Tennis Tips Volume II: Come To The Net!


Stefan Edberg where he flourished the most…the net.

A dying phenomenon in the game of tennis is seeing a player come to the net consistently. Over the past 15 years or so, there has been a marked decline in players coming to the net, especially compared to the “old days”, when players used to come to the net very often.

In the 90’s and early 00’s, you still had players such as Stefan Edberg and Richard Krajicek who would come to the net early and often and would continue to do so pretty much regardless of the results. That was just how they played. (Sampras often serve and volleyed, but it can be argued that it wasn’t the primary focus of his game)

Stefan Edberg and Richard Krajicek both had incredibly successful careers. Edberg won all four grand slams as a junior, and was ranked #1 in the world in both singles and doubles on the ATP tour. He finished with a winning percentage near 75% in singles, won 59 tournaments (singles and doubles combined) including 6 singles grand slam tournaments and 3 doubles grand slam tournaments. He also had 4 Davis Cup victories. He is now Roger Federer’s coach.

Krajicek didn’t quite have the success of Edberg, but he was also a serve and volley master. He got all the way up to #4 in the world rankings, had 17 career singles titles and won Wimbledon in 1996. In that tournament, he defeated former champ Michael Stich and had his landmark victory of Pete Sampras, which was in straight sets. This was Sampras’ only loss in singles at Wimbledon from 1993 until his 2001 loss to Roger Federer.

Nowadays, tennis is essentially a baseline, back court game. Players love to rally with massive top-spin and power and rely on supreme conditioning and consistency. This isn’t the best way to play and win in tennis, unless you are truly elite with these attributes of the sport.

The best way to win in tennis is not only through consistency, but also variety in the game that you play. Switching up the spins, the speed and the style of play that you use during your matches can oftentimes trump talent and athleticism and help you win a match that you may not have otherwise won. One of the most important aspects in tennis is rhythm, and switching your style up helps break your opponent’s rhythm and maybe even get in their head, affecting them for the duration of the match.

Aside from simple variety in strokes, serving and volleying, or at least coming to the net every once in a while can make all the difference in the world. Doing this can be especially effective if your opponent hasn’t demonstrated the ability to hit effective shots down the line or with general precision. If your opponent tends to just rally down the middle of the court and wait for you to make a mistake, a way to counteract it is to rush the net behind a good shot and put the pressure on them to actually beat you.

Another advantage to doing this comes when you are trying to hide your own weaknesses. If you can consistently hit decent volleys, but you may not be consistent from the baseline or have good conditioning, then coming to the net can help you overcome your deficiencies. Sure, it puts pressure on your opponent to hit great shots and keeps them off-balance, but it also can end the point quickly, which helps you save energy. This is a crucial aspect of tennis because some matches can go quite a long time and be devastating on the body. Instead of swinging for the fences to end points from the baseline to save energy, it is the better percentage play to come to the net and take your chances there.

One of my unconventional strategies that I use every once in a while is to come to the net directly behind a moon-ball. It is a deep and high bouncing shot that makes it hard for the other player to hit an offensive shot back or even see the court as well as they normally would under regular circumstances. I like to wait until I see them take their eyes off the court completely then rush the net to put the ball away.

Generally speaking though, you want to come to the net after a great serve or approach shot. Not all great shots are great to come to the net to however. Too much topspin may give the opponent enough time to get there and hit a variety of shots back that can give you trouble. Ideally, your approach shot will be hit flat and hard in the deep corner of the court, or sliced to keep the ball very low. Then you have to play the angles and read the ball quickly off their racquet so you can position yourself in the right spot to end the point on your volley. In a perfect world, your first volley should end the point.

It’s not for everyone, but even if you are not the best volleyer it definitely suits you well to come to the net every once in a while to throw your opponent off. It gets them out of their rhythm, forces them to hit better shots, saves you energy, can help hide some of your weaknesses and counter-act match-up problems you may have. With the way tennis is primarily being played, chances are you may automatically put yourself at an advantage by coming to the net just because there are so few others that do it that your opponent will probably be frazzled just at the sight of it.

