One day I asked Imre, “Do you have Easter in Holland?
“Why certainly,” she said, surprised.
“Do you have the Easter Bunny?” I asked.
“Sure,” she giggled, “We have the bunny too.”
I asked the team, “What’s the best thing that could happen to you in an
Easter egg hunt?”
Where was this going was the look on their faces.
Finally one girl answered: “If you know where the eggs were hidden it
would surely help!”
“Exactly,” I replied. “I’ve watched teams for 40 years, I know where the
points are, and I’ll tell you.”
From then on they called me the Easter Bunny. When I’d see them
execute a point I’d advised them on, I’d whisper “bunny point.” Other men
coaches contended: “They’ll practice all week on something I’ve taught
them but come to match time they forget it.” I’d smile to myself every time I
got to say “bunny point.”
This test was given to all team members. Richard Dutton always won.


Here are some “hidden points.” Fill out and return. Best papers, men and
women, will be rewarded.

The page numbers in parentheses indicate where the question is
Answer in 35 words or less, based on fall practice:

  1. “Hone your return” (page 29).
  2. “Churn and Burn” (page 88).
  3. Seven volley spots (page 87).
  4. Use your legs to volley (overhead) (page 87).
  5. “Recoil” (page 88).
  6. “On the rise” (pages 89, 106).
  7. “Andy Moll” Drill (page 56).
  8. “two and in” (pages 43, 46).
  9. “Shank” target (page 85).
  10. Going in (pages 46, 89).
  11. Backing up (pages 46, 89).
  12. Which knee is down on a low backhand volley (right-handers)?
    The left.) (page 117).
  13. “Hit-turn” serve (overhead) (page 19).
  14. “Doubles is a one-two game” (pages 29).
  15. “Duties of all four doubles players” (pages 31, 32, 33).
  16. Where is the underspin ball best used (which shots)?
    (pages 29, 36, 58).
  17. “Touch and tighten” (page 88).
  18. Short corner (significance) (page 36).
  19. Cardinal sins in doubles (page 34).
  20. “Chip and Charge” (page 58).
  21. “Chip and Rip” (pages 42, 58).
  22. They approach cross court. Your response: (Down the Line)
    (page 89).
  23. “Spot specific” on volleys (too!) (page 56).
  24. “The most important ground stroke” (Cross-court backhand if
    both players are right-handed) (pages 29, 41, 42).
  25. Get the return out of “the hole” (page 59).
  26. “The Cagey Cage” (page 84).
  27. The values of hitting on the rise (pages 57, 58).
  28. Borg’s speech (page 25).
  29. Don’t change the “line of the ball” (pages 29, 43).
  30. Who serves first for us in doubles? (The server who gives our team
    the best chance to win. This may not be the best server.) (page 59).
  1. Double faults are: (See answer at bottom of test.
  1. Know when to “pull the trigger.” (See answer at bottom of test.)
  1. “The harder they hit it, the … ” (easier you swing … pages 21, 88.)
  2. “Z” shaped return (pages 90, 117).
  3. Compare the “hit spot” for a backhand two-hander to a one-
    handed backhand slice (pages 23, 86).
  4. “Pulling the top spin backhand” (page 56).
  5. “Learn the court” and team policy on dropping a questionable ball
    (page 53).
  6. Two rally suggestions: (1. Hit ground strokes off the first bounce
    only. Second bounce hits are not legal, plus first bounce makes you
    hustle to the ball and hit some awkward shots. 2. There is no need
    to hit balls that are out of bounds. Just knock them down, or let
    them go, and start a new inbounds rally.)
  7. Recommended technique on backhand overheads (page 87).
  8. High volleys—down and at an angle. Low volleys—straight and
    deep and they get to hit it one more time (pages 41, 87, 88).
  1. Double faults are double trouble in doubles

Helpful Hints from the Coach

      1. The most important thing to remember in tennis is to “look at the ball”: Point of contact concentration. (There comes a time when in order to win you must forget about how you’re hitting and concen- trate on where you’re hitting. Don’t work on strokes when playing an important match. Concentrate on point of contact and where to hit. You have to assume your strokes are right. “You can’t hit well when thinking about how to hit.”

