Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Guessing the Top 10 USA Women for 2015

Click here for the men's predictions.

It's been a fun year for On the Rise (a tennis blog) and to celebrate, here is the last post of 2014. Thanks to Parsa and Patrick for their participation!  

As with the men, I did not invite my colleagues to speculate on where in the overall WTA rankings each player would finish, but did include it for myself. 

And as always, please feel free to include your thoughts in the comments!


ParsaPatrick RourkeJonathan Kelley
1. Serena1. Serena1. Serena (2)
2. Keys2. Keys2. Keys (15)
3. Sloane3. Sloane3. Venus (19)
4. CoCo4. Venus4. CoCo (25)
5. Venus5. Lepchenko5. Lepchenko (30)
6. Riske6. Davis6. Sloane (40)
7. Rogers7. McHale7. Riske (45)
8. Lepchenko8. Riske8. McHale (50)
9. McHale9. CoCo9. Townsend (60)
10. Townsend10. Townsend10. Mattek-Sands (65)

Average picks:
1. Serena Williams (1.0) - was #1 in 2014
2. Madison Keys (2.0) was #3 in 2014
3 (T). Venus Williams (4.0) - was #2 in 2014 
          Sloane Stephens (4.0) was #5 in 2014
5. CoCo Vandeweghe (5.67) was #6 in 2014
6. Varvara Lepchenko (6.0) was #4 in 2014
7. Alison Riske (7.0) - was #7 in 2014
8. Christina McHale (8.0) was #8 in 2014
9. Taylor Townsend (9.67) was #14 in 2014

Others receiving votes: Davis (1), Rogers (1), Mattek-Sands (1)

Searing analysis: Really a shocking lack of movement expected by our esteemed panel. Only Taylor Townsend is not currently among the Top 10 American women, and she's 14th and just coming into her own. Clearly expectations are sky-high for Madison Keys, who has not one but two new coaches who hopefully will be able to instill in her a killer mentality.

Some notable names not included: Madison Brengle, Irina Falconi, Nicole Gibbs, and Grace Min.

Finally, for the heck of it, I'm including my prediction of how women born 1994 and later will sort themselves out this coming year.


Jonathan Kelley
1. Keys
2. Townsend
3. Min
4. Chirico
5. Brady
6. Kiick
7. Bellis
8. Vickery
9. Duval 
10. Stewart

See you-all in 2015!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Guessing the top 10 USA men - and young men - for 2015

The 2015 ATP season starts in a few days with qualies for various tour-level, challenger, and Futures tournaments, and so we cannot wait any longer. Today we are pleased to present the first official On the Rise (a tennis blog) prediction game: Name That Year-End Ranking.

Your friendly blog proprietors invited a cast of stalwart tennis fans, bloggers, and a big-name reporter to predict who will finish 2015 as the highest ranked Americans in three categories: ATPers, ATPers 21 & under, and WTAers.  Not every participant felt like participating every category, so at the end of the year, prizes (by which I mean "props") will be given separately for each category.

Today we bring you the predictions in the first two categories.  Please note that I didn't mention to anyone anything about including the final overall ranking of the players.  That said, I include my own, both for fun and for my personal remembering. If any of the participants - or anyone else - would like to say where they think various players will finish among all ATPers, please let us know in comments!

Our thanks to Baseline Bagels, Lang, Patrick, Parsa, and Courtney for taking the time to think about this and send their picks in a timely fashion. And major thanks to The Grandstand for pioneering this idea, which this blog shamelessly appropriated.


