Ladies, How Are We Feeling About Our Serves?

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Cindysphinx, Feb 7, 2011.

  1. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    Absolutely, haha. Thanks for clarifying. :)

    I guess I didn't phrase my thoughts on your fitness program as well as I'd hoped. What I meant was it doesn't appear that the program is building strength, specifically. It may very well keep you in good shape, burning fat and helping cardiovascular fitness for example. But I believe the ability to do a chin-up is a good indicator of overall upper body strength, since it employs several different muscle groups. I didn't mean the fitness program is bad in general, just that it must not be creating a lot of upper body strength.

    If upper body strength / endurance is something you would like to improve upon, then weight training would probably give the best overall results. Just something to consider. :)
     
  2. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    I think the program I do is a nice balance. We have one day of just running. Two days of lower body (so abs, lunges, sprints, squats). Two days of upper body (abs, push-ups, free weights, bands, static poses).

    Is it enough to get me doing chin-ups? Apparently not.

    Is it enough to keep me in good shape for five hours of exercise a week? Definitely.

    Is being able to do a chin-up an indication of a woman's upper body strength? Not IMHO.

    To me, that would be equivalent of saying that unless a man can do a full-on splits (like a male gymnast can do), he is not flexible and any stretching/flexibility program he may do is bad if he does not succeed in doing the splits. It's just not a good measure of male flexibility.

    Cindy -- who cannot do the splits either
     
  3. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    Just noticed your edit, here. I don't personally know any females on this forum, so I can't provide that, but I CAN provide numerous examples of ordinary women lifting large amounts of weight and/or doing chin-ups. At just about any age. I don't know if any of them are tennis players, but almost none of them are gymnasts.

    An example:
    Here is an entire group of strong women, most of which are not professional athletes of any sort, but lift weights to get strong.

    I have many other links bookmarked to show women who give me the typical "but I don't want to bulk up" argument, of small, non-bulky women, doing huge lifts.

    I'm not saying that the average woman can already do chin-ups, what I'm saying is that almost anyone can build up the strength to be able to. It may not be easy, but it is certainly achievable for the majority of women.

    I would, however, be much more impressed by a woman who can do a single pull-up vs a man who can do the same. I do realize that women are inherently weaker, I'm just saying that one chin-up is not nearly as out of reach as some seem to think.
     
  4. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    I disagree with this last statement, because flexibility has been proven to be mostly genetics. Sure, anyone can become more flexible, but there are certain limitations that are genetic.

    I do not believe that the majority of women have a genetic flaw that disables them from building the strength to do a single chin-up. It may take them longer than a guy, but it is still possible.
     
  5. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    Gymasts...and cross fitters.

    I don't have one yet, but I'm close, and I have the blisters to prove it.
     
  6. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    Good for you!

    Makes me happy to see women who aren't afraid to strength train. :)
     
  7. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    I agree with Cindy on the chin up thing. Your average woman would have to undergo a serious strength training program to do chin ups. I also agree that it's certain possible for most women to do that, just not important IMO for serving. Most men probably can't do a chin up and it's a lot easier for them since most guys who are athletic at all probably have done them at some point in their life.
     
  8. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    Regarding strength and serve. I've said it before, but technique is much more important than strength. If you gave me a 5ft. 100lb woman with good technique I would bet a lot of money (if I was a betting type) she can serve faster than a 6ft. 190lb. man with mediocre technique. I don't even think it would be a contest.
     
  9. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Well, certainly AmandaCoetzer and DomikaChibulkova can hit 110 mph first serves, and few who post here can claim that.
     
  10. skiracer55

    skiracer55 Hall of Fame

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    Take a look back...

    ...at post #38. Strength counts, that's for sure, but a whole lot more of what makes a good serve, IMHO, is flexibility, which is what I was really talking about in this post. My winter sport is Masters Alpine ski racing; last year, at one of the spring races, one of the coaches in another program told me "Most older Masters racers are obsessed with pumping iron, when what they should be working on is figuring out how to be more flexible."

    Good advice to everyone perusing this thread. "Throwing a ball well", IMHO, is as much about flexibility as it is about strength. Fine, so we all ought to be a lot more flexible, can't argue with that. However, look back through the last series of posts, and as I said, I respect what Cindy is saying, which is, and I'm paraphrasing "I'd like to be more flexible, but at age 50, given my injury history, I might be as flexible as I'm ever gonna get."

