INTRODUCTION TO THE TENNISTOM WEBSITE
Tom Harton, AKA TennisTom
Though my father passed away in September, 2016, I intend to keep his site up and running, on the basis he did, and hopefully useful to learning tennis players.
Namaste! Robyn Harton
Complying with all applicable copyright laws is the responsibility of the user. Without limiting the rights under copyright, no part of this document may be used, reproduced, modified, distributed in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopied, recorded, or otherwise) FOR PROFIT without the express written permission of Tom Harton's daughter at firstname.lastname@example.org or at physical address Robyn Harton, PO Box 3061, Henrico, VA 23228.
These TennisTom instructionals, and/or attachments if any, are for informational purposes only. The information contained in these documents represents the views of TennisTom on the issues discussed as of the date of production or publication. TennisTom makes no warranties, express, implied, or statutory, as to the information in this website or any attachments.
This is a free Website. It contains no solicitations for money for any reason. I do not accept donations. No one needs to register with the site or produce any personal information. I do not sell anything whatsoever, although there are a few links to sites that do. Finally, I do not engage in WWW site link reciprocity, though I keep getting asked.
My purpose is to provide gratis tennis instructionals which are USABLE for ordinary tennis players – or players-to-be. This entire site is relevant to DOUBLES TENNIS, which I believe addresses the vast majority of tennis players in the U.S. and elsewhere on the planet. Of course there is substantial overlap with singles subjects such as GOOD FORM, which is the heart of high quality stroke production.
I think that pointing out tennis myths is a self serving pursuit which unconsciously strives to impress others with one’s inside encyclopedic knowledge, so I do not engage in that. (Hope I haven’t stepped on anyone’s toes too unkindly.) Although there are no absolute methods for hitting a tennis ball, or for executing a strategy, I have attempted to explain each procedure in a way that is as concise and as clear as possible. The subsumption is inherent that readers of this site are interested in improving their tennis skills for the eventual purpose of winning more points, games, sets, and matches.
At this writing I anticipate starting my fourteenth six-month season teaching the great sport of tennis for the TENNIS CLINIC, sponsored by the Triangle Sports & Outings Club (TSOC) in the Durham/Chapel Hill, NC area. For thirteen of those years I have been ably assisted by Sil Tejada, for which he accepted no compensation. Sil, who is affectionately called the “human ball machine,” is Head Assistant. More recently, Dave Lobe has joined us as an Assistant. Bonnie Knoke assisted for six years. Special Thanks to each of them.
About me. I picked up my first (wooden) racket when I was sixteen but didn’t start playing tennis until I was thirty. A few years later I competed at the USTA 4.0 level and my partner, Rod, and I won over 95 percent of our competitive matches for a good number of years. Being a Virgo – allegedly observant, helpful, reliable, and precise -- I greatly enjoy being analytic , with this site being a net effect (no pun intended).
TENNISTOM.NET PHILOSOPHY OF INSTRUCTION
<< THE HEART OF THE MATTER >>
The information compiled on this website is intended for 90-plus percent of the adult tennis playing world. I refer to this great group as recreational/club-level players, as compared to higher echelon players which may be generally described at college/professional-level players.
My basic philosophy is that there are many significant, real world differences between the two playing levels, and that tennis instructionals should reflect those differences. Because of these dissimilarities many instructions to novice players, whether in tennis books, videos, or on court, are unfortunately irrelevant and misleading despite truly good intentions. A fundamental reason for the gulf between appropriate material and irrelevant material is that the average recreational or club level player does not have the physical and mental capabilities, the time, nor the aspirations, of the higher level, younger and more ambitious competitors.
To pinpoint a couple of examples, here are two major serve procedure differences:
1) Most tennis writings refer to the serve as the “most important stroke” in the game. This is not true for early learners and some intermediates. Their serve is not developed enough in early learners to be a shot of advantage, i.e. a weapon. In the early stages of tennis, the serve is simply a means to get the ball in play. At this level, service games are won or lost not on placement or speed but on the groundstrokes and volleys that follow the service. (Even many male players that have been competing for years have such a low percentage of hard first serves go IN that they essentially throw away their first serve and get the ball into play with their softer second serve.)
2) Virtually all higher level or professional players when serving jump four or more inches off the court surface (for good reason), just before they contact the ball. (The good reason: Especially for higher level players, any increase in height of contact point with the ball increases the service box target area. However to instruct an average adult learner to do this is simply not useful. There is no reasonable point in adding another physical gyration to the learner’s serve motion, which is already one of the most complicated shots in tennis to get right.
I hope you can realize and appreciate the significant difference between instructions for recreational players vs higher echelon players. If you teach either level the wrong stuff then you are clearly wasting the student’s time and money.
In general the world wide bulk of tennis materials are couched in the assumption that the majority of readers aspire to play high level tennis. In my opinion this concentration is misplaced. Novice players across the face and courts of the world need clearly explained “b-a-s-i-c-s” infinitely more that expositions on how to play power tennis. That’s my story, anyway, and I’m sticking with it.
Another important point I want to make is that the preponderance of tennis players play DOUBLES. Even though the basic strokes in tennis are similar for all types of play, it makes no sense to teach most recreational players who will primarily be playing doubles as though they are going to be singles players. Doubles strategy, a complex delight in itself, is unique. Outsmarting same level opponents is exciting at all levels of play. My doubles partner (tip of the tennis cap to Rod) and I, in our USTA heyday, won many matches against players with superior strokes because of our tried and true doubles strategies. My entire website and Tennis Clinic, currently in its 14th year, is written with a focus on doubles play.
Basically it is my firm conviction that learning players should be taught methods to play which emphasize great consistency rather than with great flair and wow. Much of the tennis we all see on TV, particularly in the men’s game, is power tennis, and many commentators keep extolling it. However, in the daily tennis lives of most players, hitting glorious winners with power is illusive. Winning tennis in the real world has infinitely more to do with control than with ballistic strokes. If you are lusting after Power, I kindly suggest that another instructor’s writings will be better suited to you. Everyone else, stay tuned…
I encourage anyone who has questions or elucidations to contact me by email. There is a handy link which you can click on to contact me. I will make every effort to respond to you in the early fullness of time. ☺
Enjoy your tennis. Life is good.