The game has changed dramatically over the last 30 years with the advancement of racquets being the major factor, of which most of the tactical techniques are finally being based around. This is because the racquet technology is increasing the power at which players can hit the ball which is changing the game in terms of technique hugely. This has in particular helped the service dominate matches, often leading to very little break of serve; simply because the services can be so powerful that it’s near impossible for a player to return them at all/with any accuracy.
The power at which the ball can now be hit is the major factor in terms of tactical changes by players and coaches in tennis, as in the 1980’s players were struggling to reach 110mph yet with the modernization of the tennis racquet players are aiming to serve at 130-150 mph; which is obviously a dramatic increase and will obviously have to play a part in the tactics of the game.
A big change which has been noticed as new players have been coming through to be successful are the lack of serve volleyer’s, in particularly on the grass court. The only real successful player using the serve volley at the last Wimbledon was Tin Henman. This is because the players can hit the ball so hard from the baseline and get convincing and aesthetically pleasing winners that they don’t need to serve and volley; then players who do try and use the serve volley tactics can easily be beaten by powerful shots from the baseline players.
In particularly recently you can see the base line players coming out on top in all the tournaments and the over all rankings. For example in the rankings at the moment we can only really see one player ranking inside the top 10 that uses the serve volley tactic effectively; which is A. Agassi, although in comparison to players such as Tin Henman he uses the tactic rarely. The baseline players such as Federer, Safin, Ferrero and Roddick are dominating the tennis scene at the moment with their powerful services and powerful base line shots.
Many people today argue that the evolution of the tennis racquet has gone too far and has made the sport too easy to win in very shot rallies and thus making it very boring in terms of a spectator sport. This is because the players can generate so much power and speed due too the advanced size, shape and materials of the racquet design that it’s now much easier for players to get aces or play shots which will easily pass the opponent. The introduction of “rollers” also benefits players massively as they work by distributing the force of the ball throughout the string bed rather than just he direct strings which had been struck by the ball; almost making the string bed act like one large string striking the ball rather than a bed of them. The string bed compresses much farther when the ball strikes it, this is said to make the string bed livelier; this not only increases the power of the shot but also reduces the effort of the shot and also the shock of this shot.
The players have to keep up with the technology of the new racquets else they will be left at a distinct disadvantage to players who are utilising the technological advances. Although many people argue that some rules and regulations should be laid down to stop any further development of the tennis racquet as they argue that the game is becoming to boring to watch as the rallies are usually over in a 1, 2 or 3 shots. While this may be down to player skill it’s more likely that it is down to the development of the tennis racquet as in the 1980’s and 1990’s the average shots per rally were much higher than they are nowadays.
To make the men’s game in particular more exciting to the viewing public measures should be taken in order to reduce the power at which the ball can be hit; this will reduce the big servers advantage and make serve returns easier and thus making the rallies average length increase again. This could be done by putting limitations on the racquets which would cause a lot of complications and would be hard to standardise the racquets to meet each players need but still make them less powerful.
Another much easier way of effectively slowing the game down and making it more aesthetically pleasing would be to change the type of balls used; as this would be simple to test and put into use in comparison to trying to change all the racquets which would cost much more money and cause a lot more hassle for tennis players and governing bodies. For example they could make the balls more absorbent and so absorbing some of the power from the racquet and making it travel slower and bounce less.