    I think we all know the theory of what the ideal stroke, or strategy, or mental approach to the game ought to be. But to say that "You ought to do thus and such to improve your game" is NOT the same thing to say "That means, of course, that you are capable of doing thus and such to improve your game."

    All of us have different goals and different ways to try to attain them. I've been doing Masters alpine racing for 22 years, and if you think tennis is something impenetrable and maybe not all that sane of a pursuit, ski racing, at any level, is downright stupid. Injuries I've had ski racing:

    - Blown right rotator cuff (twice), rehab for an entire summer both times, no surgery necessary. This is, by the way, my serving shoulder, and for a while I never thought I'd be able to play tennis again, let alone serve, let alone serve well. Serving well is something I've actually progressed to; don't ask me how.

    - Broken ribs. Three...or is is four? Yeah, it's only three. Number 4 was when I got drunk and fell off my Quarter Horse Gelding, so that doesn't count. Broken ribs are no big deal...just don't fall off the horse again real soon, and drink lots of Jack Daniel's.

    - Broken left arm and dislocated left shoulder. A stupid crash that had nothing to do with racing...I was just cruising around with friends. Clean break, arm popped back in, no big deal. It's my tossing arm, so I didn't even notice it, really.

    - Concussion, broken left collarbone. A snowboarder coming out of the woods turfed me, clean break, I was wearing a helmet, back on skis in 22 days.

    - Trashed L1 through L6 in my back. Due to age and gravity, skipped surgery, rehabbed at Boulder Center for Sports Medecine, I have to stay flexible and keep my core strong, pain will never go away, but my flexibility and strength are back, can still compete.

    - Left eye destroyed in a Bungie incident. Not destroyed, but close. Had to have a plastic lens replacement for the original in my left eye, 5 1/2 hour operation, now have 20/20 in that eye, will never be able to contract the iris again, must have full array of dark glasses even inside...not a big deal, still competing in all my sports. Happy to have had a great team of doctors, happy to be back in the game...

    - Torn cartilage in right knee, no big deal...great surgeon cleaned it up, and I was back on skis in 10 days. Thankful because it could have been a lot worse...no ACL tear and rehab like most of my friends.

    So what's my point? It's not, as you might have guessed, that the whole secret to improvement in tennis, or any other sport, as we are continually Chronologically Challenged, is to Suck it Up and Drive On. It's that I've been incredibly lucky to incur some career and life-threatening injuries and have been able to slide out of the penalty box, somehow. God, or whoever is watching out over this whole mess, is surely looking out over fools, because I am surely one.

    But not everyone else has been as lucky as I. So if someone tells you that he or she has tried to throw a ball, or do a pullup, or whatever, but really cannot...well, believe it, and try to help, as best you can, in other ways...
     
  11. eliza

    eliza Guest

    Another point worth discussing: height .....
    What is technique in serve? Conti grip, bending knees, what exactly? I bought the USTA tape on serves, it did not help a bit, other than telling me there is a kinetic chain.
    Jump or no jump? I am trying to jump up (which right now is messing up with my timing) but I think it would help me to have even 2"more.....
     
  12. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Jumping....
    If your need is more ball speed, jumping gives you higher contact point and more percentage, but not a faster ball. Moving forwards into the court as you hit, landing at least 18" inside your baseline, with a good swing, gives you ball speed.
    If you need a higher percentage so your flat or flatter serves go in more often, jumping gives you a higher strikepoint, so better angle, to get the flat fast serve IN.
    Two very different needs, and results.
    Best would be jumping high AND moving forwards, something we saw more often in the S/V era of tennis.
     
  13. mightyrick

    mightyrick Legend

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    Somebody recommended to me that "reaching" for the ball at the top of my swing really helps. For me, it definitely helped. If I get a little knee bend, I find that the jump almost comes naturally/instinctually as long as I'm "reaching" for the ball as the top of the swing.
     
  14. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Hello Suresh: I'll give you an honest answer though I'm not sure this is really want you want!

    No, the do not get in the way (I am a C cup) if that helps you at all. I don't think Serena's get in the way and she is probably the largest woman I know of who has a heck of a serve.

    There's an answer for you.
     
