Babolat Serves Up T-Shirt Design Contest on Sports Illustrated Kids Online
The Babolat tennis t-shirt contest invites readers of SI Kids to draw their favorite Team Babolat player–Rafael Nadal, Andy Roddick, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, Fernando Gonzalez, Caroline Wozniacki or Kim Clijsters–or any tennis inspired art for a chance to win weekly prizes including autographed Babolat tennis racquets and gear. Fans may submit their original works on SIkids.com. Visitors to the site will be able to vote on a design. The artist of the design that receives the most votes at the end of each week will win T-shirts, hats, backpacks and more from Babolat.
Winners will be announced on SIKids.com every week through the French Open, concluding June 6, 2010. To enter, draw your favorite Babolat player on the template provided at SIKids.com, then upload the drawing on the T-shirt contest page.
Enter today at kids contest.
"What's New" Product Video
- from Tennis Warehouse - Men's Sergio Tacchini Polos, Crews, Pants, Warm-ups
The French Open and the Green Bay Power Sweep
Some many years ago when Vince Lombardi’s Green Bay Packers dominated the NFL, their signature play, as well as the key to their dominance, was the elegantly simple yet indefensible “power sweep.” With minimal deception, "four yards and a cloud of dust" was the key to Green Bay's ball-control offense.
Quoting Lombardi, “You think there's anything special about this sweep? Well, there isn't. It's as basic a play as there can be in football. We simply do it over and over and over. There can never be enough emphasis on repetition. I want my players to be able to run this sweep in their sleep. If we call the sweep twenty times, I'll expect it to work twenty times...not eighteen, not nineteen."
"Every team eventually arrives at a lead play. It becomes the team's bread-and-butter play, the top-priority play. It is the play the team knows it must make go, and the one the opponents know they must stop. Continued success with the play makes for a number one play, because from that success stems confidence..."
I believe we see examples of this same thing on the tennis court. Nearly unstoppable bread-and-butter plays. Basic tactics the opponent knows is coming but rarely has an answer for. Sampras’ second serve and deadly volley on the slick Wimbledon grass, McEnroe's chip-and-charge against suspect second serves, Federer’s unerring defense punctuated by table-turning forehand winners when the opponent hits short, and finally, and most importantly, Nadal’s sidespin serve out wide to the ad court against any and all right-handed players.
As a brief aside, I don’t believe we see the Power Sweep in women’s tennis. Their game involves punishing ground strokes, incredible court coverage, but with the exception of an in-form Serena, absent wicked side-spinning court opening serves, the ladies don’t seem to have the ability to run similar patterns.
Consider Rafa, one of only two left-handers presently within the top 20. Cousin Tony has been considered a genius, and perhaps (this is just a hunch) Tony saw advantages in making Rafa into a lefty. If the bulk of the competition would be (and in fact is) right-handed, the lefty has an undeniable advantage when serving to the ad court if that server has a wicked sidespin delivery.**
In an era where most servers rely on the second serve kicker, Rafa is alone in his preference for sidespin, on every serve. And with this side spinner opening up the court, down-the-line returns give Rafa a crosscourt backhand winner opportunity and worse yet (for his opponent), crosscourt returns flow into the Nadal forehand. Hideous choices for the receiver and a lot like the Power Sweep, generally indefensible. In fact, that may be why he played such a close 2008 Australian semifinal match with Verdasco, as his bread and butter play was answered with a strong left-handed forehand in the ad court.
Consider Federer’s luck on break point when facing Rafa’s power sweep. In most instances this occurs in the ad court, though certainly not all ad points fall there. Further, I cannot find stats that break down these percentages with reference to the deuce and ad court.
Just as the Green Bay Packers chose the weak side of the opponent’s line for their recurring Power Sweep, Nadal’s wicked sidespin to the ad court exposes the Federer one-handed backhand.
And what of Roger’s options? The following is a wild guess, and your comments and ideas are totally welcome. I don’t believe he needs nor should he develop a two-handed backhand return. Simply put, this point starts with Rafa centered on his baseline, and Roger stretched wide in, if not well outside, the alley on the backhand side.
