Saturday, 16 August 2014


In 1995 at The US Open Men's Final  between Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras a ten shot exchange was timed at 10.5 seconds. Shall we put this into perspective ? That sort of hitting is basically 'ping pong' or table tennis hitting yet these two made it look easy. The entire rally lasted 20 shots but the 10 shots that were timed at that mentioned speed were possibly some of the hardest hitting you will ever witness.
So why doesn't this sort of hitting happen more regularly ? It does, in junior tennis, not in the big league. The best players in the World are the best because they know their limitations, most kids do not own that sort of thinking. So what about the rally between the two Americans in 1995 ? 
The rally was actually at set point for Sampras , in the first set, so what did Agassi have to lose ? He basically just said " Ok Pete I am going to keep belting this thing , if you are better at it then you have the set" Unfortunately for Andre that was the case, Sampras was just that , too good, he won the rally, the set , the title match in 4 sets.
I am not knocking kids , it is a game that requires a huge learning curve and one that requires experimentation so trying to out hit an opponent at age 13 or 14 is common. The problem is this; Unless the ball is hit with a huge amount of spin then the hard hitting will account for nothing, a kid will miss more than he or she gets in. Why is this ?
Tennis is taught predominantly the same way , hit hard , reasonably flat and from close to the baseline, all pretty much 'ho hum tennis'. It's all about taking time away from the opponent.
 There is a picture of Nadal , a birds eye shot of the great man receiving serve from around 10 foot behind the baseline. So why isn't this position taught more by the modern tennis coach? 
This position allows time to think, it gives a player time to swing, it creates a 50/50 play where the serve is not a hit/ miss type of situation. Borg was the master at this and Rafa is the modern day master, they will both go down in history as two of the greatest ever returners the game has ever seen. Agassi was altogether different as sometimes he would be two feet inside the baseline to receive a serve from possibly one of the greatest servers of all time Pete Sampras. 
It is not essential to stand up to receive serve now days as there are very few serve volleyer's , so why rush the return ? In doubles sure stand up if the guys are rushing in but in singles why not stay back and give yourself some time ? 
As you get older in tennis you will develop better timing, until then give yourself some time to hit each shot, especially the return, it's possibly the most important shot in the game apart from the rally ball. If you get the serve back regularly then you will naturally be able to start a rally , missing returns will put you in trouble right from the outset.
Imagine if a game was started with an underarm serve, each return would come back 99 per cent of the time, so why not treat a serve just like that ? If you get it back then it comes down to who is the better rally ball player, not the best returner. 
Give yourself time in tennis, standing up on the base line is an ego thing , not a smart thing, have a look at the Spaniard who 'owns' the French Open and look where he stands, not only to receive but to rally. Take note also of how high he hits his ball over the net, it gives him time to make position.
Tennis doesn't need to follow a trend , it needs to be thought out realistically.......

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