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Discussion Starter #1
Watching Roddick-Henman.

Two guys really bombing away from the baseline. But the amazing thing was, they both went to net pretty much whenver they felt like it. Henman treated anything he hit with depth as a potential approach shot. He showed Roddick's groundies no respect at all. And that forced Roddick to come in more, which he did. But again, he didn't wait for good approach shots. If he planned on going to net and his approach shot had any kind of depth, he went to net.

Now, high tech rackets or not, the women just don't hit the ball with the kind of pace these two do. The women have WAY more time to get to net than the men do. And the ball they have to volley isn't coming nearly as hard. So the power game isn't blowing away the volley game. The volley game just iosn't being played.

I think it's because players start training so young. When they aren't strong enough or fast enough to get to the net and play there. They hit endless shots from the baseline, but playing at net means learning through failure. You're gonna get passed. And today's players don't seem to have any desire to experience that.

If you watch the Navratilova match, you HAD to be struck by how much better she is at net than any other player on the tour, even now. She can hit to almost anywhere, from any angle, on balance or off, on the ground or airbourne. The woman's a highlight film.

Anyway, my point is, if you watch the best of the men, it's immediately apparent that getting to the net is totally possible, even in the compressed timeframes of today's points. If your volleys are good enough, it just doesn't matter how fast the ball is traveling. The advantage is all to the person at net. If their hands and feet are fast enough.
 

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nav said once that she was young, she wanted to go the net even when she could hardly look over it but that you will lose a lot when you do that in juniors since it takes time develope. a baseline came pays off quicker so children start to play that.
 

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players groundies have just got so powerful and so accurate that it makes it hard to come to net let alone be quick enough to volley. but the men do it and they play a quicker game. maybe the men are more athletic or maybe they do better homework on their opponent so they know what to do to get there and what to do when they get there. but i'm not really sure. i play a baseline game, i can volley well but i'm a bit scared of what could happen if i went to net like getting passed, however i've only ever played 2 singles matches so i wasn't confident enough to put everything into my groundies which lessened my opportunities to go to net plus it takes time to get use to playing singles and being confident in yourself rather than relying on a partner but i'm going to play more singles. in actual fact i have a singles tournie this sunday, it's a round robin event and whoever wins gets a prize so fingers crossed i can perform (my coach said i'll be dominant and looking to win - guess i'll be getting my first real taste of pressure).
 

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A French national coach (this person was female) said that one reason for this might be that women in general can't stand being passed at the net and are hurt in their pride... :eek:
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Gowza said:
i can volley well but i'm a bit scared of what could happen if i went to net like getting passed, however i've only ever played 2 singles matches so i wasn't confident enough to put everything into my groundies which lessened my opportunities to go to net
Take a tip from a net player. Not only do you NOT have to 'put everything into my groundies' , ie hit the ball hard, to get a good approach shot, it's often counterproductive. All it does is LESSEN the time you have to get to the net and get on balance.

Let's say your opponent is hanging around the baseline.

A high topspinning shot with not-as-much pace gives YOU time to run to the net. Sure they get a chance to pass you, but unless you're Venus or Serena or Lindsay, they were gonna have a chance to dothat anyway. But at least, you're at net, on balance, and can control where the opening is they have to try to hit through.

A slicing ball that stays low is good too, because the opponent has to provide some lift for the ball, which, if they hit hard, increases the chance of an error.

I find I can get to net against recreational players, even good ones pretty much any time I want. It helps that I was taught to HALF-volley (take the ball at or near the ground on the first bounce), as well a volley, having learned tennis in the late 1960's. I can and do hit approach shots, then run up to about four feet beyond the service line, take the half volley, then close to the net. (This keeps people form lobbing over me.)

Net play is about being relaxed, committed and crafty. It helps if you enjoy running up there, throwing yourself around, and bending your knees deep. But the most important thing is a willingness to get smoked repeatedly by baseliners while you learn.

Gowza said:
.... being confident in yourself rather than relying on a partner.
The mystery of Anna Kournikova, solved. :)

Martian Julien said:
A French national coach (this person was female) said that one reason for this might be that women in general can't stand being passed at the net and are hurt in their pride...
I disagree with her, but I can't prove she's wrong.
 

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i'll try to get to net when i can on sunday and see how things go.
 

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A player who could volley with the best of the and who was very adept at Net was once asked why she did not approach the net more in her matches against Venus/Serena/Davenport, and she said she was afraid of getting passed! When you see balls whittling past you, making you look foolish, you retreat, ask Martina, who could do anything once she was up there.
 

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I agree completely, Volcana. If the men can do it, why can't the women? They certainly aren't hitting the ball harder. I just think it's de-emphasized in tennis education. Young tennis players don't learn how to volley anymore.
The men don't do it as much either. But look at recent winners: Sampras won the open last year, Phillipoussis reached the Wimbledon final, Roddick and Federer are not strictly S&V but they do come to net a lot.
I think Mauresmo and Henin do it very nicely, and very successfully, and it's the key to whatever success they've had on hard courts against the top players.

Venus and Serena have the skills, but they probably feel, why do they need to? They're pretty hard to beat and undoubtedly they'd lose a lot of points adjusting to the new style.
 

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It's because it takes longer to develop a net game, and there is so much pressure nowadays to be good right away. As the writer said, a net game is hard when you are young (and thus shorter and less experienced).

