Backwards According To Kramer
When Jack Kramer wrote his book about how to play tennis, it was under the assumption that to win a point you got to the net and put a volley away. Or, if you got lobbed, you stuffed an overhead down someone's throat. When he diagrammed his tennis court he had it divided into three zones: the RED ZONE (THE AREA WITHIN 6 OR 7 FEET OF THE BASELINE) THE AMBER ZONE (the middle of the court including the first 2 or 3 feet of the service box, and the GREEN ZONE (EVERYTHING IN FRONT OF THAT).
The whole premise behind the color-coded court was to help you decide when to attack. RED ZONE - never attack, GREEN ZONE - always attack, AMBER ZONE - use your disgression, but you were always looking to attack. The good players were good because they could get to the net and end the point. If you possessed the skill to be able to follow your serve in or approach the net behind anything short, why would you want to dogfight it out from the baseline? Make no mistake about it: volleys, half-volleys and overheads are the skill shots in tennis! (As evidenced by everyone on the tours inability to hit them).
The skill level in tennis has deteriorated to the point that watching almost any match on TV is like watching two beginners who haven't progressed past hitting forehands and backhands. Then I have to listen to some announcer insightfully informing me this player has a baseline game. "Baseline Game"??? Isn't that what the people in the park play who can't keep score? Nobody's good enough to attack! We have no one who can serve or volley and no one who can chip and charge. Which means we have no one who can change their game, no one who can execute a plan "B".
Tilden said: "Never change a winning game, always change a losing game." This isn't even an option on today's tour because no one has a complete enough game to be able to make any changes. If any of the top men or women players are losing, there is nothing they can do about it: not Rafa, not Federer, not Sharapova, not Ivanovic- they just stay back on the baseline and lose.
Now I have to listen to Gilbert and Cahill expounding the virtues of growing up on red clay. Let's go back to the 50's and 60's when 3 of the 4 grand slams were on grass and attacking tennis was in its heyday. This is before the tennis gods at the USTA decided that tennis was a product to be marketed and decided that the viewing public wanted to see rallys and changed the surface at the US Open from grass to Har-Tru. In the process, they undercut a whole ( and the last) generation of players who had developed offensive attacking games and made a bunch of open stance dirtballers look like they knew how to play when they didn't.
You would think that the dirtballers had their best chance of winning the French Open when the other three Grand Slams were on grass and the red clay would be a harder adjustment. But, look at the record books: grass courters with their big offensive weaponry dominated the French, ie, Rosewall (twice), Trabert (twice), Hoad, Laver (twice), Emerson (twice), Roche and Stolle. Do I have to go on?
The fact that we've regressed backwards for 35 years is evidenced by Kramer's color-coded court. Kramer's GREEN ZONE where everyone used to want to end up is now the RED ZONE where nobody wants to end up. And, Kramer's RED ZONE that you were always looking to move out of is today's players GREEN ZONE - a place they never want to move out of. In today's game everyone is so afraid to lose that no one wants to take any chances. Federer said that he didn't like coming to the net because he didn't want to give someone a chance to beat him with one shot. You can see where that lack of courage has gotten him. Only someone with no understanding of the game of tennis would ever think a clay court game superior to a grass court game. How lost are you people?