 

Junior Open Court Rates


One of our most utilized open court times is via the Junior Open Court Rate. The following is a breakdown of how it works:

  • $25/hr for members.
  • Available from Monday through Friday, all day until 5:30 PM.
  • Available Saturday and Sunday 12:00PM to Close (based on availability).
  • If you have a junior who is a member of one of our JDP programs, they are automatically members of the club and you can utilize this rate. You cannot utilize this rate if you have a junior who is a member and you are not, and they are not with you to play at the time that you come in. If you are playing with them then that is fine.

Call in for more information if you want clarification on anything.

Good Luck To All The High School Teams


Beginning in October, we have had a variety of special group lessons set up for high school tennis programs, including Newington High School, Plainville High School, Wethersfield High School, Watkinson High School, Southington High School and Conard High School.

We sincerely appreciate the effort the players have put forth throughout the course of the lessons and each of the instructors involved have taken much pleasure in seeing such improvement in all facets of the game in such a short period of time.

We would like to wish all of those who came in good luck in the upcoming season.There was a very high level of skill displayed and we hope that it will continue and translate into victories during the season. We have confidence that there were conference tournament champions and potentially a state tournament champion at our club during these group lessons. We’re rooting for you.

Special mention goes out to the Plainville Boys Team, which will be participating in tennis for the first time since 2003. You guys are making history and have the chance to begin a legacy at your school. No matter what happens, stick with it and hang in there.

Tennis Tip Volume I: Visualization


Every now then, the Tennis Center will put up some tennis tips that could be able to help your mental and physical performance on the courts. Consider this the first installment.

Visualization

Mark McGwire leads the major leagues in home runs, and in blank stares. Visualization, he calls it. Before each at-bat McGwire will imagine the pitcher throwing the baseball. He will imagine how the pitch will move, maybe a fastball or a curveball, and he will imagine smashing the ball with his Paul Bunyan swing.

New York Times, 1998

  • It is more than just a buzz word spoken by motivational speakers across the globe. If done correctly, visualization can help you in pre-match prep as well as before or during any set, game, or point in a match (depending on how much you decide to employ this).
  • Envisioning yourself doing something on the court, while in deep focus for a sustained amount of time before you step foot on the court, helps you to stay calm and feel confident as well as assist the physical aspect of the sport by performing a bit of a reverse direction in the muscle memory phenomenon and help you execute the strategies, tactics and shots that you previously envisioned executing in specific situations.
  • It is also important to keep in mind that you are not playing against yourself, so visualizing some of your opponent’s play beforehand to the degree that you know them as a player will truly make this endeavor successful.
  • Lastly, the key to making this all work is to do this with a clear, stable, mind and emotional state. I’m sure most everybody goes into a match with a base strategy, optimistically seeing every game as a potential a hold of serve or a break, and perhaps every point with some sort of pre-determined general strategy. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t…but I can guarantee you that it is more likely to contribute positively to your play if it is well thought out in a peaceful mental state. Going into a point upset about previous happenings and saying to yourself, “I’m going to go for a huge winner down the line off the serve” may work, but thinking the same thing while remaining calm is much more likely to be fruitful because you are likely to not rush the return when the serve comes around. This means you will have better footwork, better technique and are more likely to connect on the sweet spot rather than potentially just reaching for the ball and swinging for the fences out of frustration.
  • Of course, it is easier said than done, but I have had some success over time through the use of visualization, and have also seen a good deal of success of others through visualization. It also translates to many (if not all) sports, and perhaps other facets of your life as well.

Saturday’s High School Round Robin A Success!


We would just like to thank all of those who participated in the Doubles Round Robin on Saturday.

There was a great turnout of both boys and girls teams with great competition and sportsmanship shown by all. Around 30 players came by the tennis center, which was great to see.