Baseline BagelsLangPatrick RourkeParsaCourtney NguyenJonathan Kelley
1. Isner1. Isner1. Isner1. Isner1. Isner1. Querrey (20)
2. Sock2. Querrey2. Sock2. Johnson2. Sock2. Isner (21)
3. Querrey3. Johnson3. Querrey3. Querrey3. Querrey3. Sock (35)
4. Johnson4. Sock4. Johnson4. Young4. Johnson4. Johnson (40)
5. Harrison5. Young5. Kudla5. Smyczek5. Young5. Young (50)
6. Kudla6. Kudla6. Young6. Sock6. Kudla6. Kudla (80)
7. Young7. Smyczek7. Smyczek7. Kudla7. Smyczek7. Smyczek (90)
8. Smyczek8. Donaldson8. Sandgren8. Klahn8. Ram8. Krajicek (120)
9. Kuznetsov9. Klahn9. Buchanan9. Sandgren9. Klahn9. Donaldson (130)
10. Klahn10. Williams10. Klahn10. Krajicek10. Russell10. Klahn (140)

Average picks: 
1. John Isner (1.17) - was #1 in 2014
2. Sam Querrey (2.5) - was #2 in 2014
3. Jack Sock (3.17) - was #4 in 2014
4. Steve Johnson (3.5) - was #3 in 2014
5. Donald Young (5.3) - was #5 in 2014
6. Denis Kudla (6.0) - was #7 in 2014
7. Tim Smyczek (6.8) - was #6 in 2014
8. Bradley Klahn (9.3) - was #9 in 2014

Others receiving votes: Donaldson (2), Krajicek (2), Sandgren (2), Buchanan (1), R. Harrison (1), Kuznestov (1), Ram (1), Russell (1), Williams (1)

Searing analysis: It's interesting that all 6 prognosticators agreed on exactly 8 of the top 10, and the other 2 were all over the map. Also that those 8 roughly align with where they finished 2015 - interestingly Rajeev Ram, who finished 2014 at #8, was included in only Courtney's picks.  Nobody thinks 2015 will be a year of massive transition, and nobody sees any huge jumps by up-and-comers (Jared Donaldson being the exception).  Personally I love that Baseline Bagels has kept faith in Ryan Harrison. I mean, I assume he has, unless he thinks Denis Kudla and the rest will finish outside the Top 200...

Also some notable names left off everyone's list: Jarmere Jenkins, Bjorn Fratangelo, and Wayne Odesnik.


Baseline BagelsLangPatrick RourkeParsaJonathan Kelley
1. Donaldson1. Donaldson1. Donaldson1. Donaldson 1. Donaldson
2. Kozlov2. Escobedo2. Kozlov2. Kozlov2. Krueger
3. Mmoh3. Kozlov3. Escobedo3. Krueger3. Kozlov
4. McDonald4. Krueger4. Krueger4. Escobedo4. Escobedo
5. Krueger5. Mmoh5. Fritz5. Mmoh5. Baughman
6. Escobedo6. Baughman6. Mmoh6. McDonald6. Mmoh
7. J. Hiltzik7. Fritz7. McDonald7. Baughman7. Tiafoe
8. Tiafoe8. Rubin8. Baughman8. Rubin8. McDonald
9. Rubin9. McDonald9. Rubin9. Tiafoe9. Fritz
10. Halebian10. Tiafoe10. Santiago10. Fritz10. C. Harrison

Average picks:
1. Donaldson (1.0) - was #1 in 2014
2. Kozlov (2.4) - was #3 in 2014
3. Krueger (3.6) - was #2 in 2014
4. Escobedo (3.8) - was #4 in 2014
5. McDonald (6.8) - was #6 in 2014

Others receiving votes: Baughman (4), Fritz (4), Mmoh (4), Rubin (4), Tiafoe (3), Halebian (1), C. Harrison (1), J. Hiltzik (1), Santiago (1)

Searing analysis: Jared Donaldson is head and shoulders above his contemporaries (defined here as anyone born 1994 or later) at this point in his career, our analysts agree.  He's pro, he's motivated, and he showed flashes of sublime ability in 2014. Plus his ranking will get him into lots of Challengers, which hold far more points than Futures. Stefan Kozlov should also get a shot at a lot of those tournaments, whether through wildcards or, later in the year, direct entry. 

