This Family Circle Cup was an awakening, a first introduction to many of the young players who are starting to make their mark on the WTA Tour. They’re coming from everywhere, especially the United States.
One-quarter of the 56-player field came from the United States.
Although this year’s event could be labeled the Venus and Serena All-American Invitational, a new group of players arrived. Many of these were players who played a different type of game than even Venus and Serena played when they took the women’s tour by storm in the 1990s.
Yes, the bashers apparently have arrived in women’s tennis.
Yes, even on the green clay of the Family Circle Cup.
These bashers have discovered that it takes much less patience, strategy and conditioning to simply take every ball, not just the high-bouncing ones, and to pound it as hard as they can, and hope that the ball lands on the other end of the court. The alternative, of course, is to sweat out the point.
There always have been a few bashers on the pro tours, players who play by no boundaries, players who go for broke on every shot. When they are in the zone as Stepanie Voegele was in her upset of former world’s No. 1 Caroline Wozniacki in the Family Circle quarterfinals, they can’t miss. Other times, they can’t hit. It’s all about being in the zone.
This appears to be the mentality of the new players. They don’t take the time to learn the basics of the game.
Obviously, the new breed of coach must be in on this type of game plan. It must be easier to just turn players loose and let them pound the ball rather than teach them the basics of the game.
Not very long ago, an aggressive player was one who played serve-and-volley tennis or at least often made trips to the net. Today’s aggressive player goes for home runs on almost every shot. Some hit the court, others miss badly.
That’s why it was so good to see veterans such as Serena Williams and Jelena Jankovic in the final. They play the game the right way. So do Venus Williams and Wozniacki, and certain young players such as Sloane Stephens and Mallory Burdette. Obviously, some coach in each instance made sure the player knew the basics, that tennis is a game of points, then games, sets and matches. One huge shot doesn’t mean anything when the next two crash some place other than the other end of the court.
Many of the young Americans are as guilty of this type of tennis as anyone else. Young Taylor Townsend, Madison Keys and others may want to play like Serena Williams, but they don’t have all of the tools to make it happen.
But you’ve got to hand it to Serena and her dad, Richard Williams. All of that early training is paying full dividends.
Serena always has been a great athlete, one good enough to probably be better than any other women’s tennis player ever. Serena has taken this to another level.
This past week while marching to her third Family Circle Cup title, Serena demonstrated that she is the consummate tennis player, not just an awesome server or a great mover or a powerful player. She has it all. She is truly Miss Tennis.
Reach James Beck at firstname.lastname@example.org. See his columns on pro tennis at ubitennis.com/english.
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