Dunlop Foam Speedballs

mightyrick

Legend
Hi all,

I retired my old racquet and purchased a new racquet -- Wilson BLX K-Six One 95. Great racquet. I'm loving it.

However, the time has come for me to actually start to develop more topspin. I already can hit fairly flat and hard, but topspin is difficult for me as I have an eastern grip. It is most comfortable for me.

My question is about developing the "feel" for topspin. I saw a few videos of rallies with Dunlop Foam Speedballs. It seems like they might be fantastic to do hard wallwork with and practice heavy topspin strokes. Purely to develop the "feel" for the topspin stroke.

Does anyone have experience with this? Can foam balls be effective for learning heavier topspin and getting a feel for the stroke?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
^ I would ignore this feedback.

The foam ball as well as the green/yellow qst 78 (or the orange/yellow qst 60) ball be used by intermediate & even advanced players for various aspects of training. The low compression qst balls do not spin easily -- you must put more effort into putting much spin on these. Every once in a while, I'll use the foam ball for getting a good, intense workout in a relatively short time. We tend to use an extra measure of topspin when using this ball.

Also try short-court (mini tennis) with regular balls and "wiper" strokes to practice using an extra measure of topspin.
 

corners

Legend
The Dunlop yellow and red? They don't have as much bounce as some other foam balls. And like the others, they get shredded by your strings if you hit with much spin. I used to hit them against a wall and there would be bits of foam all over the place afterward.

But otherwise they're fun and you can spin the heck out of them.

I use them mostly for volley wall practice now.
 

BMC9670

Hall of Fame
^ I would ignore this feedback.
Yes, I second that! Using foam balls to learn or get a feel for a new stroke is a good idea, especially against a wall. Why? It slows everything down. 5 years old or 50 years old, the way to learn something new is to do it as SLOW and CORRECT as possible and build from there. Also great for getting your footwork in line, which is key to hitting any stroke. Plus, they will curve more and give your more visual feedback on your topspin.

With real balls in this situation, you'll always be playing catch up just trying to keep the ball going, rather than working on your new stroke and the footwork to hit it correctly.
 

GuyClinch

Legend
I am not going to bash foam balls. I keep one in my bag for hitting against a wall.

However heavy spin against a wall makes the ball bounce crazy low - which is fairly close to the opposite of what happens on a tennis court. A guy who hits with heavy topspin will give you a diet of HIGH bouncing topspin balls. So its not a great way to learn to hit with more topspin.

Pete
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
The Dunlop yellow and red? They don't have as much bounce as some other foam balls. And like the others, they get shredded by your strings if you hit with much spin. I used to hit them against a wall and there would be bits of foam all over the place afterward.

But otherwise they're fun and you can spin the heck out of them.

I use them mostly for volley wall practice now.

Note that the foam balls are not the same as the low-compression (felt) balls. The foam balls (3.5" diameter) are significantly larger than the low compression felt balls (2.5" or slightly larger). Foam balls and felt training balls (not to scale):

.
 
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BMC9670

Hall of Fame
I am not going to bash foam balls. I keep one in my bag for hitting against a wall.

However heavy spin against a wall makes the ball bounce crazy low - which is fairly close to the opposite of what happens on a tennis court. A guy who hits with heavy topspin will give you a diet of HIGH bouncing topspin balls. So its not a great way to learn to hit with more topspin.

Pete
I'm confused. When a foam ball hit with a lot of topspin hits the wall, it pops up a bit. Of course, there is no spin to make it jump off the ground like a real topspin shot coming at you, but I find it doesn't stay low.

The OP is concerned about hitting the stroke correctly, not really playing "against" topspin, which would be impossible to simulate with a wall.
 

corners

Legend
Note that the foam balls are not the same as the low-compression (felt) balls. The foam balls (3.5" diameter) are significantly larger than the low compression felt balls (2.5" or slightly larger). Foam balls and felt training balls (not to scale):

.
Yeah, foam is foam. Dounlop Speedballs are foam.
 

