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December 1, 2008
Learning from the best!


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Remember the basic principles for learning tennis with my system is to develop a 'feel' for different strokes along with developing mental skills through REPETITION.  Repetition of simple procedures create that 'feel' NOT an over emphasis on the technical skills and mechanics.  Click here for an article that I wrote on 'feel' vs 'mechanics' in April 2001

Tom's Online Tennis Lesson
Learning from the best!

I have been asked many times what books to read to learn about tennis, develop mental toughness or discover new strategies. Although there are many instructional books on the market, one commonly neglected area is biographies or interviews of a top player or a coach. Hidden within the biography or interview are many lessons that are not based on theory, but are based on real applications to the art of learning and playing tennis. Below are some pertinent examples.

One of my favorites which I have quoted from before is Bjorn Borg's ook, "Borg on Borg." His book was written in an interesting format. Borg and his coach, Lennard Bergelin, were interviewed and the questions and answers were placed in a book. Below are some of the excerpts from the interviews that were loaded with spectacular lessons you will be hard pressed to find in standard teaching books.

"Q. Did you have a coach when you first began to play?

"Bjorn Borg - Not for the first three years. That's probably why I have such unconventional strokes - a two-handed backhand and so on. They say you must not play like I do, but I just felt right when I played like that. What is important is not the way you hit the ball, but whether or not it gets over the net. And when it does, it's marvelous to watch. If you have a stroke of your own, one that really works, and you feel right playing it, keep it, even if it isn't 'classical.' don't try to change it.

"Q. Why do you face the net on your forehand?

"Bjorn Borg - The books say you should be sideways on when you hit the ball. But I hit it facing the net because that position is natural for me. On the other hand, for my backhand. I bend down and stand sideways on to the net. People have tried to change my forehand without success. I feel much better facing the net. That's how I learned.

"Q. You are the best player in the world and lots of people try to imitate your style. It has been said you don't like to be imitated. Is this true?

"Bjorn Borg - I know lots of players try to imitate me and I'm not sure that's a good thing for them. I think it's better to find your own personal style, as Mr. bergelin has said, rather than imitating someone. Playing like me might go right against the personality of the player who's trying to do it. I think it's difficult to play as I do. You have to be very quick if you have a two-handed backhand, because you have to be nearer the ball when you hit it, so you have to get to it sooner. I see lots of young people trying to put on top-spin like Vilas or myself. I have nothing against it. It might even be a good idea because it's difficult to play against opponents who put a lot of top-spin on the ball. But the most important thing is to feel at home playing your strokes. Everything else, slice or top-spin, will follow naturally. Find the style that suits you best."

Lessons from Borg's book should be obvious. Play with your own style. The shot the tennis experts are condemning today will probably be the shot of the future. Develop your own feel. As Borg says, "What is important is not the way you hit the ball, but whether or not it gets over the net."

Here is an excerpt from an interview on www.masters-cup.com from the 2008 Tennis Masters finals between Novak Djokovic and Nikolay Davydenko.

Below is Davydenko's comment about Djokovic's ability to stay focused after a poor game. Nikolay Davydenko lost the finals in straight sets 6-1,7-5.

"Against Djokovic you need to be perfect, also play very fast and very good. That's what he did, and I didn't. Doesn't matter how he played one game; he still had good concentration for the next game. That's why I lost everything from the baseline. He played faster, and I really had no chance."

The tough lesson here is no matter what happens in your matches you must maintain your concentration from point to point, game to game and set to set. Even if you played a bad point, a bad game or a bad set. "The next shot is more important than the last mistake."

Another interview with a valuable lesson to learn was Andy Murray's interview posted at www.masters-cup.com after he defeated Roger Federer 4-6, 7-6, 7-5 in the 2008 Master Cup round robin event.

"Q. Later in the second set when you started missing the backhands into the net, first serves, was there a point when it stopped being technical and started getting in your head? How did you turn that around in the third set?

"Andy Murray: It was never technical. Just sometimes you miss shots. It happens. You know, I'm not perfect. He started to play better. You know, I missed a couple shots I maybe shouldn't have. Think I still had a set point, maybe a couple of them, but it didn't really get in my head too much 'cause after we got in the tiebreak, you know, I stayed strong mentally."

The lesson? With all the technical information flying around today most players want a technical reason for why they missed. You would do much better in match play if you would stop thinking technically, like Andy Murray suggests, and instead think to yourself, "sometimes you miss." It happens.

In conclusion - All of this is instruction is from interviews and bios directly from top pros themselves. The lessons to be learned are realistic, uncomplicated, and easy to make application to your own game. Why not learn from the best?

Your Tennis Pro,

Tom Veneziano



Dear Tom,

I found your site very helpful and my mental game has improved a lot. It has been a while since I lost a match to anyone in the local club. Guys I could not beat before are easy pickin's now. My strokes are the same but it's the mental game that helps me beat them. Thank you again.

Alex Evangelista
San Diego, CA


ADDENDUM:  I teach a total system of thinking in regard to stroke production and mental attitude which I cannot explain in one email.  Although each lesson can stand alone you will derive tremendous physical and mental benefit by understanding the total philosophy.  These emails, my web site, books, and tapes are part of a course in tennis, not just isolated tennis tips.  They all fit together into a system.  A system that once understood can help you not only learn tennis at a faster rate, and develop mental toughness, but also give you the knowledge necessary to help guide you and your children to a better understanding of the developmental process.

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