Learning from Elena

Jul 26, 2017
Tom Downs / WTA Coach
Elena Dementieva was a consistent top 10 player from the very late 1990s up until her sudden retirement at the conclusion of the 2010 season. Dementieva won a gold medal during her best year in 2008, and also that year, she reached a grand slam final, along with achieving her career high ranking of No. 3 on the WTA Tour.

During this oustanding run in 2008, Dementieva trained at the Harold Solomon Tennis Institute in Ft Lauderdale, FL where I was the Head Pro for several years. I spent a lot of time on court with Elena, and it was obvious to me that it was no fluke that she had the stellar and consistent career that she had. I marvelled at her discipline that went into every shot. She hit every ball in practice as though it was the last ball she ever hit. I respected the fact that she was willing to learn and improve. I loved how she was open to new suggestions and was willing to better her serve. Lets take a look at 3 things that all aspiring professional, as well as professional players, can learn from Dementieva in their quest to become the best player they can be.

1 – Be willing to improve your weaknesses Everyone who watched tennis regularly throughout the first decade of the millenium knew that Dementieva struggled with her serve. I remember the coaching staff and myself sitting in the office with Elena looking at her serve in slow motion on dartfish. We identified the problems and immediately got to work. We noticed that when she shifted her weight forwards, she would squat, meaning that all the momentum that could have gone up and forwards into the ball, was lost. We also got her consistently tossing at 1 and making contact at 12. When…
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