It is time to serve and volley our way into Wimbledon, as all the grass-court action begins.
Having recently competed on clay at Roland Garros, the world’s best players have been practising and re-adjusting in recent weeks to the much-faster grass courts.
The hallowed turf of Wimbledon can bring out the best in some players and is a stark contrast to the playing style required to have success on clay.
Here’s what you can expect to see from the players competing at the tournament…
- Traditionally, the tennis ball bounces much lower on a grass surface compared to other surfaces. Adding to this, damper conditions after rain or morning dew can make the surface even faster with the ball sometimes skidding off the grass. Players, therefore, do not have as much time to prepare for the ball and their movement must be different. There is less sliding into the shot preparation and more emphasis on smaller balanced steps.
- Given these conditions, players that can capitalise on the grass court characteristics typically have the most success at Wimbledon. Expect to see players hitting more slice shots in an attacking way (rather than defensive), as the slice keeps the ball low and skidding into their opponent. Players at times will also look to use drop shots or play with the width and angles of the court to reap the rewards of the low, skidding bounce.
- At Wimbledon, you will see many players aiming to approach the net to take advantage of the rally and end the point quickly. Playing at the net is an effective tactic, especially on grass, as it reduces the time the opponent has to track the ball and also recover for returns. A well-placed volley on grass can also bounce quite low, making it difficult to hit a return shot past the player at the net. Therefore, strategies such as the “serve and volley” and sneaking into the net behind a strong return will be used much more often on the Wimbledon grass.
Grass-court players are typically described as ‘serve and volleyers’ or ‘net rushers’. Have your child look out for the following characteristics:
- Approach shots
- Drop shots
- Angled slices
Grand Slam tournaments, such as Wimbledon, often inspire Tennis Hot Shots participants to play tennis even more! So why not encourage your child to get some practice at home by playing the game Net Chaser together.
- In pairs, set up a net (you could use a line on the ground, a piece of string between two trees or whatever you have around your home)
- Player one is the server and player two is the catcher
- Agree on your playing size and position opposite each other on either side of the net
- The server is to bounce and hit (serve) the ball over the net, follow the ball into the court
- The server should split step (little jump in the air) when they approach the net and volley the return at the net
- Repeat this process to help improve your volleying skills.