Thursday, August 27, 2015

Tennis Stocks 2015

This time last year, I wrote a piece on the future of tennis in the best 40 countries at the time. I started by looking at where each country was ranked at the time and then tried to predict whether they would improve or not, or simply stay the same in general.

Now, a year later, I want to do the same predictions for five more years into the future. The rankings of the top countries are explained here. I made one change to take the top 38 and then add in Chile and Sweden, because both of those countries will be in the top 40 five years from now without a doubt.

For each country, I'm going to choose to buy, sell, or stay on each country's stocks over the next five years based on the age of the current top players from that country and the success of the younger players that are making their way up in the rankings.

1. Spain - SELL - This one is a slam dunk just like it was a year ago. The future of Spain is horribly dark, that in five years, they might not even be in the top 40. Spain currently has 12 players in the top 100 and 17 players in the top 132. Yet out of all those 17 players, only four are not yet 29 years old, which means all 13 of those 17 will be retired in five years if not at least very close to retirement and dropping in the rankings. The other four players aren't exactly young either and will be nearing the end of their careers in August of 2020 as well. Juame Munar is the one player that Spain can turn to for hope in the future and he has had a very disappointing 2015 season. Munar might be able to keep Spain on the tennis map, but he won't be able to keep it anywhere near the top 10 of this list.

2. Serbia - SELL - Novak Djokovic is literally 87% of the reason that Serbia is No. 2 on this list and a large part of the remaining 13% belongs to Viktor Troicki. Djokovic will probably still be around in five years, but there is no way he will still be producing this kind of magic in that far into the future. There are players that can pick up the slack, like Dusan Lajovic, Filip Krajinovic, Laslo Djere, Pedja Krstin, Miki Jankovic, and Nikola Milojevic, but none of those six players have really stepped up in the last 12 months. They all show promise, but even the six of them combined can't replace what Djokovic has done.

3. France - SELL - France isn't quite as old as Spain, but only a handful of its players 12 players currently in the top 140 will still be around in five years. France also has much more young talent than Spain, but it likely won't be enough to replace the consistency of maintaining good rankings of Jeremy Chardy, Gael Monfils, Richard Gasquet, Gilles Simon, and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The young players making their way up are Laurent Lokoli, Corentin Moutet, Quentin Halys, Maxime Janvier, Theo Fournerie, Johan Sebastian Tatlot, Calvin Hemery. Maxime Hamou, and Enzo Couacaud. That's a large group of young talent and someone is sure to emerge out of that group. Also Lucas Pouille and Pierre-Hugues Herbert have not yet reached their peaks. France may have the most depth in the top 200 in five years, but staying top three is going to be a big task for the young group.

4. Switzerland - SELL - Roger Federer is 34 years old and still winning titles, so what's to stop him from doing the same when he is 39 years old? Still, I wouldn't bet on it. Stan Wawrinka is also sure to start dropping in the rankings very soon. These are the glory days of Swiss tennis, and there is nothing to suggest that they will ever return to this level any time in the foreseeable future.

5. Great Britain - SELL - Kyle Edmund is going to be a great tennis player when he hits his prime. There is no question about that. However, for me to buy on Great Britain, I would have to be arguing that he will be even better than Andy Murray essentially, which would be setting the expectations unrealistically high. I think Murray will still be around in five years, but a 33-year old Murray combined with peak form Edmund still isn't as good as Murray is right now with a 20-year old Edmund and Aljaz Bedene.

6. United States - BUY - We have our first buy and this one is about as much of a slam dunk as the Spain sell was. The United States may be No. 6 on this list, but that is still just about as bad as it has ever been for American tennis. Thankfully, the future is extremely bright. Let me just start naming off some reasons in no particular order: Jared Donaldson, Frances Tiafoe, Stefan Kozlov, Ernesto Escobedo, Collin Altamirano, Noah Rubin, Nathan Ponwith, Mitch Krueger, Tommy Paul, Reilly Opelka, Michael Mmoh, Taylor Fritz, William Blumberg, Dennis Uspensky, Alex Rybakov, and Deiton Baughman. Also, let's not forget about the guys that have already made a name for themselves but still haven't reached their peaks yet: Jack Sock, Denis Kudla, Bjorn Fratangelo, Ryan Harrison, and Tennys Sandgren among many others. Plus, there are the guys that went to college and are taking a little longer to reach their peaks, but in five years, will be very dangerous: Steve Johnson, Bradley Klahn, Austin Krajicek, Rhyne Williams, Jarmere Jenkins, Dennis Novikov, Marcos Giron, and Connor Smith among others. The United States will have an unreal amount of depth in five years. Possibly even more than what Spain has now.

