By Luke Jensen, French Open Doubles Champion
Hello Jensen Zoners from London, England!
I’m not sure if you travel to tennis events, but I highly encourage you to add one or more to your travel itinerary this year. As you may have guessed from my greeting, the ATP Finals, held every November at the O2 Arena in London, has become one of my aces to attend.
Compared to most events that feature your favorite tennis stars in a one-and-done match, the ATP Finals is a round robin competition where you can see Fed, Rafa (though he pulled out of the first match in round robin play due to injury this year) and others in three matches. Another great advantage: only eight of the top 10 players in the ATP rankings are invited to play, meaning the crowds get to watch the best players compete from first to last ball. Doubles are also thrown in the mix with the top eight teams going for a world title. I played this event when it was in South Africa in the ‘90s and had so much fun! It’s really competitive and intense with big money and ATP ranking points on every match.
The ATP is starting the run of celebrations over the next few years with Open tennis turning 50 years old. It used to be that if a player turned pro, he or she couldn’t play in the Grand Slams. But starting in 1968, both pros and amateurs competed at the biggest tournaments. Arthur Ashe won the first Open Grand Slam in New York while he was still in the U.S. Army and an amateur player, so he couldn’t collect the $14,000 winning check. Today, the winner of the U.S. Open men’s or women’s event earns $3.9 million dollars. Tennis has come a long way!
With the changing of the legendary old guard of great passing the torch over the next five years, it will be fun to watch and see what stars shine brightest of the young talents playing the game. If you can’t make it to London this year, I hope you can schedule a stateside tournament or two into your 2018 schedule!
Now for your tennis technique tip: How many of you want a little more bite and pop in your forehand groundstroke? Many players I observe lose a ton of opportunity to hit a bigger forehand because they lock their wrist at impact with the ball. I’ve been producing some really good results in helping players at all levels to unlock this stiff wrist by making them aware of the hidden power in an enhanced wrist snap through the contact point. So many of these locked-up players were not aware how stiff they were at contact with the ball.
I stress to all of my players to look at the swing as more of a whip than a stable point of contact. At first, the balls fly around like bottle rockets until the player dials it back and finds the best range with the newfound power. Next time you go out to hit, unlock that forehand with a wrist snap Rafa would be proud of!
See you on the courts!