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post #1 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 04:54 PM Thread Starter
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Learning

Like several other posters here in BFTP, I have amassed a half-decent video collection of the great women who have played this game we all love. One of the things I find most interesting and useful is to actually isolate a particular shot or series of shots on video, and see what I can learn and incorporate into my own game. With that in mind, what players have you watched closely and actually picked up a thing or two from the experience? Here's my short list (a work in progress):

1. Backhand. Evonne Goolagong Cawley had/has such a natural take-back on this stroke, and it's virtually impossible to read the variety she can hit from the same backswing.

2. Forehand. Chris Evert has long been the model for precise, consistent and accurate stroke production on the backhand, but I actually think she's a terrific study on the forehand wing- again, consistently adjusting and producing the same swing over and over and over- with balance.

3. Serve. Billie Jean King got maximum output, variety and disguise from a smaller than average platform.

4. Volley. Martina Navratilova is often cited as one of the best volleyers of all time, and in slow motion video, the technique (especially on the backhand volley) is textbook.
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post #2 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 05:01 PM
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Hi, Alfaffster,

Interestingly enough, I thought Chris' forehand became more of a liability (relatively speaking) as her career progressed. As you note above, she did have a very consistent swing, and this was especially true when she arrived on the tour. She might make an error, but she would adjust. As she got older, I thought her ability to adjust waned ever so slightly. Had I been playing her, I would have attacked her forehand relentlessy in hopes of breaking it down. One shot that rarely brokedown, however, was her forehand drop shot. It was the best drop shot in tennis, although Sanchez Vicario was a close second in my opinion.

I've been watching a lot of classic tennis on The Tennis Channel, and I'm amazed at the quality of stroke production in older players. It was superior to today's game in my opinion. Chris Evert's groundstrokes are even more superb than I remember -- and I remember them being downright great!
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post #3 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 05:16 PM
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Backhand: Hana, for basically the same reasons you listed for Evonne. But I've seen much more of Hana than Evonne and that's probably the only real difference for me. IMO Hana had the best topspin backhand of any all-courter. Honorable mention: Catarina Lindqvist. Beautiful stroke prodcution and excellent shoulder turn.

Two Handed backhand: Chris probably wrote the darn textbook. She has perfect preparation and great excelleration through her torso while keeping her head still. I think its the most lethal backhand ever. Honorable mention: Monica's wrap-around backhand was like a cannonball slung from a slingshot! She dismissed many a baseline rally with a simple, compact two handy backhand crosscourt to a righties' forehand.

Forehand: Chris deserves a nod here but I also thought that Tracy had excellent preparation on this shot. Tracy's raquet was always back and ready for this stroke.

Serve: I love Steffi's serve the most, but most of us just don't have the kind of timing that it takes to do what Steffi does consistently and through any weather. So I'll go with Martina's serve. When she settled into a motion, it was smooth and rhythmical and it looked hard to tell where she was going to place her serve.

Volley: I only have a couple of BJK matches, but I absolutely love to watch her volley. Martina was gorgeous to watch and was maybe the better volleyer, but she was also flashier whereas BJK might be a little better technically. Honorable mention: Believe it or not, Pammies' volleys were simple (which is always good) but powerful.

Overhead: Nobody got back for an overhead like Martina. With any shot, getting there in time to set up properly is half the battle. Martina took so many lobs over the backhand side and turned them into booming forehand overhead winners. Aranxta moved well and had good shot production on overheads.

Halfvolley: Martina was sooo good at this, just forget anyone else.
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post #4 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 05:20 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jem
Hi, Alfaffster,

Interestingly enough, I thought Chris' forehand became more of a liability (relatively speaking) as her career progressed. As you note above, she did have a very consistent swing, and this was especially true when she arrived on the tour. She might make an error, but she would adjust. As she got older, I thought her ability to adjust waned ever so slightly. Had I been playing her, I would have attacked her forehand relentlessy in hopes of breaking it down. One shot that rarely brokedown, however, was her forehand drop shot. It was the best drop shot in tennis, although Sanchez Vicario was a close second in my opinion.

I've been watching a lot of classic tennis on The Tennis Channel, and I'm amazed at the quality of stroke production in older players. It was superior to today's game in my opinion. Chris Evert's groundstrokes are even more superb than I remember -- and I remember them being downright great!
I agree on the progressive liability of Chris' forehand, but I think it had more to do with the switch from the smaller hitting area to the mid-size Wilson ProStaff than any glitches or hitches she had in her forehand. The standard size frame afforded a much smaller and more precise hitting area, and also required a "fuller" stroke to complete. It's almost like teaching someone how to play volleyball, coaching them all the way through the professional ranks, and then 3/4 the way through a career, taking the ball away and making them play with a volleyball that's 30% larger than what they're used to.
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post #5 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 05:37 PM
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HanafanGA, it's not a laughing matter to say Shriver's game is a good model for the serve/volley player. She played smart percentage tennis. I remember an article in WT years ago that said she was the perfect model for the club player who'd like to s/v. Sure, we'd all love to be Edberg or Navratilova, but 95% of us are better off playing the percentages. And yes, it'd be great to have Steffi's forehand and Monica's backhand, but most of us don't have that giftedness. Evert and Austin are great models for baseliners. Forget the big bashers of today. Frazier wouldn't be a bad model. And Myskina is top 5 because of her technique and mind -- she's a little like Hingis to me, with a little less flair at the net. I watched a Myskina match at the USO last year and Austin said that at #7 Myskina was a high as she'd ever be. She didn't have the tools to get any higher. She won't stay top 5 for long, but it's good to see a player use her mind and win.
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post #6 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 06:00 PM
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Originally Posted by preacherfan
HanafanGA, it's not a laughing matter to say Shriver's game is a good model for the serve/volley player. She played smart percentage tennis. I remember an article in WT years ago that said she was the perfect model for the club player who'd like to s/v. Sure, we'd all love to be Edberg or Navratilova, but 95% of us are better off playing the percentages. And yes, it'd be great to have Steffi's forehand and Monica's backhand, but most of us don't have that giftedness. Evert and Austin are great models for baseliners. Forget the big bashers of today. Frazier wouldn't be a bad model. And Myskina is top 5 because of her technique and mind -- she's a little like Hingis to me, with a little less flair at the net. I watched a Myskina match at the USO last year and Austin said that at #7 Myskina was a high as she'd ever be. She didn't have the tools to get any higher. She won't stay top 5 for long, but it's good to see a player use her mind and win.

