ivan lendl international junior tennis academy

Coaches’ Corner: Spice Up Your Game With Two Specialty Shots

The Ivan Lendl IJTA, one of the world’s premiere tennis academies, has taken up residence in our “Coaches’ Corner” series to dish out instructional tips and on court analyses straight from the Academy’s top coaches and directors.

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By Rob Castorri, Executive Director of  Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy

At Ivan Lendl International Junior Golf Academy on Hilton Head Island, we spend a significant amount of time training a variety of shots including groundstrokes, serves, returns, volleys, overhead and so on. The two most underrated ones in the game are the drop shot and topspin lob. When executed properly, both are excellent weapons to use against your opponent, no matter the style of play.

Drop Shot

  • When your opponent is behind the baseline, this presents an ideal opportunity to hit a drop shot and keep your opponent on their toes.
  • When approaching the net, mix in a drop shot approach instead of a consistently strong, deep ball. This keeps your opponent off-balance.
  • If forced to hit a low ball, the drop volley is a great way to respond. Instead of returning their low shot back to their baseline, the drop volley causes your opponent to dash up to the net and into a difficult spot on the court if they are able to get to it.

Topspin Lob

  • The most common use of the topspin is when your opponent is at the net. It can also be used to change the tempo of a backcourt rally.  It gives the opponent a difficult shot and maybe a bit out of their comfort zone.  Be on the lookout for a weak return.
  • Instead of hitting a passing shot, the other option to consider is a topspin lob. The look of hitting a typical topspin passing shot is identical to hitting a topspin lob until the last moment. Just before your racquet begins moving towards the ball, drop it lower for the lob. The speed of the racquet is similar so it can be disguised. Before your opponent realizes, the lob is spinning in a high arc over their head and doesn’t give them much time to react. This creates uncertainty the next time they come to net. It will also create more openings to hit easier passing shots as the match continues.

Add these two specialty shots to your menu to keep your opponent on their toes and increase your chances of being successful in a match.

About Rob CastorriRob Castorri Headshot

A native of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Rob Castorri has been involved in tennis for over 30 years as a professional player, coach, club manager and event promoter. He turned pro in 1978 and won 18 national team and doubles championships, and achieved a No.1 ranking in Florida’s Men’s Open Division. Castorri has notable victories over players such as Boris Becker, Pat Dupre and Harold Solomon.

As Executive Director, Castorri oversees program development, instruction and operations for Ivan Lendl IJTA. He previously served as President of the Georgia Professional Tennis Association and has managed tennis clubs across the U.S. At the Wimbledon Championships, Castorri has organized the annual media tennis event for the last 16 years.

Ivan Lendl IJTA exemplifies Ivan Lendl’s desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. The Academy focuses on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. The staff subscribes to a hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.

For more information: www.LendlTennis.com/info, 888.936.5327.

Coaches’ Corner: Evolution of Tennis in the 1970’s

The Ivan Lendl IJTA, one of the world’s premiere tennis academies, has taken up residence in our “Coaches’ Corner” series to dish out instructional tips and on court analyses straight from the Academy’s top coaches and directors.

By David Lewis, Director of Instruction at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy

The open era of tennis began in 1968 when amateurs were allowed to compete in world-class tournaments with professionals. Until then, amateurs were only allowed to play the Grand Slams.

In the 1970’s, the style of play for most was “serve-and-volley,” using a continental grip for all shots including ground strokes. Tennis was learned on a faster, lower bouncing surface, whether it be a grass or a hard court. The continental grip allowed for plenty of wrist action to control the ball and ability to move toward the net quickly because the ball didn’t bounce high. Some professionals, like Connors and Evert, used the double-handed backhand and hit flat ground strokes.

Surprisingly, wooden racquets were still commonly used, but the small, heavy frame and delicate sweet spot didn’t allow players to hit the ball hard. Metal equipment with lighter frames and bigger heads became more popular.

A player with great agility and speed could chase down most shots from the baseline because the ball didn’t travel as fast. For the same reason, players who came to the net were more difficult to pass. This provided wonderful match ups with tactics becoming crucial. The game required plenty of finesse, craft and athleticism to outmaneuver an opponent.

During this time period, the U.S. dominated the game with players such as Billie Jean King, Jimmy Connors and Chris Evert. Later in the decade, a player named John McEnroe burst onto the scene.

Bjorn Borg popularized use of the western forehand grip and double-handed backhand, which produced incredible amounts of topspin. He won many Wimbledon and French Open titles and, in the process, became one of the first to modernize the game of tennis. Borg proved he could win on all surfaces with his different style of play.

Conversely, McEnroe used a continental grip, allowing him to take the ball on the rise which had seldom been seen before. An intriguing rivalry was starting to develop between these two stalwarts and helped increase the popularity of the game. By 1980, tennis was reaching a whole new level due to the double-handed backhand, hitting the ball on the rise and modern equipment.

Several full-time tennis academies in the United States opened in the 1970’s. Harry Hopman, a famous Australian Davis Cup coach, operated a facility in Florida where many top professionals and juniors trained for the international circuit. He was renowned for getting players into peak shape. During the same period, another coach named Nick Bollettieri started working with top juniors, developing them into some of the best professionals of the 1980’s.

Next month, we’ll continue with the evolution of tennis in the 1980s.


About David Lewis
David Lewis, a native of Auckland, New Zealand, is the Director of Instruction at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C., a full-time tennis program for grades 5-12. For the past 20 years, he has coached top juniors and professionals around the world including Marina Erakovic, ranked as high as No.49 on the WTA world rankings.

Ivan Lendl IJTA exemplifies Ivan Lendl and Lewis’ desire to give back to tennis and develop future champions through a new-era curriculum and holistic training approach. The Academy focuses on classic fundamentals, leading-edge biomechanics, strength training / fitness and mental preparation. The staff subscribes to a hands-on approach with students instilling dedication, focus, hard work, motivation and overall preparation.

For more information: www.LendlTennis.com/info, 888.936.5327.