"old school" tactics

Discussion in 'Tennis Tips/Instruction' started by Ash Doyle, Apr 7, 2004.

  1. Ash Doyle

    Ash Doyle Professional

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    I went to watch a college tennis meet for the first time this weekend and it got me thinking. This was a small college who was playing another small college. None of either teams players were that incredible. I noticed that almost all the players played with a semi- to full-western grip and hit loopy topspin shots. The shots had good pace, plenty of topspin, and good depth. They didn't vary their shots at all. All shots were deep with topspin, with no use of angles. During singles play, players VERY rarely came into net. Even during doubles, most teams played both players back. It just seemed to me that a decent "old-school" player, who was comfortable at the net and hitting slices, could give these players a fit. It seemed to me that forcing them to hit low and sliced balls with their western style grips, forcing them to net where they were not comfortable, and volleying their high topspinning shots at net would be a great recipe for beating these guys. Obviously, that wasn't these guys games, but no one tried it. One doubles team did play one-up and one-back and they destroyed their opponents just by the net guy picking their shots out of the air and slamming it down their throats. However, even when this guy played his singles match he did not come to net. Is this style of play not taught anymore? It just seems to me that at this level of play, and at the club level, this style is still very effective. Any thoughts?
     
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  2. Bungalo Bill

    Bungalo Bill G.O.A.T.

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    Ash that is an very good observation. I was speaking with one of my friends who coaches a lot of nationally ranked juniors and this is changing. A lot of coaches are moving away from the "baseline" game and incorporating a more all-court player.

    A couple of years ago, someone mentioned that the serve and volleyer is dead. I said that we are just in a pendulum swing that favors the baseliners for now, but eventually it will swing the other way. Vic Braden also recently wrote an article in a Advantage Tennis Magazine saying he is seeing the same things as you. He went on to say that it will only be a short time before we start seeing more and more players come to net.

    It is coming back the other way. And your right it is the best way to beat these guys which is why coaches are incorporating net play more.
     
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  3. joe sch

    joe sch Hall of Fame

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    I also totally agree with your point and think that by playing an allcourt game or S/V, a player now has the best chance of advancing because many of todays baseline players do not know how to counter old school tactics with a secondary plan of attack or defense. Coaches need to teach volleying, slicing, chiping, dropping, charging and hitting flatter. It may take another top player like Edberg, Becker or McEnroe to inspire this change of tactics.
     
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  4. Thunnus

    Thunnus Rookie

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    I don't think simply playing the old school style will make any particular player any more successful. Even now, many top players do play all court style and they are comfortable from the baseline as well as net. IMHO, this (the fact they are successful) is not because they play this style but because they are very good athletes at first place.

    At my club, many good players play old school style and it works great for them against other club players, but I know they get their butt kicked very hard if they played that game against good college players, because their old school technique and style won't bother good college players one bit.

    My point is that, yes playing the all court style will get you far at any level, but you have to be exceptionally good player/athlete to pull that off. If you are an average athlete and try to pull that off against good baseliners who hit very hard with lots of topspin, you will get beat easily every time. This is the reason why you don't see many old schoolers any more at this level - it doesn't work unless you are really good in the modern tennis.
     
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  5. edge

    edge Banned

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    Most all tournament juniors have adopted the "Agassi style of play." In part, it's because most of the teaching pros promote this method as the easiest way to achieve results. Even Nick B's focus is still baseline play altough he's trying to move more towards all-court. That may be one of the reasons why Maria Sharapova moved to Landsdorf from Bolleterri's where she started when she was 11. The Roddick product of tennis, big serve and FH, is the epitome of junior tournament style tennis. There are cycles and I would expect the success of JHH and Federer will promote a more all-court game.
     
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  6. jmckinney

    jmckinney Rookie

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    Well said Edge. It does go in cycles and it will not be long before the net game comes back and you will see more players learning and incorportating it into their games. Maybe with Federer and now Roddick coming in more will help change the way juniors are playing now.
     
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  7. hemegonia

    hemegonia New User

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    Cyclic?

    First post, woo.
    One thing I hear Johnny Mac say during his commentary (often) is that the technology is allowing players to hit off their back foot more easily and passing shorts are easier as well due to the increased maneuverability of the racquets. My point is that tactics may be cyclic if nothing else changed. What is not cyclic is technology, racquets and strings are getting lighter and more spin friendly, shoes have more traction. This is more biased towards a baseliner because they can take bigger cuts in less time, narrowing the window of opportunity for a net rush. I'm not saying that baselining is the way to go but I am saying that advancements are making baselining an easier to learn and appealing, style of play.
     
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  8. Nellie

    Nellie Hall of Fame

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    I also think you see a difference now in the way the kids are being trained. With progressive tennis (short courts with short nets for little kids), the kids hit for angles and create points. I have been told that the next generation of great tennis players will be coming from France for this reason.

    Back to the original post, I think you have a generation of players taught not to lose, instead of trying to win points.
     
