Monday, August 1, 2016


I came across a clip of Tim Mayotte speaking this year at The Tennis Congress, about the fundamentals of technique in tennis.  As I watched it, I honestly felt a flutter of emotion at the realization that I am not alone in the notion that the game of tennis has always has been, and ever will be, about technique...always technique.

Please note that there a number of videos about the modern forehand, which players apply it, which players do not, that may be more extensive and involved than this one:  this is just a clip.  But it is special because of the subject: Tim Mayotte.  Yet another quiet American who went about his illustrious career with more than just professionalism, commitment, tenacity and results:  he did, and still does it, with honor.

It was with honor that I was a ball-boy at the 1989 Sovran Bank tennis classic, from which Mayotte emerged the victor, over another American who was anything but quiet, one Brad Gilbert.  It was the final victory on the ATP tour of Mayotte's career, and while I didn't play a serve and volley game, nor did I have the gifts or physique of Mayotte, I learned from him a great deal about how powerful and imposing the graceful mechanics of the game can be.  If you've never seen him play, you will no doubt recall how he aligned his imposing physicality, with a focused set of skills, employed to a specific set of tactics, in pursuit of the strategic of objective of applying pressure to one's opponent...relentless, ceaseless, unflinching, pressure point after point after point.  

In this classic confrontation between the player who absorbs pressure, versus he who imposes it, Mayotte prevailed as he did two years earlier for the (2nd) biggest title of his career at Bercy (he also won the Miami Masters - then called the Lipton International - in 1985, when it was a "grand slam light" two week, best of five event from the quarterfinals on).  Note the jump-started entry into the court following his serve with the right foot planted at once gracefully and authoritatively and first, allowing his momentum to carry him forward and close in on the net.  Note the quadricep burning deep knee bend, over and over again, keeping his body positioning consistent regardless of what the ball does, precisely to eliminate as many variables from the stroke as possible to, in order to create consistency.

That's right - it's no accident that the players who are the most consistent are the ones who adhere to the most fundamental principles of technique.  So it should come as no surprise that Mayotte, a winner of 12 career titles, a semi-finalist at Wimbledon and Australian Open (at the time on grass) would be at the front lines of extolling the virtue of focusing tennis instruction in the US on the bio-mechanics of technique...after all it served him so well from his NCAA title in 1991, and throughout his 12-year career professional career.  A career that included a silver medal at the Olympics in 1988, and representation of the United States in the Davis Cup.  If we can do, from the grassroots, what our American forbearers did to become the best in the world, there is hope yet for American men's tennis.

Tim Mayotte:  always a gentleman, always technique...always technique.
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