Is there any pro who started to play after 18 years old?

G A S

Hall of Fame
I was just wondering about players who start to play "late" and then go pro. Just so many people say it is impossible to start late and still be successful at the atp world tour level... So the right age to start playing is right after one leaves the crib and start walking and after certain age it is no longer possible? But there must be some players who started late and still got successful, then who are they? If anyone knows and is willing to share the info. I myself started playing at the year 2010 when I was 17 by myself with the wrong technique and it has been 8 months since I started taking tennis classes for the first time.
What are the chances of a player that first touched a racket at 18 to win a grand slam? Did anyone starting at this age win an important title?
Starting late who was the most successful player?
 
D

Deleted member 734136

Guest
Starting late for a tennis player is at 10 years old, at 18 is almost impossible to enter the TOP 100, and definitely impossible to win a Grand Slam.
Even with an amazing, out of this world talent, there are certain skills that need to be developed while growing up.
(I'll give you a simple example that applies to tennis, why there are no professional MotoGP/Motocross riders who started riding at 18? Because riders must learn how to ride fast when they don't yet realize where the limit is, so they go past it, and when they get older, they are so used to going to that speed, that it's normal. This is impossible to do if your senses are already developed, you can have a great talent, but certain things need to be worked on earlier.)

There are some pros who reportedly started playing at 12ish, but if you dig into their life, 99% of them, even if they stopped for a bit, played several years when they where younger.

The top guys, the best of all times, all started playing very young, almost every day of the week, for hours and hours, and in todays game, hours on the court are probably more important than talent.

There is Benjamin Becker who is a successful player, and turned pro at 25, but he'll never win a GS, and i doubt i started playing at 18 though....
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
Yeah, just too many gave up, some even gave up before trying, it just makes so much sense.:|
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
Starting late for a tennis player is at 10 years old, at 18 is almost impossible to enter the TOP 100, and definitely impossible to win a Grand Slam.
Even with an amazing, out of this world talent, there are certain skills that need to be developed while growing up.
(I'll give you a simple example that applies to tennis, why there are no professional MotoGP/Motocross riders who started riding at 18? Because riders must learn how to ride fast when they don't yet realize where the limit is, so they go past it, and when they get older, they are so used to going to that speed, that it's normal. This is impossible to do if your senses are already developed, you can have a great talent, but certain things need to be worked on earlier.)

There are some pros who reportedly started playing at 12ish, but if you dig into their life, 99% of them, even if they stopped for a bit, played several years when they where younger.

The top guys, the best of all times, all started playing very young, almost every day of the week, for hours and hours, and in todays game, hours on the court are probably more important than talent.

There is Benjamin Becker who is a successful player, and turned pro at 25, but he'll never win a GS, and i doubt i started playing at 18 though....
Thinking in terms of years of experience it certainly seems impossible and daunting, well at least as a tennis player one can dream, without dreaming the fun takes a heavy blow.

But what about the stagnation? Don't many players stagnate at a certain top level so that the lower players kind of "catch up"?
 

volusiano

Hall of Fame
Yeah, just too many gave up, some even gave up before trying, it just makes so much sense.:|
LOL, it's not like if they didn't give up then they would have succeeded at turning pro. More like they gave up (if they ever tried) because they tried and couldn't succeed because there was too much competition.
 
D

Deleted member 734136

Guest
couldn't succeed because there was too much competition.
Right.
How can a 20 years old who played the past two years, win against another 20 years old who played for the past 15 years?
There is no talent in this world who can manage to do that.
 

the green god

Professional
I was just wondering about players who start to play "late" and then go pro. Just so many people say it is impossible to start late and still be successful at the atp world tour level... So the right age to start playing is right after one leaves the crib and start walking and after certain age it is no longer possible? But there must be some players who started late and still got successful, then who are they? If anyone knows and is willing to share the info. I myself started playing at the year 2010 when I was 17 by myself with the wrong technique and it has been 8 months since I started taking tennis classes for the first time.
What are the chances of a player that first touched a racket at 18 to win a grand slam? Did anyone starting at this age win an important title?
Starting late who was the most successful player?
Don't worry, one day you might dominate your local 3.5 flex league.
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
LOL, it's not like if they didn't give up then they would have succeeded at turning pro. More like they gave up (if they ever tried) because they tried and couldn't succeed because there was too much competition.
since it is a competition only a few succeed at the top indeed, but about a player that first touched a tennis racket as an adult , who was the most successful I wonder?:)
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
Right.
How can a 20 years old who played the past two years, win against another 20 years old who played for the past 15 years?
There is no talent in this world who can manage to do that.
some players reach a peak and stagnate, in this interim in theory it should be possible. Many times you hear about the players who have lost quality in their game too.
 
