Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Serena teaches smashing online class

Serena Williams displays her trophy after winning the Bank
of the West Classic at Stanford for the third time last year.
Tri Nguyen/TriNguyenPhotography.com
   Want to take a private lesson from Serena Williams?
   You can. Sort of.
   Masterclass.com offers a two-hour-plus online class conducted by Williams, widely considered the best female player in history, for $90 with lifetime access.
   Williams will seek her sixth Wimbledon singles title beginning next week and continue her quest for one of the few honors to elude her, a calendar-year Grand Slam.
   With 20 Grand Slam singles crowns, Williams trails only Margaret Court (24) and Steffi Graf (22) on the all-time list. 
   Williams also will try to win the Bank of the West Classic for the fourth time in early August at Stanford. She has won the title in three of the past four years, including 2014. Williams bypassed the tournament in 2013, when Dominika Cibulkova triumphed.
   The class is divided into 10 segments lasting 10-15 minutes each: introduction, groundstroke fundamentals, mastering groundstrokes, controlling the court, mental toughness, net play, training, game day, making of a winner and the serve.
   Don't want to take the class in one sitting? No problem. You can stop at any point -- even in the middle of a segment -- and resume whenever you want.
   The class not only offers many valuable tips, it reveals keys to Williams' success and shows another side of her personality. Fiery on the court and circumspect in postmatch interviews, she comes across in the class as down-to-earth, personable and at times funny.
   Club players also will be happy to learn that even Williams describes areas in which she needs to improve. 
   Here are some highlights from the class:
   --On groundstrokes, get your racket under the ball to create topspin and keep the ball in the court, use your body weight, keep your head down and follow through.
   --Watch boxers to improve your footwork.
   --Watch your opponent's ball toss to predict the direction of the serve.
   --Don't hit to your opponent's weakness too much. Keep him/her honest.
   --Williams agrees with her father and first coach, Richard Williams, that tennis is 70 percent mental.
   --When Williams faces a big point in a match, she reduces the pressure by thinking about the future. She tells herself, "In 10 years, nobody will remember this match."
   --Volley back and forth in practice for faster hands and to see the ball better.
   --When volleying, make sure your racket hand goes in the direction you want the ball to go.
   --Even after playing tennis professionally for 20 years, Williams has someone feed balls to her in practice to work on a stroke and get in a rhythm.
   --To build consistency, use "don't miss" drills in practice. For example, the first player to miss in a rally must do pushups or sprints. Or buy the other player an ice cream or take him/her to a movie.
   --The serve is one of the most difficult shots because you have to create your own pace. Jumping into the serve and pronating the wrist increase power.
   A two-hour-plus class taught by Serena Williams that's educational and entertaining? Lifetime access? For $90?
   What's not to like? 

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