The Secret to Better Tennis

Crootof photo

What is the difference between us “regular tournament players” and the top guys?  In my opinion, it is that we frequently give them short balls to attack; while they consistently hit deep and in the corners.

How Come?

While practicing ground strokes one time with Bob Wilkie, I realized how often I did NOT hit the ball in the middle of the racquet … and how a slightly off-center hit will shorten your planned stroke.  But when you hit the ball in the “sweet spot” it goes nice and deep, where you want it.

Check yourself as you’re practicing to feel the vibration and turning and see the result of where the ball goes.  What do you think?

Switching Surgeons

Yesterday, I happened to play doubles with a guy who had his hip replaced a year and a half ago by the same surgeon I was using.  I was very disappointed to hear of his slow recovery (“back on the court in THREE months”).  So I asked if he had done it anterior (front) or posterior (backside); and he said that “our” doctor does it posterior.

I had been led to believe three weeks ago that this surgeon was, in fact, doing it the “new” way of coming in from the front; but confirmed this morning that is NOT true.  Good friend Bob Dilworth just had his hip replaced by Dr. Zehr, who it turns out, is the “only surgeon in Naples doing anterior surgery on the hip”.

Why Is This Important?

According to all the great responders on this site a month ago – and everyone else I have heard from – this information from Dr. Zehr’s website is valid….

Advantages of direct anterior approach

Advantage One: Faster Recovery:  Patients get up walking with full weight bearing on their operative hip the same day of surgery, shortly after returning from the recovery area. Many physically fit patients need only a cane to walk about in the hospital and are able to start general activities within a few weeks. While it may take patients many months to fully recover following conventional total hip replacement surgery, the anterior approach technique often enables patients to recover and return to activities such as golf, tennis, biking, and of course distance walking, in as short as four weeks.

Advantage Two: Minimally Invasive: The anterior approach to total hip replacement is the most minimally invasive choice for people suffering from arthritis, hip pain, hip fracture, stiffness and limited hip movement. No muscle is cut or detached from bone in this approach. Some muscles in the front of the hip are temporarily pushed apart to allow work on the bones of the hip joint, but they are left uninjured and completely functional in this approach. This, of course, results in far less pain than is typical in other approaches to the hip used by most surgeons and compliments the faster recovery.

Like My Prostate Surgery

Eleven years ago I had my cancerous prostate removed and was one of the early users of the da Vinci robotic method, which was also minimally invasive (compared to the traditional wide cut of the abdominal muscles) and my recovery time was HALF that of others.

So, I have an appointment with Dr. Zehr Friday afternoon to see what will be!

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12 thoughts on “The Secret to Better Tennis

  1. First, best of luck with your hip, George. I know you will leave no stone unturned.

    As far as the difference between playing levels goes, so much of this game is matchups, styles and the inherent interactive aspect of this sport. Yes, certain players hit the ball deep into the corners versus certain opponents — but not versus others. I’ve often seen those precious gold ball winners who look so sharp versus their peers not be so proficient when up against the ball of a better player. There’s a lot to do this, and at another level, not even worth pondering. We’re each on our own path and that will be that.

    Joel, i agree… much of what they do is what we allow them to do! thanks, george

  2. Congrats on the “catch” on the surgical approach thing.

    At what do you reckon you’re looking in that photo? 🙂

    Kevin, yes, i posted it knowing what i was doing wrong! thanks, george

  3. glad to hear you are getting an anterior approach!! My experience, having had both hips replaced since December, was as described. Walking one hour after the procedure, home the next morning and virtually no post op pain–I drove one week after each procedure and was working full time in the office 2 weeks out. No formal PT required. Your doc will have a recommendation about resumption of tennis-likely just hitting at first and unrestricted lateral movement but no flat out running for a time to be determined. You are physically fit, which will aid in your recovery.

    Doc, you were one of my prime motivators to get it done right! thanks for your help. george

  4. George…..for what it’s worth: I investigated both approaches quite carefully before my second hip was done (2008). There’s a good ortho practice here in Sarasota….one guy does anterior, and the other does posterior. I talked with both of them. The posterior surgeon told me that he used to do anterior but switched back to posterior because he couldn’t see the placement of the prosthesis as well when doing anterior. As I say, “for what it’s worth.” Good luck with the surgery.