D

Deleted member 734136

Guest
some players reach a peak and stagnate
But you're talking about winning a GS.
The few people who can do that, don't reach a peak, stagnate and get beaten by someone who first touched a racquet a few years ago.

Serious question: Do you think you will ever be able to beat Djokovic in a GS final even if he 40 years old and you're at your peak?

BTW even if i sound harsh, i'm not bashing on you, it's just what i think the reality is unfortunately....
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
But you're talking about winning a GS.
The few people who can do that, don't reach a peak, stagnate and get beaten by someone who first touched a racquet a few years ago.

Serious question: Do you think you will ever be able to beat Djokovic in a GS final even if he 40 years old and you're at your peak?

BTW even if i sound harsh, i'm not bashing on you, it's just what i think the reality is unfortunately....
talking about dropping djokovic out of a grand slam sounds like light-years away indeed, even more to anyone who has no rank whatsoever at local tournaments, but the possibility "exists" no matter how far-fatched. I just think that there is an enormous fatalism on the late players and an monstrous emphasis on time of tennis played. Quantity is different from quality. Yeah, djokovic can stagnate at a high level that the others do not reach, the fault is on the opponents who don't improve enough.
But is there any successful tennis player that started playing already an adult?
 
D

Deleted member 734136

Guest
I just think that there is an enormous fatalism on the late players and an monstrous emphasis on time of tennis played.
Because NOBODY in the history of the past 30 years of tennis actually made it.

Quantity is different from quality.
You are excluding one or the other.
The pros who have achieved the quantity, ALSO have the quality.
While you might have the quality, you definitely don't have the quantity.
Both are needed in order to succeed.

If that's what you want to do, i hope you make it, but i'm afraid it's a very, very, very, very, very, very, very long shot.
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
Because NOBODY in the history of the past 30 years of tennis actually made it.
I don't know before the open era, but in all the open era, not a single 100 top player started after 18? What about challengers? maybe at this lower level someone has actually done it then. But since it is challenger then maybe the age of onset is not really observed.
 
OP, the answer to your question is NO. It's way too late, even in the Challengers, put Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods or Usain Bolt on a tennis court after a couple of years of lessons and daily play and they'll still have their lunch fed to them by world #500 smoking a cigarette. Or give Joko piano lessons for two years and practice 12 hours a day and he still ain't gonna' play Carnegie Hall. Jimmy Conners was a star whose career was concurrent with the transition to the open era and he started very young, his mother who had been a top ten junior national herself as his coach and then he moved from St. Louis to Beverly Hills and was coached by Pancho Segura. Jimbo didn't have to attend school and had Pancho Gonzalez for his practice partner. If you were 18 could you compete against someone who had that for a head-start on you?

If you want to play competitively later in life, shoot for the Senior Age Groups. In about 20 years you can go from nothing to a ranking because the ATP pros have retired to golf, and it's only those who love the game who are still competing in Senior tournaments. There ain't no money in it and the only one watching is your gf, maybe. Now that Tom Brown and Whitney Reed have passed away the 85's are opening up. Dodo Cheney is still dominating the ladies for Gold Balls and she and her family have Wimbledon pedigrees. Now if you want to be a teaching pro that's another story, there was a recent thread about that. But definitely do continue practicing your serve, return of serve and your drop shot.
 
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This has got to be a joke.

The chances are 0.

The chances of a good athlete taking up tennis at 18 and becoming a good, solid lifetime recreational player who kicks butt at the local park: pretty good, but not a lock. Chances are better if he/she also grew up playing baseball where the hitting and throwing have some translation for tennis.
 
Time + Repetition.

1 day hitting 10000 balls.
50 years hitting 1 ball per day.

50 years hitting 10000 balls a day.

