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Whit's Tennis Tips: Serving & Racquets

Whitney Kraft, Director of Tennis at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center, is here to answer your questions on the game of tennis in his column on USTA.com called “Whit’s Tennis Tips." Whether you're looking for that perfect racquet, having a dispute over scoring a match, or just looking to improve your game, all you have to do is Ask Whit.
* Please note, due to the volume of emails Whit receives, he is not able to answer every email.

From Barb
Subject: Premature Shoulder Turn on Serve

Hi Whit,

I belong to that unfortunate generation of females who never learned how to throw a ball, and this, I think, has hampered my ability to serve with any "pop." I'm pretty sure my problem is that I turn my shoulders so that I'm facing the net before I begin my hit up to the ball. Do you have any tips to cure this malady?

Many thanks,

Hi Barb,

I suggest a certified tennis pro to help decide the cause(s) and best approach to correcting. Also, those little Nerf footballs are popular among coaches in teaching throwing techniques, as well as for dynamic warm-ups.

Best of luck,

From: Tina
Subject: Choosing a Racquet

I just joined the USTA to be part of a women's 3.0 team. I am petite, a tad under 5' tall and approx. 100 lbs. I play rather aggressively and enjoy going to the net. My groundstrokes are not consistent and could use a little help. Backhand tends to be better than forehand. From this information, can you determine what racquet(s) would optimize my game?

Thanks for any tips.



Selecting the optimum racquet is a very individual choice, and I recommend that you "demo" a number of racquets at a reputable tennis store. If the store is at your tennis facility, so much the better for the sake of convenience. Since you are petite, you might consider a lighter-weight racquet, but you lose some power with that choice. A heavier stick will give you more power, but that choice may be too much to handle in long sets. String tension can also affect performance, with tighter strings giving more control and looser strings giving more power. Armed with this information, I suggest that you try out a number of these combinations until you find a racquet that you are comfortable with.


From: Rich
Subject: Choosing a Racquet

Hi Whit,

How can a person tell when they have the perfect racquet for themselves? What determines the type of racquet (flex or rigid), racquet weight, size head, size grip, tension, type of string they should use, etc., etc.? Most beginners have no idea what to buy.... just using price as a gauge only.... to others (intermediate and above) it seems to be experimenting... can get costly.



Choosing a racquet is easy, but finding the perfect racquet is somewhat complicated. I will give you some suggestions, but I recommend that you "demo" a variety of racquets, on court, supplied by your favorite tennis store, in order to find your perfect stick. The pros tend to favor a heavier racquet to create more power. A beginner is usually better off with a lighter racquet. Head size follows a similar pattern, with the pros using a smaller head size and beginners preferring an oversize racquet. The grip should be large enough so that you can put your other index finger in the space created when you wrap your hand around the grip. Stiff racquet flex will give you more control, and a more flexible racquet will give you more power. Tighter strings give you more control, and looser strings give you more power. As racquet technology and string materials evolve, even my search for the perfect racquet continues.

Have fun,

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