2017 Young ATP Prospects - Assessment and Investment


December 19th, 2016.

Around two years ago, I wrote several pieces which looked at how to predict young player improvement.  

In this article, I used statistics to demonstrate my doubt that Nick Kyrgios will be world number one by the age of 24-25, and here I made some assessments of the young prospects on the ATP Tour at the start of 2015.

I also discussed the potential for bankrolling young players, and I continue to be surprised that this investment does not regularly occur.  Simply put, it is impossible for young players to turn a profit playing Futures or Challengers, and such investment will enable them to broaden their tournament selection from a travelling perspective, as well as enabling them to afford more support staff such coaches, hitting partners and physios.  In exchange, players would give a percentage of their future income to their investors.

Furthermore, it might even allow young players to have a budget for data analysts.  Anyone who has spent time analysing tennis data will understand that this area is hugely under-used by players when statistical tournament scheduling as well as data analysis of themselves and their opponents would be a very good way to ensure the player is ranked at his maximum potential.  Inefficiency in sport is hardly a new phenomenon, and Tennis certainly isn't any different.

If any players or coaches happen to read this, and are keen to investigate this area further, please feel free to email me at tennistrades@gmail.com.

Yesterday, on Twitter, I saw that the 24 year old French player, Constant Lestienne, posted this:-


Effectively, Lestienne is trying to obtain funds by crowdfunding, in a bid to break the top 100 in the world.  If a 24 year old player who is currently ranked at 165, needs to crowdfund to progress his career, then it is reasonable to assume that other players also have big financial issues, and would significantly benefit from external investment.  James McGee, in his excellent blog, also discussed the financial problems that many players outside the top 100 in the world face.

The question is - which players make for a good investment?  

Below is a list of all players aged 22 or below, who are ranked inside the top 300 of the ATP rankings.  This age restriction is critical, as previous research indicates that male tennis players tend to improve quickest prior to the age of 23.

The players are sorted by rank, but as you will see, their current ability, which can be seen by their 12 Month ATP Main Tour Expectation Combined % figure, differs vastly:-

