Wimbledon and Me
I had always been a one-handed player, forehand and backhand. Occasionally I would try a two-handed backhand and find it awkward and unnatural. But my neck operation in March changed all of this: it left my right arm impaired, causing me to lose power, mobility, and control. I was assured it would get better, but nobody ever claimed it would go back to normal, and I don’t think it will. I decided to try to play two-handed, mainly hitting against the wall at the Biltmore tennis center. I’m not going to say it was easy but it didn’t prove as impossible as I feared. The forehand was the easiest because it doesn’t differ much from a one-handed forehand; you just add your left hand to your right on the handle. With a good amount of practice, I started to get it. The backhand was harder because you have to use your non-dominant hand as the main source of power and control. It’s true that I use my left hand a good deal for drums and guitar, but tennis is different. However, after a couple of months of almost daily practice it started to feel natural. I have got to the point that when I hold the racket in one hand to hit, I want to add my left hand to the action—it feels strange to use just one hand. Theoretically, this makes sense: no baseball player or cricketer would choose to use one hand, and obviously two hands are better than one for power and control. That’s why tennis players switched from one hand to two for the backhand (with some notable exceptions). But if that is true for the backhand, doesn’t it carry over to the forehand? Why don’t more players use a two-handed forehand (like Monica Seles)? I don’t know.
So when I watch Wimbledon it now seems odd to me to see players using two hands for the backhand and then reverting to one hand for the forehand. This is especially true for recreational players who don’t have the speed and strength to hit well with one hand (kids, oldsters, the impaired). I even think I might improve my game by going two-handed! It is certainly an interesting way to play, if not one I would have welcomed.