Ah Youth!

This week we saw a young 18 year old Norwegian, Casper Ruud, make a pretty impressive run at the ATP Rio Open in Rio De Janeiro. He was so impressive, Brad Gilbert is already thinking up his nickname and offering up suggestions on Twitter! Will it be Casper the Ghost, Ruud Awakening? I’m thinking about tweeting “Roto-Ruuder” because of the way he drills forehands down the line.

But alas, his age and inexperience caught up with him in the semi-finals today. He was up a set and had match point at 5-2 in the second, and he completely crumbled. It was heart wrenching to watch really. You could see nerves creeping in and he just melted. The serve is always the first to go, then the feet turn into cement. And if you can’t move your feet, you can’t return a shot. His opponent, Pablo Carreno Busta kept his composure, finished out the second set 7-5, then slaughtered the third set 6-0. Painful!

Why is this significant, you ask? Back in the glory days of Sampras and Agassi, (the best time, if you ask me) the teenage years were the breakout age! Pete Sampras turned pro at 16, and it only took him a couple of years to win his first major, the US Open, at the age of 19, becoming the youngest player to win the US Open. Andre Agassi also turned pro at 16 and won his first major shortly after Sampras. There were others…Michael Chang, John McEnroe, Jim Courier to name a few.

That’s what I miss. I want more young talents shocking the tennis world like these guys did back in the day. “Young” these days mean early to mid 20’s. No…I want to cheer for more Sasha Zverev’s and Casper Ruud’s! Is that too much for a cool cat to ask? Here’s hoping we can see a little more of that this year! Go teens!

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