Thijs Boogaard v Carel Ngounoue, Tarbes, 2022

Part 2 of our junior analytics from Tarbes, 2022 is the Boys final. Both boys are 13 years old. Again, we’ll start with a quick look at the broad match numbers to make a comparison between these two junior players and their pro counterparts.

50% of points ended on shot 1, 3 or 5 compared to 50% for ATP pros.
31% of points ended on shot 2, 4 or 6 compared to 20% for ATP pros.
19% of points ended in long rallies of 7 or more shots compared to 30% of ATP pros.

Again, please remember we’re talking about points that end on those rally lengths. They could end with an unforced error, so win rate becomes important.

The first thing to note about those numbers is that they’re bang on the pro average for the 135 point ending numbers, but 7+ and 246 are the other way around. 

135 Win Percentages

1s and 3s are good but 5s are well behind

Both boys are doing very well on serve patterns. Carel, as the bigger of the two, had a bigger serve and finished on 135 more than Thijs – 58% vs 44%. The important thing to note though is that both of them are winning 64% of their 135 points – well on their way to pro numbers.

One problem for Carel is that, when we break down his 135, he does very well on 1 and 3 but not well at all on 5 (see chart).

Using some magical video (below), we find that his most common error on 5 is a backhand. They don’t account for a huge percentage of his serving points, but it would be worth practicing his backhands on shot 5 to improve that rally length for next time.

Where was it won and lost?

Remember that when we look at rally length data, we don’t do it by server when looking at 7+. Usually by the time the seventh shot comes around, the server’s advantage has been neutralised and the winner of the point comes down to who can play the best long rally pattern.

Even though 7+ only accounted for 19% of total points, Thijs Boogaard won 67% of them. We would normally expecvt 7+ points to be split 50/50, so only winning 33% is particularly low.

Here’s where it becomes more problematic, however. The winner of the match, Thijs Boogaard, converted 4 out of 4 break points. Carel Ngounoue converted 2 out of 12! What’s even more interesting is that 7+ patterns accounted for 57% of those unconverted break points on Boogaard’s serve, up from a match total of 31%.

So, What do we tell him?

Recall from the June workshops I made a point of being careful when talking to players about “pressure points”. Pressure points include break points.

It would be very easy to tell a 13 year old boy that his break point conversions were low and he needs to fix them. The problem is we wouldn’t be fixing the problem. We’d only be ensuring that he puts even more pressure on himself every time he has break point in the future. 

What we’re better off doing is acknowledging that he has a problem on 7+ broadly, and then work on patterns that will win him more of those points in the future. That way, Carel can use those strategies when he plays next, rather than having thoughts like “I suck at break point conversions”!

So, what’s he doing wrong on 7+? Please join me later this week for my take on it, and why the video is so important.