Sunday, August 25, 2013

Serve and Volley is Dead

Yeah, it does seem like a long lost art.

At the Los Angeles Times, "What's happened to serve and volley in tennis?":

NEW YORK — The contrasts used to be one of the most attractive elements of tennis.

Pete Sampras standing at the net, Andre Agassi at the baseline trying to get the ball past his greatest rival.

Chris Evert, dainty but cruelly clever in the backcourt, against Martina Navratilova, who moved forward, fast as a whip, knocking a volley that Evert lunged at or just missed, eliciting a squeak of frustration from Evert.

Or John McEnroe, dancing on his toes, back and forth as Bjorn Borg stood at the back of the court and calculated the correct angle at which to whiz the ball past his rival — only to have McEnroe, with a flick of the wrist, gently drop the ball over the net, just in the spot where Borg couldn't reach it.

Billie Jean King still volunteers to coach players and teach them to serve and volley. She urged Serena and Venus Williams to learn that most difficult part of the game but couldn't persuade either of them.

As the U.S. Open tennis tournament, the final major of the year, begins Monday, it's more likely viewers will see an American man win — a longshot — than see more than a handful of serve-and-volley points.

That part of the game is gone, possibly forever.

"I don't think it's ever coming back, I really don't," said Sampras, who won 14 Grand Slam events, second only to Roger Federer. "It's difficult to learn to do, and it's hard to be successful with it at first, and kids and coaches don't like failure....
More at the link.