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Tag Archive: tennis

  1. Cannonball Tennis: Mike Sangster

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    Devon has everything to offer that I want in life”

    mike sangster tennis

    Cannonball Tennis

    Says Mike Sangster in his book “Cannonball tennis”.  Mike took up tennis when he was 13 (yes 13) and went on to become the British #1 player, played in many Davis Cup matches and got to the semi-finals of Wimbledon.

    Growing up in Torquay, he was coached by the somewhat enigmatic “Mr Roberts” who offered him a few words of advice and then left him to work out his own strengths and weaknesses.

    I was sent this gem of a book and it is an entertaining read. Amongst the anecdotes of cooking meals on hotel room floors are some really useful pointers about tennis.

    On coaching juniors:

    I think nine or ten is a good age for a boy to first pick up a tennis racket.”

    Look at the source of this advice, then look at who the club coach telling you that your 5 year old needs to work on their chopper grip. (Whose interest are they serving?).

    I would say,  however that it’s better to allow a beginner to swing his racket at the ball in his own way at first, than to try and put him into a kind of stroke strait-jacket to give him an automatic, orthodox swing.

    Confusion is often caused in the minds of youngsters because the various grips are explained in a complicated way. This sort of jargon gets you nowhere.”

    mike sangster tennis serve

    Learn to throw before serving

    If you want to serve well, and can’t throw well, set about learning to throw straight away.”

    Another vital part of good serving is a smooth throw- up of the ball. Many players never learn to serve consistently because they throw the ball up differently.”

    (Why on earth are children being pushed into tennis when they simply can’t throw overhand with their good arm and pass accurately with their weaker hand?)

    Once they become tired on court, their concentration goes, and it’s much better to stop playing altogether than continue hitting aimless shots and running about lethargically and without interest.

    First principles of tennis:

    • Hit the ball back across the net. Don’t worry about how you do it. Just get it back into court.
    • Never miss an easy winner.
    • Move to the ball. Don’t wait for it to come to you.

    More advanced basics are:

    • Serve as hard as you can without double-faulting and concentrate on acquiring a strong second serve instead of always trying to ace your opponent on the first.
    • From the baseline, keep the ball as deep in your opponent’s court as you can.
    • If the ball is returned short, attack it by hitting it deep into your opponent’s court, preferably into the backhand corner, and rush to the net to volley or smash a winner.

    On tennis fitness:

    To get yourself physically ready for long exhausting matches is as necessary as it is for a carpenter to sharpen his tools. Your body is your tool; if it lets you down, it is only because you have not given it that extra-fine preparation that is needed for all sports played at top class.

    Tennis coaches may scoff at some of these points, but I would suggest that overcomplicating things is far too common. This book is a worthwhile and enjoyable read.

    Thanks to Mandi Abrahams of Castle Books in Beaumaris for sending it to me.

    Further Reading:

  2. Rafael Nadal Tennis Injury

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    So Rafael Nadal has withdrawn injured from a Grand Slam tournament – again. Andy Murray marches on to the final, relatively injury free.
    This isn’t the first time that the trainers and physios have had an impact on the outcome of an important match, this report from last year’s U.S. Open:

    INJURY DAY:

    Juan Martin del Potro ran into a wall. Gilles Simon tweaked his knee. Jose Acasuso had left knee pain. And when Rafael Nadal flopped to the ground to receive treatment on his abs, his opponent, Nicolas Almagro, figured he’d call the trainer, too. Injuries ran rampant at the U.S. Open on Sunday. None appeared to be too serious.

    Simon and Acasuso each retired from their matches while trailing. Del Potro was fine _ just a little flesh wound _ while Nadal, who missed Wimbledon with bad knees, said he was getting sick and tired of talking about injuries, but that the strained abs that have been bothering him since last month won’t keep him out.

    I saw Rafa call, so I prefer to call at the same time, Almagro said of the dueling injury timeouts in Ashe Stadium.

    Trainers came out and worked on his back and 20,000 fans got to watch both tennis players laying on the ground, getting massages.

    What a difference a rubdown makes?

    My tennis was the same, before the trainer, after the trainer, Almagro said.

    This year’s Australian open also showed that the 5 set epics such as this one: can also be decided by the trainer.

    Potential causes of this could be:

    • poor scheduling of the tournaments
    • players playing when already injured due to financial pressures
    • tournament sponsors wanting their pound of flesh with big names having to attend
    • poor conditioning- lack of foundation training from an early age
    • gamesmanship- the opportunity to halt momentum and refocus mentally

    The male tennis player Grand Slam champions of the future could be the ones that manage to remain injury free, the ones with staying power. This makes Roger Federer’s recent accomplishments all the more remarkable.

    Read our Guide to Tennis Injuries Here