Is Serve and Volley Still Alive?

Is Serve and Volley Still Alive?

I try to understand why do so few players add the serve and volley to their game, virtually none of the top players?  This style definitely seems be the easiest, surest way to win a point at the net. Can a tennis player with a two-handed backhand be a good serve-and-volley player? How should a tennis player use this style successfully? I talked about these things with some tennis coaches. Here their thoughts about that.

Pete Sampras

First of all, to be a good serve and volley player, you have to have one-handed backhand.  There has never been a great serve and volley player with a two-handed backhand, and I doubt there ever will be one. There are several reasons for that:

1.    The strike zone for a one-handed backhand volley is far in front, just like a one-handed drive, as opposed to the two-hander which is taken close to the body.
2.     Obviously, a tennis player with a one-handed backhand is more comfortable playing with one hand than is a two-hander.
3.    The one-hander player is more likely to feel the need to position him aggressively

A successful serve and volley tennis player needs a dominant serve to play this game. It can be with power, like Boris Becker and Pete Sampras, or spin like Patrick Rafter and Stefan Edberg. You have to be a much better athlete than the average ones on the Tour. You have to have a fully offensive mind-set. And it wouldn’t hurt if you are left-handed player.

At this time many people, including most tennis coaches and specialists, say that serve and volleying is dead. They tell us that racket and string technology gives returners the advantage. But the same technology helps the serve and the approach to the net. Are the present players better than Bjorn Borg or Jimmy Connors at defending against the serve and volley game? Are the today’s service returners better than Andre Agassi or Michael Chang? Of course not.

Chris Evert wrote about serve and volley in Tennis Magazine:

“Still, given how well players serve, it’s a strategy that could be a bigger part of a lot of players’ arsenals. Yes, returns are formidable,but serving to spots out wide or into the body can yield opportunities for successful forays to the net”.

In my opinion, there is a problem that many modern tennis coaches do not know how to teach their players this style. They prefer to use the simplest approach while coaching their players to the aggressive baseline game.

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Athletic Scholarships for Tennis Players

There is a hot question for many tennis players and their parents. Imagine, your kid has played tennis for ten years from 8 years old; you invested some money in his tennis skills. Now, he (she) is a High School student, probably a sophomore or a junior. It is very clear for you that your player will not start playing pro tour after High School. So, you want to find a right college and get some return (athletic scholarships for a tennis player) on your tennis investment.

You have already known that if your kid is not blue chip or a five-star player, you need to make hard work to find a right college for him. The lower your kid’s level of play, the more efforts you need to make. I write here my thoughts about tennis players with two, three, and probably four star level of tennis.


Blue chips and five stars players usually have invitations from more than one college and they just need to make a right choice.

First, go online. There is a lot of website like, and so on. There you find information about a structure of college tennis, understand the difference among Divisions I, II and III, etc. Then make a list of colleges your kid wants to go. May be 40-50 is enough for start a process. It is important to make the list, because it allows you to work closely with each of the targeted colleges.

You also need to systematize all information that helps you in searching right college and create: athletic resume and cover letter, college selection list, tennis DVD and college evaluation list.

I don’t want to write here detailed instruction about the whole process. You can find out everything from the Internet.

Second. Hundreds, maybe thousands foreign tennis players play college tennis in the US. Think, if they were able to get scholarship while living and playing tennis overseas, you definitely can do it for your American kid.

The true is for some college tennis coaches the level of play is not the main reason for selecting a player to their tennis team. I personally know a half of dozens payers who got scholarship for Division II, and whose play’s level is like U16 TOP 50-150 of Southern California. Try to make a good contact with a coach, and if your kids’ SAT (ACT), GPA is at least on minimal level for the college, the coach will accept him. Tennis coaches look for team players; it is a very important factor when they consider a candidate.

Think twice before sending your kid to college on an athletic scholarship. He (she) will be supposed to train and play tennis 20+ hours a week. Does your kid have a capability to play tennis and study successfully at the same time? What is your kid going to do after college: find a job and work as a professional, or go to coach tennis with major in Political Science or Economics?

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Discussion of post Choosing a tennis racquet

I received a lot of comments on post “Choosing a tennis racquet” with Bruce Levine.

I published here some comments and hope you find them informative and interesting.

Steve Benson: “Choosing a racquet is a very personal choice regardless of the level of play. The most important thing to consider is the fact that although some racquets can help reduce or contribute to arm and shoulder problems, the bottom line is that good vs. bad technique on every stroke always will be the by far major contributor to arm and shoulder problems. Roger Federer by far has the best overall sound technique of any player I have seen during the past 40 years and he has had no injury problems from head to toe during the past +12 years of his pro career”.

Mili Veljkovic: “Agree… just grip to be about right size and all the rest is technique. Last 10 years there are no bad rackets in the production by known companies. Similar story is with strings. For high quality players – racket’s balance and racket’s composition (with string quality and string tension) makes difference and some fit them more depending on game’s “style” – but after the adjusting period for really good player that difference disappears.
P.S. With wooden racket and fishing strings I came to semis of Serbia veterans – we had the same discussion and I proved it”.

Alex Yep: “I think choosing a racquet that is more comfortable to your grip is good. But most important on your performance in my opinion is not your racquet. It is the type of strings you use, depending on the style of your play.
Don’t think you going to play like the pros when you choose the same racquet as they are using. They are the promoters of that racquet. The racquet they use is not exactly the same as the ones you buy. The racquets the top pros use are modified for the pros specifications. The racquet just looks the same as the pros”.

