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  1. #1

    How does one judge a Tennis player?

    At the Australian open currently going on, in between and at the end of a match, statistics on Aces, double faults, Winners, Unforced errors, Break points, Net points etc enable us to judge the performance of a player in a match. When Federer had lost his No 1 position to Nadal for sometime, I read somewhere that statistics do not reveal the whole truth and judged on parameters or grace and style, Federer was still no 1 which he reclaimed eventually.

    I wonder how a club level player is judged. There is nobody to monitor statistics like Aces, Winners, unforced errors etc. In clubs, many people tend to slice all the time especially on the backhand as they cannot hit a proper flat/top spin shot. Some people even slice continuously on the forehand. In my view, it is easier to control the ball while slicing (than hitting a firm top spin or a flat shot) which means better consistency and placement. Though some people may say that one should play what one is confortable with, , slicing rallies are not exactly pleasing to watch. I wonder how many people would watch if professionals slice all the time. From the way professionals play, it is evident that slicing is more an exception than rule in Tennis. In this forum, in the context of comparison between a double handed and single handed backhand, it is mentioned somewhere that a person with a double handed backhand would have to play with one hand while slicing which should be attempted only when the ball is short or wide(in other words, if the ball is out of reach). Should that not be a general rule and apply to the forehand as well? Even in Table Tennis(Ping pong), people with shots would be preferred to people who can chop endlessly?

    I learnt from someone that winning is the most important thing but aesthetics also matter or how one plays is as important as winning. If among two equally good club level players(results wise) , if one slices all the time and the other hits proper top spin/flat shots, who would be the better player? Who would be chosen for an inter club tournament?

    Any comments?
    Last edited by Hiren; 01-28-2010 at 07:31 AM.

  2. #2
    I, for one, would always choose the slicing player. A player capable of consistenly slicing properly off both wings is a fearsome opponent indeed, and will most likely drive his topspinning/flat-hitting opponent insane. There's a reason we fear those 50+ guys they call "Mr. Chop Shot" - and in terms of playing against unknown competition, the slicing player is simply harder to formulate a strategy against.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiren View Post
    At the Australian open currently going on, in between and at the end of a match, statistics on Aces, double faults, Winners, Unforced errors, Break points, Net points etc enable us to judge the performance of a player in a match. When Federer had lost his No 1 position to Nadal for sometime, I read somewhere that statistics do not reveal the whole truth and judged on parameters or grace and style, Federer was still no 1 which he reclaimed eventually.

    I wonder how a club level player is judged. There is nobody to monitor statistics like Aces, Winners, unforced errors etc. In clubs, many people tend to slice all the time especially on the backhand as they cannot hit a proper flat/top spin shot. Some people even slice continuously on the forehand. In my view, it is easier to control the ball while slicing (than hitting a firm top spin or a flat shot) which means better consistency and placement. Though some people may say that one should play what one is confortable with, , slicing rallies are not exactly pleasing to watch. I wonder how many people would watch if professionals slice all the time. From the way professionals play, it is evident that slicing is more an exception than rule in Tennis. In this forum, in the context of comparison between a double handed and single handed backhand, it is mentioned somewhere that a person with a double handed backhand would have to play with one hand while slicing which should be attempted only when the ball is short or wide(in other words, if the ball is out of reach). Should that not be a general rule and apply to the forehand as well? Even in Table Tennis(Ping pong), people with shots would be preferred to people who can chop endlessly?

    I learnt from someone that winning is the most important thing but aesthetics also matter or how one plays is as important as winning. If among two equally good club level players(results wise) , if one slices all the time and the other hits proper top spin/flat shots, who would be the better player? Who would be chosen for an inter club tournament?

