Is it possible to house big time college athletics (with market values), philosophically within the purview of American higher education?

Today’s article by George Will  (College basketball season begins under odiferous clouds) includes a quote from Michael Oakeshott :  ” To try  to do something which is inherently impossible is always a corrupting enterprise.”



Perhaps the most significant tennis change in recent history is the development of the two handed backhand.   Even young players can tattoo an offensive topspin groundstroke.   No reasonable coach disputes that.

Jim Verdieck was a great coach whose business card stated “I didn’t change anything, I gave you a new one.” The addition he referred to is a one handed underspin slice or chip.

Young players have trouble developing this shot, as a strange new grip is required, and new forearm muscles must be developed and trained. The many functions this new grip enhances is worth the work required (defensive backhands, lobs, all volleys except high forehands, the service, etc.).   Recently I experimented with

a simple home made teaching aid: A balloon tied with a light string (2 to 3 feet long) to a badminton racket’s center string or “sweet spot”/  Note that the very light racket and balloon allow a classic one handed backhand volley, aided by a backhand grip.

Having recently worked with high school players, too few know the value of this tool.   Young girls and little boys struggle and it takes time. However few quality players are without this ability.

This drill allows almost immediate success with proper technique, using the new forearm muscles needed. The youngster will tell you quickly: “…I can feel that pulling my arm muscles!” Don’t allow them to overdo this and cause tennis elbow.




I played six man football in the late 50’s in North Carolina.   Recently  I googled you tube six man football.  Texas has about 200 small high school six man teams.  The clips posted vary in length.  Some are game film.  Some feature the small Texas towns and youngsters who play today.  One team has only six players on the squad.  Yet state playoffs feature the same rabid atmosphere as all high school teams.

While the kids are mostly small, there is some “de-cleating” out there.  The field is 80 yards long rather than 100yds.   Think about it, six players  (or 12 on both teams) on 80 yds vs eleven (22) on 100.   Lots of space and speed and fun.   Check ’em out–the youngsters are great.

And no, they don’t play 3 man basketball.


The first strategy is IN.  Consistency.  Next it is deep at the backhand.  Nine of ten players are right-handed.  Thus the primary target is on his/her left hand side.  Given that you know that, accept they probably know that too.  So–lots of backhands are coming at you.

Much so that the center of your defense has shifted to your left.  Given that good hit spots and position give you good shots, movement to that position is crucial.

  • Tennis starts in your eyes and brain and goes to  your feet and legs immediately.  Here is a beginning footwork drill for newcomers:  It is done without a racket or ball.  ONLY FOOTWORK.  And  mimicking several shots you will have to master.
  • The basic two handed backhand  (make the stroke like the ball is hit several feet to your left.  ALWAYS RETURN TO THE MIDDLE OF THEIR BEST SHOT, USING PROPER FOOTWORK-BEGIN WITH A QUICK WALK-LIKE FOOTWORK TO THE BALL. USUALLY SHUFFLE STEPS BACK TO CENTER.
  • Defense against the moon ball or very deep looping.   Footwork now is turn and run and loop the descending ball back.   Run to return.
  • On the rise.  Quick walk-like footwork to proper hit-spot before it gets too high or behind you.  Shuffle back.  Most of these shots will be cross court.  On really well hit deep balls, lob it or simply block it back to the middle.
  • Run around your backhand and hit your forehand  to his backhand.   This is the emerging tactic for those whose forehand is better.  Turn 2/3 or more of the backhand side into a forehand with footwork.   This is a different footwork.  Have your coach hit you a ball to the middle, then move his second shot to the middle of your backhand.   Tricky and intense footwork is needed to make your response a forehand.
  • Volley the passing shot.   If the shot to you is floating or weak, you maybe able to run quickly and volley the shot down the line to the opening.  While a skilled procedure, foot work can make it a winner.  Better be ready to run or scramble back to home base.   REALLY GOOD PLAYERS MAY FOLLOW THIS VOLLEY TO THE NET.
  • These, then, are the shots to mimic.  Next you run the cycle moving with the proper footwork and mimicking the proper shot and footwork back to home base, then on to the next shot.  Perfect the above order one through five.  Then vary the cycle with any number of possible combinations.


  • I apologize to our women.   USOPEN SEMIFINALISTS!
  • Few good Americans develop without high school tennis.
  • Girls high school teams and girls of limited ability are the most neglected learners and often the most receptive.
  • The maturing of our women’s league players, coaches, and administrators is a gold mine of help for high school girls teams.  Boys too.
  • There are a lot of different ways to help our high school teams and coaches.
  • The two  toughest teaching spots are  developing  a working one hand backhand grip for 1. the slice and 2. the advanced serve.

Reflections on the 2017 Grand Slam


The US Open tennis tournament in New York concludes the 2017 grand slams.   Might just be me but it seems there was the most ever tennis on television when it comes to great matches to view.

What were the highlights of the year?

  1. Has anyone ever played a better “surface season “ than Nadal did on clay this year?  Or with more laser-like focus than  yesterday’s   USOPEN final with Kevin Anderson?
  2. Could God have given us a better role model than Federer?
  3. Will the critics of American tennis be hushed by the women’s semifinalists in NYC’’s Open?
  4. Has there ever been a slam that featured more great early round matches (Halep vs Sharapova, Federer vs Tiafoe, etc.)?
  5. What is tennis going to do about injuries?   (Causes: Parity? Rackets, strings, balls, equipment,?   Three out of five sets for men? Intense movement?
  6. Thank you, Venus. And don’t let them forget what sister has done.
  7. Rock stars emerge, ie Denis Shapavolov,Coco, Sloane and Madison, etc.
  8. How did Sam Querry get so much better so fast?
  9. Kevin Anderson, the next bright international who honed tennis skills with 3 years of American college tennis experience?
  10. Will we look back in wonder as to how we survived without the roof. Or how many close call arguments technology saves ?
  11. Shouldn’t officials penalize racket crushers?
  12. Has the center of the court shifted to 2/3 on the forehand?
  13. Will the notable efforts of the USTA ( The roof and renovations, the Orlando program, the net/generation program, etc) do the trick?
  14. The Bryans have made better doubles world wide.

PS I continue to believe our best player development program is American college tennis, and we need to reserve scholarships for our kids first.

And that few of our best players get there without playing on their high school tennis team.   Some, but not many.

Tennis is a “travel sport”. Storm clouds are gathering.

If the USTA bought the rights to Pickleball they could have 10 million annual memberships next year, only then to grow annually. Watch what is going on.

Could the USTA develop its own college tennis division that would provide scholarship motivation worthy of the effort and expense required to earn a grant?