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The Tennis Business Discussion Forum Archive

[tennisbiz] Re: Playing styles

From: Alan Chandronnait <>
Date: Wed 2 Apr 2003 13:43:30 -0500

<x-charset iso-8859-1>Hi Paul-

Interesting question about why there are so few serve and volleyers in
today's game. A couple years ago, as I watched one of the major
championships on TV, the channel stated that the average height on the pro
tour since Laver's time had gone from 5' 8'' to 6' 1''. If you take the
added height into consideration along with the longer and more powerful
racquets it would seem the elements add up to more serve and volleying.
And, yet, like you state, there are very few serve and volleyers. I think
it is also important to point out that there are very few players that serve
and volley even once a game just to keep their opponent off balance.

Why has this happened? Coaching. Plain and simple. On average I think
most players on the pro circuit have started playing the game at an earlier
age than in past years. It is difficult for a child of eight, ten or even
twelve to be successful at the net in a full court playing situation because
of their size. On the baseline they can run shots down and work to hit the
ball in their hitting zone. When at the net, the ball is somewhat easily
hit over their head or off to their side. So in a full court tournament
situation, if winning is the only thing, going to net is a losing
proposition. Most of these players, though, should be working on developing
their games and having a vision of the player they want to be in five years.
Learning how to get to the net (serve and volley or through transition) is
an art in itself and should be taught to the students just like all the
other strokes. So why is this not being taught?

Because we are the "Instant Breakfast" society and most parents of junior
players are expecting results immediately. And because of this, most
coaches feel the pressure of "having to produce" or the parents will find
someone who will. Does this mean the parents are at fault? Not
necessarily. I think a good coach, if they take the time to sit down with
the parents and the player and explain their vision, can help parents
understand the whole picture. Most parents want the best for their child
and, if presented with this vision by the coach, would be willing to give
the coach the time to develop the student's game because they understand the

The process varies depending on the student and other factors. One
important aspect of the process is that the coach make the transition shots,
volleys,overheads, a part of every lesson just like the groundstrokes, serve
and return of serve. This should be done from the beginning. Playing
doubles using serve and volleying is a great way of getting net experience.
The student should be given enough tools so that when they get old enough
they can make the decision of how they want to express themselves on court.
All court game, serve and volleyer, aggressive baseline, defensive baseline,
counter-attacker, etc.

To make an analogy. With most of today's pros they had been given three
colors to make a painting. Black, white, and blue. They were given these
colors when they were young and now either do not know about the other
colors or do not have the confidence to inject a yellow or green into their
painting. This is why we see so many of the same paintings every week on
T.V! In most matches I can count on one hand the amount of times each
player has gone to the net (and I am including when they go to net to shake
their opponent's hand at the end!)

I currently coach player's of every style. I coach a female high school
player who is a pure serve and volleyer. Probably the only one in junior
tennis in our section male or female. Most of the player's I do coach,
though, are basically All Court players. They feel comfortable staying back
or attacking. Some like to play more conservative and others like to take
chances and show incredible Laver-like flair. They have the tools to decide
for themselves how they want to express themselves on the court today and
also in the future.

If more pro players were given these options when they are young, I think
we would not only see more serve and volleyers out there but more of every
style. Wouldn't that be cool?!!

Alan Chandronnait

Received on Wed Apr 02 2003 - 18:07:09 CST

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