Become a Better Player - The Finer Points
TennisOne 2.0 gives you all sorts of ways of seeing how to improve your strokes--and this week TennisOne Senior Editor Dave Smith discusses how you can use our new cutting-edge video upload and stroke comparison functionality to do just that. At the same time, we know there's more to this game than hitting solid groundstrokes. Check out the finer points...TennisOne 2.0 is like being taught by the top tennis coaches in the world every day, 365 days of the year.
- "First Step" in the Drills Channel. Legendary fitness coach Pat Etcheberry teaches you and Jim Courier how to improve your first step.
- Learn the "Excessive Slice Backhand' in the Instructional Channel from top ATP and WTA coach Heath Waters.
- Avoid the most common error in tennis caused by "Seeing through the Net" in Quicktips Channel from TennisOne Editor Jim McLennan.
Overview of TennisOne 2.0 - Become TennisOne Member and become a better player!
Wimbledon and Improvisation
Wimbledon magnifies the entire tennis experience. Verdant green courts (at least for the first week anyway), glorious grounds, the tightest
most enclosed center court of all the grand slams, and a faster, lower
bouncing surface that augments the skills of the most talented servers
and returners, and bedevils the rank and file who have made a living
on big, defensive baseline play.
If tennis is about angles, offense,
defense, improvising, moving forward, chipping and charging, and more (and
yes, in some rare instances all those things do occur) then our best
practitioners in the men’s game have developed (Federer) or are
enhancing (Rafa) just those skills.
The first week had some unusual surprises, early exits of Sharapova
and Ivanovic by lesser though eminently competent lights, as well as a
disappointing showing by the American men where Andy and James went
out in the second round.
The French Rebound
How interesting that we can dismiss the
French Davis Cup team earlier in the year, and yet these same guys
(minus an injured Tsongas) went further, with Gasquet reaching the
second week of play losing to Andy Murray, and Arnaud Clement through to the quarters.
Click photo: Fabrice Santoro is the master of pace and spin. There's a lot to learn from watching him play.
As much as
anything, this speaks to the ability to improvise on this surface,
which Patrick McEnroe discussed when evaluating the track record of
James Blake at Wimbledon. Rather than the straight-forward big game,
these Frenchmen play a canny version of the modern game, with
overspin, underspin, offense, defense, movement, and more. And I
believe this generation of French players were molded by their
matches with Fabrice Santoro the magician. Imagine a young Gasquet
learning the game at the feet of Santoro, literally, and being made to
pay dearly when out of position, when choosing the wrong shot, the
wrong tempo, or the wrong spin. The elder Santoro, now in the twilight
of his career, may be most responsible for France’s current fortunes.
"The Big Cat," Miroslav Mecir
Developing the Next Mecir
When considering the fortunes of
American tennis, and somehow this conversation generally concerns the
men because of the incredible Sampras/Agassi/Courier/Chang quadfecta
(coining words on an early Sunday morning), I continue to look for a
“Miroslav Mecir” within our ranks. Catlike-quick rather than booming groundstrokes, more of a counter-punchers feel (and certainly none are
better than Rafa and Roger when it comes to counter-punching) but
definitely with a serve.
Can’t we find dancers with a boxer’s tenacity
and a fluid serve? And on that score, many of the modern players serve
big, but it is easy to note who flows in the delivery and who works to
make the ball fly.
US Player Development Director -- Patrick McEnroe
Patrick McEnroe now steps into the unenviable position as director of
US Player Development, but with a Davis Cup title under his captain’s
belt, this may his next logical move.
Roger Federer stays centered, corkscrews up and into the hit with a flowing
Tommy Haas, though certainly a top 10 player, appears slightly more muscular, less corkscrewing, and more throwing himself into the hit. It may only be a coincidence but Haas has had multiple injuries to his shoulder.
The courts at Wimbledon play slower and with a higher bounce than
we saw fifteen years ago. And in that distant past there were many
more serve and volleyers - Arthur Ashe, Stan Smith, John Newcombe, John
McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Pete Sampras, Pat Cash, Patrick Rafter,
Tim Henman, and more. The faster grass courts rewarded these volleyers
with low skidding bounces and, with the exception of Bjorn Borg,
the dipping, heavily spun passing shot had not yet been perfected.
