Sunday, June 6, 2010

Coaches Q and A: What is Your Advice for Playing on Grass?

With the conclusion of the French Open today, the grass season begins, and I'll have live coverage of the ITF International Grass Courts in Philadelphia beginning Monday. In this month's Coaches Q and A, Harold Solomon of the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offers his advice on effective grass court play.

Today's question: What is your advice for playing on grass?

Generally speaking playing on grass is much different than playing on other surfaces. For the most part, unless you’re playing at Wimbledon, the bounce of the ball is much lower, faster, and unpredictable. An attacking game is usually more effective on this surface. Slice backhands (which tend to skid and stay low), angle volleys, drop shots and drop volleys are essential parts of good grass court play, as are wide slice serves in the deuce box and slice serves up the tee in the ad box.

Players must practice staying low, gettong their rackets back fast and moving their feet quickly to be effective on the grass. Don’t be afraid to serve and volley. The serve is still the most powerful weapon on grass. Serving into the body, aiming for your opponents left hip for right-handed players, is a good way to jam the returner and produce an easy return. Take second serves and come to the net behind the return to put pressure on your opponent to hit a passing shot.

On bad grass getting to the net is essential. The more your opponent has to hit passing shots the better. Remember that hitting passing shots is much easier at 1-all in the first set then 5-all in the third. The pressure of having to continuously come up with passing shots is cumulative. Flatter balls tend to skid and go quickly through the court, especially if the courts are green. Footing on the grass can be difficult at best. It is a good idea to get a good pair of grass court shoes which have little pimples on the bottom and help you maintain your grip on the court. Remember to take those grass court shoes off after practice; walking around on hard surfaces will wear the pimples down or knock them off.

Take chances, take control, and be an aggressive player to be successful on the grass.

Do you have a question for Andy Brandi or Harold Solomon? If so, please send it to clewis[at]zootennis[dot]com with the phrase Coaches Q and A in the subject line.