2. Correct one error at a time. Don’t ball up your mind trying to do too many things at once.

3. Move in as far as you can on volleys. If you can get on top of the net – be there. Don’t hit it up if you can take one quick step in and hit it down.

4. Volley low balls deep. Angle high volleys.

5. When playing at the net and on the right hand side, use a continental grip . Many good players volley on both sides with a continental grip.

6. Use your left hand to adjust your grip from forehand to backhand. It is good insurance.

7. Don’t cut your shots too fine. This is to say don’t try to hit within 6 inches of the line when a ball inside 3 feet will do. Don’t make it any harder than you have to. Many players do all the work to get the set up shot and then blow the shot by trying to hit a great shot. Finish the point. Put the cap on it. “Good players, don’t miss easy shots.” Short overheads are the most common spot for this error.

8. You can work on your weaknesses by forcing your self to execute them in play – practice situations. For example, if your second serve is weak, play your practice matches with one serve only. Or, if your patience and consistency is hurting, force your self to practice with- out coming to the net. For backhand problems – avoid running around it in practice. Force yourself to execute your weakness.

9. If a player is a weak volleyer, yet strong baseliner you can often draw him in by hitting short balls. Probably his backhand approach will be weak. Hit a short ball, to his backhand; his weak backhand approach might give you an easy pass.

10. Basically a player has to decide whether he is going to play offensively or defensively. Many college players can be beaten simply by keeping it back in, or “skyballing” them to death. Develop a game suited to your ability. Don’t try to do things you can’t do percentage-wise. Then add new wrinkles when you’ve mastered your play.

11. Often you can open the way to a weakness by hitting to a strength. For example, a player with a weak backhand will often run around it. If he overplays the forehand hit it sharply to his forehand for a placement, or perhaps to move him wide to the forehand, thus forcing him to hit a backhand on the second return.

12. Often a player’s apparent strength is actually his weakness. For example, many players have a weak looking but steady deep backhand; and, while their forehand is well paced and looks good, is actually a poor percentage shot because the player tries to do too much with it.

13. One strategy that works well often, particularly against slow, lazy opponents, is the “drop-shot and lob” strategy. Drop shot them and when they lope up to the net simply lob over their heads. Do over and over again.

14. “Never change a winning play – always change a losing plan.”

15. Pressure pays off. Some players can’t stand it. It takes a lot of ability to apply constant pressure but it pays big dividends. Take the ball on the rise to apply pressure. Move in and take the court away from him.

16. Some players employ the “center theory” against certain players. If you approach down the center you eliminate passing angle. This often works against weak but accurate angle hitters. Some slow court players hit well on the run but can’t get anything on a ball hit straight at them. Players with a great return of serve should often be served at “down the center.”

17. One of the most difficult shots to get any pace on is a high or medium lofted backhand that is deep. Matches have been won in this one strategy. The best place to return a high backhand is to a high backhand. Some big hitters are completely frustrated by this simple shot.

18. Against net rushers, low chips with angle often frustrate them. If you can chip it low they often have to volley up and it opens them for an easy pass.

19. High spin serves at the backhand are often effective (Roswell vs. Roche, U. S. Open 1970)

20. Welby Van Horn – Balance is the clue to tennis (a)You have to know how to hit it (b)You have to get to it so you can hit the way you know.

21. It might be good to approach on your short forehands only. If your backhand approach is weak, crosscourt it to eliminate angled shots as you back up.

22. Cross courts get you out of trouble.

23. Approach down the line; Approach crosscourt at obviously weak passing shots.


Once I became better at conveying “movement to the hit spot” my
players at all levels got better quickly. And the one-handed slice may be
the one most helped by proper “hit spots.” A lot of good college men had
forehand trouble because of a subtle flaw in “hit spot.” Whereas backhands
are tougher to learn, my guess is many young boys could hit forehands
with any number of “hit spots.” Backhands, they internalized early on,
must be hit “right there” or in the perfect backhand hit spot. Then as they
advanced a ball, they tried to hit in a faulty forehand position let them
down and caused a lot of frustration. Once I could convince them of this
error and the principle of perfect “forehand hit spot,” they’d get better too.


