In the Dark About Playing Nighttime Tennis? Get Ready to See the Light
Do you love playing tennis at night? Do you find that the feel and smell of nighttime air on a tennis court causes an unspecific joy to well up inside? It is a joy that penetrates a careworn mind and dissolves the day's tribulations, in ways that daytime tennis cannot. Everything outside of the court becomes obscured and the focus, the sole focus, is the game.
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A Different Type of Percentage Play
I’m constantly amazed when I see a player win the pre-match spin and almost reflexively elect to serve. When I ask these players why they make this choice, they think for a moment and then say, "it’s an advantage to serve first……………..isn’t it?"
The pros almost always elect to serve first. The serve is the most important shot in the game and most professionals have a good one, so for them the decision is usually a no-brainer. However, if you're like me, you're not receiving a check for your match results on the tennis court so the subject requires a bit more thought.
If you're like most, your serve doesn't vaguely resemble that of Pete Sampras or anyone you might see on TV, so why opt to serve first?
Serving first is the right choice because serving is an advantage, isn't it? Well, theoretically, yes. But realistically is it the correct decision? At he club level, most of the time, probably not!
Serving at the recreational level is often a disadvantage for the simple fact that many recreational players do not have particularly good serves. To anyone insulted by that statement, I apologize but, hey, we’re talking competitive tennis here and, more often than not, serving first does not provide an advantage.
The pros tend to hold serve (win their service games) about 85% of the time. At the recreational levels I estimate the percentages are approximately as follows:
- 1.0-2.0: 20%
- 2.0-3.0: 30%
- 3.0-4.0: 40%
- 4.0-4.5: 50%
- 4.5-5.5: 60%
As you can see, until you reach the 4.5-5.0 level serving tends to be a risky affair at best. That is why I suggest you choose to receive serve if you win the opening spin of the racquet. Here are a few reasons why:
1. You'll catch your opponent cold. Like most recreational players, they've probably hit three or four serves and then boldly proclaim they're ready to go. Believe me, they're not! They'll undoubtedly still be a bit stiff as well as suffering from opening game jitters.
Plus, at the recreational levels, there's often the old "first ball in" (FBI) rule in effect (especially among women) meaning that on the first point the server gets to keep hitting serves until one goes in. This concept was invented for one reason: so that the players don't have to waste valuable court time on something as insignificant as warming up their serves.
Take a lesson from Andre Agassi, after winning the toss, he often chose to receive.
So what happens? The player serving first takes no warm-up serves, says "FBI" and away they go. Many times in "FBI" games the first ball actually does go in and then the server's really in trouble. The server now have to serve the rest of the game with what amounts to only one warm-up serve.
A quick point here: if you do get caught in one of those "first ball in games" be certain to intentionally miss your first 10-15 serves so that you can loosen your arm up. By doing so, you'll not only warm your arm up, you'll most probably annoy your opponents to the point where they'll agree to a proper service warm-up before beginning the match.
2. You'll have more time to warm-up, relax and get into the match. In addition, you'll be looser when it's your turn to serve.
3. Again, most players below the 5.0 level simply don't have very good serves. Sorry, but it's true. Many players at the club level find practicing their serve boring so they let it slide. As a result, they adopt the old "boom" and "plop" strategy that is so prevalent today.
Of course there are exceptions to the rule. If you have confidence in your serve, and I don't mean the "I have a great serve when it goes in" type of confidence, then you should serve first. Also, if your opponent truly has a great serve you may want to serve first. However, keep in mind that even a great server is a bit stiff and jittery serving for the first time, so it may be a good time to go for an early service break
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Two-Handed Backhand Styles - Part 2
If you're like the rest of us, you've probably heard advice like the two-handed backhand is like a forehand with the off-hand. But this is not necessarily so and won’t work for every player because which hand dominates the swing depends on a number of factors like grip and elbow positioning. In part 2, Doug Eng looks at the backswings, overall trends, and tactics for the two-handed stroke.
The Myth of the Open vs Closed Stance Forehands
The open-stance forehand is an essential tool in today’s harder hitting, less time for recovery game. All players with all different grips use the shot, from Fabrice Santoro’s two-handed slice forehand to Rafael Nadal’s major topspin weapon. There is, however, a deep-seated assumption that there is a fundamental difference between the “open” and “closed” stance forehands. Although the foot positioning is slightly different on these two strokes, Jack Broudy asserts that they are in essence, the same.
The Stroke That Ended the Nadal-Federer Rivalry
If you want to create the Perfect Player, says Paul Fein, you can learn a crucial lesson from Rafael Nadal’s triumph over Roger Federer in the Australian Open men’s final and that is the undisputable superiority of the two-handed backhand over the one-handed backhand. No matter how near-perfect a one-handed backhand is the two-hander generates much more power, handles power better, requires a shorter backswing, boasts more control and a larger “strike zone,” and can be uniquely hit with an open stance.
ProStrokes 2.0 - David Ferrer's Forehand
David Ferrer plays the prototypical Spanish game – if such a thing exists now that Nadal and Verdasco play so much more offense. But that said, Ferrer, presently ranked 13th, but with a ranking high of 4th in February of 2008, is a dangerous performer on any surface. An indefatigable retriever, with a semi western forehand and reliable two-fisted backhand. Ferrer holds wins over nearly all the top players, and although his ranking has slipped a bit, this relatively young 27 year old still may have some big things in store.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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