:

    1897—R.F. Doherty was 25
    1901—Larned was 29
    1902—H.L. Doherty was 27
    1907—Brookes was 30
    1911—Wilding was 28
    1914—McLoughlin was 24
    1915—Johnston was 21
    1916—Williams was 25
    1920—Tilden was 27
    1926—Lacoste was 22
    1928—Cochet was 27
    1933—Crawford was 25
    1934—Perry was 25

    I'm using this list of number one player:
    http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/showthread.php?t=295675

    ... which closely follows a list given at Wikipedia, though unlike the Wikipedia list it covers the war years.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_...The_world_number_one_and_number_two_from_1877
     
  32. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    they are hardly besides the point, when you have made the claim that Tilden's rivals were weakened by the war (even gassed!), and their careers cut short or diminished because of this.

     
  33. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    This is not a list of when these men won their first major tournament, but when they became the "top player in the world", two very different measurements, and the date of becoming "number one" is rather subjective, not objective such as "winning their first major tournament".
    Thus, Brookes won the all-comers final in 1905, and coming from Australia, this was his first shot at Wimbledon.
    Wilding started playing at Wimbledon only because he was studying at Oxford, and it was otherwise difficult then to get to Wimbledon from New Zealand.
    McLaughlin was a top player long before 1914, and Williams won the US title in 1914.
    The Frenchmen were winning major titles by 1924 or earlier, and Crawford won several Australian titles before 1933.
    Perry won the US title in 1933, and was the effective runnerup at Wimbledon in 1931.
    Before WWI, it was not easy for players to travel to both the US and Wimbledon venues, and Tilden passed on Wimbledon several times after 1922.
     
  34. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Yes, perhaps they were not all gassed, but nearly all the top players of 1914 and 1915 enlisted in the military. Even old Norman Brookes, at 37 to 41 years of age, served at the front lines in the very unhealthy climate of the Middle East. There was a great risk of disease as well as malnutrition and enemy bullets.
    Strangely, it was these same old men who provided the only serious opposition to Tilden after the war. Where were the young players of the early 1920's?
    They were most likely lying still on the battlefields and graveyards of WWI.
     
  35. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think you can stop feeding the troll now. Dan Lobb's ability to conflate conjecture, circular arguments, and outright BS has no end.
     
  36. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Firstly, none of the traveling issues apply to the Dohertys, who of course had no problem getting to Wimbledon. And they were 25 and 27, respectively, when reaching the top. Hardly different from Tilden.

    Larned had no problem getting to the US Nationals, and he won his first at 29. Brookes did not travel to Wimbledon until he was 28, but he was clearly still inferior to HL Doherty and did not reach the top of the game until he was 30. In fact he had improved by then, so he's a clear example of someone peaking at the age of 30 (perhaps even later). He won Wimbledon even at age 37, just before the start of the war. Tilden won his last Wimbledon title at age 37, but weren't you faulting him for that? Weren't you arguing that he could only do that because of the war? Then why was Brookes able to do it before the war?

    Reaching the top of the field, and winning your first big title, are two different measurements but they're not completely different. Tilden was the runner-up at the US Nationals in 1918 and 1919. In 1919, at the age of 26, he was in many ways already at his peak, but was held back principally because of technical deficiencies on his BH side. That was how Johnston defeated him, by successfully attacking his BH.

    But Tilden's game in other respects was already phenomenal, and that should not be obscured merely because he had not yet broken through at Forest Hills.

    Here's a description of his game in the New York Times, after Johnston defeated him at Forest Hills:

    "The one-sided victory of Johnston over Tilden came as a shock to those who had come to think of the tall Philadelphian as the greatest tennis player of the age, if not of all time; and it is still true that, when going at top speed yesterday’s runner-up is more impressive from a purely spectacular standpoint than any other man on the courts."​

    Now if his game was already so highly esteemed then, you can see why his level of play after he fixed his BH was often pronounced the best of all time.

    I think in Tilden's case we have someone who broke through suddenly because of a specific weakness that he fixed at a specific time. Other men on that list above may have developed more gradually, which is why you can point to them winning some big titles before reaching #1. Not so with Tilden, but that's for a very specific reason.
     