Chenx15

Banned
i know this is off topic. but hit the wall my friend. the wall is your bestfriend when it comes to learning topspin.
 

mightyrick

Legend
Note that the foam balls are not the same as the low-compression (felt) balls. The foam balls (3.5" diameter) are significantly larger than the low compression felt balls (2.5" or slightly larger). Foam balls and felt training balls (not to scale):

.
Thanks for this. I'll have to give these a look. I can start with the larger balls until I feel more confident with the topspin stroke and then I can move to the smaller balls.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Thanks for this. I'll have to give these a look. I can start with the larger balls until I feel more confident with the topspin stroke and then I can move to the smaller balls.
Don't bother with the felt qst 36 (red/yellow) ball. Try the qst 78 (green/yellow) or the qst 60 (orange/yellow) if you can't find the qst 78.
 
pff whatever. Once you learn to hit well with these balls you have to learn all over again and get new muscle memory for the weight and the way the balls fly.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
pff whatever. Once you learn to hit well with these balls you have to learn all over again and get new muscle memory for the weight and the way the balls fly.
Not so. There are all sorts of variables in tennis. Cannot rely on rigid msucle memory. You need flexible/adaptable muscle memory to deal with different surfaces, ball brands, ball liveliness or ball condition, temperature variations, wind conditions, humidy conditions, string tension variation, etc.

If ye cannot adapt, ye shall perish.
.
 
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GuyClinch

Legend
I'm confused. When a foam ball hit with a lot of topspin hits the wall, it pops up a bit. Of course, there is no spin to make it jump off the ground like a real topspin shot coming at you, but I find it doesn't stay low.
Yeah? Maybe I should get some of the kind you guys are linking. Mine stay like crazy low - I guess its a low compression ball not a foam one.
 

MayDay

Semi-Pro
I find it fun the hit the wilson foam balls in the house (same as the penn foam balls on the left side in the previous picture) - only for volley practice. Never thought about using it against a wall for regular swings - is it effective given the light weight?

As for the ones on the right side of the previous pictures, I find it really fun the rally with them - you can hit the heck out of the balls and they will still land in.

Besides the balls, do you already know the proper topspin technique?
 

BMC9670

Hall of Fame
pff whatever. Once you learn to hit well with these balls you have to learn all over again and get new muscle memory for the weight and the way the balls fly.
"Muscle memory", which is training your brain to control your muscles in a certain way, has nothing to do with what your hitting and all to do with how you hit it. The key is in training the correct swing path and technique, which is most effectively done SLOWLY and CORRECTLY. Once, learned and ingrained correctly, you can hit any ball correctly with footwork and timing, which are different issues than training technique.
 

BMC9670

Hall of Fame
Yeah? Maybe I should get some of the kind you guys are linking. Mine stay like crazy low - I guess its a low compression ball not a foam one.
Could be. The low compression balls don't bounce very high as designed. Give the foam a try - they bounce fairly well. My kids' playroom has a brick wall, tile floors, and a high ceiling and we hit foam balls against the wall in the winter. They love it and it's the right speed for them, plus, I've found it helps me as well - slows everything down so I can concentrate on specific technique issues.
 

mightyrick

Legend
Besides the balls, do you already know the proper topspin technique?
I do know the proper technique to hit topspin with my grip (eastern). Right now, the challenge for me is keeping the arm relationship between my elbow and wrist the SAME while I execute a topspin stroke. Sometimes I get too wristy. Sometimes I break my elbow. Sometimes I mis-time the shot and hit too early or late.

I'm just wanting to possibly use a foam ball against a wall so that I can work on the topspin stroke slowly. Focusing on technique. If I make a mistake using a foam ball, I don't have to run across the tennis court chasing my mistake. That wastes far too much time. I merely want to focus on getting used to the timing, the swing path, arm relationship, et cetera.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I do know the proper technique to hit topspin with my grip (eastern). Right now, the challenge for me is keeping the arm relationship between my elbow and wrist the SAME while I execute a topspin stroke. Sometimes I get too wristy. Sometimes I break my elbow. Sometimes I mis-time the shot and hit too early or late.

