International Junior Competition is Stronger – American Juniors Struggle at Australian Open

The talent in the junior division at the Grand Slams has become more diverse over the years. As a result, both the American boys and girls faced stiff competition in the Australian Open Juniors competition, but both managed to have players reach the round of 16.

Nicole Mossmer, J. Rodriquez-Benito, Caty McNally, Hurricane Tyra Black, and Natasha Subhash lost their first round matches. Both Carson Branstine and Taylor Johnson posted 2 wins and 1 loss as they bowed out in the round of 16.

To illustrate the diversity of the draw, the 8 quarterfinalists represented 8 countries:    Canada, Great Britain, India, Japan, Russia, Switzerland, Taiwan, and Ukraine.

Overall, the 7 American girls won 4 matches and lost 7.

In the boys draw Olukayode Ayeni and Trent Bryde lost in the first round. Tristian Boyer won his first match before losing in the second round.

Alexandre Rotsaert won two matches before losing in the round of 16.

Overall, the 4 American boys won 3 matches and lost 4.

As was the case in the girls draw, there was also significant geographic diversity on the boys side. The 8 quarterfinalists represented the following 7 countries: China, Cyprus, (2) France, Hungary, Finland, Israel, and Russia.

It is easy to be critical of the USTA Player Development Program for the fact that none of the American juniors advanced past the round of 16. Typically very few American juniors play the Australian Junior Open and their performance is often lackluster.

In addition, it is easy to see that a number of countries other than the United States are developing world-class players. With stronger and greater geographic diversification, it is even more challenging to for the USTA to develop the top junior players in the world. Look for better things at the French Open and Wimbledon.


American Women Dominate Australian Open

At the dawn of the Open era for tennis, the best women players were Australian. For example there were 6 Aussies, 1 Brit, and 1 Swede in the quarterfinals of the 1970 Australian Open.

Looking at the quarterfinalists for the Women’s Australian Open in five-year increments from 1970 to 2015 (see chart below), it can be seen that the depth of the women’s field improved and the range of countries increased. There are 23 countries listed on the table. At the same time the number of elite players remained small and they dominated the sport – Williams sisters, Sharapova, Graf, Seles, Sanchez, Navratilova, and Evert.

In this snapshot the Americans had the highest number of quarterfinalists (20), followed by Australians (11). Interestingly enough, the American women did not become a force at the Australian Open until 1980. Since then, at least 2 American women have been in the quarterfinals. Most recently, 2015, there were three American women (Madison Keys and the Williams sisters).

It is worth noting the USSR, Russia, and Belarus also had a total of 11 quarterfinalists. Many think that Anna Kournikova was the first Russian/Soviet player to hit the scene. Because she was so popular it is easy to forget that there were a number of great Russian women players over the years.

The combination of the increased depth, greater number of countries represented, and marketing by the WTA have greatly increased the appeal and drawing power of women’s professional tennis.

For additional details on the Australian Open go to its website,

australian open