Middle States Blog

The Lefty Game

Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Martina Navratilova, Rod Laver, Monica Seles, and Rafael Nadal have all made the game of tennis a little more interesting. They all have a skill, as well as an advantage, that not even Roger Federer and Serena Williams can master.

They are lefties.

Although the proportion of right-handed players to left-handed players is significantly higher, lefties can be the trickiest players to compete against.

What advantages do they portray, you ask?

For starters, the out-wide serve to the backhand on the Ad side is a weapon that all left-handed players should develop. By doing so, they can open up the court for the next shot, which can easily be a forehand, or a volley.

Due to the lack of lefties in the game, lefties have an easier time adjusting to a right handed players’ game. The transition from practice to match play can be a mental challenge for a right handed player playing a lefty.

As a lefty player myself, I’ve seen the “surprised” look of others when having to play against me. It isn’t something right handed players come across often, so although a righty may have a stronger game, I believe they are at a disadvantage, mentally.

Not only do right handed professionals and players face the challenge of playing lefties, coaches face their own challenges working with lefties.

Martin Kamara, part owner manager and teaching pro at Winning Touch Tennis in Princeton, N.J., is a left-handed player himself. He works closely with both righties and lefties and has experienced first-hand the challenges – and benefits – of coaching these southpaws.

“It’s harder to teach another lefty because there are so many more righties,” Kamara said. “It is rare when I come across another lefty to teach. It’s like I have to reprogram my brain, even though I am lefty. I already feel programmed to teach a righty.”

The Major Championships won by lefty players is rather astonishing. Rod Laver became the second male to win four consecutive Grand Slams in 1962 as an amateur and did the same thing again seven years later as a pro. Martina Navratilova has 18 Grand Slam singles titles and 31 Grand Slam women’s doubles titles, which is an all time record. Jimmy Connors has seven Grand Slam singles titles with John McEnroe at eight. Monica Seles 9. Rafael Nadal, one of the most successful players in the last 20 years, has 14.

So what do you think? Is it an advantage, or a disadvantage, to be a lefty?

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