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DVD Description: Here are the secrets to better groundstrokes from some of TennisOne's top writers! We've extracted, re-organized, and re-mastered many of the best TennisOne articles, videos, and newsletters on groundstrokes over the past four years. We've packed 4.5 hours of stunningly crisp video instruction (typically 4-5 DVDs) into this 2-disk DVD set you'll want to keep in your tennis library for years to come.
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Tennis Warehouse – New Products – Men's Apparel - KWISS Accomplish Group - Crew, Polo, LS Crew, 1/2 Zip, Shorts
The Underspin Backhand and Contrarian Tennis
Consider the contrarian investment strategy: Buy when everyone sells, and sell when everyone buys. Certainly a few contrarians made a BUNDLE (yes with a capital B) on the subprime crisis, for as the herd moved farther and farther right, they moved left.
But this is about tennis. When it comes to the cardinal rules of the game, they include, in no particular order:
- Get the ball in play (meaning don't make errors).
- Always be ready for an opponent's reply (meaning recover).
- Do not let the opponent play their game.
Sampras Still Has It
For this particular article, let’s take a look at how the slow and low under-spin floater from the backhand wing takes opponents out of their comfort zone.
This week at the SAP Open in San Jose, CA our ball kid squad was treated with two fabulous matches. On Monday night Pete Sampras played an exhibition with Gael Monfils – an amazing night. Pete volleyed with aplomb (understatement), Monfils covered every inch of the court (and probably more) and the two men could not have made a more pleasing tennis exhibition.
Mostly Pete used topspin off his backhand wing, occasionally resorting to underspin, but never really floating it low because Pete wants to play the net and has no reason to bring his opponent forward. That said, Pete hit some amazing underspin backhand approach shots off the return of the second serve, and that stroke resembles in form the low floater.
Ivo Karlovic's Underspin
Then on Saturday afternoon Ivo Karlovic played Milos Raonic in a semi final exhibition as Gael Monfils withdrew from the tournament with a wrist injury after winning his quarterfinal match. Milos went on to beat Verdasco in the finals with some cool headed play, but on this afternoon the wily Karlovic prevailed 7-6, 7-6.
So, armed with some feel on the backhand wing, Ivo repeatedly kept the backhand under spin low and slow, real low, and real slow. Sometimes on rallies, often on approaches, but always to get the young big hitting Canadian inside the baseline and well below the net.
McEnroe's Contrarian Style
One simply has to watch any two professionals practicing (men or women) to see them stroking the ball back and forth – heavy topspin, with both players well back of the baseline. The herd plays this way, heavy topspin well behind the baseline. I believe a contrarian like John McEnroe would give these guys fits. You can learn to do the same, but there are some pre conditions:
- You must be inside the baseline,
- Contact must be at or above the level of the net.
- Best if you take this ball on the rise.
- Best if your opponent is positioned deep or has been scrambling.
- Understand you are creating a patterns and there is one more shot to the mix.
Federer Showed Power of Underspin Backhand in 2008 US Open
Commenting a few years ago when Federer beat a young and improving (at that time) Novak Djokovic. I wrote:
“Creating the most difficult reply. McEnroe consistently praised Federer’s game, not only for his shot making but equally for his tactics and strategy. As any point unfolds, first with backcourt ground strokes, then perhaps an approach shot, and finishing with either a winner or error from the backcourt or at the net, there will always be the decisions faced and made by both players on each and every shot. When to add pace, when to defend, when to move forward, when to retreat."
McEnroe knew to create situations where the opponent was forced to choose the most difficult, and therefore most error prone, reply. And in so doing, often his opponents undid themselves with a string of errors. Federer has remarked that it takes him “15 seconds” to size up an opponent. Perhaps a little bold, but who can argue with his success. And this “sizing up” clarifies his opponent’s tendencies, and more importantly the shots they have the most difficult executing.
Click photo: McEnroe nicked you in so many places, ultimately you bled to death.
Often two-handed players (Roddick, Djokovic, and Hewitt) are less comfortable approaching on the backhand side. For some reason that particular shot may be more easily struck with one-handed mechanics. So on the first championship point, with Djokovic serving to the ad court, Federer gently chipped short and crosscourt, and the kid neatly ran around the ball to knock off a forehand winner from mid-court. Next championship point, ad court, Federer chipped softly again (45 miles an hour to be exact), but this time the kid didn’t run around, hesitated, then inexplicably tried a one-handed cross court drop shot that fell aimlessly into the net.
You too can learn to run these patterns against your opponents, but only if you diligently study their style of play, and then if you are able to expose those weaknesses when the chips are down. McEnroe played a similar style, chipping, dinking, driving – a full admixture of pace and spin till, as Arthur Ashe described, “He nicks you in so many places, ultimately you are bleeding to death.” Your game can be as much about power as about guile, but only if you work to perfect the guile side of the street.
Jim McLennan's DVD is in the TennisOne Writer’s Store:
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members – Public
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
Pattern Play: Setting Up a Winning Point
Regardless of your level of play, be it a professional, colligate, or just a club hack, nearly every single player has patterns of play that reflect their personalities, their personal strengths, and their perception of what will win them a points. Understanding and executing the patterns that best suit your game gives you the best chance of winning. This is what is meant when commentators say things like so and so is playing her game or dictating points. Dave Smith
The Science Behind the Federer Forehand
With out a doubt, Roger Federer has one of the best forehands in the history of the game, and it is a great role model for anyone who wants to hit a modern forehand. Federer's innate use of projective geometry can be studied, understood, and duplicated by anyone, including you. Here, Jack Broudy takes a look at the geometry of the stroke – the science behind the Federer forehand.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Richard Gasquet's Serve
This flashy tour veteran is still looking for a breakthrough year – elegant one handed backhand, plays from all parts of the court, including the net – but perhaps his window is beginning to close. He plays a classic version of the modern game, especially on the backhand wing. And he numbers among a crop of extremely good Frenchmen, but lately Monfils, LLodra, and Tsonga have been more to the center of the stage. New this issue, Gasquet's elegant one-handed Serve.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Underspin Backhand - Weapon," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Keys to Modern Tennis Technique: One-Handed Topspin," Doug King Members Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
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