    John, what i did not post from the surgeon’s website was a section about the new operating table they are now using, which gives them much greater access. thanks, george

  5. What I’d add to this is that there are no “top guys.” There are only players along the spectrum of skill, through many eras. One morning you can be the man. The next, the boy. Such is the fantastic tennis food chain.

    Joel, yes, i frequently refer to myself as “the smartest kid in the dumb row” (eg one of the top non-top players). 🙂

  6. George – I also have an anterior replacement (left arthritic hip) scheduled for July 19 in Worcester, MA. The surgeon had no qualms about my flying off to a cruise in early September, but he would have vetoed flying within the first month. Just a heads-up for you, and best of luck! Pete Allen

    Pete, to you too! thanks, george

  7. George…had a successful knee with Zehr, found him a little personality challenged …as I am…lol Very nice, fairly new player (62) from the Midwest out here at Village Walk Bonita had Zehr do his hip about 3 months ago….was hitting at 6 weeks…100% at 3 months. He is very happy… Good luck

    Dave, very encouraging! thanks, george

  8. George, I don’t know the validity of Zehr being the “only” Naples surgeon performing anterior, but there are several in Lee County.

    Robert, that is what his office said. but thanks (in case i need a third choice!) george

  9. Best of luck and a quick recovery on the hip surgery, George. Looking forward to seeing you fully mobile again.

    In my experience, what truly separates the best players from the “mere” tournament players is quite simple: The best players do not miss.

    I know that sounds cliched, but it is true. My high school tennis coach, Ed Torres, who is still alive and kicking in NJ but is no longer playing tournament tennis, never had a lot of power or even spin. He never had a single dominating weapon. But he never missed. All of his balls were either right on the line, on all surfaces, or darn close to it. And this is why “Big Ed” played #1 singles for four years at Rider in college and only lost ONE match in those four years, a remarkable record. It is also why Big Ed used to be perennially ranked #1 in the nation, or very near it, in all of the senior tennis age groups that he competed in as an adult.

    Another player that I can recall from the past who never missed was the (now deceased) Terry Hassall. Although Terry unfortunately fought many demons when he was alive, one thing that he did not fight was his own tennis game. I used to watch him play singles with awe. He never looked like he was doing much of anything with the ball, but he had an uncanny knack for never overhitting or underhitting anything. All of his balls were, like Big Ed’s, fully controlled and precisely aimed to do the most damage to his opponent. He never missed. You had to actually beat him, and very few could do that.

    Another top level guy who I put in the same category is my friend Mike Beautyman. Same thing…. He always looks effortless when he plays and he just places the ball in the most inopportune spots for his opponents, all the time, while never missing.

    If I could do just one thing to improve my own game, it would be to learn how to be more accurate, and above everything else more consistent, with my game.

    Marty, and ONE of the reasons they never miss is the consistency of their strokes. thanks, george

  10. George – and anyone who is considering a hip replacement and who resides within a reasonable distance of Tampa Bay – I encourage you to have Dr. David Whiddon perform the surgery.

    Alan, i just re-read your original comment on your speedy recovery. i hope to do the same! thanks, george

  11. Thank you for helping us all better understand the different types of hip of luck for a quick recovery.

    Regarding Marty’s assessment of Ed Torres consistent ground strokes he had one of the great coaches to learn from. As a former Rider tennis team member I met Ed when I lived at the Jersey Shore. We played singles weekly on his very fast hard court next to his house. As Marty suggests his strokes were solid with few errors…old school, learned through his dad who was a former teaching pro at Spring Lake B&T. He hit the ball very much like Don Budge, with very little top spin, forehand and backhand hit flat down the lines with a low bounce and approached to knock off volleys. Ed played in the very first NJ State High School singles final. And that one loss in college, Ed told me it was to King Van Nostrand in his last match in the finals of the Rider Invitational-formerly the eastern collegiate championships. Last year he said he was still playing 3-4 times a week on hard courts!

    Doug, small world! george

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