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View Full Version : Thank you Chris Evert for the lesson......


guitarplayer
09-18-2011, 08:26 PM
So, I was looking at old YouTube's of Chris in the 70's and 80's. What a simple straight back and slight low to high consistent stroke. Pinpoint accuracy and never a miss-hit. Effortless and I mean effortless stroke. Totally unlike the violent swings of today. No windshield wiper bs, how was she doing this? Aha, eastern grip. no loop, back and forth.

So, last night I thought I would try it. At first the grip seemed horribly wrong compared to my below the equator full western grip. But after 5 minutes......I was nailing forehands crosscourt and down the line! I loved it. So simple, no effort, pretty much straight back and through. Go a little more low to high for nice topspin. So easy to meet the ball solidly and plow through. No wild western swings dissipating my energy.

Never told my partner what I was doing. At the break he comments.....man, you are hitting so solid today. I asked him if he noticed any difference in my swing...yeah, it looks less violent. I'm going to stick with this for a while. We played again today and I am just on fire.

Thanks Chrissy....I love you!

HunterST
09-18-2011, 08:52 PM
So, I was looking at old YouTube's of Chris in the 70's and 80's. What a simple straight back and slight low to high consistent stroke. Pinpoint accuracy and never a miss-hit. Effortless and I mean effortless stroke. Totally unlike the violent swings of today. No windshield wiper bs, how was she doing this? Aha, eastern grip. no loop, back and forth.

So, last night I thought I would try it. At first the grip seemed horribly wrong compared to my below the equator full western grip. But after 5 minutes......I was nailing forehands crosscourt and down the line! I loved it. So simple, no effort, pretty much straight back and through. Go a little more low to high for nice topspin. So easy to meet the ball solidly and plow through. No wild western swings dissipating my energy.

Never told my partner what I was doing. At the break he comments.....man, you are hitting so solid today. I asked him if he noticed any difference in my swing...yeah, it looks less violent. I'm going to stick with this for a while. We played again today and I am just on fire.

Thanks Chrissy....I love you!

Congrats on the good play! I think playing more traditional tennis is good for the majority of rec players. It's easier to master and has more margin for error.

If you think about it, the pros back then were playing like that because the technology didn't allow them to swing with such huge RH speed. A lot of contemporary women pros hit with more old school strokes than men because they're not quite a strong and the traditional motions give them more penetration. While we're not limited by technology or strength, we don't have the skill that the old time pros or women have. It kind of makes sense, then to use the strokes that they used to overcome their obstacles.

Then again, to be fair, there are a lot of players doing very well with open stance, ww strokes, so maybe it comes down to the individual.

guitarplayer
09-18-2011, 09:08 PM
I agree hunter. I havent used an eastern grip and traditional I guess you would call it, stoke in many years. Less moving parts, less volatility in the swing path seemed to work well for me. Renewed my tennis joy for sure.

It also works well with my heavier 12 oz frames.

sureshs
09-19-2011, 06:32 AM
Better to play good old-style tennis than bad modern tennis.

But could Chrissie handle the topspin balls of today with her traditional strokes?

rkelley
09-19-2011, 06:53 AM
Better to play good old-style tennis than bad modern tennis.

But could Chrissie handle the topspin balls of today with her traditional strokes?

No, I don't think so. She was having trouble with the increased power in the mid 80's during the latter part of her career. She started going for more on her shots to hang with Navratilova and Graf and her trademark consistency suffered for it. The power level now is even higher than it was then.

The older strokes definitely allow you to hit though the ball and generate nice, clean hits. But I think that the modern strokes are more biomechanically correct and give you access to more power and spin while maintaining a high level of consistency.

And this is not to take anything away from Evert. She was an incredible player with GOAT level of mental toughness. I saw her get beaten in matches, but I never saw her beat herself.

To the OP, you might try using a more Eastern grip with the modern swing path (a la Federer and Fish). I think you can still get that clean hit with a relaxed swing that you're experiencing now, but you also have access to the spin and power of the modern forehand. It will take some getting used to relative to hitting with a Western grip.

Limpinhitter
09-19-2011, 07:18 AM
So, I was looking at old YouTube's of Chris in the 70's and 80's. What a simple straight back and slight low to high consistent stroke. Pinpoint accuracy and never a miss-hit. Effortless and I mean effortless stroke. Totally unlike the violent swings of today. No windshield wiper bs, how was she doing this? Aha, eastern grip. no loop, back and forth.