In this equation, time + repetition always trumps talent.
 

lstewart

Semi-Pro
I think in the old days you might have had an occasional person at least make an appearance on the pro tour who started later than average, or at least played other sports as well at a high level. Seems like I recall reading that Tiriac played on the Olympic hockey team for his country, so he was not playing tennis all the time as a kid. Of course, he was just a journeyman pro at a time when there was much less depth on tour. Tennis and golf are skill sports that take years of development, along with the need to be a world class athlete to make it on tour. I think a lot of people that ask these kinds of questions just don't realize how many levels of "good" are out there. Now... if you are a very good athlete, and spend the time, you can still be a very good player later in life, after you have put the time in. I've played national events in men's seniors and run into guys that played D-1 basketball, etc, and now are very solid national players. I've seen former top 10 world class players get thumped in these type tournaments. At that point it gets into how good of an athlete you are at 50, or 60, or 70. I played NAIA tennis in the day, but have put whippings on guys that I used to read about 40 years ago nationally. But, almost no one is going to make it on the pro tour, no matter when they start. Only the 1% of the 1% have the world class athletic ability to make it, no matter when they start.
 

Startzel

Hall of Fame
The OP just highlights how most people don't realize how good the pros really are.

Most on here wouldn't even be able to return the ball from a GS winning pro.
 

lstewart

Semi-Pro
The OP just highlights how most people don't realize how good the pros really are.

Most on here wouldn't even be able to return the ball from a GS winning pro.
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Totally agree. Most of us have a tendency to think we are better than we are, since we seldom if ever run into players anywhere close to a tour player's skill level. I played a few top 100 ATP tour pros in tournaments back in my prime, and it was like getting beat up.
 

Ihatetennis

Hall of Fame
Starting late for a tennis player is at 10 years old, at 18 is almost impossible to enter the TOP 100, and definitely impossible to win a Grand Slam.
Even with an amazing, out of this world talent, there are certain skills that need to be developed while growing up.
(I'll give you a simple example that applies to tennis, why there are no professional MotoGP/Motocross riders who started riding at 18? Because riders must learn how to ride fast when they don't yet realize where the limit is, so they go past it, and when they get older, they are so used to going to that speed, that it's normal. This is impossible to do if your senses are already developed, you can have a great talent, but certain things need to be worked on earlier.)

There are some pros who reportedly started playing at 12ish, but if you dig into their life, 99% of them, even if they stopped for a bit, played several years when they where younger.

The top guys, the best of all times, all started playing very young, almost every day of the week, for hours and hours, and in todays game, hours on the court are probably more important than talent.

There is Benjamin Becker who is a successful player, and turned pro at 25, but he'll never win a GS, and i doubt i started playing at 18 though....
He played 4 years at baylor and got a full degree......

and won the ncaas
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Body peaks between 22-30. Some 22, some 30.
After that, not only does it go downhill, but RECOVERY time, the single most detriment to maintaining or getting better, occurs. You just cannot practice enough to maintain top level, and you certainly can't play enough to get better, once you hit that magic peak age.
Starting at 18, taking 10 years to play decent Open level tennis, meaning 5.5, you still gotta make it all the way up to 7.0, an impossible task.
 

Ihatetennis

Hall of Fame
my coaches son had the ability to go pro, at least in doubles where skills and brains trump outright athletiscism

he started at 13 and played on the 2003 baylor team, partnering benjamin becker, who asked him to tour with him in doubles

he had the talent and was an ncaa winner. but that took a lot of 8 hour days and a lot of training to become that good

as well as 2 older brothers who he hit with 24/7
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
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The OP just highlights how most people don't realize how good the pros really are.

Most on here wouldn't even be able to return the ball from a GS winning pro.

Totally agree. Most of us have a tendency to think we are better than we are, since we seldom if ever run into players anywhere close to a tour player's skill level. I played a few top 100 ATP tour pros in tournaments back in my prime, and it was like getting beat up.
Indeed, that is a big handicap when you never get to play with anyone really good at tennis, I played only with my brother from 2010 to 2014, so you never really know how you are doing, when I started at local tournaments couldn't really get to win anything.


Body peaks between 22-30. Some 22, some 30.
After that, not only does it go downhill, but RECOVERY time, the single most detriment to maintaining or getting better, occurs. You just cannot practice enough to maintain top level, and you certainly can't play enough to get better, once you hit that magic peak age.
Starting at 18, taking 10 years to play decent Open level tennis, meaning 5.5, you still gotta make it all the way up to 7.0, an impossible task.
yeah, all that is left is to focus on improvement, still competing but not setting the bar impossibly high:) So not a single starting adult got into challengers? futures?Is this really it or maybe the low-ranked players are really unknown such as that a single person passed unnoticed?
 

joetennisact

New User
kinda related!