Beyond those two it's a huge guessing game - some of the players are in college (McDonald, Rubin), others are still playing lots of juniors (Mmoh, Fritz), one may not play a point in 2015 (Harrison), and still others are pretty unknown quantities. Ernesto Escobedo clearly tantalizes our panel ... such power. Frankly, a big concern is his ability to stay healthy. Finally, a shout out to #slimrising (Deiton Baughman) who only one person left off his list, and that was clearly an oversight. :D

Tomorrow: The Women.

Monday, December 29, 2014

New USA Career-High Rankings, Dec. 29, 2014

Each week I will bring you a list of USAmerican players who have reached a new career-high ranking (CHR). This list is not necessarily exhaustive but covers at least all players in the Top 1000. See all the CHR-related posts.

Special note: Thanks to Ian DW I was able to solve a mystery that has been plaguing me for weeks - why is it that for six weeks in a row, we have seen just a handful of men's new CHRs but dozens of women? Particularly since very few of the women were actually earning points; rather, they were benefiting from other women losing points.

Ian speculated that there might be fewer women's events in 2014 and darn it if he wasn't spot on.  In fact, in the last 6 weeks of 2014, the ITF has held only 36 women's events, compared to 48 in 2013 -- a decrease of 25%! Fewer events means fewer opportunities to defend points, and thus the rise in those who weren't defending anything from this time a year ago.

Meanwhile, in the last 6 weeks of 2014, the ITF has held 54 men's events, compared to only 44 last year -- an increase of 23%! Further, most of the new ATP events are in the Eastern Hemisphere, making it tougher for US men to justify participating in them.

So, mystery solved. Next week's lists should be pretty sparse, with a few players benefiting from the calendar shift to a week later. But then we'll get going again as the season starts in earnest!

New ATP career-high rankings, December 29, 2014

Player name
Last wk
*= pvs CHR
+  from last wk
If prior to last wk
Date achieved
If prior to last wk
Connor Smith

Hopefully this is our shortest list ever! Smith is the list, a reward for his semifinal run in the final Dominican Republic Futures of the year. The Ohio State University product has impressed all year, and will no doubt be one to watch for 2015.

New WTA career-high rankings, December 29, 2014

Player name
Last wk
*= previous   CHR
+  from last week
If prior to last wk
Date achieved
If prior to last wk
Louisa Chirico

Alexa Guarchi

Nadja Gilchrist

Alexandria Stiteler

Ingrid Neel

Kelly Chen

Nicole Frenkel

Alexandra Morozova

Daniella Roldan

Emma Higuchi

Natalie Suk

Kristina Smith

Terri Fleming

Usue Arconada

Caroline Dolehide

Jessica Ho

Tina Tehrani

Jessica Failla

Andie Daniell

Dasha Ivanova

Kaitlyn McCarthy

Alexandra Valenstein

Jessica Golovin

Alexis Nelson

A sixth straight week of 20+ new career highs - and this week there are NO results to back it up. Very much looking forward to 2015 when we'll get some actual wins to write about.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

22 wishes for non-American players in 2015

On the Rise (a tennis blog) is taking a little break from our usual obsessive focus on US tennis players to give you a list of some of our tennis wishes for the coming year. You will note that none of these centers around US players. Don't get us wrong - we still desperately want success for Team USA. We'd sell less usable body parts to see Jarmere Jenkins break into the Top 100 or for CoCo Vandeweghe to reach a major semifinal. But we enjoy other players as well.

Let us know what your New Year's wishes are for these or any other players - ideally, keep the Americans out of it.

1. Andy Murray to win the Australian Open. Three finals and no winner's trophy ... IT'S NOT RIGHT!

(c) Getty Images

2. Svetlana Kuznetsova to win the Australian Open. Hers will be the most bizarre Hall of Fame resume in history.

Fiona Hamilton/AP

3. Novak Djokovic to win the French Open (some call it Roland Garros). He's one of the greatest of all time, and is a brilliant clay courter. Plus, it just seems right that all three of the Big 3 should have a career grand slam.

He has already previewed his celebration, if it happens:

4. Petra Kvitova to win the French Open. We know she can do it on the grass, but can she do it on the brick? She's my pick to be the Year End #1 and in order to do that, she's going to have to do something surprising. This would be a gigantic surprise, but I think she's capable.


