Battle by the Border: Matt Lin vs. San Diego

Ok so I guess on this site you must be at least a 6.0 player or higher to have a big serve and power forehand? Or are there a lot of 6.0 level players that don’t have big serves also? Maybe only 7.0 players have big serves I’m not sure anymore.
All bets are off on this site!

I think in the real world there are so many different ways to play and win. Many, but not all, advanced players do have a big serve and forehand. I regularly serve big and am not afraid to go after the forehand (in fact I’ve spent the last year re-inventing the FH to make it more of a weapon). But I know some VERY good players whom have neither.

Happy New Year!

BHBH


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I used to serve big. Really big. My whole game depended on my big serve, and I serve-and-volleyed every point both first and second.

But that style started to die on me 15 years ago.

These days, serving big and reliably getting it into the box requires practicing big serves at least several times per week. My body doesn’t seem to like to hit big serves that often anymore, because the explosive leg push-off of my service motion of my youth was designed for younger, more resilient legs. Every once in while, I enjoy blasting a few big serves, but doing it for a whole match these days is not smart if I want to stay injury free.
 
And better players will eventually groove on all but the VERY biggest serves. Variety and accuracy pay more dividends as we age.


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The other thing that keeps me from serving bigger these days is that there is minimal payoff for serving bigger UNLESS you are serving really big (i.e., big enough to make serve-and-volleying every serve a good idea). So if you are are not serving big enough to get the payoff, then why waste energy on not-quite-big-enough serves? Better to hit safe neutral serves and save the legs for the running you are going to need to do anyway!
 
The other thing that keeps me from serving bigger these days is that there is minimal payoff for serving bigger UNLESS you are serving really big (i.e., big enough to make serve-and-volleying every serve a good idea). So if you are are not serving big enough to get the payoff, then why waste energy on not-quite-big-enough serves? Better to hit safe neutral serves and save the legs for the running you are going to need to do anyway!
Yep. And unpredictability big serves are made all the more effective by this approach. Heck, even kinda big serves. I love throwing a bit of heat and then rolling a slow, high bounding kicker on game or break point. Very often even very strong players are way ahead of it and an error is my reward.


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Yep. And unpredictability big serves are made all the more effective by this approach. Heck, even kinda big serves. I love throwing a bit of heat and then rolling a slow, high bounding kicker on game or break point. Very often even very strong players are way ahead of it and an error is my reward.


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Yes! In the case that my opponent backs up 6-8 feet behind the baseline to return after he sees the heater, then that's my cue to serve-and-volley behind the slow kicker.
 
Yes! In the case that my opponent backs up 6-8 feet behind the baseline to return after he sees the heater, then that's my cue to serve-and-volley behind the slow kicker.
Yes! Less experienced players tend not to grasp these concepts. Heat and big winners look impressive, but there’s WAY more to top tier tennis than just that!!


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Trav and BHB...as you both have gotten older and don't hit big serves all the time..Do you know if your foot landing has changed.? Does your left foot still (hop) into the court first ? I know a lot of seniors and if you look at Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and other legends they brought the right foot around first and still have great serves...Here's Pancho Gonzalez arguably the greatest server of all time bringing the right foot around first..I find it's also less taxing on the body during a long match
 
Trav and BHB...as you both have gotten older and don't hit big serves all the time..Do you know if your foot landing has changed.? Does your left foot still (hop) into the court first ? I know a lot of seniors and if you look at Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and other legends they brought the right foot around first and still have great serves...Here's Pancho Gonzalez arguably the greatest server of all time bringing the right foot around first..I find it's also less taxing on the body during a long match
They did that back then because the rules prohibited the server from jumping on the serve.
 

sureshs

Bionic Poster
Trav and BHB...as you both have gotten older and don't hit big serves all the time..Do you know if your foot landing has changed.? Does your left foot still (hop) into the court first ? I know a lot of seniors and if you look at Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and other legends they brought the right foot around first and still have great serves...Here's Pancho Gonzalez arguably the greatest server of all time bringing the right foot around first..I find it's also less taxing on the body during a long match
One foot had to be on the ground at impact according to the rules at that time. Before that, both feet had to be on the ground.