So, last night I thought I would try it. At first the grip seemed horribly wrong compared to my below the equator full western grip. But after 5 minutes......I was nailing forehands crosscourt and down the line! I loved it. So simple, no effort, pretty much straight back and through. Go a little more low to high for nice topspin. So easy to meet the ball solidly and plow through. No wild western swings dissipating my energy.

Never told my partner what I was doing. At the break he comments.....man, you are hitting so solid today. I asked him if he noticed any difference in my swing...yeah, it looks less violent. I'm going to stick with this for a while. We played again today and I am just on fire.

Thanks Chrissy....I love you!

Congratulations on the epiphany. Notice, however, that one of the most important aspects of Evert's stroke production, which is very modern, and which is one of the most important bases for her legendary consistency, is the use of a lot of upper body rotation in her strokes. Evert herself talked about UBR when she was still playing. Upper body rotation is much more repeatable than arm swing from the shoulder. With UBR you can only turn back and forth. That's it. If that is the primary element of your groundstrokes, there's very little to go wrong or break down.

The length of her swing is the result of about 50-60% upper body rotation on forehand, and even more on her 2 handed backhand. In addition, notice how "together" her upper body rotation and arm swing are, like a golf swing. She executes both, UBR and arm swing from the shoulder, as a single unit which added power and consistency that most other pros of her era did not possess.

sureshs
09-19-2011, 08:44 AM
But I think that the modern strokes are more biomechanically correct and give you access to more power and spin while maintaining a high level of consistency.


I don't think so. I think modern strokes are possible for most players only with graphite racquets with bigger sweetspots.

I saw Sampras and the Bryan brothers play with wood in an exo before the USO. They did well. But I bet you that most club players today would have a very difficult time with wood. And the Bryans were really concerned about elbow injuries, perhaps knowing that trying to play the modern game with wood racquets would not be easy on the body.

And apart from exos, even the pros would be completely at a loss with wooden racquets if their opponent uses graphite.

With wood (65 sq in), fast upward and across swings are reserved only for top players. The main focus is on getting the ball to the tiny sweetspot and avoiding shock to the arm through the uncushioned grip, and getting the ball across. To generate power, closed or semi-closed stances and leaning into the ball is required. Flicking the ball up late in an open stance will not cut it.

There is really no comparison. It is not like swimming in which new suit materials helped beat old Olympic records. It is a whole different game in the case of tennis.

rkelley
09-19-2011, 09:15 AM
I don't think so. I think modern strokes are possible for most players only with graphite racquets with bigger sweetspots.

I saw Sampras and the Bryan brothers play with wood in an exo before the USO. They did well. But I bet you that most club players today would have a very difficult time with wood. And the Bryans were really concerned about elbow injuries, perhaps knowing that trying to play the modern game with wood racquets would not be easy on the body.

And apart from exos, even the pros would be completely at a loss with wooden racquets if their opponent uses graphite.

With wood (65 sq in), fast upward and across swings are reserved only for top players. The main focus is on getting the ball to the tiny sweetspot and avoiding shock to the arm through the uncushioned grip, and getting the ball across. To generate power, closed or semi-closed stances and leaning into the ball is required. Flicking the ball up late in an open stance will not cut it.

There is really no comparison. It is not like swimming in which new suit materials helped beat old Olympic records. It is a whole different game in the case of tennis.

Borg's strokes look very modern. It's amazing really. Granted the guy is uber-talented, but it shows that it can be done. I'm old enough to have played with wood racquets, though I wasn't hitting modern strokes with them when I was using them. I have an old Chris Evert wood racquet in the garage. Maybe I should put some syn-gut string in it and try it out.

TennisCoachFLA
09-19-2011, 10:56 AM
Better to play good old-style tennis than bad modern tennis.

But could Chrissie handle the topspin balls of today with her traditional strokes?

No she could not. If Chris Evert was age 15 today her strokes would look just like today's pros. If a pro today used her old strokes, they would get destroyed.

I would think the OP was saying that on the rec level, the simple strokes like Evert's work great. But for a top junior or pro they would not be competitive.

