As we shut down a glorious summer of tennis and look forward to a great fall going into winter, I am just floored by the work done on the pro tour by the veterans who continue to amaze. When I played on the pro tour, players in their 30s were a rarity. Johnny Mac, Jimmy Connors and Martina Navratilova were out there, but not winning the same way that Roger Federer, Venus and Serena Williams, and Rafael Nadal are winning these days.
Today, there are so many other players in both singles and doubles rankings playing extremely well into their 30s. I believe much of it can be attributed to the evolution of nutrition and athletic recovery. Venus talks about an affinity inside that makes her feel like she can go on forever. Venus also often talks about the process of improving and getting better. She knows that, in her heart, she will always love the game of tennis and be a tennis player who wants to improve. I am so impressed with these legendary leaders in the game.
So … how is your game these days? Is it improving and moving in a direction that helps you win more key points? If not, maybe you can use this next tennis tip to win more points. I'm a big believer in moving the ball to the open court. From singles to doubles, looking to hit shots to the open court is always going to keep your opponent moving.
One thing I explore during matches when my open court approach is not working is to hit down the middle of the court. This “go at your opponent” strategy forces the other side to move out of the way to hit the ball. Players are used to moving toward the ball. Tennis players are not used to getting away from the ball!
My dad took up tennis late in his athletic life and hated when the ball jammed him. He hated it so much that he thought the answer was to saw off about an inch to an inch-and-a-half of the handle to deal with a body shot. This was always a family frustration because I would leave rackets at home and come back from college or the tour with many of my frames SAWED OFF! They were useless to me! My dad really thought it helped him, so I would tell him that if he thought that shortening the racket frame is magic to his game, then do it to YOUR racquets! Not MINE!
He would laugh and say he liked his racquets and that my frames get better shorter …
Anyway … please don't saw off your frames. Just move your feet to set up for a body ball. So if you are not playing well or losing a tennis battle, try going right at the net player or right down the middle and see how they handle a ball in the body. You may surprise yourself!
Always remember to never change a winning tactic and always change a losing game plan … find another way to win … play tough and play smart!
Keep going for the lines!
Raised in Ludington , Mich., Luke Jensen’s resume includes 10 ATP Tour doubles titles and singles/doubles victories against Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, Ivan Lendl, John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Patrick Rafter, Michael Stitch. Jensen and his brother, Murphy, won the 1993 French Open doubles title. He was also a member of the US Davis Cup Teams that reaches the finals in 1991 and won in 1992. His ambidextrous play, including his ability to serve the ball with either hand at 130 mph, earned him the nickname “Dual Hand Luke.” Luke is currently director of racquet sports at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, N.Y.. He may be reached by phone at (315) 403-0752 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.