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International Tennis Players: Thirty and going strong
Two of the four players who made it to the semifinals in the men's singles event in the just concluded US Open tennis tournament are aged 30 years and above: Roger Federer (34) and Stan Wawrinka (30).

In the women's singles event, three of the four semifinalists are above 30 years: Serena Williams (33), Flavia Pennetta (33), and Roberta Vinci (32).

There was a time when 30 years was considered old age in professional tennis, and the reasons for the same are not far to seek.

Tennis, unlike other sports, is played round the year, and the players in the professional circuit are required to take part in certain number of tournaments and often play back-to-back matches to improve or maintain their overall rankings.

And tennis is also an intense and demanding sport - physically challenging and emotionally draining. A three-set match may take, on an average, between one and two hours, and a five-set match may take between two and four hours to end. That means, injuries are common and the recovery takes longer.

In other words, tennis matches require the professional players to undergo intense training, be physically fit, emotionally strong, and mentally tough, and agile and athletic throughout the year.

And, unsurprisingly, by the time the professional tennis players reach the age of 30, these demands take their toll and leave the players tired and worn out, making it difficult for them to compete with the young crop of players with fresh legs and new approaches.

However, that does not seem to be the case any longer if one goes by the recent development. Over the last decade or so, the over-30-over-the-hill trend has slowly but steadily started changing and tennis players aged 30 and above are increasingly demonstrating that age cannot wither them.

Available data too corroborates this change in the trend. In 1992, the average age of the top ten male tennis players was 23.2 years; in 2002, it was 24.5 years; and in 2015, it is 28.6 years. As for women, in 1992, the average age of the top ten players was 21.7 years; in 2002, it was 22.0 years; and in 2014, it was 25.9 years. These figures confirm that as today's tennis players are getting older, they are becoming fitter and stronger.

At this year's French Open, 39 out of 128 players in the men's singles draw were aged 30 and above. The men's singles title was won by 30-year-old Stan Wawrinka. Serena Williams, all of 33, won the Australian Open, French Open, and Wimbledon women's singles titles this year. Flavia Pennetta, 33, is the new US Open women's champion.

What's more, the Indo-Swiss team of 42-year-old Leander Paes and 34-year-old Martina Hingis has proved to be a roaring success and the pair has won three of the four mixed doubles Grand Slam titles this year, viz., Australian Open, Wimbledon, and US Open.

Goes to show that age is just a number for today's tennis players, as many of them are 30 years young and going strong.

Editorial NOTE: This article is categorized under Opinion Section. The views expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent the views of merinews.com. In case you have a opposing view, please click here to share the same in the comments section.
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