Player

Rank

Age

12 Month ATP Main Tour Expectation Hold %

12 Month ATP Main Tour Expectation Break %

12 Month ATP Main Tour Expectation Combined %







Nick Kyrgios

13

21

88.6

20.1

108.7

Lucas Pouille

15

22

80.4

19.9

100.3

Alexander Zverev

24

19

80.4

24.7

105.1

Kyle Edmund

45

21

78.4

19.2

97.6

Borna Coric

48

20

78.0

19.6

97.6

Karen Khachanov

53

20

79.5

19.6

99.1

Adam Pavlasek

75

22

73.4

22.8

96.2

Taylor Fritz

76

19

79.7

19.2

98.9

Jordan Thompson

79

22

79.9

19.6

99.5

Thiago Monteiro

82

22

77.8

18.2

96.0

Daniil Medvedev

99

20

79.3

27.3

106.6

Yoshihito Nishioka

100

21

77.2

24.5

101.7

Hyeon Chung

104

20

76.3

22.0

98.3

Jared Donaldson

105

20

76.9

20.0

96.9

Frances Tiafoe

108

18

77.4

18.4

95.8

Stefan Kozlov

116

18

70.2

23.6

93.8

Ernesto Escobedo

141

20

81.3

17.4

98.7

Duckhee Lee

149

18

77.0

18.3

95.3

Quentin Halys

153

20

73.8

18.0

91.8

Andrey Rublev

156

19

77.8

15.2

93.0

Elias Ymer

160

20

70.7

19.7

90.4

Stefano Napolitano

172

21

75.3

16.5

91.8

Maximilian Marterer

176

21

77.5

23.4

100.9

Kimmer Coppejans

178

22

68.9

24.8

93.7

Ilya Ivashka

179

22

70.6

23.1

93.7

Mathias Bourgue

183

22

68.6

19.6

88.2

Laslo Djere

186

21

71.7

22.1

93.8

Marko Tepavac

197

22

72.0

14.3

86.3

Michael Mmoh

198

18

73.4

20.0

93.4

Noah Rubin

200

20

73.7

18.3

92.0

Reilly Opelka

204

19

88.8

9.6

98.4

Alexander Bublik

205

19

71.8

19.9

91.6

Matteo Donati

207

21

76.3

16.7

93.0

Akira Santillan

208

19

70.3

17.3

87.6

Stefanos Tsitsipas

210

18

78.1

12.5

90.6

Christian Garin

211

20

69.1

17.9

87.0

Mitchell Krueger

216

22

71.3

18.1

89.4

Marc Polmans

222

19

N/A

N/A

N/A

Dmitry Popko

223

20

69.9

14.3

84.2

Pedja Krstin

224

22

63.8

18.5

82.3

Nikola Milojevic

225

21

70.3

18.7

89.0

Casper Ruud

226

17

75.9

18.3

94.2

Daniel Masur

232

22

74.0

19.0

93.0

Christopher O’Connell

239

22

N/A

N/A

N/A

Zdenek Kolar

245

20

N/A

N/A

N/A

Ramkumar Ramanathan

248

22

71.5

12.3

83.8

Gregoire Barrere

249

22

66.4

12.6

79.0

Denis Shapovalov

253

17

74.8

16.2

91.0

Maxime Janvier

260

20

74.7

16.7

91.4

Vaclav Safranek

263

22

65.7

18.3

83.9

Luke Saville

264

22

71.5

14.9

86.4

Lloyd Harris

275

19

N/A

N/A

N/A

Cameron Norrie

278

21

70.1

22.1

92.3

Kamil Majchrzak

281

20

71.1

25.0

96.0

Tommy Paul

284

19

67.9

17.3

85.2

Blake Mott

286

20

N/A

N/A

N/A

Sebastian Ofner

289

20

N/A

N/A

N/A

Gianluigi Quinzi

290

20

70.2

23.1

93.4

Jaume Munar

291

19

N/A

N/A

N/A

Clement Geens

295

20

61.3

21.5

82.7

Laurent Lokoli

298

22

N/A

N/A

N/A

Lorenzo Sonego

299

21

74.7

16.2

90.8

Marek Jaloviec

300

22

N/A

N/A

N/A







Constant Lestienne

165

24

69.0

25.0

94.0


Six players - Nick Kyrgios, Lucas Pouille, Alexander Zverev, Daniil Medvedev, Yoshihito Nishioka and Maximilian Marterer - have expectation numbers over 100%, which makes them better than the average player at ATP level.

Particularly in the latter three player's cases, this is probably a shock to some readers, although I've been beating the drum about Medvedev for over six months.  The 20 year old Russian is a HUGE prospect.  I expect a big 2017 from Marterer, currently ranked at 176.  Breaking the top 100 should be a minimum requirement for the 21 year old German.

Based on the age and hold/break data, it's reasonable to assume Taylor Fritz, Frances Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, Duckhee Lee, Andrey Rublev and Michael Mmoh are likely to have pretty decent careers.  However, five of these players are either American, or have connections to American companies (Rublev is associated with IMG) and therefore are unlikely to struggle financially as much as other players, and also have the ability to 'earn' numerous wild-cards.

To find players who are likely to both be good enough to warrant investment, and be in a position to welcome it, we must look at those who are currently flying under the radar a little.  

In this case, I'd look at the likes of fellow US players Reilly Opelka and Ernesto Escobedo.  Both look better prospects than some other American prospects who enjoy a higher profile.  Also worth looking at would be the previously mentioned Marterer, Alexander Bublik, Daniel Masur, Maxime Janvier, Cameron Norrie, Kamil Majchrzak and Gianluigi Quinzi, as well as juniors superstars (still aged 17-18) Denis Shapovalov, Stefanos Tsitsipas and Casper Ruud.  

In addition to this, if Futures data was more widely available, it would also be possible to look further down the 'food-chain' to identify young prospects who would really welcome career investment.

I want to finish up by taking a look at Mr. Lestienne.  His ATP expectation hold/break data of 94.0% wouldn't put him far off the top 100, so his ambition is definitely realistic.  At the age of 24, it's unlikely that he will significantly improve enough for a professional investor to make a large return on their investment, but a solid career is still definitely possible for the Frenchman.






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