A friend in need of guidance

Discussion in 'College Tennis Talk' started by Overdrive, Aug 31, 2013.

  1. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Hi folks,

    I recently got off the phone off the phone with one of my friends from out of town. He told me that he is suffering from a slight form of depression because of his game and his predicament on the JC team where he lives. He told me today that he played a set against a 45 year old man who can't even control the ball. He won 7-5, but should not have dropped more than one game. About his technique and skill, he can beat 7 and 8, but not do very good against the higher ranked players. He has a well placed serve with very good pace, but a weak ground game. His 1HBH is nearly nonexistent. He is playing with his back-up racquet (due to his other racquets needing grommets and restringing), so he's having a hard time adjusting to another frame.

    He described the higher ranked players as players have decent serves, but not very good ground game. In other words, they can't maintain 10+ shot rallies. He didn't show me any video of these players, so I can only rely on his word.


    Anyways, he started tennis at age 14 and claimed that he and several others were victims of poor coaching and development in high school. He could not either afford or have time for coaching outside of school. He also didn't like the USTA coaches at the local club because while watching a practice session with other players they had the same coaching style as his HS coach. Unfortunately, he told me that the same thing is happening with his JC coach. Recently, a new HS coach (with good USTA credentials) is now employed and a former teammate told him that he is a lot better than the old coach.

    I basically told him to talk to the new HS coach and set up some practice sessions at the local club or find a private coach in the area and start from scratch. I told him to start from scratch because he wants to develop a 2HBH and a proper FH. I also told him that because he is older, it will be very difficult to basically re-learn the basic strokes unless you put 110% effort and concentration in your game.

    Is there any other advice that I can give him?
     
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  2. goran_ace

    goran_ace Hall of Fame

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    - post deleted -
     
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  3. drgchen

    drgchen Rookie

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    Thus illustrates the problems facing american tennis.

    Why does he think that he should of won against the 45 year old badly?

    1. You are only as good as your weakness. A decent serve with no backhand means 3.5 or lower level. I'm surprised he plays in college. It is important to improve the backhand.

    2. Stop blaming the equipment. Good players can adjust to different racquets. We are't talking about the pro tour where an inch means the difference between a title and lots of money vs nothing. Get the racquet restrung or buy a cheap one. A twenty dollar racquet from a big box store is surprisingly similar to the 200 dollar ones you can buy. Try it.

    3. Stop blaming the coach and money. I coach for free when the kid doesnt have money. You can always find someone to give you pointers and improve your game especially when you are a kid and have all the time in the world. Imagine trying to play when you work 12 hours a day and have to cook and give your kid a bath. Howabout a bedtime story?

    4. You need to work hard. Hit serves 30 min a day, everyday. Place all the serves. Run to improve stamina. Hit against the wall 30 min a day. Focus on the backhand. Watch hiw the pros hit one handers. The movement, the followthrough. Watch online how it is done. The hit a few hundred against the wall.
     
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  4. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    He told me that the man has a weak serve and can't keep a rally going. He told me that the reason why the score was 7-5 was because of his UEs and DFs.

    1. College tennis is relevant to his degree plan. He refuses to tell me though. Of course, the only time he used his backhand during the match yesterday was for slices and drop shots. Probably has trouble with back swing, timing, and follow through.

    2. I 100% disagree with you on the difference between a cheap racquet and a player's racquet. One of the things is the material. Most cheap racquets are made out of aluminum, titanium, and other compounds. He has a good racquet, he just prefers his old one. He was never taught to watch the ball hit the strings as you perform the stroke as well. Most of this falls on technique. I think he has great potential, just very bad luck with development.

    3. He's planning on talking to the new coach at his old high school and set up some lessons.

    4. There are no backboards at the local club. Just a ball machine. But everything else is fair game.

    Thanks again with your advice. I'll forward them to him.
     
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  5. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    Well I started playing tennis at 15 years old with no coaching
     
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  6. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    How did you develop?

    Your insights would really help.
     
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  7. drgchen

    drgchen Rookie

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    I know that I am a bit harsh but hard workers do often succeed.