Peter Van Graafeiland was the nicest kid I coached. That’s saying a lot,
but Peter is a “sweetheart.” And he did struggle. It’s tough to watch the
good kids take a pounding. I finally figured out how to help Pete. He didn’t
know “how hard” to hit it when bad judgment led to over hitting, taking
unnecessary chances, and “pulling his trigger too quick.” Once we taught
PVG how to keep it in play patiently until he got “his shot” he improved
quickly. I was delighted. Pete was characteristically grateful. “Don’t pull
your trigger until you have your shot” PVG.


First the two big problems: Dress and choosing between two.
As for girls and dress? I only coached girls three years. I’m no closer to
having any clue as to how to handle their clothing preferences.
Girls will force you into lose-lose situations. This centers on making you
choose between two players.
I quickly found two solutions:
Refer these questions or demands to my noble assistant, Bob Owens.
Bob is real sweet and fatherly. I’m not.
Coach Tom Morris pointed his “Lieutenant” out to me.
The Lieutenant was a girl on the team who didn’t put up with “that
garbage.” She understands, by nature, how to handle these situations. Find
your Lieutenant. The Lieutenant should help you convince them the team
is not a “social club.” Team Rule: If anyone catches two girls standing at the
net idly talking during challenge matches, they should drop racquets and
run for a while. If this continues to be a problem, all girls are forced to join
in (running, not talking).
Girls don’t like you to single out one girl for high praise.
Girls really want to learn, and they are appreciative. They will trust you
until your suggestions are bogus, or you overcoach them.
My guess is most talented boys and girls have little trouble finding
someone to take them under their wing. Most boys’ high school teams find
coaches pretty easily. The “limited girl” has few “allies.” That’s why if you are
a good coach and try to help them, you may be the first capable person
they’ve confronted. That player drinks in everything you say. I usually liked
coaching that person.


Jack Kramer once said, “the fundamental strategy of singles is to find
out what your opponent can’t do, or doesn’t like to do, and make them do
that.” That’s a violation of the number one rule of the women’s secret code.
Number two is never asking why they can’t wear shorts (balls in the
pockets make them look wider—a no no). Number three is never saying
“waddle” in reference to women’s tennis.
But the number one rule (I suspect for many women) is, ”I won’t make
you hit awkward balls (up and back movement) if you won’t make me.
Deal, left and right only. This one puzzled me. And I tried to develop Plan
B. Simply stated, Plan A, or rallying corner to corner, is okay as long as you
can win this way. Once you realize she’s better at this than you, then we’d
better modify.
A southern veteran, Bob Cage, showed me his favorite “play.” Bob’s theory
was most people don’t have a good backhand approach shot (true of a lot
of college men). This is true mainly because it is different and not practiced
much at lower levels. Bob’s trick was to float up a semi-disguised weak
shot on his opponent’s backhand, which “sucked him up to the net” on a
weak shot. Then the “killer lob,” or passing shot. This play, a violation of the
“silent code,” was the first I attempted. Moderate success. Women are loyal.
The more you can make your opponent move up and back the more you’ll
have a Plan B escape.
Mia Hamm and Nomar Garciapara had twin girls. Bet someone’s already
recruiting them. They’ll be able to run. If I were a women’s basketball
coach, I’d recruit a skinny little girl with three older brothers. That girl can
run and is tough. I’ve noticed more and more point guards who can run in
women’s basketball. Once again, if American junior tennis is to succeed we
have to develop women who can move well and that includes movement
up and back. Many already can. Just as a junior girl has to learn to cope
with the infamous “moon ball” to her backhand, she needs to confront up
and back. No ducking; do the work.