    Last edited: Apr 14, 2012
  37. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    Actually, there were many steel rackets back in the old days (1920's or so), even steel strings.

    (not sure if they were crossed with gut http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/images/icons/icon10.gif )
     
  38. fruit_loops

    fruit_loops New User

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    Jolly Roger Federer is G.O.A.T in my books.
     
  39. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Was forced to play with those old metal racquets with the thin steel strings in middle school PE class, Oh Lordy were those miserable to play with. The balls didn't appreciate it either.
     
  40. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    That's not the subject of this thread.
     
  41. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    Holy tennis elbow Batman! Yup, I've seen them too, but, never played with one. For those who haven't, imagine rusty thin cable strings. I suppose the money you would save on strings would be lost on balls.
     
  42. hoodjem

    hoodjem G.O.A.T.

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    I remember those.

    The only things that rattled more than a T-2000.
     
  43. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    When I was a junior, virtually every adult at the tennis club I played at used the T-2000. It was high tech tennis at the time.
     
  44. pc1

    pc1 Legend

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    And probably no one could control it. lol.

    I had one myself and couldn't control it. Jimmy Connors could probably have played with a broomstick and do well.

    Hey to have played with that racquet and almost never lose with it gives some evidence that maybe Connors was the best pure ball striker of all time. I may go with with Rosewall or some others but Connors is right up there with anyone.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2012
  45. Limpinhitter

    Limpinhitter Legend

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    I think the T-2000 gets a bad rap. It was a very powerful racquet, great for club players with shorter swings. Many pros tried it. Off the top in addition to Connors, Clark Graebner, Butch Buchholz, Billie Jean King, Rosie Casals, Torben Ulrich all played with, and won with, the T-2000. I'm sure there were more.
     
  46. robow7

    robow7 Professional

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    Those T-2000's were like a trampoline, I couldn't control one but I sure loved stringing those racquets, you could knock them off real quick.
     
  47. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    This seems to be a fair appraisal, however, when the world number two is a 120 pound war veteran, who laboured and lost in long matches, and he was succeeded at number two by another small player who weakened and retired at the age of 26, you must admit that this is one weak field, the weakest ever.
    I suspect that the pre-WW I field had more depth than the early 1920's, when Johnston and Williams were the main competition to Tilden.
    Further, with the advancement of the game after WW I, players appear to have matured at a younger age, about 21 or so, which has been the standard ever since, and played more international matches. Vines, for example, travelled the world at age 20, and played a series of matches against Crawford in Australia several months before their classic Wimbledon final.
     
  48. Dan Lobb

    Dan Lobb Hall of Fame

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    Limp, you seem to have trouble with numbers, like the number 120!
     
  49. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    No that does not follow at all. Lacoste retired early, at 26, but one thing to keep in mind is how early he matured as a player (he was 22 when he reached #1). Also, HL Doherty had retired early too, reaching #1 at age 27 and retiring by age 31, while still #1. And he retired due to sickness as well -- tuberculosis, again, which was such a great problem back then.

    If you think that the Lacoste era was weak because Lacoste had health problems, then certainly you have to say the same for the era in which Doherty was #1.

    You seem to be judging these eras according to later standards, not just when it comes to sickness but also height. People were smaller back then, and that has to be taken into consideration when considering Bill Johnston. It should not be a surprise that the smallest champion of all time (if that's what Johnston was) played almost a century ago, because people were smaller then.

    In all the contemporary reports from the Tilden era, Johnston is recognized as a small man but no one implies that they're living in a weak era simply because Johnston is a top player. To the contrary Johnston is compared favorably with the greatest champions of the past, and there is only admiration for just how well he hit the ball -- and particularly how hard he hit his forehand. He was not a player who waited for his opponent's errors; he went for powerful shots and winners. One report after another observes how he manages to use his relatively small frame to maximum effect -- which if you recall was something routinely said about Justine Henin.

