[tennisbiz] Re: Serve and volley tennis
As a long-time student of the game and admirer of the serve and volley
strategy, I think the attacking style is less evident in tennis for three
1) While the change in equipment has made ground stroking more powerful, I
think it's the extreme grips that discourage players from coming to the net.
I'm not sure John McEnroe could execute consistent volleys with an extreme
2) There are fewer and fewer professionals playing doubles; fewer
opportunities to practice attacking the net.
3) Even players who are competent volleyers are not comfortable with the
transition from the back court.
I disagree that the loss of serve and volleyers is akin to losing the set
shot in basketball. Agressive net players serve as a counterpoint to the
baseliners. It creates drama. One of the reasons tennis is not growing --
either as a spectator sport or as a recreational activity -- is that the game
is not as much fun to watch as it was 20 years ago.
It's easy to say that the game had more compelling personalities in 1983 --
Connors, McEnroe, Borg and Lendl -- but these players had contrasting styles
as well as temperments. It's a delight watching Wayne Arthurs or Taylor Dent
come to the net more than 100 times to challenge the baseliner to do more
with each stroke in less time. It is mindnumbing watching players beat at
each other from the baseline for hours at a time.
The answer? I think we are already seeing an equalization of surfaces. The
grass at Wimbledon is slower -- baseliners are in the final. And the clay in
Paris is getting faster and the balls are lighter. And if -- no, make that
WHEN -- a serve and volleyer wins a Grand Slam, watch out. Everyone will
want to be at the net. And tapes of Paul Annacone (the most aggressive net
rusher I've ever seen) beating John McEnroe in the second round of the 1986
U. S. Open will become a collector's item. (Anybody have a copy?)
TV writer, Tennis Week
Received on Fri Apr 04 2003 - 09:51:29 CST