Julius Switlik: “A good tennis player can feel somewhere 1 gram difference in weight and very slight diffidence in tension of the strings. Ask such a veteran like Ilie Năstase.
I started playing wooden racquet about 385 gr. and 20 kg on strings. It was so long ago, I may be mistaken :)”.

Rebecca Boyce : “I teach adult women beginner beginners (ages 20’s to 60’s). I start them off on a factory Head stock racquet and then am requested to suggest a racquet that will take them from beginner forward. Demos are really not warranted since they generally haven’t a clue as to how a racquet should feel. So far I recommend the Head TiS6 which they generally seem to like and handle well”.

Alex Zotov : “If you are a Pro you just stick with the same racquet for the rest of your life unless you want to change something. Pros get their racquets repainted every time a new “trend” comes in. The best professional racquets are still from the early 2000s when Wilson and Head were in their prime. Babolat picked the trend later”.

I think that a good tennis racquet does not make you play perfect, but it can help you play to the best of your ability. A bad racquet sabotages your efforts and forces you to play under your ability level. The perfect racquet for you is one that fits your unique playing style. If you decided to change your tennis racquet, ask your coach or a tennis racquet specialist about assistance.

Interview with Mitch Bridge, owner and head tennis coach of Southern California Tennis Academy

Yesterday I talked to Mitch Bridge, owner and head tennis coach of Southern California Tennis Academy.

Q.: What is your philosophy as a man as well as a tennis coach?

A.: My philosophy as a man and a coach is to pursue your passion. Wake up each day and work at what you love and it is not really work at all. If you enjoy what you are doing, you will learn to do it well and share it with others, either by playing well and having fans enjoy watching you or training with others and helping them progress while you also progress.

Q.: You have a significant experience as an owner of tennis academies. Four years ago you moved from Colorado to California and used to work as Head Coach with Advantage Tennis Academy for three years. Why did you leave it and launched your own Southern California Tennis Academy?

A.: I have been in full-time academy ownership for 14 years. I started with Junction Tennis Academy in Colorado, where we developed many Division 1 college scholarship players. I was recruited by Advantage Tennis Academy to partner with them in 2008. After 3 years at Advantage, I decided to pursue my own program so that one development system would permeate the whole academy-one voice. In tennis you have to decide if you are going to use one technique or another, and it is very important that each player is clear on which path is best for his/her development. With one opinion at the top of a company it is easier to keep that information and development path clear for all players.

Q.: Tell me about your tennis academy. What is difference from others academies?

A.: The difference in my academy is that each player receives daily instructional semi-private lessons. This individual attention makes all the difference because the players can work on specific technique to overcome their weaknesses. It is pretty simple. Work on your weaknesses everyday to make them better so your opponents have a harder time exploiting them.

Q.:  Do you have a selection process at your academy or accept everybody?

A.: You have to be a tournament level player to attend Southern California Tennis Academy. Half of our players are ranked in the top 100 in Southern California in their divisions, and this is an incredibly strong section of the USTA.

Q.: What about your goals?  Do you want to develop Grand Slam Champion?

A.: My main goal in the next five years is to create a professional champion. I lived in Colorado for 13 years and didn’t have the talent pool, climate and tournament system to create successful touring pros, so now that I am back in Southern California, and I have a strong tennis academy, I can work on creating top level players. I will do this with players by having them succeed in Southern California first, then ITF, then ATP/WTA.

Thank you for your answers Mitch. I hope to get an interview with your tennis professional champion in five years. Good luck to you!

Special Training for Tennis Players

Today I’d like to talk about conditioning for tennis.This is an article about special training for tennis players. It is written by Diana D. Chalikov and Robert A. Walker from The Zen Tennis and Fitness Team.

The importance of cross-training and weight training for tennis players is based on maintaining balance and symmetry. There are many tennis specific exercises that increase strength in areas that will benefit your game. Without Cross-Training and Weight Training the chance of injury and setbacks are very high.

Fortunately, this can be greatly reduced by regularly training your body with light weights to build strength and muscle in any weak or sensitive areas. The reality is that tennis players are rarely at 100% health, so they must develop skills to play within what their body allows in the best way possible. Players should train themselves in such a way that will enable them to make adjustments in the future as needed. Elite level tennis can be hard on your body, so it is best to take every step available to protect, preserve, and maintain good health.

Cross-training should be done in a way that gives a person time to listen to their own body. It should not be too competitive or overly intense, but rather done in a style that is calm enough for the person to feel and sense the sensations in their body and search for small refinements in their movement and weight distribution that will satisfy the demands of any weaknesses. Biofeedback is the essential aspect of cross-training.

Heart rate monitors, attention to breathing, and breathing exercises are good additions to the process. On court play demands focus on the elements of the game and competition, so all the off court work needs to be done in advance to support and keep the focus on one place.

Personal equipment, devices, and such can be used to aid a player in their off-court training. Each player has individual needs for their body, created by their unique game and style of play. Common training products may be of benefit, but it should be considered a creative process.

Using stretch bands and warm-up tools are good habits to get into, as well as using mini-soccer balls to kick around using quick stepping and lateral movements. This helps inspect your body for any injury as well as warming up the muscles slowly before picking up a tennis racquet.

Remember that tennis is a high-intensity sport that places a lot of stress on your body. Take care by using correct form on and off the court. With dedication, hard work, and proper maintenance, your body will serve you well for a longer period of time.

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