Rod Laver:
Part 2

Peter Underwood

Charlie Hollis saw exceptional attributes in the young Rod Laver.

Besides his exceptional ball sense (Click Here for Part 1), Rod Laver's first coach Charlie Hollis saw 3 additional attributes in the young player. First, Rod was left-handed. Second, he was inexhaustible. Third, he was innately calm.

In those times, the kid's left handedness was a challenge to the coach. Being left handed made you a "mollydooker," a derisive term indicating inherent deficiency, so much so that Australian children were at the time forced to learn to write with their right hands.

The Flaw

Charlie Hollis had studied the line of great champions. He believed that the game of every left handed champion of the past was flawed. Yes, their penchant for spin and swerve, along with their relative rarity, gave them advantages over most opponents. But their apparently immutable preference for the left side invariably produced a distortion.

They may well have loved crunching a swinging forehand wide from their natural left, but when they were pressed on the right, the backhand was usually little more than a cramped and defensive slice.

Unlike Robert Rosewall, who forced his naturally left handed son Ken to play right handed, Charlie Hollis decided his new pupil was going to remain a left-hander. But also that he would possess a real backhand.

Backhand Model

Charlie himself possessed a freewheeling attacking backhand and this was the boy's model. Young Rod was taught that the movement of a proper backhand stroke was a liberated arc.

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Peter Underwood is a doctor, writer, broadcaster, activist, and the winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2017. He has a long involvement with the Medical Association for Prevention of War, a group of health professionals who in 2009 founded the International Campaign Against Nuclear Weapons. He divides his time between peace work, medical education, growing fine wool, and writing. A passionate student of tennis since childhood, The Pros is his first nonfiction book.

The Pros: The Forgotten Era of Tennis

The Pros: The Forgotten Era of Tennis chronicles almost 40 years when the best players in the world were barred from competing in the biggest tournaments, including the Grand Slams. It focuses on the lives of careers of 8 players who dominated the traveling circus of pro tours around the world, from Bill Tilden to Rod Laver and all the champions in between, depicting the ruthless battles of these players for prize money and status as the best players in the world.

Click Here to Order!

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