Tennis Shots: The Drop Shot

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Featured, Tennis Blog, Tennis Shots, The Drop Shot

For players with anything other than the ultimate level of mobility around the court, one of the recurring nightmares which prevents them getting a night’s sleep must be the thought of facing a player blessed with a good drop shot. This shot may be one of the most frustrating to face when playing an opponent who knows how to hit it. If hit correctly and at the right time, a drop shot is unplayable.

The idea behind the shot is that it is hit with little pace just over the net. On passing over the net, it will literally “drop” just inside the opponent’s court and pretty much stop dead. Even if it does bounce a little, the angle of the shot required to get it back will be beyond all but the most gifted opponent.

The key to hitting the perfect drop shot is believed to be “soft hands”, which entails slackening one’s grip on the racket at exactly the moment of impact, allowing the racquet to absorb more of the force of the shot and take much of the pace off the ball. This in turn means the bounce on the other side of the net will be lower.

Frequently, a drop shot will be played on the volley, known as a “drop volley”. Although this shot existed long before his time in the game, John McEnroe is believed to have turned it into an art form, making him arguably the greatest serve-volley player of all time.

Tennis Shots: The Backhand

From listening to tennis commentators, it would be easy to come to the conclusion that a backhand was something that any tennis player compares to a particularly troubling visit to the dentist – if it can be avoided, you should, because the result of going there will be painful and potentially embarrassing.

There is no doubt that a good backhand is trickier to play, and therefore rarer in the competitive game, than a forehand. For this reason, professional players will aim to hit to their opponent’s backhand in the hope of forcing a mistake. Because it is an “unnatural” shot – played across rather than with the player’s body, mistakes are more common with it – but a good backhand is worth developing, because it can be devastating.

As players instinctively aim for their opponents’ backhands, having a good shot with that stroke is liable to win you a lot of points. The Swiss Stanislas Wawrinka, a top twenty player with a moderate record in the game, is believed by no less an authority than John McEnroe to have the best backhand he has ever seen – but unfortunately for Wawrinka, this has resulted in players hitting to his less gifted forehand.

Wawrinka’s compatriot Roger Federer is one of very few top players to hit the backhand single-handed, allowing him greater reach and ability to hit on the run. This has made him dangerous from anywhere on the court, a major element in his success in the game.

Tennis Shots: The Forehand

The forehand is considered the easiest tennis shot to master, perhaps because it is the most natural one to hit. It involves holding the racket out from the body and striking forward, with your palm facing towards your opponent at the point of contact. The fact that it is considered to be easy to master does not make it a less dangerous shot – some of the best individual shots in the game are forehands, with the modern game featuring some particularly dangerous forehands including those of Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal.

A well-judged forehand is particularly hard to counter because of the level of power and accuracy that can be contained in it. Most players will try to get opponents to hit to their forehand because it gives them a better chance of hitting a winner, and players are known to run further in order to “run around” their backhand, purely because they know that the forehand shot has a better chance of landing in court and potentially being a winning shot.

Great exponents of the forehand include the aforementioned Federer and Nadal, whose running forehand cross-court shot is considered unplayable on a good day. As well as these two, players like Ilie Nastase and Fred Perry were particularly good at hitting the forehand while among the female players Steffi Graf is considered to have been the best female player of the shot, earning her the nickname “Fraulein Forehand” as a result. The fastest forehand ever recorded was by the Frenchman Gael Monfils in 2007 at the Australian Open, measured at 118mph.     Learn how…

Tennis Shots: The Volley

If you want to make a real success of your grass court game, you are going to have to come to the net at times or risk being beaten by someone with greater killer instinct. The approach to the net is all important in grass court tennis – and to a lesser extent on other services – because if you can hit a good volley, you will win a lot of free points if you get to the net.

A volley is any shot that is played before the ball bounces on your side of the net. Serve-volley tennis, a major component in most successful grass court games, entails hitting your serve and then approaching the net to volley away any return. It is particularly deadly on grass because any well-judged volley will bounce so low as to be impossible for the opponent to reach.

Many people feel that a volley is only as good as the player’s approach to the net to make it. If you can volley well, but come to the net at the wrong time – because for example your opponent hits returns well and has the measure of your serve – then you will be passed by your opponent. If on the other hand you judge the approach right, you will have easier volley opportunities.

Among the best volleyers in the history of the men’s game, John McEnroe was considered to have the best pure volley while Sweden’s Stefan Edberg was believed to have the best combination of approach and volley.   Read more…

Tennis Shots: The Serve

February 11, 2011 by  
Filed under Tennis Blog, Tennis Shots, The Serve

In terms of the rules of tennis, the serve is a shot which has one function – to start a point by putting the ball in play. It is simply intended to commence a rally, all things being equal, but in recent times it has become a whole lot more important than that. These days, a particularly good serve can win you matches almost on its own – although players who can serve and do little else are still unlikely to win many titles.

Because of the way it is played – the ball is almost always struck overarm, from a ball thrown into the air by the player whose turn it is to serve – it tends to be the fastest shot played in any rally. A player with a particularly fast serve, or one who has pinpoint accuracy, can win points without their opponent even getting a racket to the ball. When a serve wins a point without being touched by the opponent, it is referred to as an “ace”.

Some of the greatest exponents of the serve have been the Croatian Goran Ivanisevic, Britain’s Greg Rusedski and the man with the three fastest serves recorded in men’s tennis, Andy Roddick, who holds the world record with a service of 155mph. The fastest women’s serve ever recorded came from Brenda Schulz McCarthy, who hit one of 130mph in 2006. there are many people who view the growing speed of tennis serves as detrimental to the game, as it prevents long rallies – but others who view it as an awesome display of raw power.   Learn how to….