Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Serve & Volley RIP

The 2001 classic.

A forgettable affair, 2010 final

Two of the most common sets of photos in a newspaper in India are from obituaries and VLCC type before & after ads.

Obituaries usually are accompanied by a photograph of the deceased by which the loved ones often wish to remember them by. The screen shot on the left is from the classic Wimbledon final from 2001 featuring Goran Ivanisevic and Patrick Rafter.

Pictures in before & after kind of advertisements are used to convey a sense of betterment, the after effects of using a product or a service. The above 2 pictures though are a Benjamin Button kind of take on the same. The 'after' picture represents the worsening of the state of the game.

Till the early part of the previous decade, there existed a brand of tennis players called the serve & volley players. As soon as they gave a sweet little thunk to the tossed up ball on their serve, they set off towards the net, much like a rampaging bull after a imaginary matador. The player on the opposite end of the court then gave himself a single shot to win the point, for he knew that if the return was within stretching distance of the server it would be disposed off with a deft volley. As a consequence, there developed a second set of players. The baseliners. The strength of these players were the return of serve and an array of passing shots. Over the course of a match, the crowd would 'ooh' at a drop voley and 'aah' with a down the line passing shot.

And then appeared on the scene, two would be legends and all time great contenders. This on a normal day would mean cause for much celebration in the tennis fraternity. The two have over the past 5 years given us many a fabulous contest. They have at times put up such individual displays that their place in the all time best virtuoso performances in a sporting arena is but a formality. Neither of them, though, were natural serve and volley players. That is not the downside though. When the leading players of a generation both play in a certain style, the youngsters who look up to them tend to copy that, in the fatal hope of replicating their success. This has led to a virtual abandonment of a style of play which has given us great viewing pleasure. Besides, in the near foreseable future, it raises the prospect of not having a single serve and volley player be part of the action on the second Sunday.

That would be the perfect Midsummer Night's Nightmare.

(Technically Speaking :

The screen shot on the left : The arrows are the usual path trajectories of the player serving. Thus, in the days when serve and volley was still employed by a large percentage of players, as the tournament wore on, their movements caused a certain pattern of wear and tear on the grass. This is what the picture on the left depicts.

The screen shot on the right : The arrows in this case indicate that approaches to the net have come down considerably, as is visible by the fairly uneroded stretch of grass in the no-man's land. The approaches are happening after a reasonably long rally and from various parts of the court.)

(This is a replug of an earlier Facebook note

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