Save Your Court and Your Budget
By all reports, this has been one of the busiest seasons for tennis facilities. The stay-cation has kept more families around the club, and many pros are reporting that they have had record participation in programs, and that court usage is at an all-time high. While this is good news for tennis and those within the industry, it can add an element of challenge to keeping courts performing optimally, so having the proper equipment is crucial. At Lee Tennis Court Products, providing the right tools to make caring for your courts simple and effective is what we do. We hope some of these specials running through October will help.
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"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Under Armour pants/top; Fila Crew shirts; DVDs
Stepping out at the U.S. Open
Dave W. Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
This year's U.S. Open was certainly punctuated with interesting side shows and exciting runs by some unexpected players. The women's game especially, shows that any number of players can emerge. Some claim the women are wrought with inconsistency and players who can't "seal the deal." I disagree. I believe the women are playing a fairly high level of tennis, to the point that no one is running ahead of the pack.
The men’s game certainly shows that Federer is still the force to be reckoned with, but that he is not the invincible force that we had come to expect from previous years. His year, nonetheless, has been full of exceptional tennis, something that many were thinking could be a thing of the past.
But one of the big stories had to be seventeen year old Melanie Oudin, who shocked not one or two, but three top ranked women players on her way to the quarter finals, before losing to a pretty player both on and off the court, Caroline Wosniacki.
The diminutive Oudin stood toe to toe with some of the biggest guns in the sport and came out on top. Interestingly, she was finally taken down, not by a more powerful female, but one that was able to match her court coverage and consistency. In fact, Wosniacki played a similar game to that of Oudin, only she did it a little better.
Almost all students of tennis, whether they are casual players, who take the occasional lesson or hard-core tennis fanatics, who attends camps, clinics, and workshops, and play leagues, challenge matches, and tournaments, understand various footwork patterns related to hitting specific shots.
Open stance, neutral stance, closed stance, reverse pivot, brake steps, gravity steps, drop steps, and jab steps have a particular role in various stroke situations and need to be developed just as one would develop strokes, grips, and swing patterns for any given shot.
Click photo: Oudin gets herself into great position to strike the ball. Check out her footwork between strokes, I count 13 steps.
However, prior to the actual footwork associated with the stroke itself, players have to get close enough to each ball to employ these various footwork patterns in optimal sequence. Many lower level players are forced to use a particular footwork pattern due to poor positioning. This often results in the player hitting a less effective shot.
Ever wonder why you can hit that forehand so beautifully and consistently during one of your lessons and yet it fails you so miserably during a match? That's because your pro feeds the ball into your optimum strike zone each and every time so as to reinforce a consistent swing pattern. Unfortunately, your opponent is trying to do exactly the opposite, and this is where you must compensate with sound footwork.
The average number of steps taken between each shot by the pros is between 10 and 12 or more. The average club player: 4 to 6. This simple statistic is revealing to say the least. I don’t know a single able-bodied player who can’t simply take more steps in a short period of time. The human body, however, is basically a lazy machine: it will do the least amount of work to accomplish a given task. And though players can take a minimum number of steps to position themselves to “hit” a ball, such hits are usually far from ideal. In other words, they may be outside the optimum hitting zone.
But players can and do make contact, once in a while, using limited footwork, so, when they miss, they are often misled into thinking there was some other aspect that caused their forehand crash into the net or sail well beyond the baseline. However, more often than not, errors can be traced back to movement (or lack of), which prevented them from being balanced and in an optimal position to execute the stroke properly.
Click photo: Like Oudin, Wozniacki is in constant motion between strikes of the ball.
So, most players miss because they are not in optimal position to recreate shot after shot. Imagine a baseball player trying to hit a pitch way out of the strike zone. Hitting a baseball is already hard enough (with good batters only succeeding an average of 3 out of 10 times.). Sure, they might be able to hit a ball shoulder height or below the knees, but more often than not, they will usually miss it completely or hit it poorly.
Watching Melanie Oudin play, reminded me of those old-fashioned radio dials. Some of you may be too young to remember the knob for tuning in a station? It wasn't an exact science. You had to move the dial from one end of the frequency spectrum to the other. Then, when you got close to the station, you had to turn the dial back and forth a number of times until the station came in clearly.
Tennis players should approach moving for balls in a similar fashion. Large steps to cover large distances, followed by small, quick steps to get the body in the best possible position.
Oudin did this time and time again, giving her the best chance of not just returning balls hit by her opponents, but attacking balls when the situation warranted it. She was able to out-hit bigger, stronger opponents because she got herself into a balanced position relative to the ball she wanted to hit. As one of the smaller girls on tour, Oudin demonstrated that superior positioning could counter any size difference, allowing her to execute the right shot more often than not. So, take a lesson from this diminutive dynamo and keep those feet moving.
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.
Feeling Your Way Through a Game-Based Approach
There is a great body of research that shows the importance of visual learning. Humans are wired to copy others' movements. From endless DVD’s to online resources, we get videos and pictures of the movements top players perform. In part two of his Sensational Tennis series, however, Wayne Elderton asserts that, while visual learning is unparalleled at the very beginning of the learning process, it is kinesthetic learning that is the critical element necessary to master a skill.
Techniques, Tactics and Controversies at the U.S. Open
Who would have predicted Juan Martin del Potro and Kim Clijsters would win the U.S. Open? Though certainly not obscure players, neither one was considered a favorite and Clijsters was playing in just her third tournament after more than a two year layoff. Award winning writer, Paul Fein, analyzes the techniques and tactics of some of the top contenders at this, most surprising of US Opens. It's all here, the good, the bad, and the Serena.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Venus Williams' Serve
Venus Williams, the leaner, taller, and arguably, the more fluid Williams Sister, commands the court with her presence, her well-rounded ground and volley game, one of the biggest serves in the history of women's tennis. At just over six feet, Venus controls the net with her long reach but has one of the most powerful ground games on the women's tour. Her backhand, more compact and more reliable than her forehand, sets up points as well as finishes them. To date Venus Venus has amassed 18 Grand Slam titles – seven singles and eleven doubles, and is still a major threat at every event. New this issue – the Venus Williams Serve.
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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