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TECH Talk: Sofia Kenin is back(hand) and making moves in San Diego
Kenin has taken out No. 6 seed Veronika Kudermetova, fellow American Katie Volynets, and Anastasia Potapova to secure a spot in the semifinals.
Published Sep 14, 2023
WATCH: Sofia Kenin came from a set down to take out fellow American Katie Volynets to secure a spot in the quarterfinals.
Picture a time before COVID-19.
The 2020 tennis season kicks off with the ATP Cup and WTA Brisbane, players are migrating Down Under to compete, and fans are tuning in from around the world. Tournaments localize in Australia a week out from the Australian Open, and just like that, the season is well underway. Coming into the first Grand Slam of the year, Sofia Kenin takes out Garbiñe Muguruza in three sets to win her first grand slam title at age 22.
Kenin was a rising star in American tennis, playing some of the best tennis on tour, and was unafraid to shake up the familiar. Her aggressive playing style is not uncommon across women’s tennis, but it’s her shot placement that sets her apart.
Coming back from serious injuries that had her sidelined from the game, Kenin just broke back into the Top 100 and is back with a new respect for the game.
Shot placement is the icing on the cake to a player’s game. At the end of the day, it’s not about the technique, but about how it’s used. It’s more than moving a player from side to side repeatedly. There’s a thought process behind why a high, heavy and deep ball should be hit versus a low slice inside the court.
What is going to hurt the player most?
It’s also about each player’s individual playing styles. A counterpuncher looking to attack the net is hitting a different kind of ball and placing it differently than a baseline player.
When it comes to Kenin’s game, there are two shots that she places very well: her backhand down-the-line and her inside-in forehand.
Both of these shots are directed toward the same side of the court, which means her point-play is dependent on how well she can set up the attack to this corner.
It is important to note that one side of the court is 13-feet, 5-inches across. When she attacks the corner, she’s not limiting herself to the court lines which are a minimum of two inches in width.
She is using the whole 13-and-a-half feet of space to her advantage, ranging from straight-shooting to slicing for a change of pace. The depth varies according to the progression of the point thus far.
Regardless of which type of shot she chooses to attack to this part of the court, her shot placement is accurate and disruptive.
It’s very tempting to aim for the lines and hit the one-in-a-million shot, especially when it’s just about the only visual cue on the court during point play. But more often than not, these shots land just outside of the line.
Work with cones during practice, and learn to visualize a bigger target for these offensive shots.
And, honestly, watch some tennis! Watching the pros is a first-hand look into what works and what doesn’t. More often than not, points are won with well-placed shots with well enough margin away from the court lines.
Those one in-a-million shots that are so tempting (and so satisfying) also only happen one-in-a-million times on court.