    At Forest Hills in 1915, Johnston defeated Maurice McLoughlin by putting him on the defensive, despite all the power of "the Comet." Read this appraisal of Johnston's forehand in the New York Times and tell me if they were dismissing Johnston as a small man:

    "Probably never in all the years of the historic All Comers has a player displayed such phenomenal command of the ball with a forehand stroke. There were many competent judges present yesterday who declared that its equal was not to be found on the courts anywhere, and it is likely that a representative number of players, including R. Norris Williams, 2d, the playing through title holder who lost to it in the semifinal, Karl H. Behr and Harold H. Hackett, would willingly indorse [sic] the statement...."​

    And after the 1919 final in which Johnston defeated Tilden:

    "The forehand drive of William M. Johnston is unquestionably the greatest single tennis shot in the world, bar none. He seems able to use it with every possible degree of speed, with an accuracy that baffles the fastest court covering, and with a steadiness which has discouraged every opponent he has ever faced. No stroke has ever been developed by any other player to equal its efficiency and general dependability."​

    And their appraisal of Johnston's volleying ability, after his five-set loss to Tilden in 1920:

    "Here he was distinctly Tilden’s superior. Not only was he able to volley balls that would have knocked down an ordinary player, and to reach low, well-placed passing shots that could scarcely be seen in their flight, but he turned a majority of these extraordinary gets into actual factors in his attack, either scoring outright or forcing a defensive position which ultimately brought him the point."​

    I think the problem you're facing here is that no one who observed Tilden's tennis back then, to my knowledge, felt that they were looking at a step backward in the game, or at an inferior champion. Quite to the contrary. And Johnston, for a #2 player, was held in the highest regard. I think the burden of proof is on the argument that Tilden's brand of tennis was inferior to what had come before. Merely pointing to one of Tilden's rivals who was a short man and another who became infirm does not show this, particularly in the context of that time period when people were smaller and were more often ill or infirm.

    Seriously, this is the first time that I've seen someone point to the French Musketeers -- one of the greatest national teams ever, and a unique concentration of talent -- and call it a weak era.

    I don't know if this is true about maturation at a younger age; I'd need to see statistical proof. However, if it is true, then that means that you are judging Tilden's maturation as a tennis player according to later standards. And that would contradict your earlier argument that Tilden's maturation at age 27 is something uniquely out of step with the course of tennis history. Maybe it was, in the context of its era, not nearly as unique as you think.
     
  50. krosero

    krosero Legend

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    Something about this does not make sense. You're talking about men who would have been younger than Tilden, and about the right age to challenge him in the early 1920s. Well Tilden was 27 when he became the world's top player, in 1920. You're talking about rivals who would have been significantly younger than Tilden, therefore around 21 to 24 years of age. Such men would have been 19-22 years of age when the war had ended, in late 1918.

    Now, the 19-year-olds cannot have been fighting for very long -- presuming they were even present in the trenches, and dying there in very large numbers, in 1918. Those who were 21 or 22 at the end of the war might have seen more fighting, and would have been lost in greater numbers – though how many is open to question. For one thing, a large number of men even in this latter group would not have been fighting from the start of the war in 1914. And we don’t even know what portion of the armed forces was made up of men of this age range. Presumably there were some men of this age on the front lines, but men in their late 20, 30s and even 40s were being conscripted too. (Anthony Wilding, for example, was killed at the age of 31.) You’re talking about a narrow set of men who would have been around 21 or 22 when the war ended. Those are really the only men who theoretically could have seen a lot of fighting, and therefore high casualty rates, while still being potentially young rivals to Tilden in 1920.

    And even so we’re only talking about potential rivals challenging Tilden in 1920. If you ask about young rivals challenging him in 1921 or later, you’re increasingly talking about men who would have been mere teenagers during the war. This group would not have seen very much fighting, if they saw any at all. The numbers of those actually killed would be even smaller.

    None of this is to say that a war doesn’t thin out a pool of competition. It does, especially in the first few years after the war. But afterwards you have to be careful. The period 1920-25 is already far enough removed from the war that players significantly younger than Tilden would have been mere teenagers during the war, who saw no fighting – or else they would have been very young men who cannot have seen very much fighting and cannot have been lost in overwhelmingly great numbers.

    I think you’ve called up a specter, an image of young men lying dead on the battlefields of France and Belgium. There certainly were horrendously great numbers of those. But a very large number of those would have been men already in their mid and late 20s, and even in their 30s, during the war (like Anthony Wilding, for example).

    Which basically means that most of the men who died in the war were not candidates for being younger tennis rivals to Tilden in 1920-25.
     

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