DjokovicForTheWin
09-19-2011, 11:12 AM
Does this mean that with the classic FH with closed stance, which would have little upper body rotation, most pros used the arm to swing the racquet? i.e. the arm and wrist were not loose like being used today? Or was the arm also loose with the classic FH too? Using the arm to propel the ball seems like it would create a lot less consistency in strokes and relatively less topspin, yet this didn't seem apparent from the old timers, how'd they manage that?

sureshs
09-19-2011, 12:22 PM
Borg's strokes look very modern. It's amazing really. Granted the guy is uber-talented, but it shows that it can be done. I'm old enough to have played with wood racquets, though I wasn't hitting modern strokes with them when I was using them. I have an old Chris Evert wood racquet in the garage. Maybe I should put some syn-gut string in it and try it out.

Very few could do what Borg did with a woodie. But today's juniors can play like Nadal.

sureshs
09-19-2011, 12:23 PM
Does this mean that with the classic FH with closed stance, which would have little upper body rotation, most pros used the arm to swing the racquet? i.e. the arm and wrist were not loose like being used today? Or was the arm also loose with the classic FH too? Using the arm to propel the ball seems like it would create a lot less consistency in strokes and relatively less topspin, yet this didn't seem apparent from the old timers, how'd they manage that?

I think they transferred their weight into the shot and did not use their wrist

DjokovicForTheWin
09-19-2011, 12:32 PM
I think they transferred their weight into the shot and did not use their wrist

Does that mean the arm was still kept loose and merely followed the weight transfer, or were the arm muscles active engaged?

max pl
09-19-2011, 02:40 PM
Chris Evert would get destroyed in today's game if she used that old style of play.

The game has changed for a reason.

dominikk1985
09-19-2011, 03:05 PM
That low and direct back takeback was the style of the 80s. then nobody would use a loop and they all took the racket straight back and down. (connors and mac are maybe the prime examples)

then in the 90s the big and high loops became en vogue. some really big loops were gustafson, ferreira and moya.

now nearly every player uses a loop but usually a little flatter and shorter than in the 90s because you don't have enough time for that huge loop ala gustafson or ferreira.

I don't think there is any direct takeback guy left, although federers loop is very small and flat compared to most guys.

BTW I think that the modern style FH is the most natural way to hit. you just use the body to turn and wrap the arm around the body at the follow through. everything is going into the same direction (rotating left). quite a simple move actually to me the classic FH of the 70s and 80s looks forced and unnatural.

sureshs
09-19-2011, 03:34 PM
That low and direct back takeback was the style of the 80s. then nobody would use a loop and they all took the racket straight back and down. (connors and mac are maybe the prime examples)

then in the 90s the big and high loops became en vogue. some really big loops were gustafson, ferreira and moya.

now nearly every player uses a loop but usually a little flatter and shorter than in the 90s because you don't have enough time for that huge loop ala gustafson or ferreira.

I don't think there is any direct takeback guy left, although federers loop is very small and flat compared to most guys.

BTW I think that the modern style FH is the most natural way to hit. you just use the body to turn and wrap the arm around the body at the follow through. everything is going into the same direction (rotating left). quite a simple move actually to me the classic FH of the 70s and 80s looks forced and unnatural.

Depends. I have seen many adult players who cannot do it. They cannot hit down the line while rotating their body and swinging across the ball. Juniors do it easily, though.

guitarplayer
09-19-2011, 04:14 PM
I have a match at 8pm. I'm going to try it and see what happens under pressure. Oh boy...

LeeD
09-19-2011, 07:18 PM
Geez, I guess you guys never head of JohanKriek, IlieNastase, TomOkker, AdrianoPanatta, or a host of hundreds of top 200 ATP pros who used LOOPY strokes with continental, conti/efh, efh gripped strokes.
How about Borg?

Mick
09-19-2011, 08:10 PM
Chris Evert would get destroyed in today's game if she used that old style of play.

The game has changed for a reason.

chris evert played a lot like jimmy connors so does that mean a 25 yrs old jimmy connors would also get destroyed in today's game? i sure hope not :)

LeeD
09-19-2011, 08:14 PM
One thing Jimmy had/has is the magical ability to handle HIGH bouncing incoming balls with equal ease as any other shot. His efh sidespin on head high balls was unmatched, and his 2hbh sidespin DTL almost stronger and at least as consistent.

guitarplayer
09-19-2011, 08:19 PM
Checking in... I won tonight. We play a pro set, win by 2, one hour time frame. I was a little shakey at first, down 1-3, but got it together and won 8-5. Liking the eastern grip change.