    Any comments?
    The player who can win. Bottom line. Regardless of the style played, at the end of the day, you go with the player that can bring home the trophy. As for the slice vs. flat vs. topspin, what does it matter? The better player is ultimately the one who puts the last ball in the court. I, for one, hit a very heavy topspin forehand and backhand, but I can flatten it out as well as hit a nasty slice. The best players tend to have the ability to hit all of these shots. One can't be one dimensional and expect great results. All slice would not be feasible as there is not enough penetration in their shots and keeping the ball low to them makes them float their slice making put away volleys simple. All flat shots would create a lack of control and someone who could kick the ball up over their shoulders would make them spray their shots. All topspin would also not get enough penetration and they eventually tire from running down big shots. There are strengths and weaknesses to all of these methods, so the best idea is to learn them all and mix them up.....

  4. #4
    Tennisking has mentioned mixing them up in the end. That is fine. I am talking of players who only slice like Mr Chop Shot mentioned by magnuseffect. Slicing makes the ball slower and lower and one would not enjoy rallying against a player who slices all the time. I really wonder how many people would want to watch slicing rallys.

    Recently, in our national sport(cricket), one player got declared the player of the decade for his dashing strokeplay and not just the results that were achieved. Even a company's performance is better judged by how profits/losses happen(Management accounting) rather than just reporting profits.losses(Financial accounting). Whatever I suggested was in that context.

  5. #5
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    Look at the world number one. His game is full of variety, a key to his success. On the club level, a slice is far too inconsistent. For instance, Martina Navratilova only sliced backhands. She was effective with it because of her consistency. A 4.0 player simply cannot slice shots all day like Martina. It's a risky shot at times due to it barely clearing the net at times.

    As entertainment, I would have to agree that in general an all slice game would be boring by comparison to a typical match. But an all topspin match could be boring too. Navratilova was fun to watch but so is Nadal.

  6. #6
    Thanks, Lawn Tennis. Since you mention Martina, that puts the issue beyond doubt. I had read somewhere that Mats Wilander took a few months off to practice the backhand slice and won three grand slams. That would justify it for backhand at least.

    At least in India(in three clubs I know) , very few players can play a proper backhand at the club level which would make it a unique achievement. Continous slicing on the forehand does not seem like Tennis at all- it looks more like playing badminton/ping pong with a Tennis ball. Yesterday on TV after the Federer/dsonga match, India's yesteryear player Vijay Amritraj mentioned on TV that it was a pleasure to watch Federer's style and precision prevail over sheer power. That reveals that how one plays also has significant weightage in addition to results per se.

    I saw a doubles Tennis DVD recently by Louis Cayer. I have heard that club standards in the United states are quite high. I wonder how many club players can play the way instructions are given in the video. Maybe there should be a different kind of DVD for clubs.
    Last edited by Hiren; 01-30-2010 at 01:04 AM.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiren View Post
    Thanks, Lawn Tennis. Since you mention Martina, that puts the issue beyond doubt. I had read somewhere that Mats Wilander took a few months off to practice the backhand slice and won three grand slams. That would justify it for backhand at least.

    At least in India(in three clubs I know) , very few players can play a proper backhand at the club level which would make it a unique achievement. Continous slicing on the forehand does not seem like Tennis at all- it looks more like playing badminton/ping pong with a Tennis ball. Yesterday on TV after the Federer/dsonga match, India's yesteryear player Vijay Amritraj mentioned on TV that it was a pleasure to watch Federer's style and precision prevail over sheer power. That reveals that how one plays also has significant weightage in addition to results per se.

