This is a question that usually does not creep up until someone has been playing the game for awhile. Many times a player will reach a certain level and look for ways to improve their all-around game by taking a look at ‘doing something different’. I am all for a player assessing their game from time to time and looking at what they can improve, but in order to do that one needs to have an understanding of the different ‘styles’ of play that exist within the game.
By and large, there are three types of ‘styles’ that players usually fall into, and most players usually adopt a style that maximizes their natural strengths on the court wile simultaneously minimizing their weaknesses. Let’s take a look at the three most widely adopted ‘styles’ of tennis.
Let’s start with the ‘Baseliner’. A Baseliner is a player that, most of the time, normzplumbing plays from the baseline and utilizes their ground strokes to play their most effective tennis. Most often, this results in long rallies back and forth across the net, with the Baseliner’s main goal being to simply hit the ball back over the net just one more time than their opponent. Strategies of the Baseliner include:
– Moving the opponent side to side, wearing their opponent down physically by making them run down well-placed shots.
– Keeping the ball deep in their opponent’s court, which reduces the angle from which their opponent may attack.
– Hitting a variety of consistently well-placed shots that keeps their opponents off-balance.
– Playing points intelligently and patiently, and waiting for just the right opportunity to attempt to hit a winner.
To paraphrase, a good Baseliner might say something like this in describing their
“I’ll stay out here all day with you, and wait for you to make a mistake. If you don’t then I’ll just keep opening the angles of my shots, and keep you running from sideline to sideline, Tennis lesson Singapore until I run you ragged, and then I’ll hit a nice smooth winner that you just won’t be able to get.”
Examples of World Class Baseliners, Past and Present:
Men: Bjorn Borg, Ivan Lendl, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal.
Women: Chris Evert, Monica Seles, Steffi Graf.
Let’s next take a look at the ‘Serve-and-Volley Player’ aka ‘Serve-and-Volleyer’. A Serve-and-Volleyer does just that. They hit a first serve and immediately follow the serve into the net, where they attempt to utilize their fast hands, good footwork and first-rate volleys to win the point quickly. This usually results in quickly played points. The Serve-and-Volleyer’s goal is to end the point before his opponent even knows what is happening. Strategies of the Serve-and-Volleyer include:
– Using a well-placed, powerful 1st serve to force a weak return from their opponent, followed by a crisp volley to their opponents open court, ending the point.
– Angling 2nd serves wide on both the deuce and ad courts, again opening angles that can be exploited with good volleys.
– Using well-placed approach shots that will force weak return shots and/or lobs, which can be put away quickly.
– Constantly pressuring their opponent by coming in on every serve and return possible.
The Serve-and-Volleyer’s creed may read something like this:
“I’m coming to the net. I am going to come to the net all day long, tennis class Singapore behind my serves and behind your returns, so you’ve got two choices: pass me or lob me, because if I get to that ball I’m gonna put it away with a volley or overhead smash.”
Examples of World Class Serve and Volleyers:
– Men: John McEnroe, Stefan Edberg, Goran Ivanisevic
– Women: Billie-Jean King, Martina Navratilova, Jana Novotna, Amelie Mauresmo.
Lastly, there is the all-court player. There is nothing that the all-court player won’t do to win a point. If they are playing on a fast surface, like the grass at Wimbledon, they can serve-and-volley. On the slow red clay of Rolland Garros at the French Open, they can slug it out from the baseline. On hard courts, they can mix it up and do both, sometimes choosing one style over the other based on the style of their opponent.
Strategies of the all-court player are varied:
– They can adapt their style of play dependent upon surface, opponent, etc.
– Can surprise opponents by serving-and-volleying on one point, and then sticking to the baseline on the next.
– Have the ability to attack short balls and turn a baseline point into an approach to the net.
– Have the ability to play offensively and defensively with roughly equal skill.
Examples of World Class All-Court Players:
Men: Rod Laver, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer
Women: Martina Hingis, Justine Henin, Daniela Hantuchova
Note that Rod Laver, Pete Sampras and Roger Federer have all been hailed as the greatest players of their generation. They had solid all-court games and could play the way they needed play in whatever circumstances they found themselves in. Sampras, an all-courter and holder of the most Grand Slam Singles titles in history was always the favorite on grass and hard courts in his heyday; yet he never won on the clay at the French Open. Bjorn Borg, a baseliner, won 6 French Opens on the slow clay that suited his game; yet he dominated the grass of Wimbledon for 5 straight years, proving that adapting to a surface outside your normal style of play is definitely possible. Even so, a title on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows at the U.S. Open eluded him his entire career.
The different styles of play, and different surfaces that tournaments are played on, contribute to the wonderful flavor of this game we all love so much. Take some time and figure out what your strengths and weaknesses are; then find a s