Bianca Andreescu – “She plays different than other players. That’s why she’s good.”

Bianca the problem solver.

Belinda Bencic on Bianca Andreescu: “She won Indian Wells, Toronto, she’s final here. I’m not very surprised about this. She has put together great results. For me it’s not a surprise. I think she’s a very smart player on the court, plays different than other players. That’s why she’s good.”

 Her coach, Sylvain Bruneau said, “She likes to change it up and do different things and use the entire court and different angles and spins. She likes to see how her opponents are going to handle some of the shots she makes.

 

 

Andreescu admittedly struggles to keep stimulated with repetitive drills, which prompts Bruneau to always try to keep the practices creative, working on different strokes and combinations instead of the same routines over and over again.

“It’s a lot of fun because then you work with a player who is MULTIDIMENSIONAL, who can do a bunch of things,”  Bruneau said. “So it makes it fun in practice, because you feel like you have so much to address.”

 

 

Well, for me this is about using all the court.  About the willingness to move forward.  The ability to finish at the net.  The value of an underspin backhand.  And so much more.

If you are wanting to become more creative, to experience the art of the game, more than just winning or losing, take encouragement from the following,

Drilled Out:            An ex-pro urges coaches to use the entire court

By Trey Waltke            published in the ATP Newsletter 1980

Having recently retuned from the Easter Bowl Junior Tennis tournament, I couldn’t help comparing this group of juniors to my group of 15 years ago.  True, these comparisons are what all older players do, but nevertheless, I couldn’t help myself.

As a group, the kids coming up today have harder forehands and harder backhands.  Their ability to hit outright winners from the baseline is amazing.  Everyone seems to have a great two-handed backhand or a huge topspin forehand.  These kids can go corner to corner forever.

But, until someone stages the National Drilling Championships, when are these kids going to learn how to play spontaneous all court tennis?

There is an area on the court, which kids today seem to view as the forbidden zone, but I like to think of as the forgotten zone.  I’m referring to the middle of the court, or the midcourt, the area about three feet behind and in front of the service line.

The advantages of using the midcourt are incredible. To name a few:

It shortens points and saves energy. The moment you sense your opponent off guard or is not able to make an offensive shot, slyly creep in to the midcourt.

Your opponent will always be trying to second-guess your whereabouts on the court.  Cutting off opponent’s floaters in the midcourt, gives the added dimension of constant pressure on whomever you are playing.

This is the BIG ONE.  Relieves boredom and burnout later in your tennis career by encouraging creativity during play.

During his 9 year professional playing career, Waltke defeated four #1 players John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Stan Smith, and Ilie Nastase, and was consistently ranked in the world’s top 50.

I contacted him about the above article, and asked for an update, to which he replied,

“I think it’s much easier to coach a kid to be a one dimensional baseliner rather that cater to one’s individual strengths and brain type. They can reach a fairly high level of proficiency very quickly if they’re “drilled out” on forehands and backhands. Hence, coaches get praised for producing lots of highly ranked juniors that never make the leap to the next level that requires improvising and problem solving.”

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6 Comments

  • Dianamolsberry@gmail.com

    Reply Reply September 17, 2019

    Thank you for this article. I play senior tennis now but coached high school tennis in California for 23 years. I have always taught my teams to use all the court and their heads to mix it up. Now I play on a older senior team and have suggested they to can still mix it up especially mid court. We can’t move like we did 20 years ago so what your article suggests is what we need to do thanks again for keeping us in the games

    • Jim McLennan

      Reply Reply September 17, 2019

      Diana – thanks for the note – and this “mixing it up” thing works as well for 10 year olds as for seniors, and everything in between – best Jim

  • Eugenio Ovalle

    Reply Reply September 13, 2019

    Jim:
    I have been saying for years that students should play an all court game ( multidimensional)
    using all the tools in your tool box.

    SLICES,DROP SHOTS and with a a mind set of finishing the point at the net even serve and volleying to keep your opponent always under pressure.

    There is no such thing as. OLD SCHOOL TENNIS it is just mind set that was created by the Spanish way playing and the use of the western grip which made it very difficult to come to the net.

    Your comment in your last video PLAYING IN THE BOX ,I have found very interesting since this way you are always
    on the balls of your feet and are prone to come to the net and not play behind the baseline.

    Naturally you have to execute this game plan, which is easier to teach to young players than senior citizens

    Eugenio Ovalle
    Tennis instructor

  • skip1515

    Reply Reply September 12, 2019

    A really good piece, and timely. Couldn’t agree more. thanks

  • Richard

    Reply Reply September 12, 2019

    I think we also saw tremendous improvising and problem solving in the men’s final. Both Medvedev and Nadal went to plan B. I’ve never seen Nadal serve and volley so many times and both had a huge number of net approaches. We also saw Medvedev’s problem solving on display when he came back to beat Djokovic in Cincinnati. He was getting pulverized on his second serve, so he went to two first serves. As an aside, I don’t understand why more pros, both women and men, don’t use two first serves when they are only able to win a low percentage of points with a standard second serve. If a player can make 70% of first serves and win 70% of first serves that go in, that translates to 49% points won if used as a second serve. And what about the underhand serve? That’s a great shot, equivalent to a drop shot, and definitely a good surprise tactic, especially against players standing way back for their return position. Kudos to Kyrgios! Anyway, the point is to play one’s best requires problem solving and problem solving requires the courage to execute many different shots.

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