The morning started off cool; but the temperature warmed up to a perfect mid-80s degrees for our day of training, positioning, and drills. After breakfast, Emmo and Davo Davidson gave a short clinic on hitting the serve:
• Bounce the ball a couple of times out in front of the baseline to remind yourself to toss out in front of the line
• Hold the ball at the base of your fingers and minimize the flexing of the fingers on the toss
• Practice just tossing the ball so that it is neither too high or too low
• As you toss the ball, bring your opposite arm with the racquet back
• Toss out in front and keep your head up as you attack the ball
• Most players use the continental or backhand grip for the serve (the only pro Emmo knew of who was successful using the forehand grip on the serve was Boris Becker)
• Keep your grip as loose and low on the handle as you can
• Bend your knees and serve
• Emmo does know how today’s pros can be as effective and consistent as they are while “jumping” at the serve
• Strive to get in 85% of your first serves in a good location – “and you will do OK.”,
Then the Wanker team went off to our courts to play some doubles, with different pairings to see how we match up together. We played for almost two hours; had lunch and individual pictures with the pros; and then went back for another hour of doubles pairings. We played ten-point, Champion tiebreakers … and I was fortunate to win each time with four different partners.
After about an hour of play, we broke into small groups (I was with our top player Jimmy Miller and new-Wanker Charles from Texas) and had individual drills with different pros. In our first rotation, Newk fed us forehands and gave us pointers. After several turns, he said to me, “George, there is nothing I need to tell you about your forehand!”
Then the three of us rotated to the next court, where Charlie Pasarel was working on backhands. He fed us each four balls every turn: the first two we hit down the line and the next two went cross court. His teaching points: don’t let the ball play you… take it early and out in front; and picture hitting the shot through half a hoop over the net.
Two more rotations with ranch pros had us doing four at the net and then ground stroke approaches at two guys at the net. A full hour of those drills were enough to send me back to my room for ice for my shoulder and a beer for my thirst.
If I had more energy, I could have taken advantage of one-on-one lessons with Emmo right under my balcony (see picture)… while Mike Dahm played his Fantasy doubles match two courts down, with Aussie Legend Mark Woodford as his partner.
NOTE: After I iced my shoulder, drank my beer, and wrote the above… I said to myself, “What the Heck are you here for, if not to take advantage of the opportunity to have a private lesson from someone like Roy Emerson, with 28 Grand Slam titles??!!” So I put on my tennis clothes and went down to the court under my balcony and spent a solid 20 more minutes with Emmo feeding me balls and working on/critiquing my volleys. His summary, “George, your volley has improved; but still have to work on it.”
After Happy Hour beers, dinner was barbeque style food and after dinner, there were the usual funny announcements/speeches; followed by a panel discussion with several of the Legends discussing how Owen Davidson and Mark Woodford felt being inducted into the Tennis Hall of Fame this summer; and the state of tennis in the various countries around the world (how Spain has come to dominate the international scene). Afterwards, while others went to the bar for more drink and talk, I went off to my room to try to get a decent night’s sleep before the team competition, with singles in the morning and dubs in the afternoon started on Tuesday (wondering if I actually worked too hard on Monday).