Coach Evan is back with a new post dealing with the concept of highlight reel tennis. What is Winner Ball?
In a way, it’s like “grip it and rip it.” “Lock and load.” Hit lasers and “hope for the best.”
To be honest, it’s a fun way to play. It’s highlight reel tennis. It’s the way the world is moving. I never thought of it until now, but players are using this form for their Instagram pages. For their Image. From the outside looking in, it looks fun. Attractive. But in the end, it’s like that nice-looking car you drive off the lot, and the wheels fall off (at some point).
It is useful. Not as a full-match game plan. You need backup to go with it. If you watched Djokovic lose to Rune a week ago, you would notice that Novak’s “combos” only got him so far. He needed a little winner ball. Yet, if you watch Fritz at the US Open….he needed a little combo work.
Winner Ball is predicated on forcing errors and hitting winners with the idea that that will take you to the Promise Land. I don’t think there’s one player (off the top of my head) who has won a Major playing Winner Ball only. You could say Thiem, but he changed from Winner Ball (slightly)…developed a few minor parts to add…slice backhand….volleys. Federer-ish.
If you want to understand Winner Ball, follow Brain Game Tennis. The problem is that there is not much thought going into it. What would you say if your buddy compared Tennis to Whiffle Ball? Or some other recreational sport….maybe Cornhole? You’d probably be pissed.
If you throw enough Mud at the wall…some of it is bound to stick. Is that the style of tennis you want to play? Mudball!
When I see a lot of players using this form, I sit back and think, “Is this where Tennis is heading?” Turning Chess into Checkers. If this is the trend, I see tennis disappearing and PickleBall taking over. Is that what you want?
Look at the eight guys remaining at Turin. One guy plays Winner Ball. Fritz.
You can put Tsitsipas in that category, too, partly, but he’s developing more game.
The rest of the guys are developing more areas in their game… Rublev is not just a “basher” anymore (What and Who changed him? Hard to break those mental muscle memory bad habits). Felix has progressed well this year. He is integrating patterns into his game. Layers, if you will call it that. Ruud is a “true” counter-puncher, yet he is also developing more attacking patterns to go with his game. The Major Winners have already adapted (They’re older. Wiser).
Don’t let PickleBall take over Tennis. Start doing Box Combos at the junior level to advance the game for the future.
At the Club level too. You’ll at least move up from the league you are in currently.