Not so long ago, women’s tennis was chock-full of teenage champions. A 16-year-old Tracy Austin threatened the Evert-Navratilova duopoly in the late 1970s. Monica Seles won the French Open at the same age in 1990. Martina Hingis broke countless “youngest ever” records and won five Grand Slam titles before she turned 19.
Recently, however, the average age on the WTA Tour has been creeping up. This has a lot to do with the age restrictions introduced after Jennifer Capriati – a top ten player at the age of 14 – suffered burnout and personal problems in the mid-nineties. But the demanding physical nature of the modern game also makes it harder for young players to challenge for the biggest prizes. In days gone by, teens lacking in muscle were able to finesse their way to the top; in the 21st century, they are simply blown off the court.
So which of today’s teenage cohort will prevail at tomorrow’s Grand Slams? Here is a look at where the ten youngest players in the WTA top 100 (as of April 20th, 2015).
Youngest players in the WTA Top 100:
1. Ana Konjuh – Age 17 (27 Dec 1997)
2. Belinda Bencic – Age 18 (10 Mar 1997)
3. Katerina Siniakova – Age 18 (10 May 1996)
4. Carina Witthoeft – Age 20 (16 Feb 1995)
5. Madison Keys – Age 20 (17 Feb 1995)
6. Tereza Smitkova – Age 20 (10 Oct 1994)
7. Anna Karolina Schmiedlova – Age 20 (13 Sep 1994)
8. Elina Svitolina – Age 20 (12 Sep 1994)
9. Alison van Uytvanck – Age 21 (26 Mar 1994)
10. Daria Gavrilova – Age 21 (05 Mar 1994)
Outside the top 100, there are a few more very gifted players who will sooner or later make their move up the rankings. One to watch out for is Catherine Bellis, who at the age of 16 ( 08 Apr 1999) has already shown some great talent and skills. She is our top contender for the future No.1 ranking spot.