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40 BESTMAGAZINES

FROM THE NATIONS TOP INSTRUCTORS

TIPS

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1. MAINTAIN THE ANGLE Instructors always tell you to keep your racquet

head above your wrist when you volley. Its good advice, but when misunderstood it can lead to awkward, ineffective volleys on low balls. Rather than worrying so much about your racquet head, concentrate on maintaining the same angle between your racquet and forearmin the correct position, its about 120 degreesfor all volleys, no matter how high or low.PETE COLLINS, PTR, AUGUSTA, GA.2. POINT IT OUT On the forehand, point your 3. SWING WITH NO STRING Racquet

nonplaying hand at the ball while its on the way to your side of the net and track it with your hand toward your desired contact point. This will promote a good shoulder turn while you bring your racquet back and coil your upper body.ANNI MILLER, USPTA & PTR, LAKE OSWEGO, ORE.

CHRIS TROTMAN/GETTY IMAGES

acceleration, or swing speed, is the key to hitting harder shots. One way to get the racquet around faster is to relax your hitting hand and arm enough to swing freely. Heres a trick that will help you learn to do it. Bring two racquets to the court, one strung, one unstrung. Hit three balls with your strung racquet and then hit three with the unstrung one. When done correctly the ball will simply pass through the open racquet face. Keep alternating between the strung and unstrung racquets until your swing speed with both frames is the same.JOE DINOFFER, USPTA &PTR, DALLAS

4. DRAW THE LINE Changing the direction of the ball and going down the line at an inopportune moment in a rally is an elementary mistake. You should only choose to go down the line if three conditions are met: Your opponent hits a short ball; you reach the shot in a balanced position with the ball in your hitting zone; and you feel you can hit an outright winner or put your opponent in serious trouble. JACK THOMPSON, PTR, WILLIAMSBURG, VA.

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5. GET HIP To learn where to make contact with the ball on an open-stance forehand, place your dominant wrist at your hip on that side and have someone bounce a ball to you. Catch the ball at hip level without moving your handyoull have to get your back foot behind the ball. Next, add the racquet and hit the ball, keeping your wrist near your hip. This forces your stroke to be out in front, producing more power and enabling you to push off your back foot for a quicker recovery. JOSEPH THOMPSON, USPTA MASTER PRO, ROLLING HILLS COUNTRY CLUB, GOLDEN, COLO.

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6. DONT SPIN OUT Its a common mistake on the one-handed backhand to open your hips as you hit the ball. This causes you to swing across the ball and produce an unreliable stroke. Heres a quick x: Hold a hopper full of balls with your off hand and have a partner feed balls to your backhand. The weight of the basket will keep your hips from ying open and force you to use your shoulders to drive through the ball. If you dont have a basket of balls, use a heavy tennis bag. DR. LOUIE CAP, PTR, HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.

7. DIVIDE AND CONQUER I like to divide a set into thirds. In the beginning, I hit crosscourt, following the natural hip and shoulder rotation of my body to get a rhythm, and feel out my opponent. In the middle, I try to play my strength to my opponents weakness. At the end of the set, when its time to close it out, I think aggression with discretion and play aggressively but under control.RICK VETTER, USPTA, MEQUON, WIS.

8. GO THROUGH THE WINDOW One key to

winning more matches is to minimize your unforced errors. The net is your rst obstacle to overcome, and the easiest way to beat it is to imagine a window thats 2 or 3 feet above the net. Aim every shot into that space for a greater margin of error. Take a similar approach when dealing with your other obstacle, the lines. Again, imagine a zone 2 or 3 feet inside the lines and keep your shots in that area.JORGE ANDREW,USPTA & PTR, LEXINGTON, S.C.

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9. OVERHEAD BREEZE You have a strong breeze at your back, but you just hit an overhead into the net. Surprised? Dont be. Wind at your back can cause your opponents lob to hang up in the air and throw off your timing. You end up hitting the ball too far out in front and dumping it into the net. The next time the wind is at your back, concentrate on hitting your overheads deep into the court. Youll be less likely to hit into the net and give your opponent free points.DR. LOUIE CAP, PTR MASTER PRO, VAN DER MEER TENNIS CENTER, HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C.