5. Roger Federer to win the Wimbledons. I need him to have some breathing room. 18 might not be enough to hold off Rafa, but it's much better than 17. 

Al Bello/Getty Images Europe

6. Aga Radwanska to win Wimbledon. It's time, Agnieszka. It's your best major, and now you've got this lady in your corner. Let's do this..

7. Vasek Pospisil to repeat as Wimbledon doubles champion. With the same partner of course, tee hee.

Photo by Jan Kruger, Getty Images

8. One of the following to win the US Open: Tomas Berdych, Kei Nishikori, Grigor Dimitrov, a Frenchman (not including Gilles Simon; sorry Gilles, but that would be just too much to handle).

(c) Reuters Images

9. Alize Cornet to reach a Grand Slam semifinal. I don't care which one. Just trying to imagine all the amazing gifs if she wins a quarterfinal.

10. Takanyi Garanganga to participate in a majors qualifying draw.  The Zimbabwean has a lot of game, but lacks some of the resources other players have. He's at the end of a crowdsourcing campaign to try to raise $10K - even a first round qualies loss at Wimbledon would garner him half that much.


11. Naomi Cavaday to qualify for a major. Her blog detailing her return to the ITF circuit - following retirement at 21 - has been a wonderful read. (Check out her latest about an extraordinarily rude player.) She has a long way to go to get back into the Top 200, but given what she's gone through and her great attitude, that accomplishment would be a true cause for celebration.

12. James McGee to reach the Top 100. This one's for Patrick. And Ireland.

13. Dustin Brown to make a tour-level final. The German with a distinct Jamaican flair can do some amazing things on court, and as with many net rushers, has found his best success later in his career. Now he's got the added financial security his Top 100 position entails. Staying there isn't as easy as it seems, and a 250 final would be massive in that regard. Plus, there would be a whole lot of highlights. 

(c) Getty Images

14. Kimiko Date-Krumm to win a title. I don't care if it's a $125K. Hell, I don't care if they have to invent a new tournament just for the 44-year-old. Make it happen, WTA. (Alternatively, a KDK 4th Round at a major will suffice.) 

Because she is the best.

15. Samantha Stosur to win a tournament in Australia. The 30-year-old, as we know, has struggled in her home country. This year, she's opening the season in her hometown of Brisbane; after that it's Sydney. A title in either place would be pretty spectacular. (I already called for Sveta to win Melbourne, so if it's those two in the Australian Open final I will definitely find myself torn.)

16. Lucie Safarova to reach the WTA Finals.  It would be a big jump for her, for sure, but she's got the talent and in the wake of her run to the Wimbledon semis, perhaps the confidence as well. (It would help if she could get over the Kvitova hump - she went 0-5 against her follow Czech lefty in 2014 to bring her career record to 0-6.

CPA - Eduard Erben

17. Marcus Willis into the Top 200. 

18. Three South American women in the Top 100. The state of South American women's tennis suffered a blow when Garbine Muguruza announced she would continue to represent Spain. Three players in the Top 100 would be a huge jump from the current number (zero). There are a few on the outskirts - Teliana Pereira (BRA/107), Paula Ormaechea (ARG/122), Mariana Duque-Marino (COL/131) - and a few youngsters with some potential in the 200-300 range: Beatriz Haddad Maia (18yo/BRA), Montserrat Gonzalez (20/PAR) & Gabriela Ce (21/BRA). It's a huge ask but would be great for the diversity of the tour.

Wikimedia commons

19. Alisa Kleybanova to play 20+ tournaments and return to the Top 100 (or higher). So rough for her comeback from Hodgkins Lymphoma sidetracked by injury. Here's wishing her the best health and success this coming year!


20. A new, out-of-nowhere high-profile ATP/WTA romance. Those are so much fun.

21. A new, out-of-nowhere high-profile ATP/ATP romance.
Two Men Holding Hands

22. Andy Murray to reach #1. I CAN DREAM CAN'T I??
(c) Getty Images