TennisOne Bonus Update
We are half-way through our new membership promotion for TennisOne and good news, we still have some bonuses left. With one week to go you can still get the 1 hour video series from Jim McLennan, "Building Your Ground Game." This product, valued at $47 but you will get it at no cost, reveals the critical elements to making a breakthrough in your forehand and backhand.
Also, many of you have already qualified for the additional bonus for a Stroke Review by TennisOne's Senior Staff members. Also valued at $47, this is limited to the first 100 and are going pretty fast. Not sure if they will last for another week or just a few days. The deadline for receiving these bonuses as a new member is NOON EST Tuesday, Sept 15th.
Click here for the details.
Bonus video for TennisOne members: As a special thank you to all TennisOne members, we're making Jim McLennan's new 1 hour video, "Building Your Ground Game," available for your viewing until September 15th. Login and click here to access.
Kim Shanley, Publisher
Melanie Oudin: You Better Believe She's Quite A Jock
Melanie Oudin’s US Open run triggers one of my favorite questions: What is an athlete? I’ll admit I too have been massively surprised by her success here in New York. Two years ago I watched her play the USTA Girls 18s Championship – and not win the tournament. For reasons I didn’t quite grasp, she soon turned pro, and when I saw her play at the French Open in 2008, I still thought Oudin was far from the big leagues. Even when Oudin beat Jelena Jankovic at Wimbledon this past summer, I chalked that off as one-off, the kind of odd win that can happen most likely on grass.
Melanie Oudin took out four Russians in the first four rounds – Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, Elena Dementieva, Maria Sharapova, and Nadia Petrova (not pictured here).
But the point here isn’t to see why or why not it’s worthy to believe in Melanie Oudin and assess her like some kind of newly-minted corporation in hopes of determining her future value. If covering the likes of Jimmy Connors and Andre Agassi has taught me anything it’s the danger of predictions.
Instead, back to the question: What is an athlete?
So often in the world of contemporary tennis, in our sport’s eagerness to legitimize itself in comparison to such longstanding, familiar sports as basketball and football, athleticism has been defined by obvious, crude and visceral notions as physical size, raw strength, and foot speed.
Click photo: Oudin is one of the cleanest hitters on the tour, because she gets herself into great position to strike the ball. Check out her footwork between strokes.
And yet surely we know that this is a game of skill, a sport predicated on timing, footwork – which is very different than foot speed – and two deeper intangibles, problem-solving and mental toughness.
Oudin says she’s inspired by Justine Henin. Like Oudin, Henin was far smaller than many of her contemporaries. Unlike Oudin, Henin apparently compensated for her alleged lack of physical assets with a full spectrum of tools, most notably with her beautiful one-handed backhand.
But now, having seen Oudin, I’m rethinking this whole notion of the smaller player. I’ve come to see that Henin’s real genius went beyond her backhand, her forehand or any other single shot. And if Oudin helped me revisit Henin (as well as Martina Hingis), then Henin has given me a richer grasp of Oudin. There is a quality of craftsmanship to Oudin and Henin that’s far more nuanced than many current players.
It’s fascinating to see how in her first three rounds Oudin beat a trio of Russians – that is, players who each pretty much play a straightforward, concussive baseline game predicated on hitting just about every ball with the same pace, spin, and shape. This holds true even for Maria Sharapova, a player who has lived in the US since the age of seven.
Click photo: Oudin knows when to to go for the lines and, unlike many of the women, she can attack the net and put away a volley.
Another resourceful player, Michael Chang, once told me, “Anyone can bang the ball around. But start doing different things – rolling it high and deep, then low and short – and then you really see who the tennis player is.”
And by extension, do you also see the athlete? How do we begin to determine who is necessarily a better athlete, Dementieva, Sharapova, or Oudin?
Russian women pervade professional tennis. I’ve heard repeatedly how many have been trained for months as children by merely mimicking technique, that a great deal of their formative stages are spent pondering stroke production – far more than playing practice matches versus tons of different players. To me this is a tragedy; and often even at the highest levels what’s revealed is a profound tone-deafness to how the game is played – and what it takes to compete effectively.
Oudin has shown that tennis is something other than merely hitting one ball after another. Her game reveals exceptional purpose, a notion that every ball she strikes is intended to have its own particular effect in pursuit of winning the point – something other than to merely brutalize an opponent. In the opening game of the third set versus Sharapova, Oudin broke serve with a well-placed drop shot. When it came time to stay consistent and strike the ball deep with plenty of margin, Oudin did just that. When there were moments where striking big was viable, Oudin went for the lines.
Oudin reminds me of Tracy Austin. Like Oudin, Austin’s technique, stroke production, footwork, and balance was exemplary.
She most of all reminds me of Tracy Austin. You might well recall Austin as a precocious champion who for a time was in the mix with Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova but whose career was ended by injuries. Like Oudin, Austin’s technique – stroke production, footwork, balance – was exemplary. Austin too was exceptionally gritty – always using her head to figure out ways to take charge of a match. Most of all, both share a dialed-in quality, an idea that a tennis match is not just a showcase of physical prowess but a sustained, methodical, rational, patient, cognitive, and long-term engagement.
Which once again begs the question: What is an athlete?
Having watched Oudin study and apply herself in several situations, I toss a question to teaching professionals: Why aren’t more players taught to play the game this way? What goes on in those clinics, in those camps and tennis centers in Florida and Russia, where players gather in lines and are told to strike it hard and big? Must you necessarily have the gumption of a smaller player like Oudin, Henin, Hingis, and Austin to see the court more as chess than checkers?
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.
Quiet Eyes: Giving your Strokes a Chance
You’ve worked your mechanics, honed your groundstrokes, developed solid volley techniques, and established a reliable swing path on each shot. You have quieted your mind, focused your mental image to visualize the desired trajectory, spin, and target. You get the shot you want, like a nice easy second serve...And you shank it. So what happened? One of the most common errors players of all levels make is the lack of maintaining a steady or quiet head during a stroke. Dave Smith
Evaluating Tennis Athleticism
If you want to be a top player in today's game, you'd better become a tennis athlete. Pat Dougherty, of the Bollettieri Tennis Academy in Bradenton, Florida, demonstrates a few ways you can evaluate yourself on critical areas of tennis athleticism: the maneuvers that are so specific to tennis and important to every point you play. Starting with the understanding of your athletic foundation.
ProStrokes 2.0 – Venus Williams' Forehand
Venus Williams, the leaner, taller, and arguably, the more fluid Williams Sister, commands the court with her presence, her well-rounded ground and volley game, one of the biggest serves in the history of women's tennis. At just over six feet, Venus controls the net with her long reach but has one of the most powerful ground games on the women's tour. Her backhand, more compact and more reliable than her forehand, sets up points as well as finishes them. To date Venus Venus has amassed 18 Grand Slam titles – seven singles and eleven doubles, and is still a major threat at every event.
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.
If you wish to be removed from our newsletter list, please send an email to email@example.com 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.
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