BY CRAIG O’SHANNESSY
You can’t go to the net in today’s game, right?
The conversation typically goes like this…
- The racquets are more powerful than they used to be. Much easier to rip passing shots past the player who is approaching the net.
- The latest strings generate massive amounts of topspin, which enables passing shots to get up and down quickly over the net and successfully dip down into the court past the net rusher.
- The players are faster than they used to be. They are more efficient at tracking down approach shots on the run.
So, for argument’s sake, let’s agree with all those three statements. Racquets are more powerful, players are faster and stronger, and strings today generate more spin, which helps the player hitting the passing shot.
All true… and yet, the net still puts up winning numbers on a stats sheet.
Here is a MASSIVE amount of match metrics on approaching the net from the brand new tennis strategy course, A Million Points Of College Tennis that I created in partnership with Warren Pretorius at Tennis Analytics. Firstly, the amount of points in this course is equal to 50 Grand Slams. That’s right – FIFTY!
Data Set: Total Points
- Men = 555,984 points
- Women = 554,135 points
Data Set: Total Approach Points
- Men = 108,424 points
- Women = 75,494 points
A very cool component of A Million Points Of College Tennis is the breakdown between match winners and match losers. We pool together all the points from the match winners and compare to all the points from the match losers.
Approach Totals: Match Winner vs. Match Loser
This data is a big win for going to the net.
College Men: Total Net Points – Match Winner vs. Match Loser
College Women: Total Net Points – Match Winner vs. Match Loser
For both men and women, match winners go to the net more than match losers. Fifty-five percent of all net points were from match winners, and 45% were from match losers. I sometimes hear the opinion that the more you go to the net the more likely you are to lose net points. If that were the case, then match winners would be under 50% here – and they are clearly not.
Points Won At Net: Match Winner vs. Match Loser
The good news keeps coming for match winners. We know they go to the net more, and this data identifies that they WIN a significantly higher amount at the net than the match loser.
College Men Net Points Won – Match Winner vs. Match Loser
College Women Net Points Won – Match Winner vs. Match Loser
Match winners for men and women win right around two out of every three points at the net. The net is an absolute gold mine for them, and an integral part of winning the match overall. But the news is not all bad for match losers. Match losers still won 58% at the net for men and 56% at the net for women. Certainly, the reason they lost the match wasn’t that the net delivered less than 50% points won…
The net is a great place to be in college tennis.
If you are a junior player or a junior coach, this data can help you better organize your practice court and prioritize approach and volley strategy on the development pathway. You should also be carving out time to improve volley and overhead technique as well. You are probably spending enough time at the baseline, where the win percentages don’t come close to what you are seeing above.
The next time somebody tells you it’s too tough to come to the net in today’s game, copy & paste the link to this page. Let the numbers do the talking. ??
Craig O’Shannessy, Brain Game Tennis & Contributing Editor
For more from Craig, visit BRAIN GAME TENNIS