I'm just wanting to possibly use a foam ball against a wall so that I can work on the topspin stroke slowly. Focusing on technique. If I make a mistake using a foam ball, I don't have to run across the tennis court chasing my mistake. That wastes far too much time. I merely want to focus on getting used to the timing, the swing path, arm relationship, et cetera.
IMO the foam balls work great for working with TS and you don't even need a court. Not sure if bad habits could creep in without coaching, but when instructing, they work well for just what you are speaking of; letting it rip to develop the feel, without balls flying everywhere.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
IMO the foam balls work great for working with TS and you don't even need a court. Not sure if bad habits could creep in without coaching, but when instructing, they work well for just what you are speaking of; letting it rip to develop the feel, without balls flying everywhere.
Yes, it is possible for some bad habits to creep in when rallying foam balls. You can get away with late preparation at times with the foam. It also possible to use some whippy or creative stroke-making with foam balls that are not advisable with regular tennis balls. Whenever rallying with foam balls, one should make a concerted effort to prepare early and use proper stroke mechanics.
 
"Muscle memory", which is training your brain to control your muscles in a certain way, has nothing to do with what your hitting and all to do with how you hit it. The key is in training the correct swing path and technique, which is most effectively done SLOWLY and CORRECTLY. Once, learned and ingrained correctly, you can hit any ball correctly with footwork and timing, which are different issues than training technique.
really? not... HOW at all?

Ok
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
Yes, it is possible for some bad habits to creep in when rallying foam balls. You can get away with late preparation at times with the foam. It also possible to use some whippy or creative stroke-making with foam balls that are not advisable with regular tennis balls. Whenever rallying with foam balls, one should make a concerted effort to prepare early and use proper stroke mechanics.
Yes, I was wondering about that if you were not specifically using them with a concerted effort to work on elements of your stroke.
thanks,
 

ci2ca

Semi-Pro
time to blow me tennis nerd
How mature...

On the other hand, at our academy we do not condone the use of quick start equipment besides mini nets and smaller rackets. So we do not use quick start balls. The reason being is, that at an earlier stage we focus on the kids technique. Constantly reminding the kid to follow through, pivot, etc. Obviously this is only going to reinforce the kids muscle memory. Also the fact that the USTA saying that the kids are having more fun with quickstart is a fallacy. I have been asked plenty of times by my little kids who are using mini nets when they could play "real" tennis. We also fit some hand eye coordination by having kids turn little cones upside down and catching the ball in the cone. With that being said, our main priority at the academy is footwork. Everyday in the beginning of class we set up sort of like a footwork circuit. The kids have to shuffle, split step, stutterstep, and powerstep certain "obstacles" to finish a lap.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
^ Was not aware that You guys did not use foam or other quick start balls. On the other hand, I'm fairly certain that you guys utilize used (reduced compression) balls for your younger players -- like the ones that I bring in for your ball exchange program.

You guys are idiots good luck learning how to hit a normal ball with topspin after you learn from a foam ball
time to blow me tennis nerd
Someone needs a timeout. :shock:
 

ci2ca

Semi-Pro
For our tournament program we definitely do NOT. But for the kids 4-6 years old, we do use foam balls to prevent accidents haha. We do have the reduced compression balls but we do not use them. They're kind of just there.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
For our tournament program we definitely do NOT. But for the kids 4-6 years old, we do use foam balls to prevent accidents haha. We do have the reduced compression balls but we do not use them. They're kind of just there.
So you guys are not using all those balls I've been bringing in for the past few years? I've seen some fairly worn out balls in the parking lot (that have gone over the fence). Someone must be using them -- at least for serve practice. I was led to believe that the ones that are not too soft are also used in the ball machines. Are the older balls recycled at all?
 
How mature...

