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Player to Player: Grip Adjustments during Service Returns

January 21, 2012 09:17 PM
Have a question? Receive advice from your fellow tennis players!
Real Tennis Players - Like You! - Asking For and Offering Advice on the Sport They Love
Player to Player is USTA.com’s regular feature in which everyday tennis players are given a forum to ask advice on the sport they love – and their fellow players will dish out advice. We’ll post a number of the best responses we receive to our question of the week.

Player to Player:
This week's question from Kathy:
I recently played a doubles match where my opponents were playing at a very fast pace. My partner and I did not play at the same pace and felt that they were rushing the points. What do you suggest is reasonable for this scenario? Does the server control the pace, and what is the rule for time between points for partners to strategize before return of serve? Thank you.
Please share your thoughts by e-mailing Player@USTA.com, and include your name and hometown.
Got a question of your own? Send that along, too!

Last week's question from Hugh
(Please note: There is no need to send additional responses to this question.)
In regards to the service return, I struggle with quick grip adjustments. I start with a semi-western forehand grip, can easily adjust to a backhand slice return, but struggle adjusting to a flat or topspin grip. (I use a one-handed backhand.) Any match tips or practice tips to help me overcome this?
Player Responses:
Don, Houston

Hugh, to facilitate quick grip changes on returns of serve, I use my left (non-dominant) hand to control my grip. Preparing to return, my left hand is on the racquet throat, and my right is completely loose and neutral to the grip. As I turn my shoulders in response to the serve, my left hand twists the racquet to the appropriate grip. This allows me to achieve even extreme grips to either side as the situation warrants. Also, it forces me into a relaxed body state all the way up to impact of my opponent's serve. Good luck.

Rick M., PTR, Lugoff, S.C.

If your concern is causing hesitation and poor returns, try using only a continental grip. You won't get as much power, but if the serves have fast pace or heave spin, you can block effectively.

Coach Leonard, Concord, Calif.

Changing grip problems for serve return and volley situations are common due to two reasons: 1) Both require quick reaction; 2) Players can often get caught with their "hope" grip. The "hope" grip favors the player's "bread and butter" shot -- commonly the forehand. I call it the "hope" grip because everyone hopes that the opponent will hit to their
strength. This leaves the weaker shot much more vulnerable. I tell my players that leaning
on your "bread and butter" can sometimes result in a "bagel" in your opponent's favor.

Favoring your weaker side will give  you a jump on the ball. Switching back to your "bread and butter" should be a natural adjustment. If you give this a try, your opponent could be "toast."
*Please note that any advice given out in this forum should in no way be confused with actual medical advice. Before starting any new exercise regimen or altering your existing one, we strongly urge you to consult with your regular physician.
Click here for USTA.com's Player to Player Archive.


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