  15. obtn

    obtn Rookie

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    I think this thread just took a turn for the better. :)
     
  16. eliza

    eliza Guest

    there must be a way to lock in threads, so only WOMEN can write..........
    Or, may I start talking about men'buttocks (I am a fetish), very rare to see decent ones in tennis............
     
  17. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    LOL what about Nadal
     
  18. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Ladies' serves

    OK, back to the point of the thread, ladies' serves. I had a lesson yesterday with my new tennis instructor. He took a look at my serve motion. He says I have all the basics (grip, good basic technique, etc). What he says I need to do to get more pace is basically to get looser, more relaxed, and find a way to make my motion more fluid. He says I will gain pace and action by doing this.

    He gave me a few little tips to help with this endeavor and I will be off to the practice courts as soon as it warms up enough to do so.
     
  19. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I started small group personal training sessions last summer. We mostly use Kettlebells, but we do a lot of push ups and core work too. This has helped my overall fitness and strength, which helps my overall tennis game, including my serve.

    I'm finding as I get older that the more I cross train, the better I feel. I am playing tennis less, yet enjoying it more. When I'm feeling confident and relaxed, my serve flows much better. I guess we hold tension in our shoulders which hampers the service motion. This may seem obvious, but I guess I'm realizing how much our minds can hold us back.

    Note to Cindy: I haven't tried to do a chin up in years. I used to do them all the time when I was a kid. I was thinking I could do one or two since I do push-ups. I tried one last night and could not do it. I did maybe half of a chin up. I felt so weak and dejected. :( My new goal is to be able to do a chin up before the end of March.
     
  20. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Thanks that helps me get a load off my chest.

    My only observation is that adult men seem to open up their chest rather easily and swing, while adult women seem to find it difficult.
     
  21. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    No!! Don't do it!! Don't try to set a goal of doing a chin-up!! It will destroy your self-esteem and will to live, and before you know it you will be living in a van down by the river! :)

    Seriously, let me know how it goes. I do push-ups also (although reluctantly and not well), but I weigh a lot for my height so it is a pretty big challenge. That is a lot of weight to get moving upward. And if you could see how scrawny and frail my arms are, you would know it is hopeless for me.

    Anyway, I guess I will post about my fledgling kick serve here, rather than the Chick/Kick thread.

    I had another singles match today. Last week, my pro made me promise that I would hit all of my serves as kickers in my singles ladder matches. All. No going to the slice to win a point. Today, I fulfilled my promise.

    Gawd, it is so frustrating!! I was playing a pusher, a woman I should have been able to beat. I would start off my service games with a DF. Then I would hit a nice kicker and win a grueling point. Then I would erase the great point with another DF. She was struggling to push the kickers that did go in deep enough, but enough did not go in. Worse, having an unreliable serve really messes with your head. I found myself playing too conservatively during points because I was still thinking about my serve and didn't feel I could take any risks. So I lost, -3 and -4.

    It was *so* tempting to hit my usual slice. Just here and there. Just now and then. There were times when she was in the deuce court shading to protect her BH, and I knew that one good slice slider out wide would win me a crucial point. But I didn't do it.

    I hate having an unreliable serve. Well, tomorrow is another lesson. I will admit that having taken the kicker out for a test drive in two singles matches has given me a good feel for it. Maybe the pro can spot what is making me miss so much and the next match will be better?
     
  22. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    Spoke, what kind of serves are you hitting? What is your very best serve (in terms of spin/pace/location) and what serve is most difficult for you?
     
  23. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I have pretty muscular arms & shoulders. I'm not quite like Serena, but I must admit that more than a few men have admired my biceps. :oops: I was too over-confident last night on my chin up attempts. However, I have to point out that I am getting over a bad case of the flu, so I am in a somewhat weakened condition. Now I really want to do a chin up. Just one. I will let you know if I am able to do one in the coming months. I will discuss this chin up dilemma with the personal trainer who conducts our small group sessions.

    This thread has severely damaged my self-esteem. Now I'm embarrassed about my serve, not being able to do a chin up, listening to Tennis Channel's One Minute Clinics, etc., etc. What's a woman to do?
     
  24. eliza

    eliza Guest

    Cry and share her tears in a thread like this one ;)
    At least you want to try a chin up!!!!
    Play hard with what you got!!!!!
     