On the other hand, at our academy we do not condone the use of quick start equipment besides mini nets and smaller rackets. So we do not use quick start balls. The reason being is, that at an earlier stage we focus on the kids technique. Constantly reminding the kid to follow through, pivot, etc. Obviously this is only going to reinforce the kids muscle memory. Also the fact that the USTA saying that the kids are having more fun with quickstart is a fallacy. I have been asked plenty of times by my little kids who are using mini nets when they could play "real" tennis. We also fit some hand eye coordination by having kids turn little cones upside down and catching the ball in the cone. With that being said, our main priority at the academy is footwork. Everyday in the beginning of class we set up sort of like a footwork circuit. The kids have to shuffle, split step, stutterstep, and powerstep certain "obstacles" to finish a lap.
I think I have found my long lost twin! On the junior board I am about the last one not buying into the Quickstart nonsense as the savior for tennis.

My 6 year old, along with many other kids 5-8, are doing just fine with regular equipment when they are trained properly. Its about coaching, not the size of the equipment. Drills like you mentioned, hand fed drills, etc. Technique.

Quickstart will end up like everything else, getting kids to play pitty pat matches as young as possible for plastic trophies, instead of taking the time to teach them properly.
 

ci2ca

Semi-Pro
So you guys are not using all those balls I've been bringing in for the past few years? I've seen some fairly worn out balls in the parking lot (that have gone over the fence). Someone must be using them -- at least for serve practice. I was led to believe that the ones that are not too soft are also used in the ball machines. Are the older balls recycled at all?
Greg, you bring in old balls that we do use for the park and recreation classes.And to be honest, your balls account for a tiny percentage of balls we use for the recreational program. We replace our private lesson baskets about once every two weeks to a month and we put those into the ball machine.
 

ci2ca

Semi-Pro
I think I have found my long lost twin! On the junior board I am about the last one not buying into the Quickstart nonsense as the savior for tennis.

My 6 year old, along with many other kids 5-8, are doing just fine with regular equipment when they are trained properly. Its about coaching, not the size of the equipment. Drills like you mentioned, hand fed drills, etc. Technique.

Quickstart will end up like everything else, getting kids to play pitty pat matches as young as possible for plastic trophies, instead of taking the time to teach them properly.
Don't get me wrong, I can see the positive side of using quickstart balls. But I believe the use of quickstart balls should definitely be used AFTER the reinforcement of proper technique and footwork. Otherwise, like you said, the kids would end up playing patty cake or doing whatever it takes to get the ball over the net and into play.
 

5263

G.O.A.T.
I think I have found my long lost twin! On the junior board I am about the last one not buying into the Quickstart nonsense as the savior for tennis.

My 6 year old, along with many other kids 5-8, are doing just fine with regular equipment when they are trained properly. Its about coaching, not the size of the equipment. Drills like you mentioned, hand fed drills, etc. Technique.

Quickstart will end up like everything else, getting kids to play pitty pat matches as young as possible for plastic trophies, instead of taking the time to teach them properly.
don't you think engrams developed at 5-8 could be less than optimal due to a lack of height, with normal balls and affect their future strokes?
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Greg, you bring in old balls that we do use for the park and recreation classes.And to be honest, your balls account for a tiny percentage of balls we use for the recreational program. We replace our private lesson baskets about once every two weeks to a month and we put those into the ball machine.
I understand the Courtside Club also provides a lot of used balls. Found out last night that many of the used balls are used by Pleasanton and Walnut Creek programs as well.
.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
The problem with small kids and conventional balls is that the bounce is too high for them to deal with in rallies -- chest high, head high and higher most of the time. The quickstart balls enables them to develop proper strokes with bounces that are waist high or lower more often than not.

I encourage young players and other developing players to use the heaviest racquet that they can control with proper stroke mechanics. I will hand feed easy balls at first -- both quickstart balls and regular tennis balls. However, when it comes to more challenging feeds or rallies, I will use the quickstart balls for young kids and other novices until they develop proper strokes on moderate bounces. Once mastered, they learn to deal with higher bouncing balls.


I think I have found my long lost twin! On the junior board I am about the last one not buying into the Quickstart nonsense as the savior for tennis.

My 6 year old, along with many other kids 5-8, are doing just fine with regular equipment when they are trained properly. Its about coaching, not the size of the equipment. Drills like you mentioned, hand fed drills, etc. Technique.

