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Old 08-16-2011, 02:16 PM   #23
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Originally Posted by ian2 View Post
skiracer, thanks for answering that question. I agree with all you've said. I'd add that there was one single thing that jumped at me the most: the purpose behind each shot. I can't quite explain it: it wasn't just the placement combined with power, but something else that eludes me... perhaps the instinctual knowledge where to hit the ball in a given point situation? The end result was that, in this match anyway, Vasilisa wasn't hitting any neutral, let alone defensive, shots. The first shot she hit in a point immediately forced her opponent into a defensive position, and the next shot, if needed, would build on that advantage.
...follow up with a couple more thoughts on this concept of purposeful tennis. We've heard it said that the great champions...Federer, Nadal, Djoko, become great champions because they play the big points well. I was talking with one of my hitting partners today, and we decided that that is the case because these guys try to play every point well. So when a point that the match hinges on comes along, it's business as usual. I think that's something we can all improve on. Playing every point well doesn't mean going for an incredible winner. It means doing whatever the right thing is in the situation. Today, the guy I was playing, who is really quick and has great strokes, was beating up on me pretty well in the second set even though I was hitting some really good shots and doing a lot of stuff right. What I wasn't doing was getting consistent, rally ball, length on the ground stroke exchanges. I was either going for too much and hitting 6 inches out, or hitting a tentative short ball that let him come in and win the point at net. So I just decided that if I got into a baseline exchange, heavy, deep, cross court was the way to go, and it won me my next service game.

Your match purpose doesn't have to be all that complex, either. Just because a strategy is simple, straightforward, and logical doesn't mean it's easy. I was talking with another of my buddies, who used to coach for Peter Burwash, whose son now coaches in the Dallas area and had the opportunity to pick the brain of the coach of an ATP top 35 player (I'm not going to so which player, because I don't want to give away his mojo). Here's this guy's strategy in a nutshell, and I'll give you a hint, because he's about 6' 7" and has a huge serve and forehand:

- Serve out wide on the first serve.

- Serve to the backhand on the second serve.

- The default ground stroke goes cross court.

- Look for a chance to hit a big forehand on your second shot off the ground.

Not too hard to remember, right? The trick is sticking to it, and executing...
Watch the ball, hit it hard, and don't think...
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