If they played with wood racquets today... - TennisForum.com
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post #1 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 18th, 2004, 03:14 AM Thread Starter
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If they played with wood racquets today...

Of the players who have come and gone in the last 20 years, who would've benefitted the most from a rule that would force all players to play with wooden racquets? Would Steffi and Monica dominated as they did? Would the Williams sisters have been such a phenomenon? What about Martina Hingis? I'd like your opinions.

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post #2 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 18th, 2004, 04:17 AM
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How many pomegranete martini's did you have tonight preacherfan?

I had 3 or 4....but I am still sober enough to realize you are repeating yourself.

: )
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post #3 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 20th, 2004, 12:27 PM
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Oh, but what a great thread topic. I realize it's been covered in several ways, shapes, and forms before, but what the hell- we're in the holiday snozzle mood and this one begs for opinions from all corners, so why not sink another pomegranate martini (that sounds delicious, by the way Mark37) and go for it!


Firstly, and to qualify, the prerequisite should be made about racquet size, as several frames over the past 30 years have been made of wood in the oversized mode made popular by Howard Head in the mid-70s, so let's (at least I will) restrict my response to the thread topic by placing a standard size (65 square inches or less) racquet face at the end of that handle:

Justine Henin-Hardenne
Amelie Mauresmo
Anastasia Myskina
Patty Schnyder
Martina Hingis
Arantxa Sanchez Vicario
Steffi Graf
Jana Novotna
Lori McNeil
Lisa Raymond
Mary Joe Fernandez
Chris Evert (just kidding daze! )...

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post #4 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 20th, 2004, 03:45 PM Thread Starter
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Graf - still an all-time great, but the field would catch up with her a little
ASV - her speed and consistency would've made her more of a factor against Graf and Seles
Seles - I don't know. I would think the smaller wood racquets would hurt her.
Pierce - would struggle to be a consistent top ten/15 player
Davenport - I think she'd do very well because she technically hits the ball so cleanly
Hingis - would've won 10-15 Slams with the power of her rivals neutralized
Williamses - technical flaws would've been worked on at earlier ages because their power and athleticism wouldn't get them far
Novotna and Tauziat - would've had stronger careers and wouldn't have been the last of an extinct species
JHH - she'd dominate

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post #5 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 24th, 2004, 03:28 AM
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I say the Williams sister would have not done that well because they are more of a power game and idon't think that the racquets would have held up that well.
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post #6 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 27th, 2004, 12:05 PM
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Another way to look at this theory is which players of the past would have benefitted from the new racquet technology most. Right off the bat, it's a given that Margaret Smith Court, with her supreme fitness and athleticism would have been amazing with a 95 square inch frame during her prime- I can imagine her first serve being every bit as hard as anything Venus Williams hits. Who else though?

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #7 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 2004, 07:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alfajeffster
Another way to look at this theory is which players of the past would have benefitted from the new racquet technology most. Right off the bat, it's a given that Margaret Smith Court, with her supreme fitness and athleticism would have been amazing with a 95 square inch frame during her prime- I can imagine her first serve being every bit as hard as anything Venus Williams hits. Who else though?
alfa, i'm not sure Court would WANT the extra size; firstly it hurts your mobility to the net, so the bigger frame suits the baseliners more, and she was not enormously agile, because she was so big herself. And i think she would prefer the challenge of playing with a simpler tool...since she's so old fashioned, I just think she may prefer, by nature, more conservative materials. And she does approach things in the spirit of 'taking on the challenge' which may have kept her on the small end of racquet size. Just some thoughts; dont know her well enough to really say.
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post #8 of 16 (permalink) Old Dec 28th, 2004, 07:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by daze11
alfa, i'm not sure Court would WANT the extra size; firstly it hurts your mobility to the net, so the bigger frame suits the baseliners more, and she was not enormously agile, because she was so big herself. And i think she would prefer the challenge of playing with a simpler tool...since she's so old fashioned, I just think she may prefer, by nature, more conservative materials. And she does approach things in the spirit of 'taking on the challenge' which may have kept her on the small end of racquet size. Just some thoughts; dont know her well enough to really say.
Actually, I think it would have helped her game the same as it did Martina- the mid-size and stiffer frames made punching more forceful volleys an easier task- it's much more difficult to stick a volley with a wooden racquet than it is with a Yonex RD frame like Martina used. Also, Court was arguably the fastest player of her era- she was not only quick, she was extremely agile for a 5'9" girl (the same height as Steffi Graf by the way)- she was famous for leaping up for overheads long before Pete Sampras made it his trademark. She actually looks much bigger than she is because of the size of her shoulders and the length of her arms, but when you look at the rest of her body- it's not only lithe, but that of a very quick sprinter. Plus, she was one of the first pros back in the late 60s to change to the "steely" racquets, and used a Champion steel frame for most of her great 69-70 streak of majors. I think she retired (early in 1977) just as the big frames were being allowed- too bad for her, it might actually have prolonged her career a bit and put her in contention for a few more Wimbledons in the late 70s and possibly early 80s until she developed her heart trouble!

