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View Full Version : Should clay encourage net play?


Volcana
Apr 25th, 2004, 02:56 AM
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?

- L i n a -
Apr 25th, 2004, 03:05 AM
Players should come in more on deep shots on all surfaces... not just clay.

It's simply a comfort thing... and all the girls today focus on booming groundies.

charmedRic
Apr 25th, 2004, 03:29 AM
Players should come in more on deep shots on all surfaces... not just clay.

It's simply a comfort thing... and all the girls today focus on booming groundies.
Ditto :wavey:

Ted of Teds Tennis
Apr 25th, 2004, 03:40 AM
Do you have a tape of the Venus Williams/JHH match from the 2002 Amelia Island final? JHH was passing Venus left and right to get to 6-2 4-0. :)

I'd think (but the good players here can correct me) that the slowness of clay also ought to help the player at the baseline have more time to line up a good passing shot.

- L i n a -
Apr 25th, 2004, 03:51 AM
Do you have a tape of the Venus Williams/JHH match from the 2002 Amelia Island final? JHH was passing Venus left and right to get to 6-2 4-0. :)

I'd think (but the good players here can correct me) that the slowness of clay also ought to help the player at the baseline have more time to line up a good passing shot.
I think what Volcana is saying is that the higher bounce of clay on a deep shot, makes it even harder for an effective passing shot.

I don't know if I necessarily agree with that...

Also, playing on green clay is much different than red clay.

Volcana
Apr 25th, 2004, 04:09 AM
I think what Volcana is saying is that the higher bounce of clay on a deep shot, makes it even harder for an effective passing shot.No. no. It's makes the APPROACH shot easier, so it's easier to get to net. It does also make the ball easier for the player at baseline to reach, so the passing shot is easier. You have to have good volleys.

I watched Nav do this most of her career, but she's probably the best woman ever at the net.

Do you have a tape of the Venus Williams/JHH match from the 2002 Amelia Island final? JHH was passing Venus left and right to get to 6-2 4-0. No, i don't have that tape.
I know Venus won the match 2-6 7-5 7-6(5):)

Mr_Molik
Apr 25th, 2004, 04:13 AM
Do you have a tape of the Venus Williams/JHH match from the 2002 Amelia Island final? JHH was passing Venus left and right to get to 6-2 4-0. :)

I'd think (but the good players here can correct me) that the slowness of clay also ought to help the player at the baseline have more time to line up a good passing shot.

it also gives u more time to get into a good position at the net

Jakeev
Apr 25th, 2004, 07:05 AM
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?
Problem when it boils down to it is the confidence to come to the net when opportunities arise. Venus played an amazingly smart match against Conchita in the final two sets.

If anything, I think she stunned Conchita with her net play. Martinez often looked like she did not realize what was happening on certain points.

What I think players could perhaps do is watch old tennis matches of net rushers. One of the most amazing clay-court matches I have seen was the 84 Amelia Island final when Martina N. beat Hana Mandlikova, 6-4 in the third.

That match was crazy and believe me there was not a baseline rally of any more than five strokes.

I think players today could learn a lot about net play on clay if they could find old tapes of matches like that. If anything, it makes things more interesting.

Seenus
Apr 25th, 2004, 11:58 AM
Makes sense