Don’t Try This at Home

Wednesday, August 29th, 2012

Watching experts perform a skill is a great tool for improving your own abilities — but when it comes to weekend warriors watching the US Open, Tom Perrotta advises, don’t try this at home:

Pros swing the way they do and use the equipment they use because they have to.

They don’t have time to turn completely sideways and step into the ball with their front feet, so they hit most of their shots with an open stance, with their feet almost facing the net. They can’t afford to hit serves with their feet on the ground, as Evert did, so they propel themselves into the air. They barely have time to get to the net anymore, because the pace of the game is too fast and the passing shots too accurate. They need all the power and topspin they can get, and will sacrifice the feel of gut strings to get it.

Recreational players have more modest needs, ones that haven’t changed in decades: Consistent strokes that hit the ball deep in the court, patience, reliable footwork, well-placed serves and strategic acumen.

Jazzed up after two weeks of watching high-level tennis nonstop, that’s not what ordinary players want to hear.

“The worst two weeks in the life of a teaching pro are the two weeks after a Grand Slam,” says Greg Moran, an instructor for 35 years and the director of tennis at the Four Seasons Racquet Club in Wilton, Conn. “Everyone comes down with I-can-do-it disease, and you don’t want to tell them, ‘I know you can’t do it.’ “

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