Should clay encourage net play?
When I learned to play, thirty-five (ohmygawd) years ago, the basic point of baseline rallies was to get to the net. It was considered the superior tactical position. You made a good approach shot and ran like hell. 'Good' being one with depth, and that the opponent had to run to reach. They had to either pass you, or throw up a defensive lob, which, of course, gave the opportunity for a point-ending overhead. A BAD approach shot, led to either being passed, or an offensive lob, usually with a bunch of topspin, making it impossible to catch up with.
If they caught you coming to net, you took the half-volley off your shoelaces and kept coming.
Obviously, the game has changed.
The ball travels so much faster with the new racket technology, the risk of being passed is much greater.
But watching Venus at Charleston got me to thinking.
Clay slows the ball down, and makes it bounce a little higher. So ANY shot that lands around the baseline becomes a shot you can rush the net on. You have to move a couple steps inside the service line to play it anyway. The ball bounces relatively high. Why doesn't EVERYBODY go to net at that point? Yes, if you don't make a good, deep approach shot, you're dead meat, but that was always true. Tall, fast players with good groundstrokes, Sharapova, Hantuchova, Dementieva, to name a few, should be able to take short balls, pound them into a corner, and take the net.
If the opposition slices you, even better. The ball slows down and 'sits up' even more. It's like hitting a ball off a tee. Of course, if their slices keep landing on the baseline, you can't go in. But how many current players can DO that?
With the new rackets, and the preponderance of baseline play, clay seems tailor made to allow the highly skilled player to take the positional advantage.
Why don't more players do that?
Proud to be an American
Not blind. Not uninformed. We are party to atrocities. But the response of the world after 9/11 is worth noting. Even our most dire enemies offered aid. We should all be so lucky.