A Letter from a Junior Tennis Player

I received this letter from a junior tennis player from Mexico. Please express your opinion or give advice to the author. Thanks.

Hello, I’m 16 years old and I live in Mexico City. So I wanted to asked former advice because I don’t really know what else to try or who else to ask.

I have been playing tennis for almost 5 years and since the beginning I felt in love with tennis. I have trained by almost 4 coaches here in Mexico City in that period of time.

The thing is that I really want to be a pro, play different tournaments and prove that Mexico has good tennis players. I have asked my coaches and my parents to give me the chance to play in tournaments but they just don’t let me they tell me that I don’t have the experience enough to make it.

But I know I can, I try my best to be better every day I train every day even if it’s by myself on the gym, hitting on the walk, trying to make a faster serve but they just don’t listen to me.

And in all the years that I’ve been playing I never meet a coach that actually cares about what I tell them (about wanting to be the best) or they don’t want to train me seriously, they don’t want me to serve aces or hitting winners.

Going to another state is not an option and I am getting frustrated about this situation so I hope you can give me some advice.
Thanks for your time.

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Andy Murray Beats Milos Raonic to Win His Second Wimbledon Title

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Allen Fox

The men’s final was really a one-sided victory for Andy Murray, though the scores didn’t look all that bad. The problem for Raonic was that he was, too often, unable to get control of the points, even with his big first serve, which missed too often and didn’t clip the corners with its usual velocity and direction. And his second serve was completely ineffective. With his wonderful two-handed backhand Andy Murray was able to hit deep returns off of it constantly. And once the rallies started from a neutral position, Milos Raonic was in big trouble. Trading with Murray on the baseline was a losing proposition for him.

This match had a completely different shape from most of Raonic’s matches. Normally, he wins most of his service games at love or 15 by bombing in a few unreturnable serves and a few where his opponent hits short and he can come to net behind heat. (Occasionally he misses a few first serves and his opponent gets into the game, but he usually serves his way out of trouble anyway.) On the other hand, he often gets into the game on his opponent’s serve and makes him work to win it. Here it was the opposite. Murray was holding easily and Raonic was doing the work on his own serve.

On the baseline, Raonic’s main problem was that Murray’s flexible and accurate two-handed backhand easily neutralized Raonic’s main strength, which is his inside-out forehand. Raonic found himself too often on the defense, and it didn’t look good for him to see him scrambling around the baseline chipping backhands. Raonic’s other problem there was that Murray was simply too mobile, deadly accurate and consistent with his groundstrokes.

As for Raonic’s net attack, it was simply not good enough today for the situations Raonic often found himself in at net. His volley is not yet secure enough to be consistently effective when an opponent of Murray’s quality forces him to hit his first volley from below the net. And this happened too often in this match. He needed to have Murray in more trouble after the serve or approach so he could get more floating or at least easier volleys. In some instances, Raonic forced himself to come to net on chipped approaches out of desperation because things were going so poorly trading groundstrokes with Murray. And he got hurt doing it.

I still believe Raonic is on the right track with his volley attacks. He simply needs to improve his volley so as to take some pressure off of his serve and approach shots. And he needs to serve normally, where he clips the corners with his bomber first (and even second) serves. I like it when he uses the “heater” more often, rather than trying to mix it up so much. I’m sure in the future, with more practice at the net and more comfort in these huge situations, he will be able to do this.

One final observation: Murray’s best (by far) first serve in the ad court is the slider down the middle. He loves to use it all the time. And Raonic stood to return with one foot in the middle of the alley, leaving Murray too much room for his down-the-center serve. And Murray got free point after free point with this serve (and very few wide to the backhand) with Raonic keeping his same position and allowing it to continue. This helped Murray hold serve easily.

As a general rule when receiving serve, it pays to watch the servers and figure out which serves they like – which ones they get you with the most often. And then move over physically so that they can’t get you with their “money” serves. You force them then to try to get you with the serve they don’t like as much. And often they will miss it. Here Raonic didn’t adjust and gave away too many points because of it.

That said, the final provided some beautiful moments for the champion, Andy Murray, and one of them was watching him feel the cheers of the crowd wash over him when the match ended. I hear he is a wonderful guy off the court, so it was heartwarming to see his unbridled joy. (My son, Charlie, is on the tour producing films with Justin Gimelstob, and he tells me so.) The gigantic emotional high that he felt at this time can never be replaced off the court. It’s loss is a bit of the burden the great players face after they retire. It can be quite a downer for quite a while, and it keeps some of them from putting off retirement as long as they can. Winning some matches, even though they are not the level of the Wimbledon final, still gives them a scintilla of this high, which they find preferable to none at all.

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Serena Williams Beats Angelique Kerber to Win 22nd Grand Slam

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Allen Fox

The Williams – Kerber final was quite a clean match. Both players did what they were best at and did it well. Serena served with astounding power and accuracy, and Angelique ran swiftly, moved the ball around with her groundstrokes, and made few errors off the ground.

Serena generally won her service games quickly and easily by bombing in first serves, and if they occasionally came back, the returns were short and Serena ran forward and knocked off the groundstrokes. Kerber, on the other hand, had to struggle to win most of her service games. Her serves were 20-30 miles an hour slower than Serena’s, basically just putting the ball in play, and she had to work for her points by winning long baseline rallies. These games were longer and closer.