Pam's talent as a court tactition plays into her solid net game as well. She's very powerful, but also great at placing the volley setting up the next volley or overhead as a winner.

Martina once called Pam the "meat and potatos" of that doubles partnership and she was right. Martina can win with anyone, but I honestly believe that Pam made doubles that much easier for Martina and was her perfect partner.
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post #7 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 06:06 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by HanaFanGA
Pam's talent as a court tactition plays into her solid net game as well. She's very powerful, but also great at placing the volley setting up the next volley or overhead as a winner.

Martina once called Pam the "meat and potatos" of that doubles partnership and she was right. Martina can win with anyone, but I honestly believe that Pam made doubles that much easier for Martina and was her perfect partner.
Of course, being a 27ft tall giraffe didn't hurt her wingspan much either...

BWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Where is Pamela Howard Shriver when you need her?!? One fell swoop from a timely hoof and this classroom will be back in order fast!
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post #8 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 06:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster

With that in mind, what players have you watched closely and actually picked up a thing or two from the experience? Here's my short list (a work in progress):
Backhand: Mine's a cross between Mats Wilander's and Chris Evert's backhand, except that my shot sucks. My former partner used to tell me that though I had great form on the backhand, I never looked like I was in control of where and how I was going to place the ball Occasionally, I can hit a good one-handed topspin backhand, but that happens rarely.

Serve: I've tried to copy Lindsay Davenport's serve, especially on the serve out wide. It works sometimes.

Forehand: No, my forehand is nothing like Fraulein Forehand's. Think a crappy version of Edberg's or Shriver's forehand <where's the damn emoticon for "hanging my head down in shame"?>

Ok, all right, so my entire game is embarrassingly bad. BUT, I can serve and hit decent groundstrokes with my left hand -- must have been all those years of trying to mimic McEnroe and Navratilova when I was a kid
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post #9 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 06:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HanaFanGA

Halfvolley: Martina was sooo good at this, just forget anyone else.
I'm amused that you, of all people, picked Navratilova. World Tennis used to run a poll among the players asking them to pick the best shots in the game, and in the 1987 poll, Hana Mandlikova was voted as having the best half-volley by her peers.
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post #10 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:00 PM Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by samn
Ok, all right, so my entire game is embarrassingly bad. BUT, I can serve and hit decent groundstrokes with my left hand -- must have been all those years of trying to mimic McEnroe and Navratilova when I was a kid
NO!!!! Not another lefty hook out wide in the ad court- I don't think I can handle it!!!! I'm going to call AndyT and tell him to come over to your place in London and force you to hit right-handed under penalty of a good stiff catholic ruler across the knuckles!

At least agree to start your service games from the ad court!
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post #11 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by alfajeffster
NO!!!! Not another lefty hook out wide in the ad court- I don't think I can handle it!!!! I'm going to call AndyT and tell him to come over to your place in London and force you to hit right-handed under penalty of a good stiff catholic ruler across the knuckles!
Don't worry, I'm a natural right-hander, and I play right-handed. It's just that my general suckiness at tennis is made somewhat bearable by my ability to serve and hit groundstrokes with my left hand. I've been trying to master the Navratilova lefty hook and her slice backhand, though.
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post #12 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samn
I'm amused that you, of all people, picked Navratilova. World Tennis used to run a poll among the players asking them to pick the best shots in the game, and in the 1987 poll, Hana Mandlikova was voted as having the best half-volley by her peers.

Well their opinion certainly means more than mine does but I really believe that Martina's the best in this category. Hana was sometimes shaky on her forehand half volley. I think of all the players I've seen, I've witnessed Martina turn more great returns by her opponents into a winning set up shot for her at the net with her great half-volleys.

But if anyone really wants to say that Hana's was better, then I want argue with them!

I probably talk too much about our "Slavic Princess" so I won't be nominating her for anything else any time soon.
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post #13 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by samn
Don't worry, I'm a natural right-hander, and I play right-handed. It's just that my general suckiness at tennis is made somewhat bearable by my ability to serve and hit groundstrokes with my left hand. I've been trying to master the Navratilova lefty hook and her slice backhand, though.

Aha!! Samn is a Kimiko Date clone!!
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post #14 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:19 PM
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Originally Posted by HanaFanGA

I probably talk too much about our "Slavic Princess" so I won't be nominating her for anything else any time soon.
Nooo, forget what the other guy said. You don't talk too much about our Slavic Princess (does anyone know how to say that in Czech?), and it's fun discussing her with other fans. (The kids over in GM have probably never even heard of anyone who played tennis before 1997.)
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post #15 of 21 (permalink) Old Aug 10th, 2004, 07:22 PM
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Aha!! Samn is a Kimiko Date clone!!
Wasn't Kimiko Date a natural left-hander who was forced to play right-handed, though? If anything, I'm a Sabine Appelmans (a natural righty playing left-handed) clone
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