10. GO LEFTY FOR A BETTER BACKHAND

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Assuming youre right-handed, your left hand should drive the stroke when you hit a twohanded backhand. To get used to this feeling, practice hitting left-handed forehands (righthanded forehands for lefties).ROBERTLANSDORP, FORMER COACH OF FOUR WORLD NO. 1 PLAYERS

11. POUR IT ON

To learn how to follow through on a topspin forehand, imagine that you have a cup of water in your dominant hand and a cup perched on your opposite shoulder. Your goal is to swing all the way around until you could pour the water from one cup into the other.JEFF HAWES,USPTA, BURLINGTON, N.C.

12. REACH FOR THE STARSCLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MANUELA DAVIES/DOUBLEXPOSURE (2); CHRIS TROTMAN/GETTY IMAGES (4)

When your serve isnt working, you may become tentative and let your toss drop below the proper contact point. This will only make things worse. Whenever your serve goes astray, force your tossing arm to extend upward completely before releasing the ball. Then reach for the stars and strike the ball before it drops.WILL HOAG,USPTA, FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

13. VOLLEY SOFT AND DEEP

When you come forward and your opponent hits a low passing shot, try to hit a high, lofty ball without much pace. This will achieve three things: First, the higher the ball goes over the net, the deeper it will land in the court, driving your opponent back. Second, most players dislike returning a soft ball because they have to generate the pace. Third, if your opponent lobs from far back in the court, youll have time to reach the ball and put it into the open court.JIMMY PITKANEN, USPTA & PTR,KNOXVILLE, TENN.

14. INCREASE YOUR RACQUET-HEAD SPEED

Perhaps youve seen those colorful foam balls that many instructors use with kids and beginners. They are often called transition balls because their purpose is to help novices improve at rallying. But they can also help more experienced players of any age increase their racquethead speed, which is critical to generating power. The idea is simple: Because the foam balls are larger than regular tennis balls, they travel more slowly and cover less distance. This allows you to swing faster without the fear of hitting the ball long. When you go back to regular balls following a session of using foam balls, you should nd youre hitting deeper ground strokes with more pace.JEFF HAWES, USPTA MASTER PRO, ALAMANCE COUNTRYCLUB, BURLINGTON, N.C.

15. SERVE TO THE RHYTHM Get better timing on your serve by counting to

three. Say one with the backswing; pause a beat and say two at contact; then say three as you follow through.KEN DEHART, USPTA & PTR, SAN JOSE, CALIF.16. TWIST YOUR WRIST To produce underspin for a deadly drop shot, you

need to open your racquet face beneath the ball. Heres how you practice it: Place your racquet head across the top of the net, with the bottom edge of the racquet head resting on the net. Keep the same grip and allow your wrist to turn with the racquet as you drag it along the net. Move the racquet toward the net post until both sides of the racquet head touch the net and the racquet face is at. This is the proper technique for the forehand drop shot. To practice the backhand drop shot, turn your palm down until the racquet head is on top of the net.GENE HOLLAND,PTR, WHEATON, ILL.

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17. AIM YOUR PALM One reason players make errors on the forehand volley is that their wrists dont stay rm during contact, resulting in misdirected shots. To cure this problem, point the palm of your hitting hand in the direction you want the ball to go and freeze it there.WILL HOAG, USPTA, FORT LAUDERDALE, FLA.

18. KEEP A LOOSE GRIP Many players strangle their racquets when they serve. How tight is tight enough? On a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being loose and 5 being a death grip, a 2 is about right. Another way to think about it: Pretend you have a little bird in your hand. You want to hold it rmly enough so that it wont y away, but not so tight that you begin to squeeze it.ANGEL LOPEZ, USPTA, SAN DIEGOCLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: MANUELA DAVIES/DOUBLEXPOSURE; CHRIS TROTMAN/GETTY IMAGES (6)

19. TURN SIDEWAYS FOR OVERHEADS To put away lobs, you

have to move backward quickly. The best way to do that is to immediately turn sideways, point your off hand upward as the ball goes up, and move back using crossover steps. Turning sideways helps you rotate your hips and shoulders into the shot for more power.MIKE VANZUTPHEN, USPTA, MESA, ARIZ.

20. POINT TO THE SPOT

Successful volleying requires solid control of the racquet face before and after contact. As the ball comes in, you need to line up the racquet face with the balls ight path using minimal backswing. To gauge your success in controlling your racquet face, check to see where its pointing after contact. The strings should be directed at your target.PAULA SCHEB, USPTA, BONITA SPRINGS, FLA.

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21. PRACTICE YOUR DISTANCE CONTROL When nerves strike or its

windy out, players often have trouble controlling the depth on their serves. You can practice your service depth by hitting from differen