    Ball machines are excellent for timing. First you try to get all of the returns into the court, then you try to place all the returns into a particular spot.
    14 is not too late to develop into a great player. My last pro hitting partner is a futures player who was successful 4years division one and nationally ranked. Started at 14.

    One handed backhands are very difficult to hit properly. The timing is critical. Also make sure that there is a full backswing and a full followthrough. Watch gasquet on youtube. Also wawrinka has a good backhand. You need to hold the racquet at an extreme eastern forehand grip and strike with the backhand side.

    You are wrong about the drastic differences in quality of racquet and performance. Many club pros use whatever racquet is off the rack and available. I played an exhibition against a high ranked usc player using a prestrung off the shelf $40 dollar racquet, and played the best tennis of my life. Often when I travel to play tennis I will buy a racquet when I get to my destination so I don't have to drag my bag and my quality stuff. Plus the airports are a pain these days.

    Biggest mistake made in recreational tennis is hitting too hard while being inconsistent. When the ball is out, the point is over. Most juniors I see hit too hard with no consistency.
     
    Last edited: Sep 1, 2013
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  8. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Harsh? I rather read/hear realistic comments than insincere ones.

    Extreme eastern forehand? Wow, he was using semi-western!

    Sure, go ahead about the cheaper racquets. I never stated that all cheap racquets are terrible.

    Right, when you grip the racquet too hard to try and "get more power", you over-tighten your wrist muscles, slow down the snap of your wrist, and thereby lose power. Furthermore, the entire stroke would be rigid and the control of the ball would be harder to maintain.

    Anyways, thanks again!
     
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  9. ClarkC

    ClarkC Hall of Fame

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    Summary: The only strength of his game is his serve, especially his placement on the serve ... but he double faults enough to cause problems.

    Perhaps his serve is not as good as he thinks it is? Sounds like EVERY stroke needs work. It will take a real commitment of time, but he can improve every stroke if he is dedicated to it.
     
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  10. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Yeah, I guess so. The last time I saw him, his toss isn't consistent, moves his head, and doesn't swing through the ball. He has practiced his serve all summer, but he just needs to be consistent under pressure. He's currently a reading book called" The Inner Game of Tennis" by Timothy Gallwey.

    I told him that he may have to start from scratch.

    The BIGGEST issue is that he has no licence or a vehicle to drive with. I told him to make this his highest priority because A LOT of opportunities has closed on him before ( USTA tournaments, premium/ pro-bono coaching, etc).
     
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  11. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Update

    After today, he gave me a call. He's quitting college tennis.

    Here's what he did every day for about two weeks.

    - After class, he has about 15 minutes to get to the local fitness center across the street (which contains an intersection with heavy traffic). Since he doesn't have a car, he's carrying a heavy backpack, tennis bag, and water jug.

    - When practice officially starts, they run two laps.

    - After that, they do a series of dynamic stretches

    - Then, they run their '5 W's'. This exercise consists of running along the lines of the entire side of a court.

    - Finally, the play matches. Usually, they are a set. The people at the bottom or if the number contains an odd number, they play 'five person doubles' or similar games like that. My friend was usually in this category because he isn't very good.

    - After 5 person doubles, he plays against the old man. Today, he won 6-1. He played #8 and bageled him. There was construction going on near the courts. Dust was everywhere and got into his eyes and he had difficulty breathing. He tanked the last match because he was not happy with this ordeal and he had enough of the coach.

    He's going to talk to the experienced coach at his old HS and start from scratch. He told me he has wasted enough of his time and energy playing with other players and getting 0 results. He couldn't even practice his strokes because the players he played against can't rally. Also, he has no vehicle and no licence. Because of this, walking to the court every day will eventually catch up to him. The only choice he has is signing up for sanctioned USTA tournaments. He already knows the issues with these. When he 'becomes better', he may consider re-joining the tennis team. However, this is improbable because he despises the coaching style of the coach there. Literally, no one is developing anything. After the work-out, they hit. That's it. Nothing else.

    Anyways, thanks for reading.
     
