During a BBC Hosted live Radio Show previewing the Australian Open, I had the chance to chat with Tim Henman, the now retired and former No. 1 British tennis player, as well as other former professionals Annabel Croft and Richard Krajicek.
Henman made it very clear during our conversation that newcomers have an advantage in events like the Australian Open because many of the veterans know very little about their style of play.
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When I was coaching Andre Agassi, I made it a point to watch the new ones so I would know a few simple tips if we were to play them. One time, Phillip Agassi and I scouted Andre's next opponent.
We reported to Andre, but guess what? We scouted a righty. The person playing Andre in the next match was a lefty. We scouted the wrong player. I wouldn't be allowed to print Andre's response to us.
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Keep in mind the new players and their coaches know exactly how the veterans play. The veteran players must understand, they must always be adding to their game.
Here's how any veteran player, even at the recreational level, can add to their game.
- Attack more defensive balls
- Add more kick to your second serve
- Work on your slice serve (check out Nick's tip to learn more about slices)
- Be more aggressive against weak second serves
- Be sure to hit your drop shots
- Get into the best shape of your life
A few years ago, after Rafael Nadal won the US Open, he was asked why he wins. He said that he tries to get a little better every day. He is never satisfied. All of you reading this article should apply his mentality to your tennis and everyday life.
Nick's Tip- The Slice
A slice is a very important stroke, but knowing when to teach it to the young players you work with is very important. Let's start out with young ages (10 to 14 years old).
So many of these students have not developed physically and for the most part, lack strength to hit a slit and a kick serve. Most will collapse the wrist on contact which makes it difficult to control the path of the ball.
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I did not let Agassi slice the ball until he proved to me that he could, and would move his feet to the ball, no matter where it was. By doing this, Andre never developed lazy feet, because so many players use a slice because they are not in position.
Richard Williams told Venus and Serena Williams to run for every ball, whether or not it was in or out.
This doesn't mean you shouldn't have a slice. But don't use the slice because you cannot move to the ball. This is unacceptable.
For example, Tommy Haas has one of the very best slices on the tour, but he hits it when in position to do either an aggressive shot, a drop shot or a slice.
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