Greater height translates to:
1) Greater power/racquet speed (with equal effort)
2) Greater reach/court coverage (both in terms of arm reach and ability to cover the court in, say 5-6 steps versus 8-9 steps)
3) Greater ability to carry muscle mass on one's body without getting too bulky
4) Greater height and therefore angle on serve, giving the player a greater margin for error and hence ability to add more power to the serve
But once you get too tall, greater height translates into:
1) Reduced speed and agility
2) Reduced hand-eye coordination. Think of it this way, having longer arms will mean the ball is that much farther from you when you hit it versus if you have shorter arms.
3) Larger players also *seem* to be more prone to injury, especially to knees, ankles, etc. - this totally makes sense because a taller player's joints are dealing with that much more stress and torque.
I think throughout modern history, our top athletes have gotten taller/bigger because with modern technology and training programs, the increased focus that professional athletes have nowadays (not to mention the amount of money they make to be able to pay for the training, the equipment, the massages) have allowed bigger players to overcome the drawbacks of being too tall. For the moment it appears that the ideal height for tennis at the highest levels is from 6' 1" to 6' 3" and weighting 175-190lb or so. My guess is at the amateur / club level where people don't train anywhere near as hard 5' 10" to 6' 0" and 165-180lb is perfect.
Last edited by wangs78; 10-08-2012 at 02:45 PM.