Friday, December 2, 2011

The Modern All Court Game - A few remarks by Bill Tilden (circa 1920)

Here are brief remarks and observations from one of the game's great players of the past - "Big" Bill Tilden in the 1920s - who foresaw the development of today's modern All Court Game.


"The All Court Game - The Future in the Forecourt"
(*Excerpts from Match Play and the Spin of the Ball, by Bill Tilden, Tennis' first great superstar)

"What is this all-court game? What does it include? First, I claim it must include all the standard strokes; service, both slice and twist; drive and chop, both forehand, backhand, volley and smash. Second, it must include varied depth. No longer will consistently deep driving prove a satisfactory standard. Today one must vary distance as well as direction. The short shot has its place in modern tennis just as much as the deep one. Third, the all-court game demands varied spin of the ball, with which to change pace.

Every player must be able to both undercut and topspin his ground shots. Fourth, there must be controlled speed. Please note the word "controlled." Speed alone will not suffice; it must include sufficient control to vary it according to the opponent you face. If I were to attempt to define the all-court game tersely, I should say: you must be able to vary your game at will, both as to direction and depth, speed and spin.

What is the future of the tennis game? Have we reached the ultimate development of the game in the champions of the present? As one of the champions of today, I see vistas of progress ahead, of which I glimpse only a bit, but which the champions of tomorrow will have explored and developed.

What are these lanes of progress? Not from the backcourt. Not from the net. It is rather in the use of the forecourt for sharp angled shots, in the use of the mid-court volley, the half volley and rising bounce shots, that future progress lies. Every player who desires to succeed in the future must equip himself with every shot in tennis, and then strive to explore the mysteries of the forecourt.

The future lies ahead with its tantalizing glimpses of unexplored roads of progress. Would that I were not an old dog who finds it hard to learn new tricks, for I would gladly attempt to explore some of the roads. In fact, I may try it anyway. The young stars have their chance. To them I say, go out into the highways and byways of the game and bring back, developed, those interesting but imperfect shots that today lie on the edge of our modern tennis in its all court games."

Video Tribute - Bill Tilden

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