A good read is Malcolm Gladwell's, A Tipping Point. Nothing to do with tennis, but after reading this book, you'll agree that there's zero chance. Going forward, I think even starting at age 8 will be an handicap and hard to overcome if you want to win a grand slam
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Plenty of tennis players who started as adults have entered Q's, satelites, futures, and challengers.
I've even gone to the 3rd round twice.
That made me around 5.0 at my best.
PRO tennis starts at 7.0.
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
Plenty of tennis players who started as adults have entered Q's, satelites, futures, and challengers.
I've even gone to the 3rd round twice.
That made me around 5.0 at my best.
PRO tennis starts at 7.0.
Still "some" tennis players who started as adults compete, so there is "a line" beyond no "late" player passed, it is around challengers then and only the best late players reached this point, interesting.
May this all add up as thought fuel so that I improve as a tennis player, thanks. Anyway all that really matters is what is in front of you, I shall focus "only' in the players before me at the local tournaments.:)
 

Vegito

Hall of Fame
Serious question: If I start to play tennis at 26, and practice hard every day, could I get to play at least "futures" tournaments in the future and gain some ATP point?

Plenty of tennis players who started as adults have entered Q's, satelites, futures, and challengers.
I've even gone to the 3rd round twice.
That made me around 5.0 at my best.
PRO tennis starts at 7.0.
Are you in the ATP web?
 
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Fuji

Legend
Serious question: If I start to play tennis at 26, and practice hard every day, could I get to play at least "futures" tournaments in the future and gain some ATP point?



Are you in the ATP web?
Nope.

Even extremely low level futures have deep talent and skill set. I know a couple guys that play Div 1 tennis, who struggle even making it past the qualifying rounds in futures. Even if they get through the 3-4 rounds of qualies, they usually get absolutely wrecked first round by some dude with a ranking.

-Fuji
 

jdubbs

Hall of Fame
Serious question: If I start to play tennis at 26, and practice hard every day, could I get to play at least "futures" tournaments in the future and gain some ATP point?
I started playing tennis at age 5, and I was pretty good for my age, won a couple of local tournaments. Then I played a statewide tournament at 11 years old...it was like the kid was playing a different sport. I got wiped off the court and there went my Wimbledon Centre Court dreams.

But sure, start at 26 if you want. I'm sure you'll get an ATP point soon haha.
 
I didn't start playing tennis until I was 14, but I did baskplayetball, baseball, and soccer competitively before then. I ended up being a walk on to the Stanford tennis team second semester of my freshman year. I played a few tournaments and got some ATP points (enough to get me to a high of #854) but I never was even close to actually making any money off playing, it was just for the love of tennis. It's possible to get ATP points if you start late, but very unlikely.
 
I played some events in college as there were a lot of tournaments in California at the time. I continued to play events while I was working at a club teaching and stringing part time for about 3 years after college. The only drawback from playing at such a competitive level is that I can no longer play tennis just for fun since I have been instilled this since of competing on the court, so if I want to have fun I play golf.
 

Vegito

Hall of Fame
I didn't start playing tennis until I was 14, but I did baskplayetball, baseball, and soccer competitively before then. I ended up being a walk on to the Stanford tennis team second semester of my freshman year. I played a few tournaments and got some ATP points (enough to get me to a high of #854) but I never was even close to actually making any money off playing, it was just for the love of tennis. It's possible to get ATP points if you start late, but very unlikely.
Can you say your name so we search you in the ATP site?
 

tennisdad65

Hall of Fame
Doubtful.. But I think Nduka Odizor started playing fairly late (13?) and reached ~55 in ATP singles. But he was a great athlete on the college track team too.
 

Fuji

Legend
Doubtful.. But I think Nduka Odizor started playing fairly late (13?) and reached ~55 in ATP singles. But he was a great athlete on the college track team too.
Yeah but that is 13, OP is asking about 26. Literally twice the age lol.

-Fuji
 

Vegito

Hall of Fame
OP asked about 18. I asked about 26, I had the curiosity and asked opinions. I know is very difficult, or probably you would say impossible.
 

Fuji

Legend
OP asked about 18. I asked about 26, I had the curiosity and asked opinions. I know is very difficult, or probably you would say impossible.
Oh my bad sorry. But yeah, even 18 is going to be impossible. Good players have already played their entire junior careers by the time you start. That's a solid 8-14 years of intense training and competition. There is very little (ie no) chance you can make up that time and experience as an adult, there just aren't the same opportunities both on and off court for the most part.

-Fuji
 

Vegito

Hall of Fame
That´s sad. First you have to discover tennis and like that sport since chold. I played a little bit at 14 in a club and already they said that was late to start :) I wonder if I could have been a proffesional player if I had started since childhood. I heard Nalbandian in an interesting interview saying most of the guys that plays tennis don´t get to become proffesionals.
 