Quickstart will end up like everything else, getting kids to play pitty pat matches as young as possible for plastic trophies, instead of taking the time to teach them properly.
If it is done properly, it can possibly be a real positive for the development of tennis in the US. This type of program is not new at all. The Japanese have had soft tennis for nearly a century -- but not really as a vehicle for producing elite tennis players. In Europe, however, it has been used for several decades as a tool for developing high level players. In some areas of Europe, it is referred to a mini-tennis (not to be confused with the short court warm-up that many of us do here).

A couple of years back, I came across a video interview of Martina Navratilova promoting QuickStart tennis. She had indicated that Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters developed thru this sort of program. Tennis 10s is a program in the US that uses quickstart tennis balls. It is being promoted by Federer, Nadal, Stosur, Jankovic, Verdasco, Radwanska, Alona Bondarenko, Li Na, McEnroe and others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us3ENfevCKQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hcJbBtsvrU

.
 
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BMC9670

Hall of Fame
time to blow me tennis nerd
Ya know what... this guy has got to go. Take a wander through his posting history. It's filled with expletives, negativity, sarcasm, and very little useful contribution. Most of us are here to be constructive and improve. Sure, we get into heated debates, but his guy just throws grenades into just about every topic he posts in.

Mods, consider a ban, please.
 

SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
Ya know what... this guy has got to go. Take a wander through his posting history. It's filled with expletives, negativity, sarcasm, and very little useful contribution. Most of us are here to be constructive and improve. Sure, we get into heated debates, but his guy just throws grenades into just about every topic he posts in.

Mods, consider a ban, please.
Yeah, surprised he's still around. (Edit -- wow, I missed it as well)
.
 
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ci2ca

Semi-Pro
The problem with small kids and conventional balls is that the bounce is too high for them to deal with in rallies -- chest high, head high and higher most of the time. The quickstart balls enables them to develop proper strokes with bounces that are waist high or lower more often than not.

I encourage young players and other developing players to use the heaviest racquet that they can control with proper stroke mechanics. I will hand feed easy balls at first -- both quickstart balls and regular tennis balls. However, when it comes to more challenging feeds or rallies, I will use the quickstart balls for young kids and other novices until they develop proper strokes on moderate bounces. Once mastered, they learn to deal with higher bouncing balls.




If it is done properly, it can possibly be a real positive for the development of tennis in the US. This type of program is not new at all. The Japanese have had soft tennis for nearly a century -- but not really as a vehicle for producing elite tennis players. In Europe, however, it has been used for several decades as a tool for developing high level players. In some areas of Europe, it is referred to a mini-tennis (not to be confused with the short court warm-up that many of us do here).

A couple of years back, I came across a video interview of Martina Navratilova promoting QuickStart tennis. She had indicated that Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters developed thru this sort of program. Tennis 10s is a program in the US that uses quickstart tennis balls. It is being promoted by Federer, Nadal, Stosur, Jankovic, Verdasco, Radwanska, Alona Bondarenko, Li Na, McEnroe and others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us3ENfevCKQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hcJbBtsvrU

.
Quick start does have it's pluses for young players who have already defined strokes and mechanics, so it's good for point construction.
On the other hand, for hand eye coordination and having kids adapt to a ball's bounce while trying to teach them strokes and mechanics, a regular ball would be ideal. I say that because kids at a young age should not be focused on getting the ball in play or just getting it over. I award great mechanics and proper strokes much more than hitting an awesome ball over with the wrong technique.
 

BMC9670

Hall of Fame
I say that because kids at a young age should not be focused on getting the ball in play or just getting it over. I award great mechanics and proper strokes much more than hitting an awesome ball over with the wrong technique.
This is a good point. With my kids, I will sometimes take the net/court out of the equation and have them hit toss fed balls into the fence. If you stand facing them with a basket of balls about 10ft from the fence, you can do all the same tossing drills you do on court, but it's focused on the stroke, not the result. Then, transfer to the court. Works pretty well.
 
don't you think engrams developed at 5-8 could be less than optimal due to a lack of height, with normal balls and affect their future strokes?
Its all in the coaching. Kids can be developed into amazing players using regular balls or rushed into tournament play and spend the day moon balling and having balls bounce over their heads.