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  12. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    This is terrible advice.
    You don't intentionally teach a player a very extreme grip that is difficult to use on most balls they will face.
    Wawrinka's grip is not very extreme, Gasquet's is pretty far over, but the wrist is still above the centerline of the racket.
    Telling a rec player to go out of his way to learn a backhand with the wrist below the racket is just dumb. Yes Guga Kuerten could pull it off, but I doubt that the player is as talented as him and at that level he will face balls waist high, not head high from huge topspin on high-bouncing clay.
     
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  13. tennis_ocd

    tennis_ocd Hall of Fame

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    Class during the day, cross an intersection (busy one) with backpack, short warm-up/stretch, play tennis and hit everyday. Repeat. I can only imagine the stress; hope he finds some way to relax.
     
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  14. MarinaHighTennis

    MarinaHighTennis Professional

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    There were a lot of top players in my high school and I kinda "copied" how they played (footwork, form, etc.) I also hit with them and that made the most difference for shot tolerance
     
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  15. drgchen

    drgchen Rookie

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    Last picture I saw of Federer had an Eastern grip (maybe it doesn't work)- loss to Robredo. It has been discussed before. Gasquet, Gaudio, Eastern to extreme eastern. http://tt.tennis-warehouse.com/archive/index.php/t-135793.html.

    Most high school level and up hit a lot of topspin with or without pace. The ball flies high, I see shoulder high on HS varsity and even 0-1 star recruits. I would imaging college players, even JC are hitting at that level. You obviously need appropriate timing to pull off a one handed topspin backhand, but if you can't stick to two hands or just slice. Slices, unless hit well (Federer), are generally weaknesses.

    Anyhow, just imparting the advice that I got from my friend who was on tour. It helped me advance my game.
     
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  16. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    Yeah, both of his shoulders are pretty sore form the heavy load. He's getting a rolling backpack soon, licence, and vehicle soon. Today, coach believed he was quitting because he was discouraged from the bagel score he received yesterday. He didn't even care. Coach then revealed that the player (he lost to) would always get bageled all year. I've personally seen some videos of some of the players and that player is the exact same way. In other words, he's jumping off the sinking ship.

    My friend didn't tell everything to coach because he would have been ticked off and possibly refuse to let him drop tennis.

    He's right about this. 4-5 player of the lineup at the local college hit topspin moon balls with slow-medium pace.
     
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  17. NLBwell

    NLBwell Legend

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    You said to hold in an extreme eastern forehand grip and then flip the racket over. This grip would be an Extreme Western with the wrist below the racket and has nothing to do with anything Gasquet, Warinka, or Federer would do. They use Eastern backhand grips and in Gasquet's case an Extreme Eastern approaching a Western. They all still have the wrist above the centerline of the racket. You have proved my point. You should not teach a grip that is so far out from what any top current player - even the outliers like Gasquet - would use.
     
    Last edited: Sep 4, 2013
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  18. ClarkC

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    Q1: What if a school hired a coach who knew almost nothing about tennis -- what would you think the practices would look like? I would guess that the coach could have them do some fitness work, and then tell them to play matches against each other. Every incompetent coach in every sport at least knows some fitness routines, and anyone can watch matches, set up a ladder, and let the results determine the lineup. No competence in coaching tennis is needed if you plan to do the job this way.

    Q2: How does this sound any different from the junior college situation that was described in this thread?
     
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  19. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    1. He told me that the coach has around 35 years of experience. When he visited his 'tennis' class, the way he was coaching them was a red flag.

    2. I didn't know that every JC situation went down this route. He feels glad that he isn't out there right now. They usually practice from 2-5 pm in 100+ degree heat. They only have cold water in the containers by the courts as well. Very dangerous. I won't be surprised if anyone passed out or had body cramps.
     
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  20. brokenRPM

    brokenRPM Rookie

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    tell him to learn to code and move to the bayarea and make 100k a year.
     
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  21. Overdrive

    Overdrive Legend

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    I'm surprised he still has a job there. They are in the top 10 toughest sections in the country.
     
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