After foregoing the last decade, I am back to consistently playing tennis. It is still my favorite sport to play, and the top flight players are some of the best athletes in the world.
I hope to pass along that enthusiasm with this 12 Most 40-Love Ace Reasons to Play Tennis post. So grab a racquet and a partner, and join me in hitting the tennis courts this summer season!
1. Grip-n-rip forehand
I like smackin’ a good forehand. I hit with a semi-western grip, so it provides just enough spin to bring that ball back into the court. My tennis style is to attack and press the advantage. I will run around the backhand to hit a forehand, and I’m willing to take risks by flattening out the shot to put the opponent on the defensive. To heck with rallying until the cows come home and hoping the other guy will make an error… I want to put a hole in the back fence as a result of a good, hard winner!
2. Versatile backhand
Do you hit with one hand or go with a two-handed grip? Do you play the more conservative slice that stays low and deep, or do you try to drive your opponent back with a topspin shot? I tend to mix it up, and the topspin backhand is the first shot to abandon me when I am not playing well. I think Roger Federer has the best one-handed backhand in the game.
3. Delicate drop shots
I love watching a great drop shot, but it is not a part of my game. Putting the hole in the back fence per point #1 above is a lot easier than hitting a delicate drop shot that wins the point. Mess up and put too much air under the ball, and your opponent is likely to cram the ball down your throat while thanking you for the gift.
4. Loopy lobs
Sometimes a drop shot can be used as part of a combination with a lob. You bring your opponent to net, so all of their momentum is going forward. You then brush up the ball and “lift it” over their head. Topspin lobs can be offensive weapons against opponents who like to crowd the net.
5. Bring-the-thunder serve
Andy Roddick, Ivo Karlovic and Milos Raonic can bring some serious heat when it comes to powerful first serves. My only issue with this aspect of the game is that it can make the professional men’s game boring and non-adaptive. The players just bomb their way into the tiebreakers, and then they hope their opponent blinks first. I still like players who can construct intelligent points with variety.
6. Head-shaking spin serve
Having a topspin serve comes in handy. It is great as a second serve because it gives a high margin for error, and it is still hard to handle for the returner because of the high bounce. It is also a great change-up on the first serve because the returner will be “way ahead of the ball” and will generally mishit the return. I get asked how to hit a kick serve all the time, so here is a great instructional video featuring Sam Stosur.
7. “Mine’s bigger than yours” return of serve
The return of serve is my favorite part of the game. When I win the toss to start the match, I want to start with the return of serve. I hope to get the early service break before people get into their rhythm. I will also cheat inside the baseline to put pressure on the second serve, and that can cause the server to hit a few double-faults and start questioning their own service game. Of course, I love to hit the return harder than the serve coming at me… just to keep them thinking. Here is Federer stating get that stuff out of here to Andy Murray’s second serve.
8. “There can be only one” singles
Tennis is one of the sports you can go mano-a-mano. No teammates and no coaching allowed when playing a singles match! You own all of your winners and your errors. At the end of the match, there is only one person left standing victorious.
9. Doubles troubles
Most recreational and league tennis focuses on doubles play. A typical USTA league match consists of 3-doubles matches and 2-singles matches. If you go by a neighborhood court on a Saturday, you will see a lot of doubles play. It is ironic that recreational players have more doubles matches because the TV schedules focus on singles. That is because the star players play singles! Some of the most entertaining points still happen on the doubles court.
10. Got balls?
I recently saw this slogan on my daughter’s tennis team T-shirts. Once you buy a tennis racquet, tennis becomes a very affordable sport: plenty of public tennis courts and a can of tennis balls costs less than three bucks. You can also get an outstanding workout in as little as 90 minutes. Contrast that with the 4+ hours to play a round of golf that may cost you $35-$100. The golf clubs themselves can go from $300 for a decent starter set to over $500 for a top-shelf driver.
11. Serious strategy
I love tennis because every shot presents infinite possibilities. Every angle, ball speed and spin, opponent court position and weather condition is different. The possibilities are only limited by your imagination and risk tolerance. Do you play “big bang” tennis, or do you patiently break down an opponent’s weakness and fitness? Andre Agassi and Martina Hingis were two of the finest at constructing points to deconstruct an opponent’s game.
12. Camaraderie and longevity
I had forgotten how much smack could be shelled out on a friendly men’s doubles court on a Saturday morning. Find the right group, and you will share a lot of good tennis and a lot of good laughter. League tennis generally includes a social afterwards with spreads that include fruit… to BEER AND WINGS! You can teach the love of tennis when kids are 4 years old, and there are people still hitting the court when they are in their 90s. You can make travel plans around a tennis clinic getaway, and you can attend major tennis tournaments all over the world.
