Friday, August 29, 2014 - Flushing Meadows, NY USA
I had the wonderful opportunity to visit the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center to watch some world class pros at USO 2014 on Day 5!
I saw most of the Feliciano Lopez - Tatsuma Ito singles match, which saw Lopez prevail in 4 sets.
I also caught some of the David Goffin - Joao Sousa singles match, in which Goffin won in straight sets. I saw also Lucie Safarova defeat Alize Cornet in 3 sets.
I also spent time on the practice courts watching numerous pros warm up
their strokes and routines.
Defending U.S. Open Men's Doubles Champs Leander Paes and Radek Stepanek put on a dazzling and thorough warm up routine, offering blistering groundies and precision volleys. They went on to win their doubles match in straight sets over Yen Lu and Jiri Vesley.
I also spoke to or ran into several other tennis notables: Dominika
Cibulkova, the Aussie Open 2014 finalist (I got her autograph); Brad Gilbert, tennis commentator and former pro; World Class Coach Nick Bollettieri; World No. 4 Petra Kvitova; and Jim Courier, former World No. 1.
All in all, it was a fantastic experience to take in some world class pros doing what they do best.
My takeaway for the rest of us tennis mortals?
What stood out for me immediately and constantly in observing the world class pro game are these 3 elements.
**Crisp and energetic footwork - precise small "baby steps" and the ever-present "split-step-and-go"
**Complete, extended swings on all groundies, with "full follow-throughs"
**Early racket preparation, with the racket head being taken back as soon as the eyes can tell if it's forehand or backhand
Now can we players at lesser aspiring levels ever hope to play like the pros? Of course not.
But I think there is hope for one thing at least. We can all work to improve all 3 elements which I saw stand out.
And in my opinion, all of us, even rank beginners, can accomplish early racket preparation almost as good as the pros.
Why? I think It has more do with simple human reaction rather than complicated tennis technique or massive practice.
Early racket preparation = immediately better tennis.