Smith, Ashe, Gottfried Backhands

Cirish65

New User
As the game has evolved into more power/spin oriented, how would a player with these types of backhands fare today with modern equipment?
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
They'd do well against flat hitters but be surprised by the fitness of modern players.
They'd be handcuffed by the heavy hitters, so would need to resort to even more first strike tennis than they are capable of.
Basically, even the top 100 would be a stretch.
 
As the game has evolved into more power/spin oriented, how would a player with these types of backhands fare today with modern equipment?
The earlier in their development they got exposed, the better they would adapt.

Or maybe players who weren't standouts in that era would blossom because the modern equipment more closely aligned with their strengths.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Agree that if they learned the modern game early on, they would still be at the top. Athletes are athletes, regardless of generation. However, over time better equipment emerged and a more effective way to play tennis evolved. I can’t fault them for that. If they had to switch to the current game as adults, they would get destroyed. But it doesn’t work like that.
 

Gael4

Rookie
Agree that if they learned the modern game early on, they would still be at the top. Athletes are athletes, regardless of generation. However, over time better equipment emerged and a more effective way to play tennis evolved. I can’t fault them for that. If they had to switch to the current game as adults, they would get destroyed. But it doesn’t work like that.
That's not so simple... The main factor is the level of competition. When a sport moves from amateur to professional status much more people are competing for the top spot, and investing many more hours. It is very unlikely that the first champions in any sport would have performed at the same level today. The best athletes in ski jumping are much less talented that the best athletes in football (soccer), simply because competition is much fiercer in football.
 

zaph

Professional
Elite level sport tends to improve decade by decade, participants get faster stronger and fitter. The science of sport, diet, recovery from injury and maintaining peak fitness improves. As does stuff like racket tech and technique. So it is unlikely they would compete with today's top players.

However these are still elite level players. Dated backhand or not, they would destroy every poster on these forums with ease.
 

Moveforwardalways

Hall of Fame
Elite level sport tends to improve decade by decade, participants get faster stronger and fitter. The science of sport, diet, recovery from injury and maintaining peak fitness improves. As does stuff like racket tech and technique. So it is unlikely they would compete with today's top players.
But the old guys would also be benefiting from the same technology, training, fitness improvements, etc.
 

Cirish65

New User
But the old guys would also be benefiting from the same technology, training, fitness improvements, etc.
Correct. My OP was asking more if that style backhand (more of a continental, flat and slice) would still cause a problem for today's top 150-200 players. I think it would.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Those old guys had never seen athletic tennis players like there are nowadaze
Stan and Arthur were pretty tall, but nowhere near what is athletic today. Brian was a better mover, but didn't have nearly the power...spin, of today's players and any net game would be completely neutralized
Actually, I think I A and B were 6'2".
 

Jake Speeed

Rookie
Those old guys had never seen athletic tennis players like there are nowadaze
Stan and Arthur were pretty tall, but nowhere near what is athletic today. Brian was a better mover, but didn't have nearly the power...spin, of today's players and any net game would be completely neutralized
Actually, I think I A and B were 6'2".
Comparing apples and oranges is foolish.

Does this make those that do this, a fool?

J
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Jake....I know you are not stupid.
Tom Okker was considered really hard to play against because of his topspin forehand. Tom was a little guy, the size of Coffan or Nalbandian.
Another guy who hit extreme TOUGH topspin was one Bjorn something. He was maybe 6", like Mac.
Faced against the supreme movers at 6'3" to 6"9" of today.....it's no chance in heck.
 

Jake Speeed

Rookie
Jake....I know you are not stupid.
Tom Okker was considered really hard to play against because of his topspin forehand. Tom was a little guy, the size of Coffan or Nalbandian.
Another guy who hit extreme TOUGH topspin was one Bjorn something. He was maybe 6", like Mac.
Faced against the supreme movers at 6'3" to 6"9" of today.....it's no chance in heck.
In my early days I modeled Tommy Okker's forehand. The "Flying Dutchman."
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Yup...now Tom's forehand was effective against an aging stiff Stan, hoppedupq high against Arthur, and forced Brian to shorten and flatten HIS efh to handle Okkers spin.
Medvedev would shock the old timers with huge spin and movement never seen on big guys of the '70's.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
Oh...2 years in a row I strung the Wilson team rackets.
Gottfried used 4 3/4 M's, VS at a high 62 lbs. While he appeared 6'2" and 180, he is not big, strong, and certainly not fast by today's standards.
I worked for FTC Sports, one of the sponsors of the TransAm tourney.
 

mcs1970

Hall of Fame
The original question was about slice or an underspin game. I think those players would have been fine. Medvedev is striking it pretty flat and winning a ton. Barty slices a lot and does fine. Topspin bh is just one stroke.

The great ones always had great hand eye coordination and mental toughness. Plus those guys were playing on bad courts, worse travel conditions, with smaller head racquets. Today’s diet and equipment would have probably meant they would be bigger and hitting even better.
 

LeeD

Bionic Poster
All those guys hit topspin backhands on passing shots. Ashe maybe sidespin dtl.
Just like Graf. Everyone thinks she only slices. Her 1hbh topspin was superior, but seldom used.
Why waste energy hitting topspin when slice can sustain a rally?
 

Jake Speeed

Rookie
How do you decide which piece of fruit you want for lunch? Don't you have to compare different things? Aren't you always, in effect, comparing apples to oranges?
A "what if" kind of thinking, in many social circles isn't entertained seriously.

I lived that era and I can tell you from being there, you've missed out on plenty. And there's no way you can get it unless you lived it.

"Time machine?"

Start with the earnings. Players back then couldn't afford individual trainers for selected strokes like they do today. They have different people for everything, including specialists just to analyze and improve footwork.

Equipment didn't have the engineering today's rackets have. That offered limitations which was no fault of any player, you had equipment which was available and that's it.

Conditioning today is a good part of the game and obviously, ground exchanges are longer because of the "baseline" style of play.

Sure, it would be interesting for today's ATP or WTA players to use the rackets from the 60's or 70's. Same with the players of the past to play baseline tennis, but they aren't young any longer and cannot move as well. They do use equipment that is available today.

Who is using wood?

You also have to factor in the science. Yea, there's science taking place during the hitting process on all variations of stroke production and shot making. The science hasn't changed.

Today's tennis is filled with overzealous everything. I have difficulty with commentators who are bias and sometimes it's obvious.

And they know so little and won't stop talking. Tennis is getting like wrestling.

I don't enjoy viewing it like I did years ago.

Many of you have missed a great deal.

J
 
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