How fast do recreational players serve?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Steady Eddy, Mar 19, 2014.

  1. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Back in the 80's, a shopping mall would offer players the opportunity to have their serve speed measured with a radar gun. They'd post the highest speeds. One time the guy in front of me even got his into the 130's!

    But most people were surprisingly slow. Including me. I got into the upper 70's, but didn't break 80. Also, they listed the fastest speed for a female, and it was 80, even.

    A lot of people self report serves of over 100 mph. How do they know? Might a lot of people be mistaken over their serve speed?
     
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  2. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I am shocked, SHOCKED by your insinuation...
     
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  3. r2473

    r2473 Legend

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    Is this before or after sureshs revealed the secret to serving fast?
     
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  4. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    It's a wide variety out there from 60s mph to guys serving thru the back fence at 130+. I've had 4 doubles partners who could serve thru the back fences and only one was a D1 player. The other 3 were just rec guys with big serves. One actually served 137 on the ATP court in front of folks attending the ATP event. He was in his late 30s at the time too.
     
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  5. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Are you implying that Leed's claims are BS? It makes me very sad.
     
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  6. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I'm thinking that one advantage of not being able to muster a lot of power on your serve is that it's not necessary to spin it in. At 60 mph, gravity will do most of the work. (A 60 mph serve gets to the service line in 2/3 of a second, which means it drops about 7 feet!)

    Furthermore, the more spin, the less speed. If it's only 60 mph, and you spin it, so it goes maybe 40 mph, so what if it goes in, even a hacker will tee off on it. I think leave the kick serves to the big boys. Most of us should just hit flat, and NOT slow up on the second serve. (It's already pretty slow).
     
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  7. Steady Eddy

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    Sorry man. :oops:
     
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  8. LuckyR

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    (i'm not really shocked...)
     
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  9. tennis_hack

    tennis_hack Banned

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    I go on the basis that the average athletic male rec player has 1/10th the power of a pro tennis player, so that means they're probably hitting their first serve between 12 and 13mph. Anything other than this is exaggeration
     
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  10. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    4some I played with today...
    1. Rightie chopper, first serves around 65 mph, second's maybe 45...
    2. Rightie big hitter, 25, a college baseball player, first serves 90, second serves double faults at the same speed.
    3. My partner, weak 4.0 but super consistent.....first serves 60, 2nd 40.
    4. Lefty using only slice serves, first maybe 85 (but 10 aces in 2 service games), seconds maybe 65.
    5. Next court, 12 year old, first serves maybe 80, seconds closer to 45.
    6. Next court, 15 year old, first serves maybe 85, seconds maybe 45.
    7. Next court, 4.0 topspinner, first serves 80, same with second serves.
    8. Next court, 3.5 lefty chopper, 1st serves 50, second serves 35 at best.
     
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  11. Topspin Shot

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    [​IMG]
     
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  12. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Maybe his being sarcastic about all the folks who go get a speed check and set it on the ground near the net and wonder why they can't break 90mph, leading them to believe the pros are godly.
     
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  13. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I'll add my peers, 4.0 weekend USTA League players...
    1. Lefty Sonny, 1st top/slice, 90, high hop, 2nd 80, very strong for 4.0.....
    2. Rightie big hitter Nate, 1st, 95 with a high hop, 2nd 80 but mostly double faults.
    3. Rightie Johnny, 1st easy 105, but never goes in because he's only 5'8" but built like a tank. His real 1st maybe 85 top/slice, 2nd around 75.
    4. Best girl, 1st maybe 80 on flats, 65 2nds.
     
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  14. HunterST

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    Isn't this method only about 5 or so mph off? I have a speedtrac I put at the net and usually get in the 80s and occasionally low 90s. I did have a friend who clocked one at 107.
     
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  15. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Yes, some people are simply mistaken.

    On the other hand, consumer radars are now widely available and reasonably accurate. With decent video, you can use a frame count method to estimate serve speed.

    A 100mph flat serve is a solidly hit serve, but nothing superhuman, and certainly not as impressive as a heavy spin serve hit at the speed (you'll notice pros hitting aces at speeds slightly over 100mph but with heavy spin, usually wide slice serves). I know I can hit over 100mph because I have a radar gun.
     
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  16. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    How about comparing your 1st serve speeds with at least 30 of your peers, and maybe 15 of the higher level players you know? And add a handful of A/Open tourney players?
    I"m a 4.0, so my peers are 4.0. I have the fastest serve by far out of 30.
    Against 4.5's, upper 4, for sure, out of 15.
    Against 5.0's, like 5, certainy NOT the slowest, but nowhere near the fastest.
     
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  17. RoddickAce

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    I don't think serving over 100mph is hard for rec players.

    I'm a rec player, and I got my serves measured at Rogers Cup highest at 108mph, and I have averaged around 104mph over the years (maybe 20 serves in total). They put the radar at the bottom of the net. I'm sure I can serve faster with my own racquet instead of the ones they provide, someone almost gave me a 25 inch racquet lol, not to mention the strings.