7. Japan - SELL - I bought on Japan last year, largely because they were No. 12 in the world at the time. Continuing to move up will be a huge challenge for the Japanese. Yoshihito Nishioka and Taro Daniel look like the future of Japanese tennis aside from Kei Nishikori, who is No. 4 in the world. It's hard to predict that Nishikori will remain that high five years from now, which is a large reason I am selling on Japan. However, the drop won't be too significant.

8. Czech Republic - SELL - This one is pretty simple to analyze, since there's not a lot of moving parts. In five years, Tomas Berdych will be at least near retirement, while Jiri Vesely will be 27 years old, which is the peak for a lot of tennis players. Lukas Rosol will be out of the picture by then and Adam Pavlasek will be much more developed physically. It's simply a question of will Pavlasek and Vesely be better in five years than Berdych, Vesely, and Rosol are now. That does not look too likely.

9. Croatia - HOLD - Will Borna Coric have a better career than Marin Cilic? I would say, yes. Will Cilic still be in the top 100 in five years? Most likely. Will there be room in the top 35 in five years for three Croations? That's what I can't see. Ivo Karlovic and Ivan Dodig will be long gone in five years. There are other Croats on the horizon, but it really all comes down to Coric. He certainly has the ability to be a No. 1 player in the world, but moving the country into the top eight in five years will be tough to do. Remember that a large part of why Croatia is in the top 10 to begin with is because Cilic won the US Open in the last 12 months. 

10. Australia - BUY - This is an obvious one. Almost all of the players that helped Australia get to No. 10 on this list will still be around in five years and the majority of them will be even better. Plus, Nick Kyrgios, Thanasi Kokkinakis, and Omar Jasika all have top 10 potential for a country that currently has nobody in the top 20. Aside from the United States and perhaps France, nobody's future is brighter than Australia's.

11. Italy - SELL - I held on Italy last year and then Luca Vanni came out of nowhere and bumped their ranking up a couple spots. In five years, they will go back down a couple spots.

12. Argentina - BUY - These last 18 months have been a disaster for the Argentina with the injury to Juan Martin del Potro and the struggles on Juan Monaco. They can only go up from here.

13. Germany - BUY - Alexander Zverev has the hopes of a nation riding on his shoulders. This is another country that is accustomed to being in the top eight. No. 13 is about as low as it gets. If Zverev doesn't step up, somebody will.

14. Belgium - HOLD - David Goffin and Kimmer Coppejans represent the future of Belgian tennis. They have already moved the country up from No. 30 to No. 14 in just one year. The two of them should be able to keep the country's ranking right around there.

15. Canada - BUY - Milos Raonic has been injured lately which has allowed Canada's ranking as a country to slip. However, they should be back in the top 10 within a couple years and then it is just a matter of maintaining it with the help of upcoming juniors like Felix Auger Aliassime and David Volfson.

16. Austria - SELL - Dominic Thiem is already No. 20 in the world and he is going to have to improve enough in the next five years to almost single-handedly replace the efforts of the other two Austrians in the top 140.

17. Ukraine - SELL - There just isn't much to be excited about in terms of tennis in European countries and Ukraine is no different. When talking about the next generation Vadym Ursu is the only one who is really even a part of the conversation from Ukraine and he alone can't replace the talent there is now.

18. Russia - BUY - It seems like every Russian is in a slump right now. That's what it takes to drop such a great tennis country down to No. 18. Roman Safiullin, Karen Khachenov, and Andrey Rublev are three of the most exciting teenagers in tennis right now, surely Russia will be much higher on this list in five years.

19. Brazil - HOLD-  Orlando Luz, Guilherme Clezar, and Thiago Monteiro all have shown lots of potential on the clay, but not much outside of the clay. Still, three solid clay specialists will be enough to keep Brazil in the top 20. 

20. Slovakia - SELL - Martin Blasko looks like he could reach the top 100 some day, but that won't be enough to keep Slovakia at the top 20. With Klizan and Lacko reaching the ends of their careers at that point, Slovakia won't be in fantastic shape.

21. South Africa - SELL
22. Bulgaria - BUY
23. Colombia - SELL
24. Kazhakstan - HOLD
25. Uruguay - SELL
26. Luxembourg - SELL
27. Portugal - BUY
28. Dominican Republic - SELL
29. Cyprus - SELL
30. Slovenia - BUY
31. Poland - BUY
32. Latvia - SELL
33. Uzbekistan
34. Korea - BUY
35. Lithuania - SELL
36. Netherlands - SELL
37. Turkey - SELL
38. Moldova - SELL
39. Chile - BUY
40. Sweden - BUY

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