Roger must serve well, and hold serve as much as possible in order to “stay even.” Second, he must take every advantage when returning in the deuce court, for here Rafa’s signature sidespin simply moves Roger to the center of the baseline and, all things being somewhat equal, this is a much better start to a point against Nadal.
And finally, a thought about takeaways. Verdasco played Sampras in an exhibition at the 2010 SAP tournament in San Jose. Verdasco served wide in the ad court every single time. Sampras got most returns in play but rarely got his racquet on the second shot;s there was way too much court for his 38 year old legs to cover. And I would bet that Verdasco practices this two shot sequence constantly – wide serve followed by either forehand to backhand to the opposite corner. I encourage you to do the same – develop a wide side spinning serve that opens the court – and forehand and backhand skills that drive the next ball to the opposite corner. Deliberate practice, again, and again and again.
** Top 20 ATP rankings as of May 2010
Lefties – Nadal and Verdasco
Righties – Federer, Del Potro, Murray Davydenko Soderling, Roddick, Tsonga, Ferrer, Cilic, Gonzalez, Youzhny, Monfils, Ljubicic, Berdych, Ferrero, Isner and Stepanek
Note – some of these taller two-handed backhand players may have a slightly better counter to the Nadal power sweep when returning in the ad court, but that is a story left to another article. Further the author has no idea how to hit this particular stroke so in most instances he remains silent on its technique and merit.
As always, we would love to hear from you! Questions, comments, personal experiences all create helpful dialogue for everyone! Please click here to send us your email.
The half-volley is one of the toughest shots in tennis. It's not something you want to hit but something you are forced to hit as a result of your opponent's good shot. You find yourself trapped on the way to the net and you get caught with a ball right at your feet. Well, help is on the way. New TennisOne contributor, Christophe Delavaut, takes you step-by-step through the paces, pointing out the key elements along the way. Soon you'll find yourself hitting half-volleys just like the pros.
Keep Moving As You Go To The Net!
One of the most important skills you can learn when transitioning from the baseline to the net is to hit a volley while your feet are moving! The same is true for the approach shot and even the return of serve, if your intention is to get to the net. Pros often use a split-step during these transitions, to maintain balance and change direction, however, a split-step is not a split-stop. Dave Kensler explains why.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Marion Bartoli's Forehand
Marion Bartoli had an outstanding 2007 Wimbledon reaching the finals and losing to the essentially unbeatable (at that moment) Venus Williams. She continues to make her mark on the WTA tour, but like so many other young players in their mid twenties, Bartoli is still looking for a break out performance in yet another Grand Slam event. With a two handed style reminiscent of Monica Seles, Marion hugs the baseline, drives the ball off both wings, and is one of the best ball strikers on the tour, but for better or worse, her serve and movement up to this point are average rather than exemplary.
TennisOne Writers Store
One of your many new benefits as a TennisOne membership is your ability to purchase selected instructional DVDs at 20% off ($7.50 off each) in our new TennisOne Writers Store (login in first to access members links):
- "Building Your Serve from the Ground Up," Jim McLennan Members Public
- "Building Your Ground Game," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Building a Kick Serve," Jim McLennan Members – Public
- "Achieving Peak Performance the Wholistic Way: The Mental Game," Happy Bhalla Members – Public
- "Building a World Class Serve," Phil Dent Members – Public
- "Building a World-class Volley," Dave Smith Members – Public
- "Best of Ken DeHart," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Corrective Techniques & Myths," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Defeating the Monsters in Your Mind," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Skills, Drills, and Games for Beginning Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- "Drills for Intermediate Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public
- "Drills for Advanced Players," Ken DeHart Members – Public.
- Click here to see all the benefits of a TennisOne Membership.
- Click here to sign up for a risk-free, TennisOne 30 day free trial membership.
Copyright Notice: The contents of the TennisONE web site and contents forwarded to you by TennisONE are intended for your personal, noncommercial use. Republishing of TennisONE content in any way, including framing or posting of these materials on other Web sites, is strictly prohibited. See our full copyright statement
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and leave the subject line blank. A confirmation email will be sent to you, and you will be removed from our newsletter list once you reply to that confirmation. If trouble unsubscribing, simply email us with a request to unsubscribe at: email@example.com