    I saw a doubles Tennis DVD recently by Louis Cayer. I have heard that club standards in the United states are quite high. I wonder how many club players can play the way instructions are given in the video. Maybe there should be a different kind of DVD for clubs.
    Please let it be noted that without the results that Federer has, noone would pay one ounce of attention to his game. It is great to watch him, but if he were not getting through to the semis and finals, noone would even know of him. At the same time, it maybe his style of game that has gotten him where he is and his mastery of his style. The reason he has done so well is that he play differently than the other players on the tour and his ability to mix it up throws these other guys off their games. I don't think he would have been as successful ten years ago and before then. The players back then made up for less powerful racquets by being more diverse and having more shots. In fact, his game was the norm back in the late 80's. Wilander had won Grand Slams before the 1988 season when he won those three Slams. He actually made a huge commitment to training that year and he learned to serve and volley. He had quite a nice slice before 1988. He just really worked hard that year. It burned him out though. He fell like a meteor from the sky the next couple of years. Patience is the key for a club player to improve. It takes time to develop a good game. You can emulate great players' strokes, it just takes some time for it to develop and you can't get discouraged when you lose. You have to trust your form and stick with it. I turned professional at 21 and i am now 37 years old. I still learn new things and new angles to teach old skills. And yes, we have some seriously great club tennis over here (ALTA is huge in Atlanta), but I played German league professional tennis one season and let me tell you, there were some seriously good players at the clubs there. I have heard the same about French clubs. As for the club player, I rescind my statement about how I would choose a player. The reason a player has good results is because of their commitment to their form and they play a lot because they love the game. I would much rather be the coach of someone who goes out their and plays with passion and loves to play than coach someone with a huge attitude. I can teach that person with passion proper stroke production and movement skills and the rest will speak for itself. The key is loving the game enough to be persistent through the tough times and being willing to listen to your coach. With time and practice, you will develop all of the strokes. It just takes time. This is one of the reasons it is good to get into tennis early because a child has a more flexible schedule. Club players (adults) tend to have to squeeze in tennis when they can and they play matches without proper training and form. This is when they hit plateaus and have glitches and hitches in their strokes. Club players can certainly learn beautiful and proper strokes. Sometimes they just need to take a step backward so that they can take two forward. (I kind of got off on a tangent, but I did this because I have read a lot posts here where people are unsure of how to move forward with their games and they feel "stuck". Anyone who is one dimensional is "stuck" and every single one of you has the potential to play great tennis and do it with proper form as well as develop all of the strokes. It just takes practice and time as well as the willingness to unlearn bad habits so you can improve.......)

  8. #8
    Thanks for the comprehensive answer, Tennisking. "Two steps backward for one step forward" reminds of the management saying" You have to go southwards at times to move northwards". What you said about passion is very true. I tried to get my son interested in Tennis but he is more keen on soccer so I left it at that. Not only sport but education should also be centered around passion; there is no point training anyone on anything when the basic interest and strengths are not there. Thanks again.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hiren View Post
    Thanks for the comprehensive answer, Tennisking. "Two steps backward for one step forward" reminds of the management saying" You have to go southwards at times to move northwards". What you said about passion is very true. I tried to get my son interested in Tennis but he is more keen on soccer so I left it at that. Not only sport but education should also be centered around passion; there is no point training anyone on anything when the basic interest and strengths are not there. Thanks again.
    You are welcome. It really is all about loving the game. I really don't think Federer would be playing today if he didn't love it. Same with Henin and Clisters. Sampras is the prime example of taking a step back to take two forward. He changed his two handed backhand to a one hander at 14 years old and his ranking dropped horribly, but his game eventually came back and then surpassed his former game. Most players can't swallow their pride and take losses, but if it means becoming great instead of good, why wouldn't one do it? Mainly because we as humans want immediate gratification and acknowledgement. We worry so much about what others think of us, we refuse to do anything that makes us look bad or less than our former selves, even if it improves us. It is quite ridiculous to be honest. I totally changed my style of play when I was 16 and it really made a huge difference. I practiced constantly and it paid huge dividends quicker than I could have believed. By the way, soccer players make great tennis players. Maybe your child will take to tennis eventually. However, he may love the team atmosphere of soccer. Tennis players tend to be loners, even though they like people in general. The great players could easily live on a desserted island as long as they have a choice few people surrounding them.

  10. #10
    Great reply, Tennisking. As for loving the game, I simply love hitting the basic shots of Tennis- the forehand and the backhand more than any other sport I have played. I also like playing the volley and the overhead. I used to dislike lobs and drop shots but to win a set in doubles especially, you need all the shots(situational) and therefore I like playing all the shots now. To me, Tennis is the greatest sport and nothing gives more thrill than hitting a top spin/flat backhand down the line or crosscourt (forehand crosscourt as well which most people can play). If I could so arrange my affairs, I would love to do that all day. It is also wonderful to be interacting and learning like this; our ancestors never had that opportunity.

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