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Trav and BHB...as you both have gotten older and don't hit big serves all the time..Do you know if your foot landing has changed.? Does your left foot still (hop) into the court first ? I know a lot of seniors and if you look at Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and other legends they brought the right foot around first and still have great serves...Here's Pancho Gonzalez arguably the greatest server of all time bringing the right foot around first..I find it's also less taxing on the body during a long match
When I used to serve big, my serve was unconventional in that I jumped much higher (more than a foot in the air) and much further forward into the court than anyone else. Much of my power came from an explosive forward jump (landing about 6 feet in court). My jump serve (and reliance on serve-and-volley) was a consequence of a self-taught game and finding a way to compete and get wins against other juniors who had been competing since age 10, when I started competing much later at age 15. If I had stayed at the baseline and tried to play the same style as the other kids, I would have had zero chance to win because my beginner groundstrokes were inferior. But I found a way to attack that worked with the tools that I had at the time. My serve started out slower and safer when I was 15, but evolved into a big weapon (with more exaggerated explosive jump) during my high school years, and I even notched a few memorable wins against the top-ranked kids. The higher jump allowed my serve to have a better downward angle into the court than the serves of my peers, which increased the window to get it in, but more importantly also produced an extremely high bounce (with moderate topspin) that people weren't used to playing against. The serve carried me to third place in the high school state tourney in doubles after starting as a JV player 2 years prior, despite still not having a forehand better than 3.5 level, still using a beginner-style eastern forehand grip for my forehand volleys, and still hitting all my backhand volleys 2-handed.

Today, I hardly get any air on my serve even when I try to go bigger, so the unique downward angle isn't there anymore, and I don't land very far into the court (unless I specically focus on the jump during a practice session). My old signature jump serve just isn't an old-man-style serve. I used to be able to dunk a volley ball on a regulation basketball rim. Now sadly I can't even touch the rim anymore. Guys like Karlovic and Isner have serves that age well, because height and leverage don't fade. My serve was not the type of serve that ages well, because the power and angle into the court was all based on having an explosive jump with the legs.
 
Trav and BHB...as you both have gotten older and don't hit big serves all the time..Do you know if your foot landing has changed.? Does your left foot still (hop) into the court first ? I know a lot of seniors and if you look at Rod Laver, Ken Rosewall and other legends they brought the right foot around first and still have great serves...Here's Pancho Gonzalez arguably the greatest server of all time bringing the right foot around first..I find it's also less taxing on the body during a long match
unfortunately none of you mad, suresh understood the question and didn't answer it
 
When I used to serve big, my serve was unconventional in that I jumped much higher (more than a foot in the air) and much further forward into the court than anyone else. Much of my power came from an explosive forward jump (landing about 6 feet in court). My jump serve (and reliance on serve-and-volley) was a consequence of a self-taught game and finding a way to compete and get wins against other juniors who had been competing since age 10, when I started competing much later at age 15. If I had stayed at the baseline and tried to play the same style as the other kids, I would have had zero chance to win because my beginner groundstrokes were inferior. But I found a way to attack that worked with the tools that I had at the time. My serve started out slower and safer when I was 15, but evolved into a big weapon (with more exaggerated explosive jump) during my high school years, and I even notched a few memorable wins against the top-ranked kids. The higher jump allowed my serve to have a better downward angle into the court than the serves of my peers, which increased the window to get it in, but more importantly also produced an extremely high bounce (with moderate topspin) that people weren't used to playing against. The serve carried me to third place in the high school state tourney in doubles after starting as a JV player 2 years prior, despite still not having a forehand better than 3.5 level, still using a beginner-style eastern forehand grip for my forehand volleys, and still hitting all my backhand volleys 2-handed.

Today, I hardly get any air on my serve even when I try to go bigger, so the unique downward angle isn't there anymore, and I don't land very far into the court (unless I specically focus on the jump during a practice session). My old signature jump serve just isn't an old-man-style serve. I used to be able to dunk a volley ball on a regulation basketball rim. Now sadly I can't even touch the rim anymore. Guys like Karlovic and Isner have serves that age well, because height and leverage don't fade. My serve was not the type of serve that ages well, because the power and angle into the court was all based on having an explosive jump with the legs.
We have some interesting parallels in our (youthful) serves. I too had “hops” as a kid ( could dunk a basketball at 5’11”) and used a big jump up and out into the court. I could serve big and hit targets. But I was self taught and learned ground strokes by hitting against a cinderblock wall onto grass so I learned to get low and use a short backswing. I had a grass-court game but my only instruction (before some local D1 players took me under wing) was the Bobby Riggs tennis book and therefore I played mostly like a defensive baseline. I used a continental grip on all strokes and hit a very unusual but highly effective inside out forehand that tailed away from the righty backhand (think Graf). Once I had some coaching at net i began developing into an all courter. The rest is as they say 41 years of history!

