Stroke placement in women’s professional tennis: What’s after the serve?
The aim of the present study was to investigate the placement of the return, 3rd and 4th stroke in professional women’s tennis as well as possible differences related to the level of play and finally derive practical recommendations from the results. In total this study contains examination of 2,562 Returns, 2,065 3rd strokes and 1,606 4th strokes from 19 professional women’s tennis matches of 14 players (both WTA and ITF) from 2018-2020. All strokes were classified using a specific court division method taking outcome (i.e., in, out, net) and placements into account for statistical analyses. Results show that returns are mainly placed into the court’s middle zones (66.7%), whereas 3rd strokes are placed more into offensive zone groups (i.e., Outer Zones 58.1%, Outside Forbidden Zone 72.6%, and C-zones 28.7%) with 4th strokes similarly placed, however, more scattered. No correlation was found between the placement of the return and the 3rd stroke (r = 0.517, p = 0.085). Correlations were found between the placement of 4th stroke and the return (r = 0.653, p < 0.05), between the 4th and the 3rd stroke (r = 0.961, p < 0.001) as well as between WTA and ITF players regarding all three strokes (return r = 0.818, p < 0.01; 3rd stroke r = 0.942, p < 0.001; 4th stroke r = 0.821, p < 0.01). Present findings may be of higher interest for female tennis players and their coaches aiming to improve practice patterns in training and competitive performance in matches.
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