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Hardscrabble Scramble
August 1997 Article

Hardscrabble Scramble Archive

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The Gifted Lefty

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Mike Whittington

As a left hander I've always been told what an advantage I have in tennis. I really thought I was special by listening to what everyone was saying about being a southpaw. I was certainly winning points with my slice and kick serves but never really compared the mechanics to a right hander.

When I stopped playing competitively and started teaching and thinking more of mechanics and form, I became really intrigued at this advantage I had. Can I physically do something a right hander can't? Should I be a great tennis player just because I'm left handed? The more I taught the more I thought and came up with the some basic conclusions about the advantages a left hander has. It has nothing to do with the physical ability at all.

1.) Strange - there are only 1 in 7 people in the world that are left handed and I'm sure the odds are far less in tennis. Since right handers don't see that many of us we look a little strange with the ball coming off a different side of the body and spinning a different way.

2.) Big Points - a left hander gains his/her biggest advantage by being able to slice the ball wide on the ad court where most of the big points are played.

3.) Luck - when a left hander serves out wide in the ad court it goes to a right handers backhand but when a right hander serves wide in the deuce court it goes to a right handers forehand.

A righty can physically hit as much spin, pace, and depth as a left handed player. But the 3 points I've discussed make me believe that I have at least a little bit of an advantage so I wrote this article right handed just to make it fair!

So the next time you face that southpaw serving wide into the ad court remain calm, they just can't help it.

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This column is copyrighted by Mike Whittington, all rights reserved.

At the time at which he wrote this column, Mike Whittington was a USPTA pro in Fort Smith, Arkansas, where he served as director of tennis at the Hardscrabble Country Club.


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