    I know a few friends around my level that can serve faster than me and quite a few that can serve close to my serve speeds.

    Pros hit second serves above 100mph, so a rec player hitting a flat serve at 100mph isn't really that hard imo.
     
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  18. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    While some pros do indeed hit second serves faster than 105, it's the fastest of the pros, like Sampras or Groth, and not average by any means.
    A good second serve from a solid top 50 ATP pro might be around 85 mph with heavy topspin, that's all. Figure, both DJ and Nadal second serves are only around 85, and they play OK.
    Heck, I know ONE 3.5 who can serve around 115, but he's 6'5" and 225 lbs. And, it hardly ever goes in, and never with good placement.
     
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  19. user92626

    user92626 Legend

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    You left out the "during" option.
     
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  20. HunterST

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    How were they measuring your serve speed at Rogers Cup?

    Maybe it's a matter of the technology you're using. The group of guys I play with all have pretty darn big serves for rec players. The fastest server among them serves just as fast as guys who have played at a high level in college.

    When we tested our serves, most of us were in the upper 80s and lower 90s. The big serving guy was mostly upper 90s and lower 100s. Again, I've never seen a pure rec player serve faster than he does.

    Oh, also, pro second serves are usually in the 80s, not the 100s.
     
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  21. RoddickAce

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    We serve at a practice court where they put a radar gun near the net (or directly below it), and we serve into one of the service boxes and we get a reading from the radar gun.

    Edit: I checked some pictures, and actually it changes from year to year, sometimes they put the radar gun at the far back side of the service box, and sometimes they put the gun on the other service box. It's not very standardized lol...

    And I think most pros serve faster than 80mph for second serves, but my previous statement of 100mph should be qualified, it's more like, the pros can pull out 100mph second serves with good consistency when needed.

    And I just took a few match samples from the AO site:

    Berdych and Wawrinka both averaged 95mph on their second serves in the semifinal

    Rafa averaged 88mph and Fed averaged 95mph on their second serves in the semifinal

    Verdasco averaged 99mph and his opponent Zhang ze averaged 96 in their match
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
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  22. BMC9670

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    LeeD, the human radar.:shock:
     
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  23. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Doesn't take a genius to make a guesstimate of a player's service speeds, especially having played most of those guys 3 days a week since last Feb. of '13.
    All talk about the fastest server all the time, as it's pretty apparent. All want me on their team, but I usually try to pick the worse player. Unfortunately, we draw cards, so oftentimes, a bagel occurs.
    And it's RELATIVE service speeds that really count. If you're talking about ACTUAL service speeds, within 5 mph, you are correct, it's hard to guesstimate.
     
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  24. Mac33

    Mac33 Semi-Pro

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    A lot of very average players can serve the occasional serve at similar speed to the very top pro's.

    When I played golf back 20 years ago my friend was a 6 handicapper.

    He got tested on a proper golf radar,his fastest swing was 118mph,equivalent to the fastest player at the time on the European Tour,Brett Ogle.

    On the course he swung well within himself at around 90 mph.

    Pro's are pro's because they have better technique,which in turn equals better control.

    Gasquet,djokovic,Federer are not that physically strong. It's just better technique.
     
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  25. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Don't know about golf, but no, average tennis players do not occasionally serve as fast as the pros. They don't even occasionally serve faster than the guy in their group who usually serves faster than them. It is painful but true. They are just locked in where they are.
     
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  26. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Friend of mine, a gymnastic instructor for USF, can hit a 6 iron close to 260 yards on a fly!
    His driver only really goes around 290, if he needs to keep it straight.
    And his 9 only goes 130 yards.
    His 7 almost matches with my 7, max in target golf around 180.
    But for some reason, his 6 iron trumps my driver's distance.
    But he plays with his driver at least half the holes in a regulation course, so his scores pile up into the mid 90's, just like mine.
     
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  27. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    A few years ago I got a cheap radar gun at a retail store. It doesn't give readings unless the object is coming toward you. The numbers we got were so slow that I think it might be giving the speed after the bounce. That was probably a waste of money.

    But once when I was at a mall, one big guy asked if he could serve racquetball style. He just muscled it, and was over 100 mph. But that was a lot higher than most people.
     
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  28. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    When that lefty, BradleyKlahn, was still playing for UCLA, he could serve 137, and he was a rec player not making money from his tennis winnings.
     
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  29. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    That is right, NCAA Div 1 tennis players who might be going pro are considered recreational players.
     
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  30. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Not in my experience. When we were doing more of this, we found that some of the smallest things made 5-10% difference, like putting the radar on a chair, nearer to net height or out wide vs down the T. Radar at net is probably 10-12% off with most guns and then worse from there based on how well you can get it aligned with the shot. I'd estimate your low 90s serve is at least 100 on the ATP court set up. Lots of factors involved, but hitting 100 is not really that tough for most healthy tennis players under 40 or so.
     
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  31. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    So, HunterST, does that guy who hit 107 have a faster serve than yours in real court play? And around 15 mph faster?
     
