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Fri, Nov. 22

Your best tennis friend … the backboard

Who do you go to when no one else shows up at the courts….who never misses, never complains, is there when the weather is good or bad, shows no emotion and is a great listener?

It's helped make more tennis players better than any teaching pro ever could, and spends 24/7 without ever getting paid a dime. The tennis court backboards may just be a dumb piece of plywood that is painted green with a three foot white line from the ground up, but it comes to life when you smack the first ball against it, a tennis players life-long friend.

We are lucky enough to have backboards at each of our public tennis facilites here in Prescott. At the college, high school, armory, and Granite Mountain.

Try this 100-shot warm up to get good at tennis, it goes like this.

Rule No. 1: Make sure you're 39 feet back from the board when you're hitting groundstrokes. This will let the ball bounce twice, so you have time to prepare for the next shot without rushing, thus working on decent stoke production. Aim about three feet higher than the white line so you're working on a consistantly deep groundstoke.

Rule No. 2: To count as a good shot, the ball has to hit above the white line. Anything hit lower than the white line, or out of control and you should catch the ball and start over. Otherwise you'll be hitting more balls over the fence than against the backboard and we want a decent learning enviorment, right?

TEN: Hit 10 good forehand groundstrokes one at a time against the board.

TWENTY: Hit 10 good backhand groundstrokes one at a time aganst the board.

THIRTY: Rally 10 good forehand groundstrokes. If you mess up, you start your count over.

FORTY: Rally 10 good backhand groundstrokes.

FIFTY: Alternate forehand and backhand groundstrokes for 10 good hits.

It's time to volley for a while now.

Get as close as a racquet length away from the board and angle your racquet slightly up, turned sideways to hit forehand volleys.

SIXTY: Hit 10 forehand volleys (without the ball bouncing on the ground) above the white line.

SEVENTY: Hit 10 backhand volleys above the white line.

EIGHTY: Alternate 10 forehand and backhand volleys.

NINTY: Go back to 39 feet from the board and 10 hit good serves. Remember, a good serve has to go higher than the white line, but probably no higher than two feet over it or a long serve has most likely just been delivered and that doesn't work in a real game.

ONE HUNDRED: Hit 10 serve and approach shots. By this, I mean to serve and move foreward, hitting an approach shot, move forward and hit another, by the next shot you should be volleying. If you hit a ball lower than the white line, stop and start over.

If you go to the backboard to warm up consistantly before playing, this hundred shot warm up will only take about 10 to 15 minutes, but the improvement and confidence you'll attain will enrich your tennis game more than you'd ever imagine.

And, you'll have another great friend that never lets you down and there aren't that many of them to come by in this life.

"Crack Repair and Clean Up Days at Yavapai College Courts"

Once a crack, aways a crack, but that doesn't mean we just let them take over, so with that thought, our "Main Man-George Reynolds" will supervise the remake of the courts at Yavapai College, cleaning out the cracks, filling with concrete and then repainting those areas…..but he needs lots of volunteer help.

The dates you are needed are Friday and Saturday April 25 and 26 at 7 a.m. to noon and then May 3 and 4 at 7 a.m. to paint the areas filled.

(Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 30 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 445-1331 or

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