Recreational tennis players of all ages have mostly one or two weapons, reliable strokes that get them out of trouble and help them winning many of their matches. While most players are happy to develop a good topspin forehand, or a wicked sliced backhand, or even a solid put away volley, very few players have ever succeeded in learning a powerful serve. Serving clinics are usually very well attended but every player knows a 2 hour clinic is by far not enough to learn any stroke well. The Total Serve (TTS) may be a very valuable addition to a player’s learning tools because it cuts down on the on-court practice time.
Vic Braden used to say you have to practice a stroke one million times correctly in order to execute it like Andre Agassi does. That number is scary, especially for players who are not out there making a living playing tennis. Vic says “The first issue is the mechanics of the serve. There is a simple baseball throw which will only take a couple of months to master for young players. Then there is the “muscle loading” trophy look that requires a certain amount of muscular development and that could take years.” Recreational tennis players don’t wamt to spend years; they want to play matches, compete, and have fun on the court. For them a lesson or a clinic is not necessarily a fun way to spend time, and the last thing they want is standing in line in a clinic and being fed a hundred balls.
So, what kind of a chance do they have learning the most complex stroke in all of tennis, the serve, correctly and develop it as a powerful weapon? Probably close to zero for most. So they try and do their best making sure the first serve goes in and that works for virtually millions of tennis players all over the United States. But what if there was a way for tennis players to develop a rhythmic and powerful tennis serve motion with less effort? And what if that motion enabled them to develop power for the serve through momentum and acceleration? A new product has arrived at the tennis marketplace promising exactly that and more. It’s called The Total Serve (TTS) and it was invented by Lisa Dodson.
Born in Chappaqua, New York, Lisa Dodson, a 30 year teaching professional and formerly world ranked tennis player, is certified by the United States Professional Tennis Association (USPTA). Residing in Oakland, California, she recently demonstrated her product in the San Diego area (La Jolla Beach and Tennis Club), and in the Los Angeles area (Weddington Golf and Tennis in Studio City). “I’m doing it for the love of the game because I know this product will help everyone with their serve,” was Dodson’s first remark in Studio City. She demonstrates the product with ease and so smooth, it looks almost like child’s play. This video on her web site shows what TTS looks like in use: How to use The Total Serve. TTS is approximately the length and weight of an adult tennis racquet.
Dodson worked on the prototype trying to improve the old tube socks with 3 balls inside concept since the beginning of 2010. After experimenting with the weight, by way of focus groups, she found a manufacturer out of Benicia, California, who was able to adhere to her standards durability and sturdiness. The result was a high quality injection molded rubber product which is curiously attractive and Made in the USA. The manufacturer started deliveries in January of 2011 and Dodson has been going on one promotional tour after another throughout the country.
Now that US and international patents are filed, all the attention can go into identifying the right clients and demonstrating the product. “TTS works for juniors, beginners, adults, and senior tennis players,” says Dodson. She also identified the intermediate level female tennis player as the best market for her product. She adds “My grandfather was a baseball pitcher who taught me how to throw and catch a ball. This is something girls are normally not too familiar with and that is a real problem. Later, during my work as a tennis teaching professional, I found out that the tennis serve resembles that ball throwing motion a lot. Naturally, female tennis players are my first target group.” Since low to intermediate level female tennis players are a group the Tennis Industry Association (TIA) identifies as heavy spenders for racquets, clothing, and accessories, this group definitely seems to be the low hanging fruit for Dodson.
Alejandra (Ali) Ordonez, Adult League Coordinator for the Southern California Tennis Association, one of the 17 Sections of the United States Tennis Association (USTA), was able to use TTS at Weddington Golf and Tennis. She proclaims she loves it and thinks it’s about time someone invented that. She says: “This is the modern version of the baseball tube sock with the 3 balls I used when I was young. It is compact, seems durable, and tennis players can take it anywhere they’re going.” Ordonez has had her share of experience serving many thousands of balls during practices as a High School and College player, and later during years of tournament play. “Not only could this product transform anyone’s motion to look like a professional serve, but it should also help to warm up shoulders and muscles, and prevent injuries,” adds Ordonez. She calls the motion shadow stroking and thinks it should cut down on-court practice time since one can do it practically everywhere.
Dodson agrees and mentions that no one is ever really happy with their serve; everyone is always trying to improve it. She recommends that everyone should have a TTS in their tennis bag. Like wise, every teaching pro should have a TTS on their ball cart. She adds that “…the intermediate women never seem to break out of their tennis level. With TTS they can break out and improve their level.” Her aim is now to get TTS into the teaching professionals’ hands so their students can see it and potentially buy it. She is also planning to go for junior academies and tennis retail stores.
The product comes with a DVD explaining the correct motion with TTS and retails for around 60 dollars on Dodson’s web site. Quantity and wholesale pricing for teaching pros is available. Next stops on Lisa Dodson’s promotional tour: Florida, New Jersey, New York, and Connecticut.
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