Many players came to the net simply to prevent their opponent
from having the first volleying chance. Consider Federer, who now
plays more of a baseline version of the grass court game, certainly
willing and able to move forward, but less so than in his 2001 upset
over Pete Sampras, where he served and volleyed much more often,
simply to keep Pete in the backcourt.
And just as Wimbledon magnifies the importance and effect of the serve (no where does this hold more true than with the Williams sisters), equally, this surface challenges the returners and rewards those who can get the return in play. With a good serve out wide to
the corner of the service box and a volley into the open court, the
pressure always falls squarely on the scrambling returner, who must
thread the needle while on the run. And in fact, if Roger and Rafa
repeat in the finals, the most telling tactic may be Roger’s out wide
serve in the deuce court, compared with Rafa’s wicked sidespin serve
out wide to the ad court.
Importance of Return of Serve
A little like the incredible
Sampras/Agassi rivalry, which pitted the games best server against the
game's best returner, in this era Nadal ranks first on the ATP Tour on winning points on the first serve and second on points won returning second serves. By comparison, James Blake ranks 10th (not bad) on points won returning the first serve, but 39th on points won returning seond serves. Andy Roddick fares worse on both fronts, ranked 64th on winning points returning the first serve, and 57th on winning points returning the second serve.
Whether blocking, borrowing pace, or
chipping and charging, the receiver’s primary task is to get into the
point, and make the server play. And this simple tactic holds true
every bit as much for you and me.
Enjoy the tennis this week dear reader, whether you are
fortunate to be on the hallowed grounds of the All England Club or, like the rest of us, glued to the spectacular coverage on your television screen. Take note of the chipped backhand, low and skidding to
the midcourt area, either at the volleyer's feet or daring the baseliner
into this unfamiliar midcourt ground. Take note the simple blocked return
of serve, as often as not making the server hit one more ball. And
finally take note of momentum shifts, and how a long game with many
break points when not converted can often turn a match on its head.
This happened at the 2007 French Open final when Federer squandered
many break points early in the match against Nadal, and when equally he escaped
multiple break points in their decisive fifth set of the 2007
Wimbledon final. Very little separates the winner and the loser, and
the same will hold true for you and me.
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.
TennisOne Video Network: Stroke Comparison Tool
Dave Smith explores the possibilities of TennisOne's new Stroke Comparison Engine. Here he compares the forehand of one his promising juniors with pros Andy Roddick, James Blake, Novak Djokovic and the backhand of another junior with Ana Ivanovic and Tatiana Golovin. Selecting the same views, Dave is able to point out what they are doing well and where they need improvement.
Developing a Healthy Attitude to Competition, part 2
The inability to play without fear to one's full athletic potential at the most crucial junctures in competition lies in the individual’s mind and not in his or her tennis ability. A player’s physical skills do not vary much from day-to-day, let alone moment-to-moment. Consequently, much of the real work to transform one’s attitude lies in off-court work. Happy Bhalla is one of the most profound and original thinkers on this subject.
T1 Super Slow-Mo™ Videos - Tommy Haas
This world class German player turned pro in 1996 has amassed eleven singles titles and over $8 million dollars in prize money. A Nick Bollitieri protégé, Tommy Haas epitomizes the big backcourt game, with punishing forehands, fluid topspin backhands, and excellent court movement. In 2002, Haas reached a career high ranking of world number two but numerous injuries and surgeries have curtailed his playing time since. Still a dangerous player, check out his groundstrokes in T1 Super Slow-Mo™.
ProStrokes Gallery - Marcos Baghdatis' Returns
Marcos Baghdatis, now a veteran at 23 years old, continues to be a threat on hard and grass courts, but he's also a player looking to recapture the energy and promise of his 2006 Australian Open tournament where he lost a competitive final to Roger Federer. His game is more about using pace rather than creating it and about anticipation and sensing an opponent’s options. In this light he is comfortable playing from well behind the baseline on defense or well inside the baseline, moving forward to finish a point. Check out Marcos Baghdatis' game in the TennisOne ProStrokes Gallery. New this issue, Marcos Baghdatis' Returns.
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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