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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
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    New England
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    707

    ~ Aces & Faults ~ An Open Discussion

    I've been meaning to write this a few days ago but life tends to prevent what we want at times. None the less, given the events taking place at the first Grand Slam of the year, where we are seeing first hand the results of a well orchestrated game plan and how that plan is executed on the Courts in Melborne.

    Like many of you I'm sure, I've watched play that is dreadful to witness. Sitting at home, you often find yourself wondering how could it be these people are considered the best in the World in the Sport of Tennis?

    Any one of you who are at least 5.0 or above Players could justifiably conceive taking a Set or better given you had control of your composure. Roger Federer played what I would confidently call, the worst two sets of Tennis by a Professional, I have ever seen and still won the Match. Andre Agassi, played a match against a serving monster, who bombed 51 aces in the match against him and still won the match. Serena Williams, was two points from defeat when the Officials decided to close the roof due to the immense heat and won the match and since I'm talking about unlikely comebacks so it would seem, Steffi Graf, was down 0-5 in the 3rd Set against Jana Novatna in the Women's Finals of Wimbledon and won the match. Mary Jo Fernandez was down 0-5 in the 2nd after losing the 1st, then rallied to win the 2nd Set and subsequently won the 3rd as well against Gabriel Sabatini at the French Open. On & on, example after example of these Giants in the Tennis World playing matches that challenge rational belief that they could be considered the best in the business yet they survive.

    How could that be? Most of you know I teach High School Tennis however I'm not the Head Coach at this time because my schedule will not allow it. However, I have a unique roll amongst the Students. The Head Coach concentrates solely on technique while my role is Court Strategy. Playing to win as it were. How do you beat someone who is seemingly unbeatable?
    How do you win the big points and most importantly, how do you control your nerves when the match is on the line?

    For each person the answer is a different approach. During training, I study our students carefully. I scout their weaknesses & strengths and I build a game plan around that. For those who are shorter than the average, it's all about aggression. For those who are taller than average, it's all about footwork & placement. For those who are not known for their speed, it's all about being in control of the point from first strike. Anyone can win a Tennis Match as long as your heart is as big as your desire.

    In the coming weeks I've decided to write extensively about what it takes to win tennis matches based on what I've seen in my students. This Thread is open for input. We can examine theories by anyone who wishes to contribute or you can tell me what you've tried based on what you'll read and if it worked for you. Also, for anyone who is having problems in certain areas or against certain types of Players, post it here and we'll see if we can turn that around for you ..
    Last edited by Coach; 01-28-2009 at 10:57 PM.
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707

    The Ball Toss

    Can the Ball Toss give the Receiver an advantage? Well it can depending on who's tossing the Ball. If you're receiving serve from Pete Sampras or a Pete Sampras style Server, it's gonna be discouraging at best.
    But we all know Pete Sampras type servers are rare and I say this solely because Sampras had a unique way of disguising where he was going to strike the ball.

    How do you do that? Well stop tossing the ball so high in the air for starters. If you're playing against someone who likes to toss the ball 10 stories into the air, you'll have a much easier time guessing where the ball is going.

    So what signs can you look for that will assist in determining the direction of the serve?

    1. Watch where the ball is being tossed? If you play against someone who has a tendency of S&V once in awhile, chances are if He/She tosses the ball out from they are coming in behind it especially if it's a 1st serve.

    2. Flat or Slice? If the Racquet is making contact on the outside of the ball from the Deuce Court, chances are they're going wide. But a factor that also needs to be thrown in is, where the Server is standing. I tend to stand approx. 3 feet from the Center Service Line. Most people who play lots of doubles will have a tendency to stand at or near the inside corner of the allies. If a Server is standing as far from the center line as possible, you will not be able to count on the slice direction given they can hit the down the Tee serve or out wide and it will look the same. Let's say your Opponent is standing relatively close to the center line, then watching how they contact the ball will certainly help.

    *If they flatten out the contact, you can lean towards the Down-the-Line Serve and be fairly comfortable with that decision. I will say however you should never commit so drastically as to telegraph where you're going to receive because a last minute adjustment is always available to a good server.

    3. Up & In Front or Behind? If the Server seems to toss the ball slightly behind, they are most likely going to attempt a kick serve and
    9 times out of 10, most will kick to the backhand side because people believe the backhand is our weakest return. As for me, I've counted on my backhand return more than any other shot I have.

    4. Tee off or get in play? I'm referring to the 2nd serve of course and this is the moment when you have to contemplate how aggressive one should be on the return. Well the answer to this is as obvious as the reduced delivery.

    * In the game of Tennis, any & every opportunity you get to grasp the advantage, needs to be grasped. Pound away at the ball if you have a good look. This is not the time for the weak at heart, this is your shining moment when your opponent has telegraphed that they have less confidence in their serve and expose themselves to your will. But what you do with that depends on what you feel about your game. I have a very easy answer to this, it's like what I tell my kids each and every day. "You won't know unless you try".

    Your return of serve should always be with the intent of placing Yourself firmly on Offense & your Opponent firmly in Defense. Of course you're going to miss a few, maybe even several times within a Match but unless you're handing over the keys to your car should you lose, what will it truly mean should you lose the Match?

    Hit the Shot, spray balls all over the place. Maybe at times it will appear as though, you wrote the book on shanking tennis balls but one day, that heavy return will go right where you want it to go and your opponent will begin to not take so much for granted.

    5. Watch the Eyes. Ok, getting a clear unmistakable sign from 78' isn't that easy but if you concentrate on this strategy, you will begin to find the 'Tell' more often than you can imagine. Every Server including yourself needs to size up the attempt regardless of how quickly they do it. Some will bounce the ball a few times while gazing at the Court's floor but somewhere within those rituals, they will take a passing glance at where they intend to deliver as well as where their opponent happens to be standing. If you look carefully, the Server will telegraph where they intend to deliver the server. Now once you have that information, what will you do it?

    Coach
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Posts
    173
    As for returning serve, don't forget to notice the exact service grip, the turn of the shoulders when the ball goes up, and be aware which his best serves are, besides where your weakness's and strengths lie for returns.
    Tougher when serving, as maybe 60% to their backhands, 20% forehands, the the few rest into the body.
    WHEN to hit the first hard serve is also an unknown quantity. Of course, it depends who consistently you are hitting it that day, how good the return is, and whether you are under big pressure (breakpoint) or just going for a zipper at 40-0.
    Some people say tennis players are not smart. I say, most successful players are REALLY SMART.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    Location
    New England
    Posts
    707
    Quote Originally Posted by LeeD View Post
    As for returning serve, don't forget to notice the exact service grip, the turn of the shoulders when the ball goes up, and be aware which his best serves are, besides where your weakness's and strengths lie for returns.
    Tougher when serving, as maybe 60% to their backhands, 20% forehands, the the few rest into the body.
    WHEN to hit the first hard serve is also an unknown quantity. Of course, it depends who consistently you are hitting it that day, how good the return is, and whether you are under big pressure (breakpoint) or just going for a zipper at 40-0.
    Some people say tennis players are not smart. I say, most successful players are REALLY SMART.
    AH HA !!! I KNEW THERE WAS SOMETHING I WAS FORGETTING

    Actually one of the most important .. go figure
    The only acceptable loss is when your opponent was better than you on that given day.
    It is never acceptable to lose when your opponent was not.

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