Introducing TossAssist - "No one ever had a great serve without a great toss!" - SquareHit Tennis
The SquareHit Tennis TossAssist™ sets the players wrist into the correct angle to create a quiet, stable wrist and hand platform so as to accurately and repeatedly lift your ball toss up to the same spot. The TossAssist is an anatomically designed tennis trainer that comfortably fits all players and ensures accurate ball tosses so you can fully develop a powerful and reliable serve.
The Evolution of Tennis at the US Open
David Smith, Senior Editor TennisOne
I doubt the great Charles Darwin envisioned tennis as part of his evolutionary hypothesis; however, the game has transformed itself over the generations, culminating in what has to be considered one of the greatest US Opens to date.
One only needs to use the power of video to observe the transmutation of the game, so to speak, over the past generations. An amalgamation of influences certainly have contributed to the development of today’s modern game: racquet technology, training and conditioning of today’s athlete, footwear design and materials, and the radical new string compositions players are using.
Attendence records have been shattered at this year's event.
It was not long ago when tennis aficionados and players alike were clamoring for a return to tennis as it was once played. Longer rallies from the likes of Borg, McEnroe, Evert, and Navratilova seemed like relics of the past; relegated to memory like sixty-cent gallon gas or the cast of Gilligan’s island.
Ten years ago, big servers dominated the game and service winners and aces were more common than groundstrokes. Fast courts were the scourge of the sport with Wimbledon becoming a big server's paradise and no one it seemed ever dared to hit a drop shot.
At this year’s US Open we see a different game being played and the appreciation for this new brand of tennis is reflected in the huge crowds flocking to Billie Jean's tennis center in Flushing Meadows. If tennis is dying (as so many polls have indicated), no one told these people about it.
Foot-speed and Reactions
About the most fascinating thing I have observed at the open is the overall quickness and resiliency of the human body by most all the men and women players. Players today are able to anticipate, react, and then run down shot after shot in rallies that sometimes last twenty and thirty shots! And that isn't even an oddity!
Along these same lines, the transition game is equally evolving. By transition I am referring the transition from defense to offense within any given point, and the transition from backcourt to mid court. We are seeing twenty, thirty, and even forty points played at the net, even by many of the so-called dirt-ballers.
Click Photo: Players like David Ferrer are willing to run down ball after ball and return these shots with pace and accuracy.
A great example of this transition game was the Nadal/Ferrer match in the round of sixteen. Where the punishing groundstrokes of Nadal were time-and-time-again retrieved by Ferrer, not just getting his racquet on the ball and sending it weakly back…no, I’m talking about corner-to-corner court coverage with his own retrieving shots rocketing back for either winners or certainly for some neutralizing effect. We also saw this in the Santoro/Blake match and countless others as well.
Heck, I didn’t even care if Phil was beating Tiger in the Deutsche Bank Championships! There was too much great tennis on television. Certainly the record crowds at the Open (and at many other tournaments this year including Miami and Indian Wells) reflected this revival of interest in the sport. I have even seen far more action at our local public tennis courts this past week. Even my 8-year old daughter, Kyla, tuned in with me to watch the Blake match…instead of watching Hanna-Montana! (Now this was something!)
While serve speeds among all players seems to be pushing the envelop of physics and human motor limits, the return of the serve is what I attribute most to the evolution of the game. Where 120 mph serves were once rare (and offensive returns off such serves even rarer!), we are seeing these speeds common among most all men and even some of the women. Yet, we are seeing players like Andy Roddick have trouble holding serve, even when he blasts several 130-plus mph serves in. In fact, it is not rare to see one of these rocket serves returned with huge rocket return!
Great returners like Andre Agassi proved you could counter the big serve with a big return. Today you see much more of that.
While we still see ample aces, especially among guys like Isner and Roddick, we are not seeing the total dominance by servers on any regular basis. Even as Ferrer was labeled by commentators as not having a weapon of a serve, he still had several serves in the 120’s. Yet, neither his serve, nor Rafa’s was the dominating factor in their match. In this match, nearly any given serve was answered with a powerful return. Balls that stretched each player out wide were retrieved with unbelievable quickness and, more incredibly still, with balance, and responding pace.
It is no wonder today’s players experience more injuries today. The stress of these movements, swing speed, and force of opponents’ shots surely take their toll. Yet, smaller players like Henin, Ferrer, and others are a testament to the conditioning and training these athletes go through. And, among today’s athletes we are also seeing bigger and stronger guys and gals entering the sport and raising that bar even higher. I remember how a tall guard in the NBA was unheard of…until Magic Johnson ushered in the belief that tall players could learn to dribble, pass, and shoot like the smaller guys. And in tennis, we are seeing guys like Isner, Karlovic, Berdych demonstrate power, finesse, and foot speed that was once only associated with that of smaller tennis players.
Various commentators have made several references to racquet and string technology and even footwear technology as having "leveled the playing field" somewhat. Today, more powerful racquets are giving smaller players the opportunity to compete with the big guns on tour. These racquets allow smaller players to take better advantage of their quickness and speed to counter the hard-hitting strokes of more powerful players. String too is providing a similar level of equality, allowing players to hit with more spin, yet with power and control.
And does anyone under thirty five remember when you had to “break in” shoes before wearing them in a tournament? Players today enjoy the comfort and support that has come out of the technology and research in the shoe industry, giving players fresh shoes much like how new tires on an Indy car helps performance.
Modern racquets and combination polyester/gut string patterns have allowed players to hit with more pace and increased control.
How About the Rest of Us?
The excitement of tennis is bringing players back to the sport. Athletes, at least in the U.S. are watching and seeing that tennis is indeed a sport of extreme athleticism and challenge.
Recreational players who are looking to improve their games will witness not just the stroke mechanics that have been discussed in hundreds of articles, but the importance of movement, conditioning, and overall training. Once players have mastered the basic strokes, the real improvement comes with improved footwork and conditioning. The pros know this and we can all learn from them by watching.
Who knows what continued evolutionary elements of the game will be observed in the coming years. However, there is no question in my mind that the game is faster, more powerful, and more athletic than anytime in its past and the entertainment value, for me anyway, is riveting.
(Click link to purchase Dave Smith's Book Tennis Mastery, at tenniswarehouse.com.)
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David Ferrer and Rafael Nadal delivered a breathtaking performance at the US Open, with both players scrambling across every inch of the court and trading thunderous topspin forehands. And though they finished many points at the net, the overwhelming impression was that both favored forehands over court position, and then scrambling to recover again and again. Could either of these guys sustain this style of play for years to come? Jim McLennan thinks it will take a toll.
A key to peak athletic performance from a mental perspective is having the ability to relax while playing and yet remaining alert and intense enough to perform to one’s potential. Most players have the intensity. The desire to win and succeed provides a great motivation and intensity arises from that motivation. Ironically, the very thing that provides us with intensity, the need for success, also makes it difficult for us to relax. Happy Bhalla
ProStrokes Gallery - Juan Carlos Ferrero's Forehand
Nicknamed the Mosquito, for his tenacity and court movement, this 27 year old Spaniard was ranked number one in September of 2003. He reached the final of the US Open that year, losing to Andy Roddick, and owns two French Open titles from 2002 and 2003. Primarily a clay court player, Juan Carlos is currently ranked 21st. His whip-like forehand is deadly accurate, and with a few wins this year at key moments he may yet again crack the top ten. Check out Juan Carlos Ferrero's strokes in the TennisOne Prostrokes Gallery.
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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