We use low compression balls for kids in the very beginning to help develop the proper strokes and footwork. Then they are moved to regular balls ASAP.

The disconnect here is that we believe the kids have no need to rush into rallies and tourny play. There are lots of fun games and drills that can be done that reinforce the proper strokes and footwork, using regular balls.

The problem in America is that we feel the need for kids to compete in formal soccer games and tennis matches as soon as they can walk. Quickstart will end up the same way, 6 year olds playing in front of Grandma and Grandpa for trophies, just bunting balls to each other.

Other cultures have different approaches. In the Dutch soccer system for example, the kids drill for years before they ever play a formal match. In the Brazilian system, kids play street soccer for years where they go for all sorts of trick shots, long before they ever play for an organized team.

The longer you can keep kids using drills and fun games instead of playing tournaments where they feel the need to 'just get the ball over' the better off they will be.
 
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The problem with small kids and conventional balls is that the bounce is too high for them to deal with in rallies -- chest high, head high and higher most of the time. The quickstart balls enables them to develop proper strokes with bounces that are waist high or lower more often than not.

I encourage young players and other developing players to use the heaviest racquet that they can control with proper stroke mechanics. I will hand feed easy balls at first -- both quickstart balls and regular tennis balls. However, when it comes to more challenging feeds or rallies, I will use the quickstart balls for young kids and other novices until they develop proper strokes on moderate bounces. Once mastered, they learn to deal with higher bouncing balls.




If it is done properly, it can possibly be a real positive for the development of tennis in the US. This type of program is not new at all. The Japanese have had soft tennis for nearly a century -- but not really as a vehicle for producing elite tennis players. In Europe, however, it has been used for several decades as a tool for developing high level players. In some areas of Europe, it is referred to a mini-tennis (not to be confused with the short court warm-up that many of us do here).

A couple of years back, I came across a video interview of Martina Navratilova promoting QuickStart tennis. She had indicated that Justine Henin and Kim Clijsters developed thru this sort of program. Tennis 10s is a program in the US that uses quickstart tennis balls. It is being promoted by Federer, Nadal, Stosur, Jankovic, Verdasco, Radwanska, Alona Bondarenko, Li Na, McEnroe and others.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=us3ENfevCKQ

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0hcJbBtsvrU

.
It is not new, as you said. We have used mini tennis equipment and balls for 30 years. What is new is that the USTA thinks it needs to be a formal program that kids stay in for years and years, complete with tournaments. Like Wayne Bryan said, its a training tool, not a program.

As you also said, it is critical that they learn to handle high bouncing balls as soon as they have the strokes down. The modern game does not allow for balls to be taken waist high or below. Todays game is a high bouncing game. Juniors need to be aggressive and take balls on the rise. John Fritzerald, the Australian tennis pro, gave a great run down on why this waiting for the ball to be in the 'proper strike zone' is 20 years ago thinking.

I talked to Justine Henin when she had an open house at her tennis academy in Orlando. This was about 2 years ago. She said she used "mini tennis" as a kid for "a few weeks". MY guess is that is what Kim also meant.

So we have to be careful when top pros are said to have been developed by a Quickstart like system. Using low compression balls for a few weeks or months is not the same as the USTA program of wanting them used for years.

We have no evidence of any top players ever being developed using long term mini tennis. The most talented kids are able to adjust to regulation balls very quickly. They have a natural ability to get into position and rarely have balls bouncing over their heads, even at 6-7 years old. I would think Henin and Kim fit that category and did just fine with regular balls early on.
 
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SystemicAnomaly

Talk Tennis Guru
TennisCoachFLA,

Yes, I agree with you that the USTA appears to be taking the idea too far. While the quickstart idea seems to be very worthwhile for early development, an extended duration Tennis 10is program might not be the best idea. I believe that the USTA wants to limit injuries to young players. There may be better ways to do this.
 
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