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    Ball Placement - A Chat With Trevor

    Aug 31, 2021 12:04:33 PM / by Alex Robertson

    Control the 'T' Sports team member Trevor has been playing tennis since he was about 10 years old, so it's fair to say he's got some experience under his belt!

    In addition to working at Control the 'T' Sports, he's long-time teaching tennis professional as well. He teaches at Greystone Racquet Club. Trevor still plays a lot of tennis and one of his strengths is ball placement. He doesn't hit you off the court but makes great choices on his shot selection.

    I sat down for a quick chat with him to delve into ball placement and why it's so effective and how he does it so well!

    Check out the video below, or alternatively, give the transcript a read (below the video)...

    Transcript:

    Alex:
    Hello, I'm here with Trevor, one of our Control the 'T' team members, and, for this segment, we're going to chat a bit about ball placement. Trevor's a long-time tennis player, and, although I've never played with him, I've heard he's renowned for his ball placement skills.

    Hello Trevor!

    Trevor:
    Hi, good to see you again, Alex!

    Alex:
    So, how long have you been playing tennis now? Just for a bit of background.

    Trevor:
    I started when I was ten years old but I didn't really get serious at that time. Obviously, at that age, you're just kind of fooling around a bit and having fun.

    It's interesting because we didn't even have a tennis court, we had a shared driveway and I was just hitting the ball against the side of my house.

    Alex:
    Just like squash!

    Trevor:
    Yeah, there wasn't even room to take a swing, so I'd be learning how to volley right off the bat with a continental grip, it's kind of an interesting story.

    Alex:
    From then, what level are you playing at now? I know you're doing a bit of coaching.

    Trevor:
    Yeah, I'm still doing coaching.

    Between this (working at Control the 'T' Sports) and teaching, I'm playing a lot of outdoor tennis since it's so beautiful out at the moment. So I'm probably playing at about a 4 or a 4.5. 

    I know that if I played some over 50's that I think I could get that up to a solid 4.5.

    Alex:
    I see. I guess there are two ends of the spectrum, there's ball placement and then there's just hitting your opponent off the court with constant power. If ball placement is your main strength, how did you procure that over the years, how did you develop it?

    Trevor:
    Well, that comes with time when you practice a lot. I did do drills with a coach back when I was like maybe 14 or 15 years old, we did a lot of feeding and hitting. The best approach is just to put targets up and aim for them.

    Alex:
    And how do you translate that into a game situation?

    Trevor:
    That's a little trickier... If I was playing someone who used a lot of pace and took away my time to set up, I'd be under more pressure. A lot of it is about having early enough preparation to hit the shots that you want to hit.

    When it comes to ball placement, backhand slice is the key in tennis. Taking it cross-court and moving it down the line is very effective if you have a good slice. If you float the slice, the ball is going to sit up more, but, a nice driving slice on the backhand is my bread and butter. Similar to how I usually set up my forehand.

    Alex:
    From that, how do you decide when to play certain shots? Is it based on where your opponent is positioned?

    Trevor:
    Yes, that's kind of it, but, also you need to have a solid serve. Obviously, you have to go for a big first serve, but my second serve usually has a bit of kick to it, so hopefully the return comes over weak, then, I can start moving my opponent around right from the start.

    Tennis is all about who's doing what to whom.

    Alex:
    A bit like chess! So, what would you say makes ball placement an effective approach in comparison to just hitting the ball hard repeatedly?

    Trevor:
    That's it! I always look at my points, right? If I'm up 40-0 or 40-15 I can go for a harder drive, so I usually look to my score. But, if we're just starting out, I'm serving and you're returning, I'm going to start setting up that point right away just to get my lead. If that's not working then I need to do some more thinking.

    But generally, the slice is my key and so is my serve. I've changed some things up on my first serve to make it a bigger weapon, however, I've always had a good second serve with a lot of kick.

    If I did a hard hit serve right down the middle, I can come in and volley behind that. I have strong skills up close to the net as well.

    Alex:
    Close up for a bit of touch?

    Trevor:
    Yeah, like a drop shot and whatnot, depending on how I get my opponent out of position.

    Alex:
    What advice would you give to players looking to improve their ball placement, how would you tell them to go about it?

    Trevor:
    I would say that targets are the key. You could be in one corner and set up targets to play cross courts to the back end. If they're not a lefty like me, they might want to work more on their forehand, but, if they're working on the forehand, they probably won't slice as much, they'll hit topspin drives.

    I would love to have more confidence on my forehand, but it's usually just my finishing shot. My backhand sets everything up. If I had a weak backhand it would hurt my game a lot.

    Alex:
    I guess that kind of wraps it up...

    Trevor:
    Great, I can't wait to do the next video!

    Alex:
    Sounds good, thanks, Trevor!

    Alex Robertson

    Written by Alex Robertson