The morning started off cool; but the temperature warmed up to near 90 for our day of training, positioning, and drills. After breakfast, Dick Stockton and Davo Davidson gave a short clinic on hitting the volley:
• The volley is a different stroke from regular ‘swinging strokes’
• And should be ‘the easiest shot in the game’ because you shouldn’t have to do much work to make the shot
• The grip: you should not be changing grips at the net; use the continental for both forehand and backhand volleys
• Footwork: take little steps and maintain your balance
• Use your opponent’s pace and just block the volley back
• The tougher shot is when they take the pace off the ball and you have to supply it
• If you are volleying from below the net, you have to hit a defensive shot
• Keep the racquet head up and use your racquet hand “like and elevator” and move it up and down
• On the high floater, you have to be patient and ‘hit through the ball’;
• And make sure that the racquet head goes forward and NOT DOWN
• Rarely do players miss that high volley long, they most always miss into the net.
Then the teams went off to our courts to play some doubles, with different pairings to see how we match up together. It looks like I will be playing #2 doubles for the Wankers, teamed with either Mike “Rambo” Rennells from California or Bill Macom a college tennis coach from Melbourne, Florida.
We played for almost two hours; and then watched an exhibition match of four lefties: our #1 singles player Jimmy Miller teamed with Marc Woodforde vs. Newk’s #1 singles player Mickey ____ (a Babolat rep who is now in the top four in the 40’s in the nation!) teamed with Rick Leach. Mickey was so strong, he aced Woodforde on the way to a 6-0 bagel.
We then had lunch and individual pictures with the pros; and then went back for another hour of doubles pairings and practicing.
After about an hour of play, we broke into small groups (mine was just three of us: me, Jimmy Miller and Rambo) and had individual drills with different pros for another hour.
I grabbed a beer and was relaxing after a good first day, when Emmo and Newk went out onto the courts at 4:30 to give another hour of VOLUNTARY clinics. I figured, what the heck, what am I here for? And went out to join the small group of seven campers with the beer in my hand.
The first question I asked Emmo when I got out there was “did he recommend the three-finger grip on the beer bottle or the full-hand Wanker grip?” The full Wanker grip, of course! So, I drilled with Emmo, three ranch pros, and three campers for a half hour on the approach shot/defend drill; and then switched over to Newk’s court.
Tip of the Day (of the week?): Newk was giving his clinic, mostly on cross court forehands. But I was talking with him about my continuing challenge with the high forehand volley and he gave me a great suggestion.
He said that the high forehand volley gives many players (including top pros) a problem; but when he used to see it coming, he would say “Great, I own this shot!” And the key, according to Newk, is starting the stroke by opening up the front of the shoulder (deltoid) muscle.
Like the high backhand volley, where the movement starts and gets its power from the rear of the shoulder muscle; so too does the high forehand start and get its power by opening up and leading with the front of the shoulder muscle. I finally could relate to this. He had me hit a dozen or so and I really got the feel of the shot.
To show you how competitive these top pros basically are, as we finished up, Newk yells over to Emmo, “Hey, take a look at how I taught George to hit the high forehand volley!” Implied: he is your player and you haven’t taught him how to do it in three years of trying.
Emmo looks questioningly over at Newk, who tells him, “Emmo, you had many better shots than me; but one of them is NOT the high forehand volley!”
So Newk says to the ranch pro, “Feed George some more balls; so he can show Emmo.” I said to Emmo, “This is awkward. Should I be doing it poorly to make you feel OK; or trying hard to do it right and make Newk feel good?” Emmo said, “Do it right.”
So I hit some more volleys; and did it “mostly OK”; but really have a new image in my mind of what I should be doing.
Newk closed by saying, “Now, I don’t want to see you F#@!*rs beating my team by hitting a winning high forehand volley on match point!”
After what I figure was about five hours on the court, I went for Happy Hour beers. Dinner (with Emmo and Marty) was barbeque style food and after dinner, there were the usual funny announcements/speeches.
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).
The forecast was for “a change in the weather,” with morning temps in the 50’s, warming up only into the 70’s and a 29-mile-an-hour north wind.