  25. eliza

    eliza Guest

    Hang in there, Cindy, you are going to love a kick....
     
  26. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    No, not a problem on the serve.

    I have often pondered what would happen if men had these "obstructions". Obvious answer: They would never get anything done because they'd sit around and play with them all day.
     
  27. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Some men do have these obstructions
     
  28. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    I am trying to understand what this means
     
  29. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    Yes, but they don't hold the same fascination.
     
  30. Spokewench

    Spokewench Semi-Pro

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    Topspin serves - my best is directed right at the body of the returner; my worst is to the outside corner - too erratic. If I try that one, I will miss more often. But, every once in a while I still try and and will get an ace. To the T is okay as long as my toss is good that day.

    I have a flat serve, but use it sparingly as I am not very tall 5'4". If I had a video camera or access to one, I would show you my service action, but I'm not really into tech gadgets and spending money on things I never use; like I hardly even use a digital camera even though I actually have one of those.

    Occasionally, I will hit a slice, but only to spice things up.

    Pace is variable. If I am on, it is okay; if I am not, there's not much there, just spin and placement. When I'm not on, the serve works okay with 3.5s, but 4.0s and 4.5s eat it up for dinner.

    Occasionally, when I'm really on, I can get more pace and this gives the 4.0s some trouble. So, that is what I need to do, up my pace and increase my consistency in placement.
     
  31. eliza

    eliza Guest

    you are lucky to be in CA.......
     
  32. Cindysphinx

    Cindysphinx G.O.A.T.

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    You're ahead of me, Spoke. I can't even aim my kicker. Placement is completely random.

    I feel like I can aim my slice pretty well. Still, I play with some partners who think I am a short order cook: "Slice it so it curves into her BH and she shanks it!" Uh, wow. I wish you hadn't said that, because now I'm feeling *pressure!* :)

    Still, some days I can't hit a spot to save my life. On those days, I just forget about placement and hit the darn ball . . . .
     
  33. fruitytennis1

    fruitytennis1 Professional

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    After you get the chip up try a muscle up.
     
  34. tennislady

    tennislady New User

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    Cindy, love reading your posts. Sort of identify with you since I also had meniscus repair. Tennis has taken its toll... too many years on the hard courts. You questioned my comment on a heavier racket. I always feel that for me, (woman) playing with an 11 oz plus, racket, gives me more heft on my serves. I do not put lead on my rackets, Through the years have found that heavier rackets better for serve, volleys. Although I do love some of the lighter head heavy rackets, to just wail on the balls for my groundstrokes. My technique is pretty good, lots of $ spent on lessons thru the yrs. But serve is always my weakness. Use conti. grip, no problem, but just don't feel like I have the muscle to explode up and out like the female pro's seem to do. Thank goodness, I have never had the speed checked it would probably be pathetic. I can serve wide, or up the T no problem. I tend to serve up the T most often, since these days I play mostly doubles. Get some slice , but no kick, and can definitely not do a chin up. Totally agree with you on that subject. At least at my age, I am trying to stay more flexible and have a reasonable amt. of strength. Also, I like you, love to go out with a partner and just practice every stroke for a few hours on end. Have not exceeded your 5 hour session though!!
    Good luck with your game and your search for a kick serve...
     
  35. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    And your point is?

    What exactly is a chip up?
     
  36. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I played tonight with my regular doubles group, and I tried what LeeD mentioned in the above post. I moved my grip up so that the end of my hand was above the butt cap. This is a change since I was holding my racquet with my hand and pinky hanging off the end (butt cap in palm). I have to say I understand now what Lee is talking about. I did indeed have more racquet speed. I also made sure to pronate (what I was calling a wrist snap) on every serve. I got some good results. The ball stayed lower, had more speed, and my friends said it kind of skidded away from them. One of them asked me what I was doing differently. So, I think I'm onto something here.
     
  37. LeeD

    LeeD Bionic Poster

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    Good for you, I hope your game improves as much as you want, since you're willing to try new ideas even from grumpy old men.
     
  38. cork_screw

    cork_screw Hall of Fame

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    How many times do you guys get broken in the WTA? Enough said.
     
  39. eliza

    eliza Guest

    Next time I am going to try this chocking myself....
    Have a great week-end, all of you!
     