A few comments on ground strokes and women: I was pre-two hander,
in 1961. Pancho Segura showed the world how to hit this shot, but
conventional wisdom said, “Two-hand backhands are only for those who
can’t hit a one-hander.” No Evert, Connors, Borg, Austin…. I’m glad many
young ones didn’t listen. Soon the tennis world realized not only can a lot
of people hit it two-handed but also it’s often a better shot offensively. The
two-hander gave many average players something they’d never had:
Offense or topspin on the backhand side. Until the two-hander, college men followed this regimen: They’d practice like heck on hitting a one- handed topspin backhand. Then, when the match was on the line they’d revert to their more trusted underspin backhand ball. There were certainly exceptions, but by and large this statement is true: “Most average college men players can’t hit a reliable one-handed topspin ball.”
Once the two-hander was “certified,” you began to see average high
school players who could tattoo a topspin two-hander and the game
changed forever, for the better. However, a valuable tool was neglected for
many. Coach Jim Verdieck of Redlands gave me one of his business cards.
It had an interesting sentence on it: “I didn’t change anything, I gave you a
new one.” I asked him what he meant. Essentially, he said the two-handers
were so protective of their newfound weapon, the underspin one-hander
was abandoned. The underspin one-hand backhand is a tool every truly
complete player should possess. Too many awkward and or short shots
(approaches, service returns, defensive cross courts) are best hit by one
hand under spinners. Often these balls are difficult to handle with
two-handed top spin “full” or lengthy shots.
Like golfers, you have to have a lot of “tools” in your bag of tricks. The
“chip” or “slice” is truly a great tool to master. Think “wedges,” golfers. And
slices are tough for little people, young girls, especially. It’s tough to add
once you’ve neglected it in the “formative years.” One reason it’s difficult is that people don’t understand the value of the “hit spot” regarding two
different backhands. The two-handed backhand is much like a one-handed
forehand, therefore, it works best when hit off the front foot. One handers
must be hit about the width of one’s shoulders in front of the front
“balance” foot.
When teaching adult women a hush would come over the group. These
strugglers with the backhand would grip the racquet just as I, yet neglect
movement to the “hit spot.” Good backhands come from good grips and
good “hit spots.” I’d bark: “Good hit spots make good shots. Lousy hit spots
make lousy shots. Lousy hit spots make wristy shots, and wristy shots are
lousy shots.”
The term “hit spot” is a direct steal from Coach Verdieck. My guess is
Dennis Van Deer’s early unique contribution to tennis instruction was
teaching pupils to understand the pupil’s adjustment to the bouncing
ball. Van Der Meer and Verdieck were friends. Once I became better at
conveying “movement to the hit spot” my players at all levels improved
quickly. And the one-handed slice may be the one most helped by proper
“hit spot.” A lot of good college men had forehand trouble because of a
subtle flaw in “hit spot.” Whereas backhands are tougher to learn, my guess
is many young boys could hit forehands with any number of “hit spots.”
Backhands, they internalized early on, must be hit “right there” or in the
perfect backhand hit spot. Then, as they advanced, a ball they tried to
hit in a faulty forehand position let them down and caused a lot of
frustration. Once I could convince them of this error and the principle of
perfect “forehand hit spot,” they’d get better too. Keeping the ball in the
perfect “hit spot” is tennis magic.


Toss the ball to the service hit spot for them. Let them cock the racquet
and just hit. Once they understand and feel the proper service hit spot,
then they can add the other first part of the serve (or the toss to the
hit spot).
I taught a lesson called “Learn the second serve first.” Simply stated, a
player is as strong as her weakest link, and the weakest link in tennis is the
second serve. The clue is Welby Van Horn’s balance technique. I call it the
“hit-turn” serve and it came from limited foot movement. It’s also called a
ballistic swing and baseballers, golfers, and all “hitters” use this technique.
Van Horn is worth studying, and I appreciated the personal help he
gave me.

2. The backhand is tough for beginners. It becomes much easier if you are in the correct position.

Give the newcomer a ball. Have them start with the racket in the proper backswing position with the proper grip. Righthanders toss themselves the ball softly and slightly in front of themselves. Toss the ball lefthanded and underhanded over the low backswing, Step properly with your right foot and “lift a descending ball in the perfect HIT-SPOT. Once a player experiences how the proper contact moment feels, progress follows.


One phenomenal contrast I noticed coaching girls centered on two
entirely different shots. I could hammer a ground stroke hard and wide
and was amazed at them running this tough shot down. Seriously, watch
them do this. Impressive ability. Then at the net in doubles, they’d blow a
sitter overhead. Why I don’t know, but we practiced a lot on easy
overhands in doubles, and closing on easy volleys. I taught, “volley with
your legs,” meaning to use quick movement to get the volley where you
can pop it down. The girls got better here. And when they limit their foot
movement on easy overheads, they keep the overhead in the perfect
service hit spot and watch it a little longer than you think is necessary.
(See pages 18 and 19)