Why Are Tennis Players So Tall?

Tennis is a fun pastime game that has been around for centuries. It has been enjoyed by amateurs and pros, alike. Though it may not be as popular as some of the other professional sports like football, it still has millions of fans who are dedicated and love the sport.

Everyone who watches tennis has thought about why tennis players are so tall. We will go through in this article how tall tennis players really are and how they benefit from their height.

Why are tennis players so tall? Tennis players are tall because the height gives tennis players a big advantage when serving and it also allows them to get more power in their groundstrokes.

For example, there are some players with serves well into 100 miles per hour. These are speeds that you see pitchers have in baseball. Even though height allows players to get more power in their shots, height also has some disadvantages.

How Tall Are Tennis Players?

The average height of a male tennis player is anywhere between 6’1 and 6’3. Some of the great tennis players right now are around this height. Although, there are a lot of players that are taller than 6’1-6’3.

  • Roger Federer: 6’1 (188cm)
  • Rafael Nadal: 6’1 (183cm)
  • Novak Djokovic: 6’2 ( 185cm)
  • John Isner: 6’10 (2.08cm)
  • Reilly Opelka: 6’11 (2.11cm)
  • Alexander Zverev: 6’6 (1.96cm)
  • Stefanos Tsitsipas: 6’4 (190cm)

For the tallest tennis players in the world, check out this post.

It’s not just the male players that are this tall. In women’s tennis, we have great likes Venus Williams coming in at 6’1, her sister Serena Williams at 5’9, Maria Sharapova at 6’2, and Akgul Amanmuradova standing at a whopping 6’3. These players all have height, weight, and power on their side when facing smaller opponents.

  • Serena Williams: 5’9
  • Venus Williams: 6’1
  • Maria Sharapova: 6’2
  • Akgul Amanmuradova: 6’3
  • Sloane Stephens: 5’7

A player like Serena Williams has shown us that even more athletic-built women are able to play this sport and move around effortlessly. She is a true powerhouse and is probably the most popular women’s tennis player. This is just one example of how tennis is becoming a powerful sport, forcing players to work hard, train hard, and giving it 100% on the court, each and every time they play.

This doesn’t mean tennis only is a sport for tall people, It simply means that taller people are getting into the sport and making it a little more diverse, height-wise, than before.

We can’t control how tall we get to be and now that humans are naturally growing taller, we are able to see people compete in sports that we hadn’t seen in the past. There isn’t a height limit when it comes to talent, power, athleticism, etc. The goal is to be able to use what you have and work hard and play hard, to the best of your abilities.

Benefits Of Being Tall As a Tennis Player

Taller means more weight, and weight means more power. A taller tennis player has an edge on shorter opponents but at the same time, the shorter opponents do have areas where they exceed as well.

Serving: A taller player will have a huge advantage when it comes time to serve. Their arms are longer than a shorter opponent’s arms and when serving, they can hit the ball at an angle that will make the bounce higher on the opponent’s side. This makes it hard for the shorter opponent to reach the ball when they need to. The power and speed behind the serve are something a shorter player can not imitate. Shorter players don’t have the height and angle over the net.

Reach: Reach is another benefit of being taller. Again, the long arms come in handy when making a play for the ball. These players are able to reach out further and not have to work as hard as someone who is shorter. This can mean not having to move around as much as a shorter player moves. 

Tall vs Tall

Tall players do have an even playing field when it comes to other players with a height similar to their own. Due to their height, both players will have the same kind of play style with a very strong serve.

These are the matches that sometimes last longer because the players match up so well together and both bring the same power and athletic skills.

With both players having the same strengths and weaknesses, those matches pretty much guarantee tiebreaks. Because it’s very hard to win a game as the receiver when both players have a powerful serve.

Disadvantages For Taller Tennis Players

Slower: Taller tennis players have more body to move around than shorter players. This can mean not reacting to the ball as quickly as someone shorter would. Shorter players can be more agile and move around the court quicker than tall players.

Returns: The ability to return faster and more precisely are staples in the game for any player but this is where a taller player must work harder. Sure, a powerful serve is great but you also have to return the opponent’s serve, and that is where the smaller opponent usually has an advantage.

Endurance: Shorter players can also make a taller player work really hard on the court. Taller players don’t have the same endurance as a short player got. So, if they can keep the game going at a fast pace with long rallies, they can tire out their opponent pretty quickly. Once they start to tire, the shorter player may capitalize on that weakness.

Low balls: Lower balls may also be better for shorter players. They have a shorter route to reach the ball whereas a taller player may have a harder time getting down for the low balls and once again, can become tired if this is a repetitive thing.

How To Beat Taller Players

To beat a taller player, you need to force the opponent to play the way you want them to play by making them run more, forcing them to come to the net, and using techniques like developing a cut slice that is low.

Having a game plan built around things the taller opponent who excel it, opens the door for a more balanced game. This strategy can show that players can play against each other, no matter the height, as long as they are both using their own strengths and the opponent’s weaknesses to their advantage.

Have Tennis Players Always Been Tall?

In the 1960s, the average height of a fully grown American male was 5’9, and the average height of an American woman was 5’4. The average male tennis player was 5’10 and the average height of a woman was 5’7. Judging by the difference in the heights, it is safe to say that tennis players have been taller than average for quite some time now.

There weren’t any super tall players back in the day and we didn’t see anyone with the height of Reilly Opelka, who stands at a whopping 6’11.

The way things are going, tennis players seem to continue getting taller. This may be a problem for shorter players, but through proper training and conditioning, they should be able to compete with the taller players and show that height isn’t everything in tennis.

I listed all the top 100 players’ heights on the ATP Tour in this post.

Final Thoughts

People used to tell tall kids that basketball was the only sport for them, due to their height. Even though height is a disadvantage in most sports, that’s certainly not the case in tennis.

In fact, being tall will increase your chances of becoming a successful tennis player. But at the same time, there is nothing that says that you won’t become successful just because you are short. You can read more about the ideal height for tennis players in this post.

Although there hasn’t been a tennis player taller than 6’4 to ever reach the number one spot in the ATP rankings, It may be very possible to happen in the not-so-distant future.


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