@comeback: I’m not sure. Will do some video soon!


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We have some interesting parallels in our (youthful) serves. I too had “hops” as a kid ( could dunk a basketball at 5’11”) and used a big jump up and out into the court. I could serve big and hit targets. But I was self taught and learned ground strokes by hitting against a cinderblock wall onto grass so I learned to get low and use a short backswing. I had a grass-court game but my only instruction (before some local D1 players took me under wing) was the Bobby Riggs tennis book and therefore I played mostly like a defensive baseline. I used a continental grip on all strokes and hit a very unusual but highly effective inside out forehand that tailed away from the righty backhand (think Graf). Once I had some coaching at net i began developing into an all courter. The rest is as they say 41 years of history!

@comeback: I’m not sure. Will do some video soon!


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why not just look back into your old posted videos and see where your foot lands:)
 
Why has Maxi grown his hair in the style of a youthful LeeD?
Will he start surfing next?
Full disclosure.

At one point in college, out of laziness, I let my hair grow out until just beyond shoulder length. I also used to surf (in the ocean)

One day I was walking to my car at a supermarket parking lot and I guy from afar yelled out to me, “Hey, lady! You dropped your money!” I did not respond and kept repeating the phrase and ran up to get my attention. As he got closer, I finally realized he was talking to me.

When I turned around he was shocked.
 
Not fluff. That won’t fly at 5.0. But decent can/does IF you have other weapons and/or supreme fitness/movement
This is my experience as well. *Most* 5.0s have strong serves but *many* have merely decent serves for which they compensate with other skills.

Got me. I just read through pages of this thread to see several comments about 5.0 not having a "big serve", so I assume people mean it is fluffy. I am curious how people define a big serve too.
An anecdote for perspective. Ken Rosewall's typical first serve came in at around 75mph. (And he only hit slice BHs... but I digress.) The joke was that his serve "couldn't crack an egg." Take Kenny at 35 years of age using a wood racquet with a 75mph first serve and no topspin BH, and today he wins every 5.5 tournament in the country, likely without losing a game. Yes, a strong first serve is helpful at the rec level - and the higher you go, the more often you see them - but even at 5.0 it's not at all mandatory if you can compensate with other skills.

The two most underrated shots in all of rec tennis are (1) any serve over 70mph that lands within two feet of the service line, and (2) any ball of any speed or spin that lands within three feet of the baseline. At the rec level it's difficult to consistently attack either of these shots. They're innocuous killers.
 
This is my experience as well. *Most* 5.0s have strong serves but *many* have merely decent serves for which they compensate with other skills.



An anecdote for perspective. Ken Rosewall's typical first serve came in at around 75mph. (And he only hit slice BHs... but I digress.) The joke was that his serve "couldn't crack an egg." Take Kenny at 35 years of age using a wood racquet with a 75mph first serve and no topspin BH, and today he wins every 5.5 tournament in the country, likely without losing a game. Yes, a strong first serve is helpful at the rec level - and the higher you go, the more often you see them - but even at 5.0 it's not at all mandatory if you can compensate with other skills.

The two most underrated shots in all of rec tennis are (1) any serve over 70mph that lands within two feet of the service line, and (2) any ball of any speed or spin that lands within three feet of the baseline. At the rec level it's difficult to consistently attack either of these shots. They're innocuous killers.
So it all comes down to depth. There is a coach here who doesn't agree with that and prefers shorter balls with more spin.
 
So it all comes down to depth. There is a coach here who doesn't agree with that and prefers shorter balls with more spin.
If you hit shorter and more spin it allows more angle. Usually if you watch Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc... the best players. They are hitting deep to push the opponent back deep to a corner, then they hit same corner less deep but more sharp to get them wide. Then they go for the change of direction for offence. So most likely less depth more spin is good. The guys who always hit deep and with less spin actually imo work harder for the point. And they win less.
 
If you hit shorter and more spin it allows more angle. Usually if you watch Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc... the best players. They are hitting deep to push the opponent back deep to a corner, then they hit same corner less deep but more sharp to get them wide. Then they go for the change of direction for offence. So most likely less depth more spin is good. The guys who always hit deep and with less spin actually imo work harder for the point. And they win less.
Fair and accurate at the pro level. But those guys can consistently hit the shots you describe with power and intent under competitive pressure. Recreational players?


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This is my experience as well. *Most* 5.0s have strong serves but *many* have merely decent serves for which they compensate with other skills.



