Friday, August 31, 2018

Back to School at the U.S. Open

The staff just came back from a trip to the U.S. Open. It was the hottest days of summer for sure.
Players like Michael Youzney, Kevin Anderson, Ryan Harrison, etc were visibly shaken from the extreme conditions in Queens. The humidity was off the chart.  I took frequent breaks from watching, and sat under an umbrella in the court yard, drinking soda water with ice, I couldn't imagine how those players could handle this. Fans were attended to in the stands by NYC medics. Increased breaks in the day matches were implemented. Finally the sun began to set and the the later rounds of the day session were winding up. Those players had the lucky time assignment. I couldn't help being motivated in seeing the level of play that exists when sitting a few feet away from the greatest players in the world. When you look at Djokovic you see the body of a triathlete, one who can play long grueling points, over an extended period of time, recover, and then repeat over a ten day period. The quick points do exist, when players hit a winner or make an error, but the style of play is different than it used to be. The serve and volley in singles is over. The returns are just too good to come to net. Defensive shots on baseline rallys have improved greatly with slice forehands and backhands, and buggy whips, and yes defensive lobs! Serving power is the new serve and volley.
It's a one hit wonder. When returning serve, players stand closer on the first serve, and try to block it back with a small forward motion of the racquet. The kicking serves were returned far back from the baseline with a drive or a punch slice. Breaking serve is a big deal in singles, because it gives you the chance to serve out for the set if you can hold your serve. If I had to say one thing, get a better serve, because it gets you more short points, helps you hold, and gives you more energy to attack the return games. If you have difficulty breaking serve, and have to play long serving games, then the pressure is totally on you to hold, and you can get worn down. That's why a great serve, actually saves you energy over the course of a match.

As we head back to our Fall routines, this may be a great time to work on your serve and return. I have several observations that I'll share soon. Stand by for more insights. Until then, get in shape for tennis by eating well, sleeping well, and training hard. We have some work to do.