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Watching and Learning…

Posted on November 11, 2015 | in Match Report, National League, NewsTicker | by

Kees is a great believer in learning by watching so I was quite keen to learn how he felt the latest National League match (against Queens) had gone (and if anything had rubbed off on my game…) Kees actually beat me to it by calling and we had a quick chat in the midst of our Division 2 (Earthworks not National) League game. He was understandably quite proud of the Guys’ performance but being a true Pro, he is already working to get them to the next level.

Jamie is not renowned as a fast starter and is patient enough to focus on that crucial third set. (Note to self, patience, patience, patience…) Not so on Thursday! Up against Charlie Braham (who is not yet an undergraduate) Jamie seemed absolutely determined that the first game would be his. And what a first game it was! I lost count of the deuces before Jamie just wore his opponent out. After that, Kees was afraid the match would last a couple of hours throwing the entire schedule down the tube. As the match progressed, Jamie repeatedly made interceptions allowing him to assert control over the rallies rather than just relying on his prowess off the Back Wall. Charlie is obviously going to be a fine player if he chooses to keep at it but on Thursday, the longer the match went on, the more you felt the result would end up Cambridge’s way.

P1070856One thing I noticed is Jamie’s extravagant follow though after a shot! See to the left where the racket head has reappeared behind Jamie’s right shoulder. Apparently this comes from Rackets at which Jamie is also a Blue.

P1070957-001Ed had a tough time at start of his Singles on Thursday. I thought his Railroad was not quite on song but Kees pointed out that it was Big Red (Andy Fowler) who took away Ed’s advantage by cutting the serve off. Big Red put himself in position to volley with power directly off the Penthouse giving Ed no time to get across to the return. Here’s an example from the first set on the Blue Court. See how Big Red is leaning into the shot with his arm extended and is well placed to cream the force.

AF4What impressed Kees was that Ed was canny enough to realise that adjustments needed to be made. For example, take a little speed off the serve and push it higher up the Penthouse. It gives the receiver a bit more time but cramps him for room and turns his reach against him. Here is a second example from the second set on the Green Court. Big Red again makes solid contact but he has had to lean away, shorten (bend) his arm and ends up with not as much speed and just a bit more elevation on the ball giving Ed a crucial few extra milliseconds to get across and cut off the return.

So what have Ed and Kees been working on? Grille shots for one, and that is something we can all do (in theory anyway). For example, do you know where to hit the Main Wall for a Grille shot and where on the Main Wall to clip the Tambour (no point in hitting the Tambour full on at this level!)? Kees and Ed have focused on this so Ed gets a better sense of exactly where on the Main Wall he needs to target for these shots. Generally the Pros tell us to play the ball late off the Back wall and focus on the set up for the shot. But Kees is working to get Ed to take the ball just a little earlier and hold the ball through the shot. I think I understand from looking at the pictures below.

See how Ed is generating racket speed from his forearm and torso… But he has not yet hit the ball as it is out in front of him. (The second image is ~80 milliseconds later just after he has hit the ball.) He makes solid contact but perhaps loses that extra bit of control to power it where his opponent does not want it to go. I tend to hit the ball far too late off the Back Wall with the ball often going sideways. I need to get closer to where Ed is now…

Ahhh… it’s such an easy game from behind the Dedans or Camera!

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