tennis tips

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: Closing the Match

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 Scott Swainston, Asst. Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy

Just four points away from winning a highly coveted match, you suddenly become uneasy and technique you have practiced thousands of times seems completely foreign. Your grip feels slippery, heart is pounding and mind is racing 100 miles per hour. What if I lose? What will people think?

The basis for these fears and the physical symptoms they create often come from an intense feeling of uncertainty. To put it simply, the future scares us. We often wish these moments were on our DVR so we can fast forward to the end result. What separates elite players from those who struggle with closing a match?

The first step to improving your mental game for clutch moments is to embrace the challenge and uncomfortable feeling. If you come into the match knowing you will face adversity, you will be prepared when the match gets difficult. Enjoying the moment allows you to relish the opportunity for crucial moments.

The second aspect to performing in high-pressure situations is establishing a game plan prior to the competition. Understand what it takes for you to compete your best from start to finish. Examples include active feet, sticking to patterns and being patient. As the match comes down the stretch, you will already know what it takes to be successful with simple mental reminders.

The last key to closing a match is working on managing your attention. The tendency is for your mind to race from one scenario to the next. Learning to better manage your focus will not necessarily eliminate all of those thoughts. However, paired with your keys to competing, using your attention allows you to get back to the match and what you need to do to win.

A strong mental game starts with understanding how to enjoy feeling uncomfortable. Better tennis, more learning and more enjoyment will follow.

About Scott Swainston
Scott Swainston is the Assistant Director of Mental Training at Ivan Lendl International Junior Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island, S.C. Scott received his Bachelor degree in Psychology and Sociology at the University of Missouri – Kansas City and Master of Science in Sport Psychology from Georgia Southern University.

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. Lendl 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.

Nike introduces US Open Competition LOOKS for Serena williams, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal AND Maria Sharapova

BEAVERTON, Ore. (August 26, 2009) – As excitement builds for the season ending grand slam, NIKE, Inc. (NYSE:NKE) today unveiled its US Open apparel and footwear for Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova and Serena Williams at a Nike-built, regulation-sized tennis court in the heart of Manhattan.

At the temporary court, located at 23rd Street and Broadway, tennis fans and youth from New York Junior Tennis League, Athletes for Charity, New York City Parks Foundation and Mentoring USA were treated to inspirational tennis tips and guidance from Federer, Nadal, Williams, and McEnroe. A youth representative from each organization had a chance to win a donation for their local group by returning balls from a tennis simulator set to mimic pro shots. The chance to hit against the simulator was also open to the public.

“This is an exciting opportunity to bring the thrill of the US Open directly to tennis fans in New York,” said tennis icon John McEnroe. “Providing a platform for kids to experience the beauty and power of this game and meet their tennis icons is incredible.”

On site, Nike also unveiled the much anticipated apparel and footwear looks for Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Rafael Nadal, and Maria Sharapova.

“We are very proud to raise the bar for this year’s US Open apparel and footwear collection by drawing inspiration from New York’s style and energy,” said Janice Lucena, Global Tennis Design Director. “From Nadal’s taxi cab yellow polo to the sleek sophistication of Maria and Serena’s night dresses, we continue to create product that helps our athletes perform better on the court while looking incredible.”

Apparel and Footwear
Roger Federer’s contemporary style is embodied in the details and craftsmanship of his US Open day and night looks. These looks are modern, consisting of bold red and black. Federer’s in-game polos are constructed of knit Nike Dri-FIT fabric in the body and a woven Nike Dri-FIT collar for comfort and moisture management. The body of the shirt has an embossed dot pattern inspired by the subway signs of New York, and the button placket features Roger’s black RF monogram logo, applied using bonded innovation and laser cut detailing.

As the 2008 US Open defending women’s singles champion, all eyes will be on Serena Williams as she looks to defend her title. Her day and night looks were inspired by cocktail party attire, with design call outs including soft pleating at the neckline, a starburst pin tuck detail at the back, and a hemline featuring a bold contrast of color. Both the magenta day dress and black night dress are made of Nike Dri-FIT knit fabric to wick away moisture and help keep Williams cool on the court.

Rafael Nadal has a contemporary style, and the energy of New York serves as the design inspiration for his apparel. Rafa is known for wearing bright colors and will debut a bold yellow and black look, inspired by the streets of New York City and its’ signature yellow taxi cabs. Also featuring a multi-row dot print across the chest, the polo is inspired by the colorful numeric subway signs of New York City. Nike Dri-FIT Mesh is incorporated in strategic places for breathability to keep Nadal cool.

Maria Sharapova is always closely involved in the design process for her apparel. Maria will wear two dresses at the Open, the first features a soft pink Dri-FIT knit body contrasted with electric yellow bonded seams. The dress features asymmetric lines that crossover to the back and create a sophisticated take on a traditional athletic racer-back style. Maria’s US Open warm-up jacket is a lightweight feminine ¾ sleeve length jacket with a ruffle at the collar and pleating along the waist and sleeve ends. Maria’s second on-court dress is inspired by the New York City skyline, and features a dramatic t-back style, keeping Maria’s shoulders free for the mobility she needs during play.