An anecdote for perspective. Ken Rosewall's typical first serve came in at around 75mph. (And he only hit slice BHs... but I digress.) The joke was that his serve "couldn't crack an egg." Take Kenny at 35 years of age using a wood racquet with a 75mph first serve and no topspin BH, and today he wins every 5.5 tournament in the country, likely without losing a game. Yes, a strong first serve is helpful at the rec level - and the higher you go, the more often you see them - but even at 5.0 it's not at all mandatory if you can compensate with other skills.

The two most underrated shots in all of rec tennis are (1) any serve over 70mph that lands within two feet of the service line, and (2) any ball of any speed or spin that lands within three feet of the baseline. At the rec level it's difficult to consistently attack either of these shots. They're innocuous killers.
Do you mean Rosewall wins like this now??
 
Fair and accurate at the pro level. But those guys can consistently hit the shots you describe with power and intent under competitive pressure. Recreational players?


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I guess for 4.0 players just hit medium pace and deep. Win everything. Lol.

But I don't think a 4.0 can consistently hit deep either. So I guess nothing will help.
 
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So it all comes down to depth. There is a coach here who doesn't agree with that and prefers shorter balls with more spin.
At the rec level, either one is fine. Whatever keeps your opponent from successfully attacking you is a good shot - shorter with pace and spin or deeper with less pace and less spin. Six of one, half dozen of the other. Coaches preach topspin because it's easier for most folks to keep it in the court. If that's what you gotta do, then so be it.
 
If you hit shorter and more spin it allows more angle. Usually if you watch Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, etc... the best players. They are hitting deep to push the opponent back deep to a corner, then they hit same corner less deep but more sharp to get them wide. Then they go for the change of direction for offence. So most likely less depth more spin is good. The guys who always hit deep and with less spin actually imo work harder for the point. And they win less.
I hit those angling-away shots on both flanks at the Smart Targets (TM) with massive topspin against lower players, but when I face someone like travlerajm or navigator, they are already at the net and put those away, plus their own shots are so deep that I don't find time to do my stuff.
 
Whatever keeps your opponent from successfully attacking you is a good shot...
Agree. I have two serves...body serve and everything else that makes them move. Some of my worst matches are when I can't hit either and my serve sits nicely for them in their wheel house, so they unit turn and crush it. I wanna see them back peddling and ducking, or having to take steps to setup.
 
This is my experience as well. *Most* 5.0s have strong serves but *many* have merely decent serves for which they compensate with other skills.



An anecdote for perspective. Ken Rosewall's typical first serve came in at around 75mph. (And he only hit slice BHs... but I digress.) The joke was that his serve "couldn't crack an egg." Take Kenny at 35 years of age using a wood racquet with a 75mph first serve and no topspin BH, and today he wins every 5.5 tournament in the country, likely without losing a game. Yes, a strong first serve is helpful at the rec level - and the higher you go, the more often you see them - but even at 5.0 it's not at all mandatory if you can compensate with other skills.

The two most underrated shots in all of rec tennis are (1) any serve over 70mph that lands within two feet of the service line, and (2) any ball of any speed or spin that lands within three feet of the baseline. At the rec level it's difficult to consistently attack either of these shots. They're innocuous killers.
was thinking about this today (slow wide slice serve) in practice... as i was aced 2x deuce out wide...
i think the quality of the serve has more value when the returner (me) doesn't have the anticipation/reaction/movement skills to cut off a slow wide serve.
reminded me of an article of how batters in baseball anticipate a pitch... premise was that it's impossible to react to a pitch when it's left the fingers... conclusion, batters are already deciding to swing based on the overall delivery of the pitcher.
my takeaway is that (presuming you can hit your targets) it's more important to disguise your intention, than add the extra mph.
i think the extra mph helps when you *miss* your target... (ie. 3ft from the line, vs. <1ft)
 
I hit those angling-away shots on both flanks at the Smart Targets (TM) with massive topspin against lower players, but when I face someone like travlerajm or navigator, they are already at the net and put those away, plus their own shots are so deep that I don't find time to do my stuff.
They are really good that's why. They are too practiced compared to you. Nav plays tennis it seems as a job lol.
 
Agree
Rosewall: Height: 5′ 7"was born November 2, 1934 (age 84 years),
i would definitely take that bet. 84 is still 84...
I thought I was clear, but I failed... I meant a prime Rosewall using a wood racquet - not the 84-year old version. Sorry for the confusion. Even I would beat the 84-year old version 0/0.
 
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