Roy125
09-19-2011, 08:32 PM
I love Chris Evert's style of play; she makes the game look more effortless than anyone else in the world. Her strokes are for everyone to see when building upon the fundamentals of tennis.

Limpinhitter
09-19-2011, 08:52 PM
That low and direct back takeback was the style of the 80s. then nobody would use a loop and they all took the racket straight back and down. (connors and mac are maybe the prime examples)

then in the 90s the big and high loops became en vogue. some really big loops were gustafson, ferreira and moya.

now nearly every player uses a loop but usually a little flatter and shorter than in the 90s because you don't have enough time for that huge loop ala gustafson or ferreira.

I don't think there is any direct takeback guy left, although federers loop is very small and flat compared to most guys.

BTW I think that the modern style FH is the most natural way to hit. you just use the body to turn and wrap the arm around the body at the follow through. everything is going into the same direction (rotating left). quite a simple move actually to me the classic FH of the 70s and 80s looks forced and unnatural.

Sorry, but this couldn't be more wrong! The circular backswing has been virtually universal among the pros for almost 90 years. Little Bill Johnston, who was #1 in the World in the 1910's had a bigger circular windup than anyone in the game today.

Little Bill Johnston forehand: http://www.youtube.com/user/gpt25963#p/u/6/9IdvdxqSg8E

Norman Brooks forehand: http://www.youtube.com/user/gpt25963#p/u/4/nKfPRWoudKw

Off The Wall
09-20-2011, 11:11 AM
That low and direct back takeback was the style of the 80s. then nobody would use a loop and they all took the racket straight back and down. (connors and mac are maybe the prime examples)

then in the 90s the big and high loops became en vogue. some really big loops were gustafson, ferreira and moya.

now nearly every player uses a loop but usually a little flatter and shorter than in the 90s because you don't have enough time for that huge loop ala gustafson or ferreira.

I don't think there is any direct takeback guy left, although federers loop is very small and flat compared to most guys.

BTW I think that the modern style FH is the most natural way to hit. you just use the body to turn and wrap the arm around the body at the follow through. everything is going into the same direction (rotating left). quite a simple move actually to me the classic FH of the 70s and 80s looks forced and unnatural.

Nah, we all looped our forehands. Connors and McEnroe were freaks. The women were more like Evert though.

Limpinhitter
09-20-2011, 12:47 PM
Nah, we all looped our forehands. Connors and McEnroe were freaks. The women were more like Evert though.

Most of the women have been looping their forehands for 90 years, too!

Check out some slow mo demonstrations by Suzanne Lenglen starting at about 2:20. She used a big loop on both sides:
http://www.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=75159

Helen Wills Moody: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lYRkBGvLh7Y

LeeD
09-20-2011, 12:58 PM
Loop for artists.
Straight for mechanics/engineers.

Hewex
09-20-2011, 01:31 PM
I'm going to take the ball machine out and try this today. Since I started playing in the Evert era with wood, it will be interesting to see how much of that comes back.

Off point just a bit....but Billie Jean King once said of the serve "Throw it up and hit it" when commenting on the struggles of today's women players to get it in play. At the time I thought that WTA players or any players of today couldn't relate to a serve philosophy of the 60's and 70's. But, after struggling with my mechanics, I've changed to BJK's method with great success.

Maybe we all make this game more complex than it is??

Swissv2
09-20-2011, 01:41 PM
Maybe we all make this game more complex than it is??

For some, getting "back to the basics", is the way they get more success out of the game. Tennis is all about consistency, right?

Consistency is the winning factir for almost all lower level matches. The OP has found that solution by simplifying the stroke to produce less errors.

Limpinhitter
09-20-2011, 01:42 PM
I'm going to take the ball machine out and try this today. Since I started playing in the Evert era with wood, it will be interesting to see how much of that comes back.

Off point just a bit....but Billie Jean King once said of the serve "Throw it up and hit it" when commenting on the struggles of today's women players to get it in play. At the time I thought that WTA players or any players of today couldn't relate to a serve philosophy of the 60's and 70's. But, after struggling with my mechanics, I've changed to BJK's method with great success.