G A S

Hall of Fame
This guy is trying to do it in golf.
http://thedanplan.com/about/
golf has no age limit I bet, all you do is walk around, could still compete very old.

The only drawback from playing at such a competitive level is that I can no longer play tennis just for fun since I have been instilled this since of competing on the court, so if I want to have fun I play golf.
it depends on what you're thinking really, if you are focusing on the missed points (competition) or the winned points (fun)

Doubtful.. But I think Nduka Odizor started playing fairly late (13?) and reached ~55 in ATP singles. But he was a great athlete on the college track team too.
that is significant comparing to the other ages of onset, interesting to know.

Oh my bad sorry. But yeah, even 18 is going to be impossible. Good players have already played their entire junior careers by the time you start. That's a solid 8-14 years of intense training and competition. There is very little (ie no) chance you can make up that time and experience as an adult, there just aren't the same opportunities both on and off court for the most part.

-Fuji
a huge setback indeed, I just have to look at all those people calling for Federer's retirement to understand more the mentality.

That´s sad. First you have to discover tennis and like that sport since chold. I played a little bit at 14 in a club and already they said that was late to start :) I wonder if I could have been a proffesional player if I had started since childhood. I heard Nalbandian in an interesting interview saying most of the guys that plays tennis don´t get to become proffesionals.
yeah, many don't really get to play early, so at 14 it was already too late according to the club? Most don't really get to be professional, but that is math, there can only be 10 at the top 10, nothing out of the ordinary. I'm gonna forthright assume anyone I meet henceforth will think the same, this thought alone is relaxing, how could you really worry about anything in a match if this is the mentality out there, haha. this needs to be my motto.
 

Vegito

Hall of Fame
yeah, many don't really get to play early, so at 14 it was already too late according to the club? Most don't really get to be professional, but that is math, there can only be 10 at the top 10, nothing out of the ordinary. I'm gonna forthright assume anyone I meet henceforth will think the same, this thought alone is relaxing, how could you really worry about anything in a match if this is the mentality out there, haha. this needs to be my motto.
In fact I don´t remember who said that, but like we believed it was too late. I went to that club with a friend from school, both were 14. The proffesor gave us classes, I think it was an exception give particular classes for two guys. One thing the proffesor said was something like we were not going to be like Sampras, but we would learn to play decently. I don´t remember everything but it was like implicit that it was late to start and we would play to learn-for fun. For differents reasons we leave this quick. Like we were not believing we were going to be professionals and the classes were expensive. We were in school, many guys already left school at that age, and we were not going to do that or take classes everyday. But for moments I was playing well even going once a week, in other moments I missed shots and specially my serve was terrible. But I had the sensation I would have really improved quickly if I had the will and perseverance to practice everyday. My friend practiced more than me in his house during the week and he was really improving and not failing too much. But we knew other guys which played since childs had a big advantage. Anyway I wouldn´t say to anybody who is 14-20 that try is useless. You never know. But a proffesor I read in Internet said you have to start since child and "as too late" with 13 years old, but in that case intensifying training from the beginning.
 
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accidental

Hall of Fame
Borg started playing at 11 and first played davis cup for Sweden at 15. So only 4 years since first picking up a racket.

It could be done if you were a phenomenal once in a lifetime athlete with machine like discipline and work ethic
 
Borg started playing at 11 and first played davis cup for Sweden at 15. So only 4 years since first picking up a racket.

It could be done if you were a phenomenal once in a lifetime athlete with machine like discipline and work ethic
Can you cite your reference for Borg starting tennis as 11? The only thing I can find is he was the best under 18 junior in Sweden at 13. Does not sound possible in just 2 years.
 
Borg started playing at 11 and first played davis cup for Sweden at 15. So only 4 years since first picking up a racket.

It could be done if you were a phenomenal once in a lifetime athlete with machine like discipline and work ethic
Probably a fake (credit to wercide) but here is a video that claims to be of Bjorn Borg playing tennis at age 5.

https://youtu.be/eu99dwYfrrs

This article says he started playing at age 9 and won his first tournament at 11.

http://www.biography.com/people/bjorn-borg
 
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D

Deleted member 734136

Guest
And even IF it was true, when Borg played, it was a completely different time.
Less people were trying to become professional, the game was 90% talent 10% training, and now it's completely opposite.
 
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