  40. catfish

    catfish Semi-Pro

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    I'm married to a self-proclaimed GOM. He's quite charming once you get past the gruff exterior.
     
  41. crystal_clear

    crystal_clear Professional

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    The difficult part is my good grip migrate to FH grip subcousiously during racket drop. I used to draw a line on bevel 2 to check my grip before and after serve. I might need to check it again to make sure it is really a conti. grip.
     
  42. crystal_clear

    crystal_clear Professional

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    I have a different experience. I used to choke up handle for serve. After my pro. asked me to move down to the butt cap, I feel I could snap wrist more and my serve has more pace.
     
  43. eliza

    eliza Guest

    My vice too, that's why right now I use the broken serve, starting with racquet back instead of looping......
     
  44. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Same for me. It was pointed out to me by a coach this winter.
     
  45. DavaiMarat

    DavaiMarat Professional

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    I will agree with this. I'm 5'8 but can generate a lot of pop on my serve with a good shoulder turn and leg spring. I play some 5.0's that no matter how hard I hit the serve the get a large % of them back or if I hit it in their strike zone they block it back for almost as hard as I hit it (were talking 100mph+ serves).

    When I play these dudes I actually take something off my serve and start really adding variety. I'll hit a kick serve as a 1st serve to thier backhands, or serve a slice coming into the body or I'll even slice it into the court divider or wall if I'm on a end court. Then I'll pound one down the middle just to keep them off balanced. The key is having the ability to keep them guessing. That's an advantage you never want to relinguish. Never let them get grooved. The only time I will pound a serve to one side is when I know they have trouble with a side on the return. Then I'll go after it relentlessly. They know it's coming but they can't do anything about it.


    As Will said, an out wide serve is an asset especially playing indoors. Too many people serve down the T or in the middle of the box but don't develop a kick or a slice out wide. Work with a coach and learn to hit high over the net with lots of spin to bring it down. Then you'll be heads and shoulders above your lady competitors.
     
  46. Kevo

    Kevo Hall of Fame

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    This is where a good instructor/coach can help a lot. Most people just have a lot of things wrong with their serve because it's a tough stroke to learn, and many learn without much instruction. Most people need personal instruction on the serve. Some people can learn simply by watching video, or reading articles, but it's probably not a large percentage.

    I personally only discuss jumping when I tell people to quit doing it. I do discuss bending knees, but only after someone has a pretty good service motion.

    The other thing is picking a good instructor. IMO if your pro can't hit a 100mph serve, nailing the back fence pretty hard about half way up, then I would look elsewhere. I've seen quite a few public club teaching pros that simply don't have great serves. Many times they're average or slightly better than average for their level. That's fine, but if you want to learn how to hit a better than average serve, it would be good to learn from someone that knows how to hit it. I'd make exceptions in certain cases, but I've seen 4.5 level doubles players that can't play singles any more because of mobility, but they can hit their serve around 100mph, and they often hit aces. Don't misunderstand me, power is not the most important thing on a serve, but if you have a good serve you will be able to hit with power when you want to.
     
  47. Topaz

    Topaz Legend

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    D'oh, obviously not paying attention! Will post my input and thoughts later, no time now!
     
  48. eliza

    eliza Guest

    Kevo, my seach for a good Pro has ended, nobody is good here. The only person who helped me with the kick was a man who somehow ended up in a list of Wegner's method coaches. THanks to him I am developing the kick, and it was he to tell me to break the motion. And I tell you, I went from night to daybreak. Now I want to continue improving, b/c I know I am capable of some at least, but the only tools I trust is DVD and this forum......
    To read that raw power is not everything for a lady gives me some sort of peace: I thought I was doomed. Now I know I can focus on placement and RPM instead..............
     
  49. sureshs

    sureshs Bionic Poster

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    Most pros I have seen can't. Why do you think that is so important? By the same token, shouldn't he/she also hit 80 mph groundies consistently?
     
  50. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Legend

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    I think its important. Unlike other sports your tennis pro is going to be your hitting partner too. So you want a guy who has the goods.

    FWIW all the pros I have had can hit big serves. Most are former college players 5.5 or above. But some of them have been satellite tour players..

    Why settle for second best with your money? For the same reason I don't like many female pros. The women would have to be a former world class player (top 500) and still be in shape for me to want to take lessons from em.
     

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