As much as people talk about how much technology has helped the serve, they need to talk about how much it has helped the return and the passing shot. No way Agassi can hit the returns he does with a wooden racket. Also no way one can hit through a person at net like players do now.
 

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i found i can volley if im already at the net in doubles. in my first 3 weeks of comp for doubles i won 100% of my points at the net... :)

but i find that in singles where i have to work my way to the net i always stuff up...i rarely win 50% of volleys. it really does suck cos ive had lots of matches where i out-hit the guy but miss the volleys and its a tough way to lose..
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Gowza said:
i'll try to get to net when i can on sunday and see how things go.
Just hit a shot with good depth and run up there. When THEY swing, get on balance and be ready to change direction if you have to. You'll have at least enough success to build on.
 

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The last country to train and produce effective female serve-and-volley players was the former Czechoslovakia (Navratilova, Sukova, Mandlikova, Novotna among many others). The biggest reason why women don't come to the net any more is the evolution of the game of tennis itself. Up until 1975, 3 of the Majors were played on grass. This surface required women to learn the aggressive serve-and-volley style of play, with only a few exceptions. When Chris Evert came along in the mid-70s, her baseline style and two-fisted backhand were not the norm, it was a noticeable change in the way tennis had been played by women up until that point. When the U.S. Open moved to clay, Evert's style took off like a skyrocket, and you saw Chrissie clones popping up all over the world, and we had the succession of baseliners: Barker, Austin, Jaeger, Bassett, and a revolutionary power baseliner, Graf. When the slow rebound ace surface was introduced in Australia, it pretty much sealed the immediate future for women's baseline play, and it was only a matter of years before we saw Jana Novotna retire as the last true serve-and-volley female tennis player (singles- I realize Nav is still out there).

I think serve-and-volley play is the next logical evolution for women's tennis, but it's going to take a while, and some good one-handed backhands to emerge first.
 

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yes, I agree with jenglisbe. an all court game takes a lot longer to develop than hitting groundies. and there is a lot or pressure on these young women to become upcoming stars.. and that doesn't include being passed at the next while you are developing your net game.

I have to say after watching a bit of the henman/roddick match I really realized how much I miss the serve and volley players.

i'm glad that justine and momo continue to come to net and attack. its a great style to see..
 

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I think part of it may be to do with pride too. A lot of players, esp young girls dont like getting passed when they go to the net. At the most recent australian open i spent some time watching young players in the qualifying for the whole day, and during the day i probably only saw less then 5 voluntary net approaches! One girl approached, and was passed, then screamed to herself 'Why go to the net?', and never approached again.
The aussie commentators (most of whom are past greats who were serve volleyers) always say that the net game has to be developed through trial and error, you have to accept that you will be passed sometimes, but keep persisting with it. I dont think these girls are willing to do that, they'd rather have instant results with no risk.
 

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Tell me again why players don't go to net
Cuz they afraid the ball they hit that they think is a winner gon come back and they gon have to volley. Some of it is cuz they volley stink and other time is cuz they ego won't let them get embarassed by gettin passed and lookin like a damn fool.
 

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Experimentee said:
I think part of it may be to do with pride too. A lot of players, esp young girls dont like getting passed when they go to the net. At the most recent australian open i spent some time watching young players in the qualifying for the whole day, and during the day i probably only saw less then 5 voluntary net approaches! One girl approached, and was passed, then screamed to herself 'Why go to the net?', and never approached again.
The aussie commentators (most of whom are past greats who were serve volleyers) always say that the net game has to be developed through trial and error, you have to accept that you will be passed sometimes, but keep persisting with it. I dont think these girls are willing to do that, they'd rather have instant results with no risk.
Another thing to consider is that girls develop as world-class tennis players much earlier than boys. It may not be PC to say this, but that's never stopped me before: men and women are not equal, they are different from each other in fundamental ways. It can be said that most men have a greater sexual drive than most women, and most women have a greater sexual capacity. This generalization translates into tennis when you look at how many really great serve-and-volley men we have seen throughout the history of tennis, and how relatively few really great women net rushers there have been. It may be a more natural thing for a woman to shy away from the net and remain secure at the baseline than it is for a man, who quite naturally drives into the net, trying to make something happen.
 

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Men [on average] will always be more effective at the net. Period.

Alfajeffster 's post covers a lot of the reason-though I (sadly) don't think serve and volley is coming back.

Henman is a dinosaur-even amon the men. And Roddick came in more no doubt because Gilbert told him it's a good way to through off a serve and volleyer.

Reasons why S and V is dying

1. Both the men and women are hitting too hard for the net rusher to handle it. With wood racquets you couldn't just blast winners form anywhere on court.

2. On average the women are smaller and slower. Speed and reach are two keys to net play. Women have a harder time hitting overheads moving back.

3. The men who come to net use more topspin and slice [again, on average] than the women, who hit a flatter ball.

4. The men have better serves AND more spin on their serves. Look at Henman and Rafter's serves and you'll notice the spin gives them time to get to net. Ditto for Navratilova. A hard flat serve is fine for a baseliner, but try to volley a bullet coming back at you.

5. Two handed tennis doesn't go well with net play.

Maybe with a lot of women to there is that fear factor of getting hit.
 

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alfajeffster brought up a very good point about one-handed backhands. one of the reason why players don't go to net is because they are all two handers.

why, you may ask. actually, its been shown by research that because one handers can hit through their approach shot while running to the net, while two handers have to stop (usually). This results in the one hander having a 9 feet advantage when approaching.

That's a huge difference.
 
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