Serena had difficulty in the baseline rallies because she was cautious, maybe a little nervous, about pulling the trigger and going for her usual groundstroke winners. I believe she was secure with her serving but less so with her groundstrokes. So she was keeping the balls further away from the lines than usual but missing when Kerber got her running into the corners and reaching for the ball. Kerber, on the other hand, ran like a jack rabbit and made very few errors. This allowed her to hold serve, despite the general feeling I had that Serena could break loose at any time and blow her off.

But in the end, it was simply too much Serena today. Kerber played an excellent match, but she could only hold Serena off for so long. When Serena loses it is usually because she gets nervous and misses. She was a little nervous today, but not nervous enough to let Kerber escape with the match.

Serena won the first set 7-5, and at 3-all in the second Kerber finally missed two easy backhands to give Serena the break. To her credit, Serena finished securely and with championship style by blasting in four hefty first serves, few of which came back, and taking the title with a love game.

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Milos Raonic Beats Roger Federer to Reach Wimbledon Final

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Allen Fox

The Federer – Raonic match was tight through the fourth set, but not so much in the fifth, as Raonic looked completely dominant at the end. It was a sad day for us Federer fans. In the fifth set he just looked old and toothless. (Maybe not completely toothless, but certainly with a few loose ones.)

The match looked like a battleship against a destroyer. Federer had mobility and flimsy genius going for him, while Raonic had the somewhat error-prone big guns. Raonic had control of the points the whole time, while Federer was dependent on winning points off of Raonic’s errors. If Raonic didn’t miss, Federer was in trouble.

And Federer almost got away with it. Up two sets to one, mostly due to Raonic’s errors, he just needed a few more of them to weasel out the match. But it was not to be. He had his chances, but failed, due to Raonic’s monster serve, excellent volley, and bombing groundstrokes, aided by Federer’s shaky nerves. Late in the fourth set Federer sealed his own fate by double-faulting twice when up 40-15 on his serve to let Raonic back in the game and eventually get the crucial service break and the set.

To his credit, Raonic has come up with a game that may foretell where the game itself will eventually go – a huge player with mobility, a giant serve, groundstrokes that give him control of the point, and a strategy of moving to the net as soon as possible to use an excellent volley.

People were questioning whether a serve and volley player could ever stand up to the great groundstrokers of the modern game. I think the question is being answered. They could. But it now takes a very big serve or a heavy approach shot to set up the volley. If someone like Raonic were more mobile and flexible (like, for example, the 6’6” basketball players), had good hands and a great volley (not just an adequate one like he now has), he could serve and volley all the time, and I don’t think the groundstrokers could stand up to it. We are getting a glimpse of it now with Raonic.

As for the great and admirable Federer, he now just looks under-gunned, a bit flimsy, and subject to unruly nerves. I’m sorry to say that winning another major for him looks like extremely unlikely. Too many of the good players would have to be sidelined. (Here, Djokovic wasn’t enough.) So those of us pulling for him are in for a rough ride.

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Roger Federer Reaches 11th Wimbledon Semifinal

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Allen Fox

For Federer fans (and who isn’t) this was a nail-biting, back-spasmy, Zanax-popping day. It was a day in which Cilic seemed to have all the cards. I only began watching at the beginning of the fourth set, but Cilic appeared to have control of most of the points. The only weapon that kept Federer in the match was his serve. He hit aces, unreturnable first serves, and second serves that were usually over 100 mph. But when Cilic got the return back, he was generally well in control of the points, running Federer all over the court with thunderous backhands and forehands, in addition to serving bombs with his own serve. In one game in the fourth set Federer managed to reach 15-40 on Cilic’s serve with a couple of genius shots, and Cilic proceeded to hit four aces to take the game.

Federer was hanging in by a thread – scrambling, chipping his backhand, and then hitting some incredible winners from desperate positions. It was a grinding powerhouse against a flimsy genius.

And there was some pretty scary choking going on too. At one stage Federer reached set point in the fourth to even the match. (Thanks to a timely double-fault in the tie breaker by Cilic.) Fed hit in a good serve, Cilic barely got it back, Federer had a sitting forehand with an open court, and he hit it 10 feet out. Despite this he ended up winning the tie-breaker to take the set.

The fifth was a nail-biter as well. By this time Federer’s forehand was shaky, and his backhand chip and serve were the only reliable shots. Fortunately for him, Cilic was getting pretty shaky himself, missing first serves and making crucial mistakes off the ground. And that was how it ended – Cilic missed a groundstroke on break point and Federer served it out handily at 5-3. A sigh of relief for Federer fans, which included the crowd, me, and almost everyone else other than Cilic’s coach and mother.

I should add that if there was anything to learn from this match it was that you can choke and still win as long as you don’t get rattled about it. And the topic of “courage” comes up when people think about choking. In my opinion, it doesn’t show courage to not be nervous and make the big shot on the big point. It takes courage to choke on the big point, not get upset about it; fight your way to another big point; and finally come through, either by making a good shot or your opponent missing.

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