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  9. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    I'm surprised they played like that. I've watched the community college in my area play several small colleges. (Generally, the ones in the North get killed when they come down here). But most of the time the server in doubles follows his serve to the net 100% of the time. Singles is a different story, but doubles is still won by getting to the net.
     
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  10. LuckyR

    LuckyR Legend

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    I am not suprised by the OP's description and I agree that the standard doubles team and all courter singles player will have an advantage over such a team.
     
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  11. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    I dont think style of play in tennis is cyclic at all any more. The technology (lighter, more powerful, larger headed racquets, and the poly strings hugely influence how the game is now played)..this all supports extreme grips which leads to low risk baseline brawling. People learning with extreme grips have lots more trouble trying in general learning strokes which require milder grips (strokes like the volley, sliced approach shot, sliced backhand, etc)..Better and easier to start out with milder grips and gradually make them more extreme...at advanced levels of play, the % play no longer favors serve/volley, and there is nothing to indicate that style of play will ever be back to any degree. Cant really even serve/volley like the old days at Wimbledon anymore......Years ago serve/volley was the only way to win W.
     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2008
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  12. FH2FH

    FH2FH Professional

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    When the #2 player in the world wins playing 10 feet behind the baseline usually that says something about where the style is today. Sure, he's added to his game, but he was #2 before that happened. I wouldn't say that "old school" causes him any problems either.

    When was the last time a S&V'er had an advantage? I think if Agassi had won that 97(?) US Open the end of S&V would have been here that much sooner. Sampras had/has an incredible serve and ability to anticipate volleys. Federer rarely plays S&V even though he can do it all.

    It's the technology. I'm not against it because it allows amateurs such as myself to hit shots like a pro every now and then. I have a hard enough time not framing the ball with a 100sq/in frame and the weight of shot I can generate with a modern frame, as opposed to wood, is amazing.

    One possible way S&V could possibly respawn is with super-serving. We already have it now. Dr Ivo, etc. Huge guys, huge serves: toss it, smack it, maybe hit a volley, point over. I don't know why anyone would want this back though. Why not just watch ATP doubles then? ;)
     
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  13. NoBadMojo

    NoBadMojo G.O.A.T.

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    The style you mentioned IS indeed practical if you can pull it off. You will see good all court veterans do this vs juniors, but doubtful you will see it <as you said> in college matches where most of them can only play one way.
    An all court style, quite simply is harder to play and takes more skill and athleticism....learning forehands and backhands with extreme grips is the quickest way to get proficient at the game....you are learning far less shots
    As an all courting veteran who cant/has no desire to endless trade groundstrokes from the baseline, I do various things to take one dimensional players (mostly juniors) out of their comfort zones
     
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  14. ProfoundBasic

    ProfoundBasic Rookie

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    my old simple way "do whatever necessary" still works well in all clubs i go. I believe that is what Toni and Rafa base on. Old school? conventional? modern? Go ask Billie Jean King.
     
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  15. FH2FH

    FH2FH Professional

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    Santoro frustrating a guys like Safin comes to mind. :) I hate the feeling that someone's found a way to pull the strings, but I do try to learn from it when it happens. A smart player will adapt. I think that's what all court is about. Probably the all court players we think of were not instructed from the beginning with playing "all court" in mind. They improved areas as needed to prevent being exploited or wasting opportunities. It's a way now just to say someone has no weaknesses and plays smart.
     
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  16. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    The all court game has just become much more sophisticated, maybe to the extent that many don‘t recognize it.

    Instead of just crash and bash, the new all court players use more evolved strategy to get into the forecourt. Often glossed over, the Transition game is where it’s at in Pro Tennis today!

    They can all rally, volley and hit overheads, but who can effectively transition to the forecourt; thats your champ and it's part of the reason Andy R is struggling so much in today's game.

    Defending, they work hard to avoid leaving shorter balls and then alternately, they do more with the shorter balls they force out of their opponent. They also don't have to get all the way in to finish the point, so you rarely see the whole series of shots play out. Like Agassi, many of the players are so proficient at the Mid court shots, that they usually force the error or hit the winner prior to the final volley. There is so much pressure to do a lot with the ball at this phase, that they often give up the UE on these mid court shots as well. (ex..Andy Murry did vs Nadal)

    A good way to think of it is like a Basketball play, where they usually shoot the ball before the final option of the play, but every now and then, they make it all the way to the last option. Either way, it’s still the same play being executed.
     
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  17. Steady Eddy

    Steady Eddy Hall of Fame

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    Interesting. So getting to the net in pro tennis is more important than it looks? It's still the objective of what they're trying to do. The commentators should point this out.

    But what about doubles? Is two back the future of that sport?
     
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  18. TTAce

    TTAce Rookie

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    Future when? no idea. but LaCoste and Nike ad scare me already.
     
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  19. 2nd_Serve

    2nd_Serve Professional

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    Yeah. I have to agree with you. But today's rackets don't come with a lot of other things besides power.
     
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  20. TTAce

    TTAce Rookie

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    man, power? risk my life for my partner?
     