I will leave you with one of the best players to bring humor and camaraderie to a tennis court: Mansour Bahrami. Got Balls? Get out to a tennis court near you and have a great time!
I love my wife and two daughters. I am blessed in that I also love my job as a principal and EVP of the Rocky Mountain Region for Mantis Technology Group. I am very excited about our Pulse Analytics SaaS social media monitoring solution for measuring consumer sentiment and supporting social engagement. I enjoy teaching and coaching. I graduated UT-Austin.
BV, Tennis was MY sport of choice for many, many years. I was #1 on my High School team and #2 my freshman year in college. Tennis gave me an introduction to people I otherwise wouldn't have had a chance to meet ultimately leading to my former showbiz career.
I just finished watching the Women's Final at the French Open. Yet again, it was another SHORT boring match. I don't get it!
Why do the women get equal pay for totally UN-EQUAL effort? I fully support equal pay for equal work. But, it's gotten downright silly in tennis. The guys play 3 out of 5 sets, the women 2 out of 3. Plus the guys end up usually playing at LEAST double the time, putting on more than double the show. WHERE IS THE EQUALITY in that???!!!
@BruceSallan Bruce, you are baiting me with that equal pay discussion ;). Yes, the women's French Open final was one-sided and anti-climatic. However, it will prompt another blog post from me. Maria won the career grand slam, and she did it after about 4 years since her last win. She fought her way back to the top.
Yes, the men's matches - especially during the French Open - are testaments to endurance and patience (which was the topic of my most recent blog post). Tomorrow's match should be a classic if Djokovic has enough energy. Nadal has looked flat out unstoppable. They mentioned Nadal has played in 7 French Open semi-finals...and only lost one set in those 7 meetings. That is dominance!
@JodiOkun@dbvickery If they do not do the rain delay, I think Djokovic wins that match in 5 sets. It was his errors/over-hitting...along with some great defense by Nadal...that caused him to lose the first two sets. Right now, I think he is the best player on the men's tour.
@mariepayton I love the camaraderie of a doubles match - especially if some good natured smack talking going on. However, my game is more suited to singles, too. Glad you are inspired for your morning match - let 'er rip with those forehands!
@kevjkirkpatrick Some of the rallies at this French Open have been outstanding (just watched Djokovic blow out Federer, but some of the rallies were special). Wimbledon still favors the big serve, but I feel the tennis has gotten better than the Becker/Stich days.
Brian...Love to watch tennis..great post!! Drop shot is my fav too. One thing you did not know about me. My first date with my husband was to see Ivan Lendl...a long long time ago. I tried to pick up tennis as a life sport...but it just didn't work...wow it's a tough sport...give me a marathon any day..Great Post!!
@JodiOkun That's awesome, Jodi. Krista and I still love to play tennis as a date (then hit a jacuzzi and restaurant afterwards). We do hope/expect it is a life sport, and I know Kris is happy that I'm back to playing again after taking about a decade off to take/teach judo and taekwondo.
We didn't see Lendl play live, but we did see a Davis Cup tie that featured Agassi, Courier, McEnroe and a young Sampras.
I used to love to play tennis. It was the only sport I enjoyed. Now I have a bad disc in my neck and it's not great for me.
When I was young (14-15) I played a lot of tournament tennis. I bore a strong resemblance to Chris Evert at the time. People would mistake me for her, until I started playing. Then they realized their BIG mistake!
@sharongreenthal Wow, Sharon. Easy for me to have hindsight and look back and wished I would have played more...and wonder if I could have played at the college level. However, I grew up in South Texas where the religion was high school football - which is why I wrote a 12 Most post about Friday Night lights.
Yeah, I could see where a bad disc would limit you. That's a shame because tennis is normally a very good sport to play as you get older...especially if you can find clay courts to save some stress on the joints.
Brian, great post! I used to play tennis and I still miss it. In fact, I was just watching the French Open over the weekend and it REALLY made me want to get back into the game. I'm a fan of the two-handed backhand myself, and I used to be able to hit a killer cross-court backhand! I'm going to have to get back into it. :)
@annedreshfield Easy and inexpensive sport to get back into, Anne. The two-handed backhand definitely has its advantages, so I still toy with it when I need a sharp cross-court shot or return against a fast serve.
I've had a pulled hamstring for over a week, so watching the French Open has been frustrating - I want to get back out on the court!!