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Last call for the gotta play tennis podcast

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Tell us what YOU think...Has recreational tennis changed for the better?

Recently I read some comments from another tennis player about how the constants of tennis have not changed in the last 30 years or more such as dimensions of the court, height of net, etc. But some constants of tennis are not as obvious and are a bit harder to quantify and measure.

When did tennis become only a game of competitive play? Can't two (or 4) players just go out to the court and hit without playing a match? Working on groundstrokes and volleys does not require a finite score to contain them. And you cannot tell me that skills are not acquired simply due to a lack of point play. Learning how to play matches is a totally separate item and may or may not be of interest.

When did tennis, on a recreational level, become about outhitting your opponent with power? Sooner or later, the biggest hitter with the most skill will prevail. So if you are not a big hitter, does that mean you should hang up your racket? Or is it possible to learn how to counter such a barrage? With the variety of tennis shots available, I truly believe that a smart and skilled player can find their own level of success without cannons blazing.

When did tennis become so one dimensional with western-gripped topspin? If I understand correctly, this shot allows one to hit hard and keep the ball in the court. In my day, we did this with a flat shot, slice and sidespin and called it "skill". The better you got at it, the more successful you were. Maybe we didn't hit the ball quite as hard, but you didn't need to because you learned how this big court was ripe for controlled placement of the ball.

When did tennis get so snobbish? Try playing on public tennis courts next to some intermediate players and watch how annoyed they get from stray balls landing in their court from a mom and dad out with their kids. Hey, if you want a tennis club atmosphere, THEN PAY FOR ONE! These same people seem to forget how they began playing tennis. Most people who play tennis do so for free on courts located in a public park. And these are the same consumers who buy rackets, balls, grips, strings, headbands & wristbands, baskets, towels, and sports drinks. Thank goodness all these people exist since Grand Slam tournaments are not broadcast for just the club elite.

I've been playing tennis for over 30 years, and I love some of the innovations in the modern game. But tennis is about having fun, avoiding injury, learning skills and developing them, and becoming more competitive if you so choose. Let's not be too quick to throw out the baby with the bath water.

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