Friday, June 4, 2010

Tennis Squash

In the olden days there was a variant of squash called 'squash tennis,' which enjoyed a rather brief popularity before sliding off the face of the world. You can still read about it in places like Wikipedia (here), but the game is no longer played by anyone. There is a new game developing however, called 'tennis squash.' This game could be around for a long while.

The French Open is underway and the men's final is in place, with the surging Robin Söderling, heir apparent to the great viking Bjorn Borg, ready to take on Rafael Nadal, who would dearly like to prove that his defeat by Söderling in last year's French Open was a fluke. I've always maintained that Nadal, with his quickness and maneuverability around the court, would make an absolutely fantastic squash player, and lo and behold recent press reports claim that he has taken up the game. Squash aficionados are well aware that Roger Federer is no stranger to squash, and occasionally will use a wristy slice shot when he is in trouble, particularly on the forehand side. Andy Murray, England's great tennis player, enjoyed squash as a kid, and Ivan Lendl, even when playing pro tennis at the highest level, is said to have used squash as an exercise to build up his backhand strength (see here).

The use of the wrist to apply extra spin and the breaking of the historically stiff tennis wrist has become a noteworthy recent innovation in tennis, with observers attributing the development to advancements in racket technology.

But what about the obverse? Are there any stiff-wristed, topspin shots that would be at home on a tennis court that we in squash might adopt? I know of one, and it's quite effective. Here is the scenario: your opponent has played a ball into one of the front corners, but you are on it without difficulty. You obviously have several choices here, including a hard wide cross-court, a hard rail, or a looping cross-court lob, among others. But another shot is to hit the loose ball into the corner with topspin at medium speed. The topspin makes the ball whip around the corner faster than either a flat or undercut ball, and the surprising shot selection will either leave your opponent flat-footed, forcing a weak return, or even outright fool him. Try it sparingly, and you might be surprised how effective it is.    

1 comment:

  1. As a mediocre tennis player for 50 years I have found the shot that works best in squash is the forehand slice and, of course, the hard volley. I think I have seen the shot you describe used by a high-level player but I can't see getting much topspin on the ball.


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