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  21. 35ft6

    35ft6 Legend

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    I played an old style game in college -- a style that I didn't develop on purpose by the way, but I didn't touch a racket for 2-1/2 years until I decided to try out for college team, and I realized I couldn't hit big any more -- and it worked really well.

    Actually, my first year, when I played number 1 for a D-2 team, I only won 2 singles matches all year. But the next 3 years, at a D-3 school, I barely lost. I would just slice 90% of the time and hit my forehand for position until the other guy just imploded. Sometimes it wouldn't take long at all. Of course, if they were just flat out worse, I'd hit bigger, but against most guys I would just hit for position and not give them what they're used to, i.e. top spin shots hit with respectable pace.
     
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  22. 5263

    5263 G.O.A.T.

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    Most of the commentators come from the past of crashing net, so they don't even recognize what's going on yet as this evolves.

    At this point, I don't see but 2 players who have a handle on this new approach to the transition game. Most of the rest are baseline bashing and trying to crash net on a deep approach shot.

    in an interview, Federer stated he began to master the grass when one day he realized that he didn't have to S&V just because the greats of the past had done it that way, but he could apply some his shots to work his way in with a lot less risks.

    Nadal came to grass with his Clay court skills and was smart enough not to completely abandon them when on the grass. He choose to just adapt them to the faster pace of grass. He's learned to use his slice and angled TS in ways to draw weak replies on this surface.
    What really sets Nadal apart from everyone in my book, is how lethal he has become with anything remotely short, and with extremely few UEs. This is part of why you won't see tons of volleys for him to finish. Like Agassi before him, it rarely gets that far and he does it with far fewer UEs than Andre.

    These guys ability to dominate a rally with anyone on the planet gives them the chance to transition on their terms at all times, but what is really scary is that they have learned to hit short and mid ct balls in places and at times, where most would not recognize. For example both of them will use a mid ct ball very often when they are hitting to open court on a outside directional and this is one of their ways of increasing margin of error. (Just a simple and obvious example) But how often do we see Roddick open the court like that, only to hit the ball 4 inches wide and lose a pt that should be in the bag?

    Others are coming on fast, with Djoker, Murry, Gasquet and others catching on fast.

    AS for dubs, I still put my $$s on a good 2 up team, but the use of 2 back was used regular in defensive situations or to push a certain matchup, by the Woodies all thru the 90's.
     
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2008
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  23. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    I have been reading this gripe about "baseline bashers" for years now.. I don't buy it for a second.

    1) All the good baseline bashers can go to the net and finish - when the opportunity presents itself. Yes Nadal can hit a volley.

    2) Going to the net regularly (the Serve and Volley) is not a good tatic because guys are too good at hitting passing shots. If it was - people would already being doing it.

    Tennis players aren't stupid. They go with what works. If S and V and "old school" tatics would result in wins for them - they would do it.
     
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  24. ProfoundBasic

    ProfoundBasic Rookie

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    ^^^ Nadal made "one" volley winner in Wimby final.

    This wimby final further comfirm the best tactics is "do whatever possible to put the ball back." To me, that is the oldest "old school" tactics.
     
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  25. A.Davidson

    A.Davidson Semi-Pro

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    Ash, can I just ask which schools these were, or which conference(s) they play in?
     
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  26. orangettecoleman

    orangettecoleman Professional

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    better work on these tactics because a whole new wave of topspin monkeys are about to buy APDs and sleeveless shirts. have fun putting away those no pace spin shots that land at the service line and sit right up into your strike zone! :p
     
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  27. orangettecoleman

    orangettecoleman Professional

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    those tactics are all still very effective. it's just at the really higher levels that baseliners are good enough to pass a good net rusher consistently. the last match i played the guy was hitting nothing but slice and drop shots. everything was too low for me to hit and i had to hit up on it to get it over the net, at which point he would just put it away with an easy volley every time. got double bageled. :(
     
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  28. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Maybe he hit only one "winner" but he won quite a few points at the net.
     
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  29. GuyClinch

    GuyClinch Hall of Fame

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    Sorry dude - it sounds like the guy you played is just better then you. Obviously if you can't hit the proper passing shots you can still get beat. Point is someone with the exact same strategy that you have and better execution could have won easily.

    Heck I even noticed that those wicked slices that Nadal can hit were largely neutralized by Federer who could just CRUSH them - whereas Murray made errors.

    Is it worth it to immerse yourself in "old school' tennis to try to beat people? I don't think it is. You will rise up the rankings faster learning a powerful two handed backhand and a tough penetrating forehand with spin.

    Can a REALLY good OLD SCHOOL guy beat some guy just learning the game with a bunch of no pace topspin shots? Of course..

    I look at it this way - you only have x hours each week to practice. What should you work on? I don't think slices and serve and volley is the answer. Not only is it hard to learn - it's actually a very physically trying style to play. If that wasn't enough.. It's not that good for doubles! I know it sounds crazy but slice shots equal PAIN in doubles.

    Pete
     
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