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #9 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 25th, 2005, 09:44 PM
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Quote:
Seles - I don't know. I would think the smaller wood racquets would hurt her.
Pierce - would struggle to be a consistent top ten/15 player
Davenport - I think she'd do very well because she technically hits the ball so cleanly
I think you contradict yourself there by saying Lindsay would be fine but Monica and Pierce would not . I just don't see how Lindsay strikes the ball any better than these two
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post #10 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 25th, 2005, 11:35 PM
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Irony?

Daze: Just a thought; as you recall, the oversized (Prince) racket was essentially introduced to the greater public by 70s/80s premiere netrusher Pam Shriver during the '78 Open; she didn't seem to have a problem using it, either did Martina, so perhaps Court would've adjusted to using one regardless. But all in all the racket does seem to favor power baseliners--the passing shots the pros are hitting these days seem like lasers...and unfortunately, one needs the reflexes of a Federer or Henman to strike back at net, which is rare in today's game....
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post #11 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2005, 06:50 AM
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I'd wager we'd see different games from todayt's women-but I don't see any huge advantage or disadvantage. Are we supposing a slam breakdown like today-with two slams on hardcourts?

Serena: Still at the same level IMO-maybe tougher because her body wouldn't break down as often.

Venus: If she didn't fix that forehand she's be eaten alive. To compensate I envision her becoming a server and volleyer.

J-H-H: See comments on Serena-she'd do well in any era I suspect.

Hingis: Wood helps her in so many ways-but don'r forget that with wood a Novota or Navratilova would be chipping and charging off that weak second serve.

Seles: She would drop the two-handed forehand IMO. Still tough, because
she could play defense-still a sitting duck on grass if she didn't develop more of a volley.

Graf: Obviously still great-though she would have to be more patient and pick spots with her forehand.
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post #12 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2005, 02:01 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LolaB
I think you contradict yourself there by saying Lindsay would be fine but Monica and Pierce would not . I just don't see how Lindsay strikes the ball any better than these two
I don't think any power player of the last decade has had as sound a technique as Lindsay. I think she'd still be overpowering, because her technique is so orthodox. I think Pierce and Seles benefit a little more from the oversized raquets. (esp. Mary)

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post #13 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 26th, 2005, 02:15 PM
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Santorofan: I think the thing you might be missing is how much the oversized racquets actually improved women's serves. Court had a big serve with the standard size frame, in fact arguably the best first serve (Virginia Wade's was harder, but she was, from what I can tell, a little more inconsistent with it). The oversized racquets were adopted by the serve-and-volley women before the baseliners picked them up, for good reason- it gave them extra power on the serve, and Margaret Court was a player who relied on powerful serves, overheads, and groundies. The oversized frame would only have made her kind of volleying better, IMO.

There is nothing more beautiful than Evonne Goolagong in full flight moving across a tennis court.
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post #14 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 27th, 2005, 01:08 AM
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AJ: I actually agree with your sentiments on this; my post was merely questioning Daze regarding Madge's potential to utilize an oversize racket considering her playing style. Methinx should would've been just fine with a larger ax to swing, and quite likely, better! Personally I tend to agree with the line of thinking that most classic champions of the 20th century would do fine in today's game, given the same training, equitment, nutrition, etc..that it's more about what's between the ears that separates champions from almost champions...
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post #15 of 16 (permalink) Old Jan 27th, 2005, 08:12 AM
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I still play with a wooden racquet.

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~At 14, one is particularly vulnerable to obvious temptations of the age, boyfriends, parties, etc. (Virginia Wade in 'Courting Triumph' The best book on earth)~
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