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  32. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    I promised to make a video comparing frame-count and speedtrac, will do so eventually... stay tuned this spring.
    IME, the radar picks up 90-95% of ball speed at contact.
     
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  33. HunterST

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    Yeah, that's probably about right. It's kind of tough for me to estimate the MPH difference, but it doesn't seem far off.
     
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  34. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Seems to me, the radar is pretty accurate.
    Your friend must have one of the fastest serve in the 4-4.5 level in your area.
    Your serve is averagely fast, not the slowest, but not the fastest in local 4-4.5 level play.
    When I was serving around 10 years ago, most better players (better than 4.0) would stop and watch me hit several serves, before walking onto the court that was open. This included Kiteboard, and all 3 of his practice partners.
     
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  35. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    I watched the immortal Phillipino Forest Hills Clay 3.5 GOAT training with USTA league GOAT benchmark coordinator tonight and his serves were 115 consistently.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
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  36. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    Klahn wasn't a rec-player, he was a full-ride scholarship college player. He's now on the ATP tour. I saw him lose at Indian Wells.
     
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  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Let's see....
    If you're NOT making money playing tennis, you are a rec player, whether the a school gives you a scholarship or not, unless the school PAYS you money to play tennis for them.
    Full ride scholarship is not paid $$$$$ spending money, is it?
     
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  38. WildVolley

    WildVolley Legend

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    I have a Tracer SRA3000. From my tests of cars and the like, and with a tuning fork, it seems to be fairly accurate. The only downside is when it locks onto the racket before contact with the ball and reads like 26mph rather than 90mph.

    I clocked a high school server both from behind and receiving on the other side of the court and I got what I believed were consistent readings (this player could hit the same serve again and again).

    The SpeedTrackX, which a lot of people use because you can easily set it on the court in front of you is known to have range issues which tend to it reading low. I've also been told that the inexpensive Bushnell Radar Gun tends to be inaccurate at speeds above 110mph, at least in comparison to a Jugs radar.
     
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  39. JoelDali

    JoelDali G.O.A.T.

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    Klahn in his prime would triple bagel 4.5s.
     
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  40. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Seems to me, the combination of a radar, the bounce height, whether or not the ball was struck flat, the concussive sound, the air temps, the balls used, and how effective that serve is used against what level player should pretty much tell you the speed of that serve.
    ONE thing, especially just counting frames, doesn't tell the whole story. Batteries and actual speed of the frames are too inaccurate to tell.
     
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  41. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    As yet, NOBODY, not one of YOU, have correlated radar gun, bounce height (on IN serves), air temps, ball used, video, and type of serve.
    I can't, I don't even own a cellphone or a camera, or a computer, nor a running car, living on $600 a month for the past 10 years.
     
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  42. Avles

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    Recreational player means that you play for recreation. Pretty sure Klahn was not playing for recreation.
     
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  43. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Whoa there....
    Recreation and pro.
    Then, there are player trying to make pro, what are they?
    And at what level do we classify a player trying to make pro?
    Is a 3.5 trying to make pro not classified as rec player?
    What about 4.5?
    5.5?
     
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  44. wihamilton

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    A little over half of recreational players can't break 80 mph on their serves.

    Source: I have the data.
     
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  45. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    LeeD, there's a stipend somewhere in there; if you're working on your tennis 20-25 hours a week there's barely enough time for education, not to mention a job
    Plus, no one asked you to attend a first-rate school debt-free, you ask to be recruited...think that could explain something?
    Rather sure NCAA guidelines make a distinction between university and amateur player, so it's not as cut-and-dry as rec and pro...
     
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  46. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Let's see...
    When I was a C player, or worse, I was playing tennis mostly 6 days a week, easily 4 hours a day, so that would total close to 24 hours a week, as a C player, or 3.5.
    Does that mean I wasn't a "recreational player", or would that mean I was a Pro player....not.
    Would my serve speed count at Rec or Pro?
     
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  47. psv255

    psv255 Professional

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    You insist on splitting players into rec and pro, when it's obviously not that simple. were you playing to pay off a $160K debt to a private institution with similarly competitive players?
    Since you were not a member of whatever pro registry existed back then, you are not pro, and you were not in college, which makes you an amateur, or rec, player. amateurs can play tournaments but they are still amateurs.
     
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2014
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  48. JW10S

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    1st of all, Klahn played for Stanford, not UCLA. I would have thought a know-it-all from the CA Bay Area would at least know that much. No D-1 college player, nationally ranked junior or amateur when asked would consider themselves a 'recreational player'.

    And to the OP, most real rec players don't serve anywhere as fast as they say they do.
     
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  49. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    I don't follow college tennis, nor do I really follow current pro tennis, never have.
    So, still, nobody has classified Klahn, when he was playing for STANFORD.
    Yes, he's a low ranking pro right now, probably not making any profit, but possibly making some money.
    So, how would you classify a D-1 player, rec or pro?
     
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  50. Topspin Shot

    Topspin Shot Legend

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    Open level, tournament level, etc. Not rec or club level.
     
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