When I really wanted to learn about coaching tennis I began to read a lot of tennis books, and I decided that if I could get one point for my team it was worth reading the book. There are all kinds of ways to learn. Coach Leighton used to say there are vast levels of play. My arena was not Wimbledon or Division 1 but small college tennis (NAIA, Division 2). My first yers in the NAIA I was introduced to players and coaches from all over the world. The Texas and Oklahoma guys seemed to be the closest to us (North Carolinians).
On one of the first days I watched the tournament a big Texas kid made a comment to himself about an errant shot. “Aw birdshit”. I laughed. One kid receiving serve looked long and hard at the mark, looked at his opponent waved him on saying “naw- keep ‘em coming”. Another perplexed Okie making a line call examined the mark closely and said “I’m calling that good but keep it in mind and after the match is over let me know whether it was in or out. i want to know”. Certainly a unique level.
The French Open is just around the corner. The tennis channel allows viewing high level matches on any surface all week long.I think I like the French because you can see the game within the game.
Many college baseball players used to elect my beginning tennis class. One player said “I love it. You get to hit all you want to’.
I have watched a lot of tennis in this year of world wide health concern. After 40 years of college coaching I think I can see things that could be improved even among the pros. Ten years ago I predicted the dropshot would more and more exhibit its’ “shattering effect” even on the pro game. Maybe Djokovic confirmed this prediction most impressively. Charlie Owens shattered multitudes in our area with this tactic. Not long ago another time honored skill, the top spin lob was about to become more readily used. I think you’re seeing that now. Watch and see if I’m right. My prediction for 2021 and later comes from the college game. “Before long the best top level women’s doubles players will come from women who have played American college doubles.
One all International college team dominated tennis for years. If you check the scores of their matches very often the final team score would be 4-1. Their coach explained “they have never played doubles, they don’t know how to play doubles, and they don’t want to play doubles. They would just give the doubles point away if I would let them.” In 1965 I was given the job of coaching small college tennis. I did well because so many of the coaches had never been involved in sports and were mainly librarians, financial officers or such.
That is not the case today. There are now women teams. Both women and men now have excellent coaches and assistants. Many of whom are former fine level college players or even professionals.
Nobody gives the doubles point away now.
Impressively the tennis channel and NCAA have done a masterful job of filming the NCAA National Championships. Watching the women play I’m more and more impressed with their improving abilities, particularly in doubles. With great coaching and avid concentration on the all important doubles point women in this arena not only care more about doubles, they practice those unique doubles skills with intense effort. You will never see in any match a player that tries harder than a college player trying to win their match for their team.Thus my 2021 prediction.
Watching the college tournament this year I could see the women utilizing new unique formations and tactics that did not exist when I was coaching. The new coaches are making the players better and better. Teammates will not allow anything different. Enthusiasm is glorious, unmatched at any level.