No matter the outcomes, it was a great warm-up for the upcoming high school tennis season for everyone that played. It’s one thing to always play against the same people, but it is a completely different experience to play against people that you may not have seen before, especially right before a new season.

There was unanimously positive feedback from the players and parents who attended…and we’re sure that the complimentary pizza and refreshments didn’t hurt. The salad provided was eaten pretty thoroughly too, which was a good sign for the nutritional awareness of the region’s young and rising athletes.

Again, thank you to all that came by. We hope to see you soon in the future and good luck during the season!

Strings and Grips


You know, a lot of players begin to over-think technique and racquet selection at times, but the case could be made that the strings and the grips you use during play just as, or more important.

Strings and Stringing

There are so many different types of strings out there, but oftentimes players just go with what others around them are getting, what is the newest fad, or just what is available and/or recommended at the local pro shop.

Sometimes trial and error is what’s necessary. It can get expensive, but first consider what the company that produced your racquet suggests to use in that racquet, and get it strung based on your playing ability.

If you have already tried that, then take your time and sift through some of the hundreds of reviews out there at your disposal and find a string that would be both good for your racquet and your playing style and then decided what tension would be best to get it strung at.

Tension is also very important…if you can generate your own power consistently, then get it strung very tight and because the racquet naturally will lose a few pounds of tension over time.

Grips

The grips you use on your strokes also have a great deal of impact on your play. Even the slightest modification could mean everything in the world and provide with more power and/or consistency.

Working with this is tricky though, especially if you are playing a lot of matches. Not only is it hard to switch grips pretty much on the fly, but even if you do and get some good results, you may find yourself reverting back to the grip that you used to use out of habit, leading to some in-match problems and inconsistency.

Work hard and take a ton of reps when you are switching the grips used on your swings, and do it in other ways than simply getting balls fed to you and using the new grip all the time. Make sure you practice alternating between forehand and backhand grip so you get used to switching your grip mid-point so you can integrate your new grip usage as best you can in match play.

A different aspect to this is over-gripping. This is not a common problem amongst the more advanced players, but some players may find improvement if they simply built up or reduced the size of the grip on their racquet. If you aren’t sure if you are using the proper size of grip, contact a person in the know or consult with the professionals at Google and maybe you will find some information that you previously weren’t aware of.

Or you can check out the images below:

Welcome To The Newington Tennis Center!


**News as of 9/27/14**: We are set up at the Connecticut Convention Center today and tomorrow for the NBC Connecticut Health Festival. We expect to see thousands of people throughout the two days during the festival and are excited to introduce some of them to the game of tennis and to our wonderful tennis center. Come check us out and find out more information about NTC!

Also, there will now be a year-end tournament for After 8 players based on their rankings throughout the year with prizes. Call in and start playing…secure that top spot!

 

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It is with much appreciation that we welcome you to our website!

The Newington Tennis Center is a tennis center that is located right on the Newington/Wethersfield line off of the Berlin Turnpike on Prospect Street in Newington, Connecticut.

We pride ourselves on providing a home like environment for the wonderful tennis players, their families and friends, and for general tennis fans and supporters that come through our doors. We have been a staple in the community for decades and passionately serve those of all ages and abilities from throughout the state and region with friendly and personable staff off the court as well as engaging and skilled professionals on the court.

This website will not only offer its visitors with general information about the facility and its staff, but also have tennis related articles, match reviews and tips for all those interested, no matter where you live.

With the wonder of the digital age and the internet, anyone interested in sports, and tennis specifically, should keep tabs on our site for help on their game, reviews of some tournaments and big matches, as well as each player, and other entertaining tidbits and articles that may suit your fancy. We encourage any and everyone to comment on what we put up and we will be sure to respond and carry on the conversation. It could get pretty interesting when more advice and match/player reviews get posted. Again, we would love to have a back and forth with you.

And of course, if you are interested in or already are frequenting our facility, some of the information on here will be more relevant to you on a day-to-day basis.

We appreciate you for checking us out and hope to hear from and see you soon!