Jensen teaches players ambidextrous serving with goal of diversifying their game

first_img Published on February 20, 2013 at 1:28 am Contact Sam: [email protected] | @SamBlum3 Facebook Twitter Google+ When Luke Jensen started out his playing career back in the 1970s, the Syracuse head coach noticed all of the top servers in the game served left-handed.Jensen, a right-handed athlete, quickly began to teach himself to become ambidextrous.“It was really a trend that lefties were starting to dominate the game of tennis,” Jensen said. “In our sport, the ad court is the most important court. Most of the most important points in my game, I’ve played on that ad side. The left hander has the tactical advantage because with a slice serve, you have the ability to pull your opponent off the court.”Jensen eventually had a successful doubles career. He won 10 ATP titles, including the 1993 French Open, reaching as high as No. 6 in the world doubles rankings competing with his brother, Murphy. He mastered the art of ambidextrous serving so well that at the height of his career, he could serve 130 miles per hour with both hands.He sees the ability to serve with both hands is such a valuable asset that he has incorporated it into his coaching. Jensen said all of the players that come through SU must learn – or at least attempt to learn – how to serve using both hands. Jensen said it serves a dual purpose of giving the players an edge while also opening them up to different methods of playing.AdvertisementThis is placeholder text“All the players have played this way their entire life, a certain way,” Jensen said. “So when they come here, I want them to explore other areas of the game that they had never even thought of. They kind of start from scratch.”While many players, including current sophomore Komal Safdar, have seen real success using both hands, Jensen said, that isn’t the case with everybody.He vividly remembers a time last season when then-freshman Jimena Wu attempted the lefty serve, only to miss completely and have the ball hit her on the head.“You rarely hit the ball,” Wu said. “Like, you rarely touch it.”Although Wu has conceded to having some trouble with the maneuver in the past, she believes the arduous process ultimately has its advantages.“It is, I think, very effective, especially in key points,” Wu said. “It’s hard to tell where the ball is going to go. You’re used to kind of interpreting that from the right side.”Junior Maddie Kobelt, who said she struggled with it at first, has come to see her left-handed serve improve. She said she thinks players can benefit from having multiple types of serves on days where other aspects of their game are not at 100 percent.“Maybe if you’re not feeling your serve, your overheads or your high backhand volley isn’t working, you at least have that option,” Kolbelt said. “It’s not like ‘Oh man, they keep hitting that there, I’m just going to miss.’ It gives you another option to pull from your repertoire of things.”Even though some players struggle with it and never really get the hang of the lefty serve, Jensen insists on teaching it to everyone, regardless of their ability level.Whether every player is able to master the technique, Jensen said he’s never heard a player complain or ask to quit. He said most players try to have fun with it, and that usually helps them pick the shot up more easily.“I think the biggest thing in all of this is that they all keep an open mind to trying different things,” Jensen said. “That’s the one thing that you’ve got to have when you approach something like adding a new shot.” Commentslast_img

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