Maybe we all make this game more complex than it is??

We definitely do!

max
09-20-2011, 02:06 PM
I love Chris Evert's style of play; she makes the game look more effortless than anyone else in the world. Her strokes are for everyone to see when building upon the fundamentals of tennis.

This is true. Back in the 70s I made it a point to watch a lot of women's tennis simply because this was more in line with what the average guy could/would do.

re: loop forehands. Don't forget the major impact of Vic Braden's Tennis For the Future book and videotape series/PBS series. . . Braden was famous for his advocacy of loop forehands.

Hewex
09-20-2011, 06:32 PM
This was a fountain of youth lesson for me. I felt like I was a teen again. I was able to hit all my spots with my fh from cross court to inside out..all with much more pace than normal. Oddly enough I also missed less balls into the net with what are flatter balls than the modern fh. My ball machine holds about 70 balls and normally I'd miss 8-12 into the net with my attempt at a modern fh. Going old school I cut down my misses into the net to 2 by the end of the night. I ended up switching to my Dunlop AG 4d100 because it felt a lot more natural for this approach than a larger racquet did. It's sad, but this was the most fun I've had on a court all year...Definitely going to continue the experiment. I also went back to the old "draw the sword" ohbh I grew up with. Again, much better results than the loopy Gasquet type one I've been taught since I came back to tennis.

I know that the modern methods are the way to go for almost everyone. But 3+ years back and I'm still struggling with learning them. And in one 2 hour hitting session, I hit better balls with more consistancy without any mechanical thoughts. I know what I'm going to stick with.

Just my two cents....

guitarplayer
09-20-2011, 06:39 PM
Interesting isn't it! I'm loving the switch. I have another match tomorrow night. Fingers crossed.

LeeD
09-20-2011, 06:47 PM
You gotta use what works best for YOU, not me, not anyone else on this planet.
Back 20 odd years, SteffiGraf had arguably the best forehand in tennis. A big loop, almost slapping at the ball. The acknowledge second best women's forehand then was AnkeHuber, who brought the racket straight back and down with a strong SW grip. Both German, both hit really good forehands, completely different styles.

dominikk1985
09-21-2011, 08:39 AM
You gotta use what works best for YOU, not me, not anyone else on this planet.
Back 20 odd years, SteffiGraf had arguably the best forehand in tennis. A big loop, almost slapping at the ball. The acknowledge second best women's forehand then was AnkeHuber, who brought the racket straight back and down with a strong SW grip. Both German, both hit really good forehands, completely different styles.

Yeah very different. Huber had one of the most extreme windshield whiper FHs I have ever seen. her racket basically ended basically up next to her left pocket (if she wore a shorts).

TennisCJC
09-21-2011, 10:55 AM
Congrats on the good play! I think playing more traditional tennis is good for the majority of rec players. It's easier to master and has more margin for error.

If you think about it, the pros back then were playing like that because the technology didn't allow them to swing with such huge RH speed. A lot of contemporary women pros hit with more old school strokes than men because they're not quite a strong and the traditional motions give them more penetration. While we're not limited by technology or strength, we don't have the skill that the old time pros or women have. It kind of makes sense, then to use the strokes that they used to overcome their obstacles.

Then again, to be fair, there are a lot of players doing very well with open stance, ww strokes, so maybe it comes down to the individual.

One thing I've noticed is some male pros play a bit more linear than I think we realize. Djoko and Fed hit their best shots when they step in before contact. Djoko hit dozens of closed stanced backhand, with a closed front shoulder, while stepping in on his front foot at the USO - my opinion is his best backhands were hit like this - very similar to Chrissie but with a lot more racket head speed. Also, Fed is at his best when he gets a bit of linear rotation into his forehand and he almost always hits backhand with linear body movement unless he is forced to be late. I don't think old school is as old as most think.

Swissv2
09-21-2011, 11:28 AM
One thing I've noticed is some male pros play a bit more linear than I think we realize. Djoko and Fed hit their best shots when they step in before contact. Djoko hit dozens of closed stanced backhand, with a closed front shoulder, while stepping in on his front foot at the USO - my opinion is his best backhands were hit like this - very similar to Chrissie but with a lot more racket head speed. Also, Fed is at his best when he gets a bit of linear rotation into his forehand and he almost always hits backhand with linear body movement unless he is forced to be late. I don't think old school is as old as most think.

