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Andy Murray's Serve - ProStrokes 2.0 Feature This Week
See sample of Andy Murray's serve in ProStrokes 2.0 Slow-Motion in this week's edition.
Venus & Serena: That’s the Way the Cookie Crumbles
Two days before the start of the 2008 U.S. Open, Venus and Serena Williams addressed the media. The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour person in charge of the press conference kicked it off by saying that “Venus and Serena would like to make a very special announcement.”
Fascinating, particularly given the way the two had made headlines throughout the summer. At Wimbledon, meeting up in a Grand Slam final for the first time in five years, Venus and Serena had played a superb match, a showcase of power, tactics and emotion a significant level higher in quality than any of their previous encounters. Though Serena had charged out to 4-2 lead, it was Venus who won this raw-knuckled battle, 7-5 6-4. Then, the summer primed for them to build off that success, the two collectively played but one U.S. Open Series event. At the Beijing Olympics, though, Venus and Serena won their second gold medal as a doubles team.
Venus and Serena hold a press conference
to sell Oreos?
So what was it they wanted to share with the world at the season’s last Grand Slam? A new coach? Useful, yes, but also doubtful given their blind loyalty to father Richard. A new American tennis program that would build off their success and inspire others to get into the game? Or perhaps, in this election year, these two revolutionary newsmakers were going to endorse a candidate. Again not likely. As Jehovah’s Witnesses, neither Venus nor Serena votes.
Here is the transcript from that day’s press conference.
Serena: As you can see, my sister and I are always really excited and really happy, but we have a very important announcement we'd like to make today.
Venus: My sister and I have decided to become two-sport athletes, and we've joined a new league.
Serena : Oreos Double Stuff Racing League.
Venus: It puts a new spin on the classic twist, lick, and dunk. People compete to see who can eat a Double Stuffed Oreo cookie the fastest, so Serena and I have joined the league. We've become very fast, actually.
Click photo: Serena in particular had the opportunity to truly cement her status as the year’s best player.
Serena: We're the fastest ever.
It was just another beguiling chapter in this incredible tale. For in the big picture, the Williams sisters' story is to me one of the most remarkable stories – perhaps the most remarkable – in all of sports. At least the Manning brothers hailed from an affluent family and were children of a former NFL quarterback. But to imagine not just one, but two young women emerging from Compton, California to earn to date 16 Grand Slam singles titles is mind-boggling. Imagine if Tiger Woods had a brother chasing him down the back nine of Augusta.
It’s just the small stuff – if you will, the cream inside the cookie – that makes me scratch my head. Over their time in this sport, it’s not so much the sisters’ outside interests that vex me but their oddly disaffected attitude towards tennis itself.
Naturally, soon after that press conference, Venus and Serena again played an incredible match. Serena this time won a dramatic quarterfinal, 7-6, 7-6. Two wins later, she won her third U.S. Open. Even more impressively, that night Serena regained the number one ranking for the first time in five years – the longest gap in tennis history.
My hope was that each would then build momentum for the year-end championships in Doha. Serena in particular had the opportunity to truly cement her status as the year’s best player. But prior to Doha, Serena played but one tournament. Amazingly, despite winning Wimbledon, the rest of Venus’ year was so lackluster that she worked ardently to earn a spot in Doha, competing in three European indoor events this fall.
Click photo: Once again, Venus showed off the family strength: rising to the big occasion.
The rust showed most when Serena lost to Venus by the miserable score of 5-7, 6-0, 6-1 and then opted to pull out of the event.
Venus was a laser, winning the title with excellent attacking tennis. Once again, she showed off the family strength: rising to the big occasion.
So what can we make of these two? So often they deliver the goods. And yet so indifferent are they when it comes to competing with the kind of consistency one expects from devoted professionals. Serena spoke in Doha about how hard she was working. But what is she working on? Why do these two get injured so much? Equally disturbing was the way Serena verbally chewed out a reporter who questioned her withdrawal after seeing her practice. With the exception of her losses to Venus, Serena is rarely gracious in defeat, exhibiting a nasty streak of self-absorption and disaffection that tears her proclaimed spirituality into shreds.
My hope for 2009 – and I’ve only held out this hope for nearly ten years – is that each of these two future Hall of Famers indeed pursues sustained greatness. My sense is that my hopes will again be dashed. But along the way, there could well be some supreme sisterly moments. Cookies dunked in milk get soft, but they still taste pretty good.
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Teaching the Forehand
In the 70's, the emphasis was on technique and templates (teaching each stroke as a single unit) but new research has shown that the brain does not process this information efficiently. Hence, in order to develop a new, more efficient method of development, Ray Brown designed a tennis program around two principles of learning. One is that the brain learns more efficiently when organizing information by relevance and purpose; and two, the brain is organized around the use of components, not templates.
Finding and Exploiting Weaknesses
When you walk off the court after a match, the worst thing you can hear is your opponent telling his friends or parents how great he played against you. Maybe he just had a great day or, perhaps your shot selection or even your game style fit perfectly into the strengths of your opponent. In other words, perhaps your opponent’s great day on the tennis court was your fault. Dan McCain
Keep your Head Down at Contact
Often we're told to "watch the ball," but what does that really mean? There are many lessons to be learned by watching top pros like Roger Federer play. One thing Federer does better than any other player is keep his focus on the ball before, during, and even after the contact. Monty Basnyat examines Federer's technique and provides some visual, audio, and kinetic learning drills to help you master this technique.
ProStrokes 2.0 - Andy Murray's Serve
Andy Murray has ascended to the top tier of the men's game. He plays as the consummate counter puncher, somewhat like the Big Cat, Miroslav Mecir, in that he moves easily, appears to use his opponent's pace, and plays with an understated if not economical style. He still has some room for improvement on the service delivery, but to my eye all else is well in place. Stay tuned – the Scotsman is definitely on the prowl. Check out Andy Murray's game in the all new TennisOne ProStrokes Gallery 2.0. New this issue, Andy Murray's Serve.
The Etcheberry Experience DVD
For more than twenty years Pat Etcheberry has been providing athletes from around the world with the winning edge. We call this the Etcheberry Experience, and players with an Etcheberry experience have hoisted Championship Trophies at over one hundred major championships, including 28 Australian Opens, 18 Wimbledons, 22 UP Opens, 22 French Opens and 15 Olympic medals.
And now it's your turn! This is your chance to experience the same drills, exercises and words of tennis wisdom that Pat gave to Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Jennifer Capriati, Martina Hingis, Jim Courier, Justine Henin-Hardenne, and others, that helped launch them on their incredible careers. For the first time, Pat Etcheberry shares his training secrets in a series of DVDs for players of all ages, their coaches, and trainers.
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