Problem is, with a straight back-to-forward linear "old school swipe" as you mention, players nowadays cannot dip the ball over the net for angled cross-court shots. The old fashioned shots are good for driving the ball, but the newer aged shots put much more spin and dip.

tennis-kid
09-21-2011, 02:42 PM
No she could not. If Chris Evert was age 15 today her strokes would look just like today's pros. If a pro today used her old strokes, they would get destroyed.

I would think the OP was saying that on the rec level, the simple strokes like Evert's work great. But for a top junior or pro they would not be competitive.

Agreed. Imagine Chris E. playing against serena.

Brian11785
09-21-2011, 04:04 PM
Agreed. Imagine Chris E. playing against serena.

FYI: Evert in the Sept/Oct USTA Magazine, on her US Open dream matchup:

"I would really enjoy playing against Martina Hingis with both of us in our primes because it would be a tactical match that would bring out the best in both of us. If I played Maria Sharapova or either of the Williams sisters, I might get blown off the court, but with Martina I am sure I would be more comfortable and could get into the match."

Roy125
09-21-2011, 05:15 PM
Problem is, with a straight back-to-forward linear "old school swipe" as you mention, players nowadays cannot dip the ball over the net for angled cross-court shots.

I think Chris Evert is infamous for doing just that with her passing shots against the likes of Navratilova, Goolagong, and Billy Jean King.

tlm
09-21-2011, 07:14 PM
I have watched some of her matches, it looks like 4.0 level club tennis. Her shots are weak, she would be blown off the court by todays players!!!!!!!!

Mick
09-21-2011, 07:24 PM
Agreed. Imagine Chris E. playing against serena.
yeah but chris evert did play against steffi graf and monica seles and those ladies didn't hit soft ball.

Frank Silbermann
09-21-2011, 08:36 PM
Chris Evert would get destroyed in today's game if she used that old style of play.

The game has changed for a reason. The reasons are:

The demise of the grass-court circuit (way fewer low balls, way fewer bad bounces and therefore less need to get to the net),

The development of big stiff lightweight rackets (so that you can meet the ball with a glancing blow without hitting a dead spot on the racket or even framing it, and because you don't need to apply as much effort to lift the ball or to give it velocity),

More time to devote to physical training,

Better medical treatment of overuse injuries,

Rule changes that limit the number of games in a set.

Borg's strokes look very modern. It's amazing really. Granted the guy is uber-talented, but it shows that it can be done. Borg was known for lots of miss-hits and framed shots, and for endless retrieving while he avoided rallying errors by sending balls high over the net to land not far from the service tee. But boy, could he run!

I agree hunter. I haven't used an eastern grip and traditional I guess you would call it, stoke in many years. "Correct technique" is what virtually all tennis teachers called it from 1940 through 1980, so that's what we should call it today. (That's not to deny that certain blatantly incorrect techniques are far superior for pros and others playing today's game.)

danno123
09-22-2011, 07:46 AM
The reasons are:

The demise of the grass-court circuit (way fewer low balls, way fewer bad bounces and therefore less need to get to the net),

The development of big stiff lightweight rackets (so that you can meet the ball with a glancing blow without hitting a dead spot on the racket or even framing it, and because you don't need to apply as much effort to lift the ball or to give it velocity),

More time to devote to physical training,

Better medical treatment of overuse injuries,

Rule changes that limit the number of games in a set.

Borg was known for lots of miss-hits and framed shots, and for endless retrieving while he avoided rallying errors by sending balls high over the net to land not far from the service tee. But boy, could he run!

"Correct technique" is what virtually all tennis teachers called it from 1940 through 1980, so that's what we should call it today. (That's not to deny that certain blatantly incorrect techniques are far superior for pros and others playing today's game.)

I grew up watching both Connors and Borg. Connors hit the ball almost perfectly flat while Borg hit with a lot of topspin. Their matches were usually close with Borg usually beat Connors but the difference wasn't their strokes - it was foot speed. I'm not saying Connors was slow, but Borg was almost superhumanly fast. If Connors had been as fast as Borg, Connors would have won.